American Horror Story: Asylum is coming back to FX tonight with “Spilt Milk,” but before that episode airs, TV Equals has some insight into the most recent development on the show–the death of Sister Mary Eunice. Lily Rabe was on hand to talk about her role in American Horror Story: Asylum, Sister Mary Eunice’s demise, working with Joseph Fiennes and more.
Knowing in advance
Rabe said she did have an inkling that the ending of Sister Mary Eunice wasn’t going to be particularly joyful.
“I had some sense, yes. I knew that she probably wouldn’t have a very happy ending,” said Rabe, laughing a bit. “So, I did have a sense, and as we went along, the specifics of how that was all going to happen became clearer as we went along.”
Living with both good and evil
The tragic story of Sister Mary Eunice is resolved by what Rabe called an “assisted suicide.” The death marks the end of Sister Mary Eunice’s battle with the demonic possession and the fragility of her mind.
“The way Ryan [Murphy] and I really talked about it is really sort of an assisted suicide. Her situation really wasn’t survivable, in the sense that even if they had done some sort of exorcism at that point, we sort of felt that whatever might be left of that girl was so damaged and destroyed that death sort of became her only way out,” she said. “Playing that through, once the possession happened, that was such a wonderful challenge, and a sort of dance, really–to sort of live…with both the lightness and the darkness existing at the same time and that battle. That losing battle, really.”
Rabe’s one problematic scene
Even though Rabe loves reading the scary scripts for the show, there was one scene in particular that made Rabe think twice about doing it.
“The cremation scene was very, very difficult for me. When I read it, I said, ‘This is going to be tricky. This is going to be tough.’ But it was much harder than I could have even imagined it could be,” she said. “Other than that, I really like when I read a scene and it scares me. That…makes me excited.”
Sister Mary Eunice’s actions were exciting for Rabe as an actress, but also proved to be very hard to deal with.
“I think some of the murders–having…some of those moments where she was absolutely…taken over by the devil and throwing these axes around and slitting their throats and stabbing them ruthlessly and all of that,” she said. “I’ve been the victim a lot..I’ve often played the person who was getting raped or murdered or abused, so to be actually be raping and murdering and abusing people was a whole different kind of challenge…it was very difficult at times. Sometimes, I would go home from work and just kind of stare at the wall for a couple of hours,” she said, laughing. “But, you know, I can’t complain because…whatever kind of knocks you out working is the kind of work I want to be doing because it’s always those challenges that are most exciting.”
The mechanics of the death scene
As we know, Monsignor Timothy Howard (Joseph Fiennes) helped Mary Eunice with her death. Rabe described working with Fiennes as a great experience.
“I had such a wonderful time with Joseph,” she said. “He’s such a wonderful guy and so generous and so much fun to act with…We didn’t have so much to do together at the beginning…but we ended up having so much to do in the last few episodes and I had a great time. I think he’s so special.”
Also, Rabe was allowed to do the whole falling scene, something that she reveled in doing.
“They let me do the whole thing. I was on wires, and I actually got to [be with a] stunt double I had worked with before,” she said. “They talked to me before shooting…and they asked me what I thought and I said ‘Let me do as much as a possibly can,’ and they let me do the whole thing–the throw and the fall, all of it. So that was a lot was a lot fun.”
American Horror Story: Asylum comes back to FX with “Spilt Milk” Wednesday at 10/9c.