American Horror Story Season 2 Interview: Zachary Quinto On The Big Reveal, Working With Sarah Paulson

Last week, every fan of American Horror Story: Asylum had their minds were blown when they realized Bloody Face was none other than Dr. Oliver Thredson. TV Equals was able to speak with Zachary Quinto during a conference call about the episode. During the call, Quinto talked more about his character, how it feels to play an evil character and more.

Did Quinto know?

You might be wondering if Quinto was in on the big surprise. “Yes, I knew from the very beginning,” he revealed.

“It was part of the conversation that I had with Ryan [Murphy] about me coming back to the second installment of the show, in the first place,” he said. “It very much informed the character that I was building from the beginning. As a result, I felt like my responsibility became to create a character that people could trust, or at least trust initially, and have some hope that perhaps he is actually the one voice of reason and sanity within this chaotic world. So it was actually more exciting for me to know from the beginning. It gave me more to play with and more to hold back and more secrets to keep.”

The fan reaction

Quinto talked about what he felt about the fan reaction to the big reveal.

“…[A]t least the things that I’ve scrolled through seem supportive and excited about the direction that the show is going in,” said Quinto. “So I’m sure I’m more likely to sort of have those people reaching out to me than people who aren’t excited about it, which is sort of the nature of Twitter in the end, isn’t it. But, yes, I don’t know. I hope people are into it and on board for where it goes from here.”

your answer to the first question, but how this guy was different from…because I’m sure you don’t want to repeat yourself and we’ve only seen a little bit of his evil thus far—but is that something you were concerned with those comparisons? What got you hooked on really wanting to play this part?

Playing evil…again

Quinto has played evil guys in the past, such as Gabriel Gray/Sylar on Heroes. Quinto felt that instead of feeling like he was drawing from an old well, he felt inspired.

“I think any time an actor revisits territory that they’ve been in before, it can be a source of trepidation, as it was for me. But part of the reason that I loved what the opportunity stood for was that I got to know, going in, I got to really build something,” he said. “With Heroes, that character was built before I was ever attached to it. There were eight episodes of anticipation that were built before you met ‘Gabriel Gray’ in Heroes, but I had no participation in that…So for me, it was really exciting to get to go in and having all the information, and actually be that part of the process of creating a character [for American Horror Story: Asylum]. That, to me, was a difference.”

Dr. Thredson and psychology

One of the most interesting things about Dr. Thredson–especially now that we know he’s Bloody Face–is that he is deeply entrenched in his role as a psychologist. So does he really believe in the advice he gives?

“I think he definitely believes in [psychology],” said Quinto. “I think part of being a psychopath is an ability to dissociate from one reality and create another one completely. I think he does that expertly. I think his level of training, medical training and intuition instinct—I think he’s very skilled. I mean, that’s what allows him to get away with it as long as he does. So yes, I think he does believe in it, which is kind of another layer of tragedy of the character is that he could have been something else. He could have made a more significantly positive contribution had he only rechanneled his traumas, his energy.”

Aversion therapy of the 1960s

Dr. Thredson puts Lana (Sarah Paulson) through aversion therapy to change her. Quinto was asked about how he felt about that scene specifically since aversion therapy was used on many homosexual patients.

“I mean I think the scene was very reflective of a pervasive mentality of the time. As unsettling as it is, I think it was powerful to revisit it and to present an audience with a reflection of that kind of really abhorrent thinking,” he said. “Obviously, we’ve come a long ways since then and that’s great. There’s so much progress made and more work to do. So I think it’s always good when you’re able to, as an actor, allow your work to be some kind of a conduit for a social discourse. I think an examination of where we are as a society and I think…[t]his installment of the show is really doing that in a lot of powerful ways, that being one of many. So another reason why I’m grateful to be a part of this kind of storytelling and this kind of environment.”

What is behind Dr. Thredson’s actions?

Not only does Lana get trapped by Thredson, but she finds out her girlfriend Wendy (Clea DuVall) was killed and put on ice by Thredson. What is Thredson’s reason for further ruining Lana’s life? Quinto said you’ll find out this week.

“[This] week’s show is called ‘The Origins of Monstrosity’ and so it really dives into a lot of the roots of the characters in this world in Asylum,” he said. “So yes, a lot of things will become clearer and probably even more disturbing in the next couple of weeks.”

Working with Paulson

What is great about these tough scenes is that Quinto and Paulson are great friends off screen. Quinto said that their friendship made filming these scenes easier.

“Well I especially have a respect for Sarah as an actress, but it’s a rare and unique opportunity to show up to work with a really good friend. Oftentimes, friendships are formed on set and through these kinds of experiences working together in such intimate and unusual ways, but it’s even a richer experience when you already have that foundation of friendship. So there’s an implicit trust and sensitivity to each other and our needs and our instincts and our individual process,” he said.

“It’s really a remarkable gift in a lot of ways. So we also are able to have more fun, I think, and laugh at a situation a little bit more. There’s less awkwardness to cut through. Yes, so I think it strengthens the connection that the characters share, whether it’s friendship or torture or hostage, whatever it may be,” he said. “…I love going to work anyway, no matter who I’m working with, but in particular with Sarah… I think she’s doing such wonderful work on the show that I also just love watching her character and the journey that she’s taking. She’s gone to so many extreme and challenging emotional places, and done it so beautifully and dynamically. I just think her work is so incredible, so it’s been a joy for me, really, this whole experience.”

American Horror Story: Asylum airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on FX.