American Horror Story is still going strong, but in the fall, Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk are brining a brand new anthology series to Fox, Scream Queens. The horror-comedy centers on Kappa, the top sorority on campus with sky-high standards. When Dean Munsch (Jamie Lee Curtis) demands that Kappa accept all new pledges, “Queen Bitch” Chanel Oberlin (Emma Roberts) isn’t happy about it. However, that should be the least of her worries because there’s also a devil-clad killer racking up a body count on campus.
Earlier today Murphy along with cast members Jamie Lee Curtis, Emma Roberts, Lea Michele, Skyler Samuels, Keke Palmer, Abigail Breslin and Billie Lourd hit the Hall H stage alongside Angela Bassett, Matt Bomer, Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson and Kathy Bates of American Horror Story: Hotel for one, big joint panel moderated by Entertainment Weekly’s Tim Stack. We didn’t see any footage from either show, but Murphy and co. did share a few new details about characters, storylines and more. You can check it all out below.
This was Curtis’ response when Stack asked why she’s never been to Comic-Con before: “I’ve been selling yogurt that makes you shit for six years.”
- Murphy recalled coming up with the idea to make Scream Queens with Falchuk while working on American Horror Story: Coven. “We were talking one day and then two years later, we had another conversation about, ‘Well, what if we do something that’s a little more network oriented, but keeps that horror vibe alive,’ and Brad and I both were obsessed with Halloween and so we were talking about, ‘What if it’s Halloween meets Heathers?’”
- Here’s how Roberts described her character: “Chanel, she is the president of Kappa Kappa Tau. She takes her job as sorority president very, very seriously. She’s very fashionable and very bitchy, and you’re gonna love her and hate her and hate to love her.”
- Here’s what Michele said about accepting the role of Hester: “I didn’t really know anything until Ryan called me back in October. We were just starting the last season of Glee and he said, ‘New show. Jamie Lee Curtis, Emma Roberts, neck brace. Are you in?’ And I was like, ‘Sure!’ I would do anything with Ryan.”
- Murphy explained the process of finding AHS newcomers like Mat Fraser and Erika Ervin. “We had a great casting director named Eric Dawson and, as we do every season on that show, we started a year before. We looked at a lot of books, books that Jessica had given us and I said, ‘If you find somebody great, I would much rather write for a person and a talent to create something.” After several months of casting, Dawson found those talents. Murphy continued, “Amazon Eve was originally written to be a man, that role. Erika was so great that we switched it.” When Murphy watches audition tapes and finds a spark of genius or creativity, it motivates him and his team to write for them. “In the case of that show, we did that, I think four or five times throughout the season where we just found these amazing people. Many of them had dreams of being an actress but never could get roles.” He concluded, “It’s really rewarding and fun to see that because you see this amazing talent that you otherwise wouldn’t.”
Bates used a website to get into character and nail Ethel’s Baltimore accent. “I actually went on the internet and discovered there was a site that showed you how to do a Baltimore accent, and the cool part was that it had the Baltimore accent in the American anthem [laughs], so I used to do that as a warmup every morning. You could sing, [in her Baltimore accent] ‘Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light …’”
- Before Scream Queens, Samuels had a small role on American Horror Story: Freak Show. She played the young woman Twisty terrorizes at the beginning of the season. She recalled, “John [Carroll Lynch], the guy who played Twisty the clown, is probably the nicest man ever and I think he felt bad that he looked so scary. He was telling jokes between takes trying to lighten the mood because people would be like, ‘Oh my god. Your teeth and your face!’”
- Here’s what Palmer had to say about her character: “Zayday is spunky, she’s cool, she knows what she wants to do and she’s not really into taking anybody’s mess, but she develops a relationship with Skyler’s character, Grace, and because of that she decides to take on Kappa Kappa Tau with her homegirl and just see what it’s about, and you know kind of stop Emma from running rampant.”
- Apparently Breslin’s character, Chanel #5, is especially bitchy. Breslin recalled a recent conversation about how characters are starting to pick up traits of the actors playing them but noticed, “Mine keeps getting crazier and crazier.”
- Lourd’s Chanel #3 dons ear muffs on Scream Queens. Does that happen to be a nod to her mother’s (Carrie Fisher) hairdo in Star Wars? Lourd explained, “It’s a slight homage, but there’s also a mysterious plot point that you guys will find out about.”
Curtis explained, “I think everyone has many colors and I think we lock people into boxes and we expect them to be one thing, and I think what Ryan Murphy has done so beautifully is to show that human beings are really quite complicated.” Murphy added, “You think you know who [Dean] Cathy [Munsch] is as well as you think you know who each of the characters on both shows are and then more will be revealed, and the more that’s revealed is contradictory to the original impression and that’s what makes you come back every week.”
- Murphy also added this tease regarding Curtis’ character: “If you’re gonna hire Jamie Lee Curtis, you want to see her kicking ass and fighting back and doing all those things that I loved her doing, so we’re actually writing a scene now where she’s fighting three killers.” He also pointed out that if Curtis didn’t agree to do Scream Queens, he wouldn’t have done the show at all and added, “I think the reason why I’ve been so lucky to get the caliber of the actors on this stage, it’s amazing, I go to them and I say, ‘I love you, this is what I love about you,’ I know everything that they’ve done and I think when actors feel that you see them and you’re passionate about more than that, you say, ‘I want to see you do this. I’ve never seen you do this.’ You know, I wanted to see Jamie Lee Curtis have a sex scene with an 18-year-old.” He further explained, “I wanted to see something irreverent and fun and her being powerful and large and in charge, so that’s what we did.”
- Curtis teased an homage to Lori Strode: “I will say there is a direct homage that I knew I needed to throw in one from Halloween at some point, and in episode 2 there’s a wordless homage that I threw in just as my tipping my hat to all of you Lori Strode lovers out there.”
Here’s how Murphy described the format of Scream Queens: “It’s similar, but different. The thing with Horror Story is that ever year there’s a new story, there’s a new theme, the actors play different characters and on Scream Queen what happens is that there’s survivors who go on to a different location, but the characters that you have hopefully grown to love, many of them will continue and many of them will not, which is sort of part of the fun of the show, who will live and who will die.”
- “The thing about both those shows that I think is great for the actors is, I think the thing about television now, why it’s so exciting for so many people is there’s a freedom to it. It used to be if you signed up for a television show, it was a seven year contract, and that’s really hard I think for a lot of creative people who want to do different things. So this format I love because you say to the actors, ‘I need you for one season and after that, if you love it, great, let’s do it again, but if you don’t, go off and do something else or go off for a year and come back. AKA Jessica Lange.’ – Murphy
- Not only does the cast of Scream Queens still not know who lives and dies on the show, but they also don’t know if their character is the killer. Murphy explained how this affects the shooting process: “After every take, we would work with an actor or actress on a scene and we’d say, ‘Okay, now do a take where you are the killer. So every actor had to sort of get into that mindset of switching the performance.” He teased, “You definitely meet the killer in that premiere and if you go back and watch that episode at the end, I think it’s very clear.”
Don’t expect any musical numbers in American Horror Story: Hotel. As for Scream Queens, Murphy said, “Never say never.”
- Murphy also broke down Lady Gaga’s casting process: “It was one of the weirdest things of my career, ever. Horror Story has a lot of fans obviously and I do get calls now and again from people, but I’m always usually very specific about that. How it happened with Gaga is she wrote and said, ‘I love the show. Would you consider putting me on it?’ And I wrote back, ‘Yes.’ A week I didn’t hear anything and then a week later the best words in the English language are, ‘Please hold for Gaga.’” He continued, “She said, ‘I want to be evil. That’s what I want to be. I want to be evil.’ I said, ‘Okay. You came to the right place.’” He added, “Her schedule is so bananas crazy that she gave us a huge window and she’s gonna shoot all her episodes in that window. She likes to sort of be doing one thing at a time.” He also teased, “Part of her role involves fashion. You want Lady Gaga to look a certain way so the designers have been coming out of the woodwork, making stuff for us and it’s been really, really thrilling.”
- Paulson’s character if Hypodermic Sally, Bomer is playing Donovan, Peters is Mr. March and Bates is playing a character named Iris, but Murphy wouldn’t reveal any details about them.
- One fan asked for their favorite scary movies. Here what they said: Palmer – Nightmare on Elm Street, Michele – Texas Chainsaw, Curtis said, “I don’t like the genre that much,” but picked Psycho, Murphy – Halloween, Misery and Rosemary’s Baby, Bates – The Conjuring, Paulson – The Exorcist, Peters – Jacob’s Ladder, Bomer – Jaws and Repulsion, Bassett – J.D.’s Revenge.
Another asked for their favorite superhero. Here’s the rundown: Peters – Quicksilver, Bomer – Nightwing, Paulson – Wonder Woman, Bates – “The Armenian guy that did that incredible dance,” aka Joe Manganiello. (Yes, really.)
- Another fan asked Murphy to address Pepper popping up in two seasons. He replied, “We have a longterm plan with the show and things are connected so characters are connected to different seasons, and she obviously is the first. This season you’ll see more and more and more of that, characters from previous seasons will come back and check into the hotel.” He added that there will be a “pretty cool thesis statement at the very end of the run.”
Scream Queens premieres on Fox on September 22nd and American Horror Story: Hotel kicks off on FX in October.