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2011 Breakout TV Stars: Evan Peters Tells an American Horror Story

Evan Peters, American Horror Story Robert Zuckerman/FX

It takes a very special actor to make a psychopathic killer a character people actually root for. And Evan Peters happens to be that special.

Of course, he isn't even aware of how much fans adore American Horror Story's Tate, but we made sure to tell him many times while we talked with him. Peters is one of our Breakout TV Stars of 2011, and he just so happens to be modest, smart and, surprisingly enough, not a fan of latex…

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We've chosen you as one of our breakout stars because fans really love your character on American Horror Story. Are you aware of all the buzz surrounding you?
Evan Peters: No, that's awesome! That's great. I didn't know that. That's cool.

Did you think that your character would ever get this kind of reaction?
Um, no. [Laughs.] I had no idea. I didn't even know that it was going to be this cool to act [the part]. I'm having such a good time with it because they kept writing this amazing stuff for Tate to do, and it's just an actor's dream to be able to play this kind of stuff. So I'm pretty grateful and psyched that it turned out the way that it did.

Why do you think fans have become so taken with Tate?
I think it's mainly because he loves Violet and he wants Violet (Taissa Farmiga) to be taken with him. So, he has to be charming and likable and nice, and it's kind of a double role. It's like there's that side of him and then there's that psycho killer. And that's very crazy because you never know which one he's going to be, so you're kind of on your toes.

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Let's talk about the school-shooting scene. We called it "the most unsettling five minutes of television" in our redux of the episode, but it was brilliantly done.
You know what, that's all credit to the other actors. I think that they just sold that so well and made that so believable there in the library that I didn't really have to do much but walk.

What was it like filming that scene?
I like guns and stuff like that so it was very cool to me and the prop guy Sterling was very cool. We were shooting some shotgun blanks in the other stage before the [scene], just kind of getting in the zone with the whole idea of having to shoot people. I mean, it's pretty intense stuff. I had a lot of coffee that day, and just kind of tried to get into it. Also, it's very technical as well, with the camera and everything, so you're able to realize that it is just all pretend. You can't take it too seriously.

American Horror Story FX

Was this role challenging for you or did you have fun playing this really dark character?
At first it was really fun and then it sort of became...I mean it's still fun to get into it, but it just became harder and harder. It's not real, so there's only so much time you can spend going to that place before it starts to take its toll and it starts to feel a little bit weird in your everyday life. I was constantly battling that from the beginning and I was just like, ‘Okay, this is cool, it's just a season. Just got a couple more episodes. And then I'll just listen to a lot of Christmas music!' [Laughs.] So it was kind of a battle, but it was a really, really cool challenge and I appreciate it a lot because it helped me grow a lot as an actor which was pretty amazing. I couldn't have asked for a better role.

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One of the biggest twists of the season was the reveal of you as Rubber Man. So we gotta ask: What's it like to wear the suit?
The Rubber Man suit? It's chilly actually! It's a little cold because it's just latex. It's not really rubber, so it's not very insolated. It keeps in sweat unfortunately, but heat seems to escape and cold just seems to seep right through it. It's an interesting feeling; you're walking around naked on stage basically so you kind of like have to wear a robe. And you have to put on a bunch of lube so it doesn't rip when you put it on and when you're moving around and stuff. You feel kind of like superhero at one point.

Did you take it home and fight crime?
No. [Laughs.] It's more of a supervillian [costume], I guess.

Have you been approached by fans yet?
Yeah, a little bit. I've had a few people walk up to me and ask for pictures and say good job and stuff like that. It's pretty cool. It was nice when they say good job because everyone has been putting a lot of hard work into this show. It's not all for nothing. We're making people happy. Or scaring them at least!

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American Horror Story Prashant Gupta / FX

What was your favorite moment of the season?
There have been a lot. I think one of my favorites has been just working with Jessica (Lange). I mean, she's just so good and that really affects you. That dinner table scene was pretty fun—well, not fun, it was pretty amazing to do with her. And then the [episode] before that when she's beating the crap out of me, that was pretty cool to do. I also love working with Taissa. She's so sweet and just a breath of fresh air. In between takes she's just so normal, and it's kind of nice to just snap out of it for a minute and hang out with her for a second and have to pop back in it. And the whole Violet-Tate things is...I'm a big hopeless romantic, so it's kind of cool to be able to act out some of that stuff in the scenes with her. It's pretty cool.

Ryan Murphy recently said he would like his season-one cast back for season two. Would you want to come back and do more AHS?
Honesty, [after] having the break I feel like I could come back and attack it, you know? Like twice as hard. And I think it would be really awesome to get back in there and do some more stuff and stretch myself a little bit more. I think that'd be awesome. If I don't come back, then that's great, too. I had an awesome time and I learned a lot. I'm pretty emotionally exhausted, so I'm cool to move on and go do a comedy or something like that. I'm happy either way.

Do you have anything lined up now that you've wrapped shooting?
I don't. No, just home for the holidays and then come back to L.A. next year and then just back to auditioning and getting back out there. You know, traveling around Los Angeles just trying to get another job.

We're sure you won't have any trouble finding a new job.
Well, thanks. That'd be awesome.

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