Sierra McCormick talks role in ‘American Horror Stories,’ working in horror genre

Noah Levine, Life and Arts Reporter

The Murder House is opening its doors again.

“American Horror Stories” is a brand new spinoff of the iconic anthology series “American Horror Story.” The new show, premiering exclusively on Hulu, presents a brand new terrifying story set in the world of “American Horror Story,” each episode featuring familiar and brand new cast members from the original series. Sierra McCormick stars in the two-part premiere “Rubber (Wo)man” in which a teenager named Scarlett (McCormick) moves into the iconic Murder House from season 1 of “American Horror Story” with her two dads, played by Matt Bomer and Gavin Creel.

The Texan spoke with McCormick about her work in the chilling horror series.

The Daily Texan: Did you have a connection to “American Horror Story” before being cast in the spinoff?

Sierra McCormick: In high school especially, I was a huge “American Horror Story” fan, and Murder House specifically was always my favorite season. It was really exciting to enter that universe. … I remember tuning in to watch it a decade ago because I was so excited. That promo image of the rubber man and pregnant Connie Britton. I was just like, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything on TV like that before.” I just loved the characters, the narrative and the way the story twisted and turned.

DT: What was it like being inside the iconic, and supposedly haunted, Murder House?

SM: It was crazy. I had always assumed it was a sound stage but it’s an actual house sitting in LA! I was actually looking around like, “Wow, this is beautiful.” Apparently the owners of the actual house also think it’s haunted. I was like, “I bet it’s not haunted. I would live here!” I was like, “Oh, I sound like every other person that’s ever come into the house (on the show) and everyone is screaming at the TV at them like, ‘No!’” (But) it’s beautiful, it’s such a gorgeous house.

DT: Do you use any special acting techniques when performing in the horror genre?

SM: It kind of varies from project to project. Even though horror has certain qualities that define the drama, I think horror is really full of variety. I’ve had to do so many different things all within the context of horror that I kind of just break it down scenario by scenario. For this, I focused on Scarlett and what innermost qualities she has and how those motivate her to do what she does. I really focused more on her life at school, relationship at home with her family, how she’s struggling to find validation … and struggling with her sexuality. I think I focused more on those things to inform how I respond to the horror aspects of the narrative.

DT: Any especially fun or memorable moments from shooting on set?

SM: By the time we reached the end of the shoot, I had been working really hard, doing a lot of dark, heavy, emotional scenes. … The very last thing we ended up shooting was the first scene of me in the car with my two dads, Matt and Gavin. That was probably my favorite memory of shooting. Getting to end this shoot on this really fun high note, because they’re amazing performers and wonderful people. … We had such a great time fucking around shooting this last scene that happens before all of the terrible things in the story.

DT: How was the scene done when the Rubber Man descends over your character’s bed from the ceiling?

SM: Yeah, they have an amazing performer named Troy, and he’s involved in Cirque du Soleil so he can do all sorts of incredible things with his body and hold himself in unnatural positions. He was actually attached to a rig on the ceiling, and he would sort of slowly descend down. … I mean, I couldn’t really watch him because my eyes were supposed to be closed since I was “sleeping.” Getting to watch him in between when we were setting up and stuff was amazing. He’s also just a fun person.