Nico Greetham talks “American Horror Stories,” filming his death scene, researching influencers, and deadly pillow fights

Noah Levine, Life and Arts Reporter

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared as part of the August 2 flipbook.

Santa comes for naughty influencers in the newest installment of Hulu’s horror anthology.

“American Horror Stories” presents a new terrifying story each week set in the world of “AHS,” featuring familiar and new cast members from the original series. Nico Greetham (“So You Think You Can Dance,” “Power Rangers Ninja Steel,” “The Prom”) stars as a rowdy influencer named Zinn in the season’s fourth episode “The Naughty List.” The macabre tale follows an influencer group known as “The Bro House” who fight to retain their reputation after posting a disturbing video. When their pranks get tangled up with a disgruntled Mall Santa (Danny Trejo), they become the stars of a twisted livestream. The Texan spoke with Greetham about his work on the blood-splattered holiday episode.

The Daily Texan: While preparing for your role did you research famous influencers and Tik Tokkers?

Nico Greetham: They were my bible. All of the youtubers and the tik tokkers. I studied the Paul brothers pretty in-depth. Bryce Hall from Tik Tok was a huge inspiration of mine. It’s so funny because when I first started I was like “Oh my gosh, these guys don’t feel real. They don’t feel like real humans. They’re like animals.” But then the more I researched them, I started to enjoy them. I was like “This is how they get you!…” I was watching their videos with appreciation…I wrote down a massive list of things they do that was like: they all have wide vacant eyes, they do fake fighting, they scream all the time, veins pop out of their neck when they talk. That was honestly my whole preparation.

DT: It definitely gave me sway house vibes for sure.

NG: That was our #1. Those are my boys.

DT: Have you always been interested in the horror genre?

NG: Yes. If you ask my mother who does not really appreciate horror the way I guess you and I do, I’ve always said that’s what I was going to do. It wasn’t even that I wanted to do it, I was like “Mom I’m gonna be in horror stuff so you’re going to have to figure it out.” It’s always been one of my favorite genres of film, I think it’s so fun. I just love the thrill of it all.

DT: Were you a fan of “American Horror Story” before joining the spin-off?

NG: Aw man, the biggest fan! Yes. This whole process has been such a pinch me moment because I’ve seen every season with pure enjoyment…I used to watch it every week as it came out and so to be a part of this legacy is truly just a huge dream come true. I have a bunch of friends from back in the day when I was watching seasons 1-4 and I would always be like “Guys, I’m gonna be on the show.” And now they all messaged me like “You’re doing it!”

DT: Can you talk about what it was like filming your death scene?

NG: Funny enough, there was a stunt double there fully dressed as my character… prepared for all of the things that were to be done to Zinn. And then when we got to it, they set up the camera and they realized it needs to be my face, it can’t be my stunt double doing the electrocution scene inside the pool. They were like “Nico, we’re gonna tie you up, gag you, you have to fall face forward into the pool, you’re going to wiggle around for 5 seconds, and then you are going to be still and dead for another 5 seconds, you got that?” And I was like “Ummm. Yes?…” We did two takes of it and it was me, it was fully me. I was freaking out, but it looked okay in the final cut!

DT: What was the process like for shooting the quick “Bro House” video montages in the beginning of the episode?

NC: Yeah..Honestly it was such a good time… When we were shooting we would be doing all of these big, longer scenes that are full of dialogue and then in between set ups and stuff they would have us run and go change into whatever outfit they had then come back and film a quick Tik Tok, or chug a beer bong and then go back into doing the other takes of the other scenes…It kept the day so fun and so different. It was very free. Our director Max Winkler was awesome and he really understands the world of these influencers.

DT: Have any fun stories from working on set?

NG: Okay, so it’s so funny because it’s really not featured heavily at all but there’s a quick shot where we are doing a pillow fight. Originally in the script it said we were wrestling so we all got to set that day thinking we were gonna wrestle. We even had an intimacy coordinator on set to be like “are you guys okay with the wrestling…” just to cover all bases. We get there and it’s a pillow fight, which is fine, but I can’t tell you how dangerous this pillow fight was. There were so many feathers to a point where after like a minute and a half of our director just giving us direction…we all started choking. There’s like a silence, and then we are all like literally gagging on these feathers. Dyllon (Burnside) fully throws up. Charles and I have to go outside, we can’t breathe. Kevin (McHale) has a feather lodged in his throat. We fully thought we had to go to a hospital. It was so nuts and you would never think from like a freaking feather pillow fight that any of that would’ve happened.