Remember Briarcliff, the mental institution that was the setting for Asylum? Well, it was based on a real place. The Willowbrook State School, an institution for children with disabilities in New York, had a hidden secret. It turns out that the school kept the children in squalid conditions, and abuse was common.
Turns out that real clowns weren't down with Twisty the Clown. Clowns of America International, a club for amateur and professional clowns, spoke out against Twisty, who appeared in Freak Show season. Club President Glenn Kohlberger said, “We do not support in any way, shape or form any medium that sensationalizes or adds to coulrophobia or ‘clown fear.'"
Even the show's creator Ryan Murphy stated that he was worried the clown was too scary for TV, stating, “I’m worried that people are going to have cardiac arrests. The clown’s intro in the first episode is … It’s brutal.”
3. Naomi Grossman Was Totally Dedicated To The Character Of Pepper
"God bless Connie Britton for shooting that scene with the brain and all that stuff. I believe it was made for Connie who is one of the all-time health conscious people I know. I believe it was made from gelatin and molded. There’s a little bit of a homage to Rosemary’s Baby where she ate the liver. We wanted to one up it. Of course everyone’s gonna now say like that’s so totally not sanitary. To which we respond, when you see the baby, then we will talk about it. That baby has some ferocious cravings."
Chloe Sevigny needed plenty of help to play Shelley. Not only was Shelley supposed to appear helpless, but the prosthetics and makeup left Sevigny helpless, too. She needed help to eat and drink between takes. Sevigny noted, "The prosthetic pieces that they put on made it impossible to straighten my legs. I had to be wheeled around in a wheelchair... that was probably the most challenging part, feeling helpless in that way."
Remember those impressive flashbacks of Dr. Arden, played by James Cromwell, in Asylum? Turns out that incredible resemblance was because the younger Dr. Arden was played by Cromwell's son, John. Show creator Ryan Murphy described the casting process: “When we were casting that part, James said, ‘Well you have to f—-ing cast my son — he looks just like me.’ He walked in and indeed he did. We cast him on the spot. You can’t beat the synchronicity and luck of that. James’ son [John Cromwell] looks exactly like him at that age. It was perfect.”
Producer Tim Minear explained the basis for the alien abduction of Alma and Kit Walker in Asylum. Turns out that Alma and Kit were based on real-life couple Betty and Barney Hill. According to Minear, "The Betty and Barney Hill story of the fifties, sixties, was one of the first abduction stories. It was an interracial couple, we weren’t taking from that specifically, but it was in the water, in our experience, the stories that we all knew. When Ryan first pitched out that first story, he pitched it in that order, and he was like, ‘And then we meet him at his farm, and then he’s abducted by aliens.’ And my jaw was on the floor, but it felt exactly right to me for the period. If you think about it, those aliens are the closest things to angels, on our show about sort of religion versus science, there was nothing incongruous to me about any of that stuff.”
In Hotel, Hazel Evers' son is abducted, and we later learn that he's been murdered. It turns out that the chicken coop murders actually happened. The Wineville Chicken Coop Murders took place between 1926 and 1928. Young boys from Los Angeles and Riverside County, California were abducted and murdered.
While filming Asylum,Zachary Quinto did his best to lighten the mood on set. During this interview, Quinto said, "I play my banjo on set a lot because it sort of lightens up the mood. At first I was a little bit nervous about doing that and then people were like, 'Thank you for doing that. It makes it so much easier to work."
In Freak Show, actress Sarah Paulson played conjoined twins — with herself. It was no easy feat, and show creator Ryan Murphy explained that the production team took a mold of Paulson's head to create prosthetic heads for both Dot and Bette. Murphy stated, "So when Sarah is doing her coverage where she's Dot, she has on a fake head to her left, which is Bette, and it moves. She will record her dialogue that the other one has and she'll have an ear wig, so she literally has to do scenes with herself, which is insane. It's absolutely crazy." These scenes took between 12 and 15 hours to film each, since Paulson had to record everything three or four times.
Hotel Cortez, where Hotel is set, was actually based on an actual murder hotel. The setting was inspired by H.H. Holmes' Chicago hotel, known as the Murder Castle. Holmes built the hotel in the 1800s. He made sure to include plenty of trap doors and hidden passages so he could easily stash the bodies after he murdered the guests.
Did you ever wonder how Evan Peters got the Rubber Man suit on? It wasn't easy. Peters noted that he had to cover himself in lubricant to put on the suit, or it would rip. He also said that he ripped a lot of the suits during filming.
Show creator Ryan Murphy finally revealed that all of the seasons of American Horror Story are connected, though he hasn't gone into detail about just how they're connected. Murphy said, "There’s definitely a rhyme or a reason and a connectedness to all of these seasons, but in the same way, they’re standalones, which is the fun of it. But it is a puzzle."