Last night on “American Horror Story: Asylum,” Dylan McDermott made his on screen debut as the modern day Bloody Face, and the role couldn’t be any different from playing “Murder House” leading man Ben Harmon.
“You better not have any fears coming into the show, all your personal things are public,” McDermott says during a conference call to discuss his work on “Asylum.”
Few actors know that better, after McDermott’s infamous crying-while-masturbating scene in Series 1 became one of the hallmarks of “American Horror Story.” (He now refers to the moment as “cry-bating,” and compares the experience of filming that scene to running toward a fire instead of away from it.)
When he was asked to return for Series 2, McDermott discovered the new character would take him somewhere even darker. “[Ryan Murphy] called me and said he wanted me to come back as the son of Bloody Face,” McDermott explains. “When he told me the story I was just flabbergasted, it was so horrendous. It was so different from Ben Harmon. I thought it was a great way to make television completely different. When do you get to play different characters on the same show?”
McDermott says he’ll appear in three of the “Asylum’s” remaining four episodes, and can’t wait for viewers to discover more about his character. He confirms that Johnny Thredson is the son of psychotic Oliver Thredson (Zachary Quinto) and tortured Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson) and reveals the younger Thredson wrestles with serious mommy issues.
“Johnny Thredson is a troubled man,” McDermott says. “He feels so scorned by his mother, everything is about his mother. The reason he’s doing all of these horrible things is because he was rejected so harshly by his mother. His father was a serial killer, his mother aborted him and he still lives. His whole trajectory in life is really about her.”
McDermott says the “Horror Story” writers compared photos of Quinto, Paulson and himself, to see if they’d work as a “family.” “I guess I passed the test,” he laughs, and adds that he tried to take Quinto’s lead to make the Bloody Face lineage more credible: “I watched him and picked up a few of his mannerisms. There is one scene coming up where we’re in the same room. I did try to listen to his voice and look at his mannerisms a bit.”
As for what it’s like to get into the skin — literally — of Bloody Face, McDermott says it’s every bit as creepy as you’d expect. “When you put that mask on you can hear your own breath,” he says. “It’s like a mini-horror show inside your own head. It’s truly frightening.”
With only four episodes left in this installment, McDermott expects audiences will be pleased with how the story of “Asylum” comes to an end. “Without giving anything away, I think you’ll be satisfied with what happens,” he teases. “You’ll have closure with all the characters. It’s hard to wrap up everything in one show, but having read it and now performing it I think you’re gonna be satisfied for sure.”