Leslie Grossman is living the dream of every American Horror Story fan. The actress is back for American Horror Story: Apocalypse, the crossover season between AHS: Murder House and AHS: Coven, alongside a sprawling ensemble cast that features many returning faces mixing it up together for the first time in years. And Grossman, an admitted fan, is witnessing it all, including the return of the fan-favorite Coven witches.
“Well, I mean, I loved Lily Rabe. She’s just so brilliant and such an incredible actress and Gabourey—Gabby Sidibe, like Taissa [Farmiga], Frances [Conroy], I mean, FRANCES! Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me? Just to see iconic characters in front of you reprising those roles. Obviously, Stevie Nicks is on a whole other level. I don’t think I’m allowed to talk about it quite yet…but that was on another level because she’s Stevie Nicks. Her voice means everything to me, as I know it does so many other people, and she also couldn’t have been more fantastic, and lovely and wonderful,” Grossman said about seeing AHS: Coven actors reprise their roles. “That was mind-blowing to me. Really, I’m just a huge fan girl. I freak out. I try to play it cool, but it’s really exciting to be around people, and also just knowing the fans of the show are going to love it. Just knowing in certain scenes where I’m like, ‘Oh my god! People are going to go bananas when they see this.’ That’s really fun.”
Viewers may not have seen these characters just yet (they’re in trailers and on Ryan Murphy‘s social media), Grossman said to have faith.
“I know that people were like, ‘Where’s the crossover?! And my answer to that is, ‘Be patient.’ You’re going to get all the crossover you could ever want…I think this season is a really nice acknowledgement of the fanbase and how invested people are, and I think fans are going to be really satisfied. You’ve got to trust in Ryan’s process. He gets these incredible ideas and you have to trust that everything makes sense and works together. It’s funny because people get really uncomfortable when they don’t understand what is happening right away. My advice will be, ‘Sit back and enjoy the ride,'” she said with a laugh. “It makes it more satisfying when you say, ‘Oh my god, I never thought about that,’ or, ‘That was so clever how they brought that into it.’ So, this was just this really fantastical idea that Ryan had and he weaves the crossover into it brilliantly, I promise…I think the response to the first episode was really great and the thing that freaks me out about Ryan is he’s sort of a soothsayer. So, when he did bring up the nuclear war thing to me, I was like, ‘Oh god.’ [Laughs.]”
Like with AHS: Cult, which tackled female empowerment as the #MeToo movement took shape, AHS: Apocalypse will once again have timely themes…just hopefully not predicting nuclear warfare in real life. “I’ve always said that Ryan is definitely psychic…he has his finger on the pulse of the zeitgeist at all times and then take that feeling and just explodes it,” she said.
In American Horror Story: Apocalypse, Grossman plays Coco St. Pierre Vanderbilt, a very wealthy woman who survives the nuclear war with a spot in an underground outpost run by The Collective. Her bunker just so happens to be ruled rather viciously by Ms. Wilhelmina Venable (Sarah Paulson) and Ms. Mead (Kathy Bates). As somebody who was rather wealthy back when society still stood, Grossman’s character is deemed a member of the Purples. The world may be crumbling, but a class system still stands.
As per usual when it comes to AHS, American Horror Story, Apocalypse details are parsed out in small detail, like the limited rations the characters eat.
“I can say this: Coco has Ryan Murphy’s hands all over that dialogue. I think it’s really where Ryan gets to have fun and I adore that because I love Ryan’s voice. I’ve been lucky enough to collaborate with him for almost 20 years now,” Grossman said about her over-the-top character. “So, I think that there’s a simpatico there of what we find really funny and I think he trusts me to relay it in the spirit that he’s writing it in. To me, when I’m doing Coco, I draw from lots of different things, but there’s a lot—I don’t know if you watch The Real Housewives, but there’s a lot of Tinsley Mortimer in her…I find Tinsley to actually be really sweet, but that was sort of my first place that I went to with my inspiration for Coco, with other things thrown in. But, yes, at this point Coco will do anything to survive and doesn’t care about anyone but herself. She only cares about [Evan Peters‘] character because she needs her hair to be done. [Laughs.] Because even though we’re in the apocalypse, we can still have good hair. But yes, Coco would do anything to survive.”
What exactly will Coco do? That remains to be seen—and Grossman might not even know. Scripts are delivered by hand, she said, and the show uses fake names while filming on location, all in the name of “no spoilers.”
“You also have to understand that we don’t know where it’s going. We’re still in the middle of filming. I have no idea what’s going to happen. We’re as surprised as anyone when we get those scripts,” she said. “There’s general ideas that we know about, but I think they also like to sort of keep things from the actors a little bit, so we’re also surprised and we’re not playing to any future plot point.”
As evidenced by the reality star Grossman said she channels while playing Coco, Grossman is an avid Real Housewives viewer. At time she’d even advise her costar Paulson, who is playing three roles and directing this season, to watch episodes of Real Housewives of New York City to relax on the weekends. The two would then discuss the latest drama. So, would any of the Bravolebrities known for flaunting their wealth and lifestyle make the cut as Purples in AHS: Apocalypse?
“You ask such a good question. I have to say, let’s be honest, [Bethenny Frankel] for sure. Like for sure, for sure. I also think [Vicki Gunvalson] from Orange County, the OG OC. I have joked Vicki is a cockroach and what I mean by that is she’s indestructible and she is not going anywhere. I think that even if Bravo decided she was no longer going to be on the show, she’d be like, ‘Yeah, I’ve got other opinions about that.’ I think Vicki, I think Bethenny, I think [NeNe Leakes] for sure would make the cut. I think that a lot of people would fall to the wayside. You know what? I could even see [Sonja Morgan] wriggle her way into that, you know what I mean? I don’t know how, but I feel like she would make friends with some sort of security person and sneak herself in in a cart, I don’t know, but, yes, I think some of the Housewives would make the cut to be Purples,” she concluded.
For now, the end of the world was just the beginning for Grossman and American Horror Story: Apocalypse. See what’s in store on Wednesday, 10 p.m. on FX.