American Horror Story: Hotel's Matt Bomer and Denis O'Hare Talk Death Scenes, Awkward Moments, and Crazy Days on Set

by | March 23, 2016 | Comments


The cast of FX’s American Horror Story: Hotel reunited with creator Ryan Murphy at the Paley Center for Media’s final night of Paleyfest 2016. Sarah Paulson, Angela Bassett, Kathy Bates, Wes Bentley, Finn Whitrock and Cheyenne Jackson were on stage for the fans. Over on the red carpet, we got to speak with Matt Bomer and Denis O’Hare, two of the major players in Hotel. Since the season has aired, MAJOR SPOILERS FOLLOW.

Bomer played Donovan, the son of front desk manager Iris (Kathy Bates). When Iris found Donovan dead of an overdose, The Countess (Lady Gaga) brought him back to life, but confined him to the Hotel Cortez. That basically sealed Iris’s fate too, since she wouldn’t leave her son. Though grouped with reporters on the red carpet, Bomer came right to us as he remembered our interview from the beginning of the season.

Fred Topel for Rotten Tomatoes: Does every actor relish having a great death scene?

Matt Bomer: I’ve had so many now that it’s really about trying to find any subtle nuance I can in between the 12 death scenes that I’ve now filmed.

RT: And there were two just in AHS: Hotel. How did you distinguish Donovan’s first death from his second?

Bomer: Well, the circumstances were obviously quite different. One was an overdose and one was bleeding out and making sure he got out of the hotel in time to die much more peacefully, I think. They were actually both peaceful in very different ways.

RT: Can you even tell when you’re on the set how it’s going to look with all the different lenses and flares and streaks?

Bomer: No, not at all. Michael Goi, our director of photography, is brilliant. I don’t really know and I’m not somebody who likes to watch playback unless the director really wants me to so I’m just doing my thing and knowing that they are incredible at what they do. Once you get onto a set like that, especially this season, that was one of the most amazing sets I’ve ever been on in my life. It’s so transporting just being on that set that you just immerse yourself in the world and let the camera folks do their stuff.

Q: American Horror Story is so outrageous as it is. Is there anything they could ask you to do that would be too much?

Bomer: I really have to see the script and the ideas, I guess, before I was really going to draw a line. If it’s good writing, it’s important to not really put too many parameters on things until you know what you’re working on.


Q: Was there anything so far that was questionable but you went for it?

Bomer: You know, I’ve worked with Ryan a lot and I love his brilliant mind. When I sign on to do something with him, I’m in for a penny, in for a pound. With any director I work with, that’s just how I like to work.

Q: Have there been any awkward moments or funny things that happen in between takes?

Bomer: Yeah, I think there always are. I think specifically, when we were filming that four-way at the beginning of the season, we were all covered in blood and so we couldn’t get on the satin sheets in between takes. So they actually laid us down, we were basically like veal chops. I don’t eat veal, but we were like veal chops, I imagine. We were laying on a tarp with a tarp over us as a blanket basically. So it was pretty humbling to say the least, and kind of leveled the playing field and just made that whole experience a little bit more surreal.

Q: Has that bloody four-way changed your image forever?

Bomer: I don’t know. I haven’t really thought about it too much. I think I’ve gone to some pretty dark places before. I don’t know. I just act. These things are all out of my control.

Q: Your scenes with Lady Gaga were so dramatic and horrific. Was there any moment where you both fell so into it that it was emotionally crazy?

Bomer: Yeah, there was one very specific instance, but it’s actually so personal that I don’t think I’ll ever share it with anybody, to be honest with you. I think moments like that happen because you don’t think that they’re going to happen, or because you don’t think that you’ll ever be there. And then they do, and that’s what makes them special.


Liz Taylor was the breakout star of American Horror Story: Hotel. In a season filled with famous Hollywood movie stars and real life serial killers, Liz Taylor was actually not the Cleopatra actress. Denis O’Hare played Liz Taylor, transformed by The Countess into his true self, and making her the heart and soul of the season.

Liz Taylor had a romance with The Countess’s boy toy Tristan (Wittrock), which ended tragically. In the end, Liz Taylor chose to let the Hotel Cortez kill her and keep her there with her family forever. Now that we’ve seen all of Liz Taylor’s story, O’Hare could speak specifically about major scenes:

RT: What did Liz Taylor think was going to happen when she told The Countess, “I’m in love with Tristan and we want to run off together?”

Denis O’Hare: The great thing about her is that she was a truth teller. And she was just going to say, “I deserve this. You chew people up and spit them out. I’m not going to do that. This person deserves loyalty. I deserve love so give this to me.”

RT: I just don’t see The Countess being the type to say, “Well, I hope you two lovebirds are happy together.”

O’Hare: But I think she also thought that perhaps if she was honest, that would win her points of some sort. That there was a sort of bravery in that and she’s a very brave character. In a way, it worked because she didn’t kill Liz. She hurt her as deeply as she could. We had a conversation about that and I had a theory which was that, in a strange way, Tristan and Liz were a weird match. If you push that relationship forward, what’s going to happen in five years? Will Tristan really be able to be faithful to Liz? Liz is already 50, then she’s 55. In a strange way, by killing him in the middle of the most intense part of their love, she’s preserving him at the height of their love to forever be intense, to never fall apart, to never become everyday, to never become something trivial.

RT: You’re right, and he never would have reconnected with his son if he’d run off with Tristan.

O’Hare: Absolutely. So it’s a very strange gift.

RT: How was it to film your goodbye and rebirth scene?

O’Hare: Oh, it was intense. Those scenes were intense. Those days were crazy. That day was crazy. The “killing of Tristan” day was crazy. The sex scene day was crazy. Those were crazy, crazy, crazy days, really intense.


RT: Was that the last day you filmed?

O’Hare: No, I had other stuff to do. It was close to the last day for me. It was pretty close. I had to shoot Matt Bomer’s death scene. That was the last thing we shot, downtown in L.A. We shot that at three in the morning.

Q: Did you get any say in what Liz Taylor would look like?

O’Hare: Not initially. Initially Ryan had a very strong image and a very strong idea. Then our costume designer Lou Eyrich, who is just phenomenal and brilliant, she had a lot of ideas. But then we really did work together. I love tight fitting pantsuit things and Ryan likes more mumu-y things. So it was always a battle between tight fighting and mumu. Ryan loved turbans. I became too male in a turban sometimes. I became too King and I. So we were always playing with that idea. We had to give Ryan his turbans and mumus and then they had to give me my tight fighting pantsuits.

Q: What was it like seeing yourself made up as Liz Taylor for the first time?

O’Hare: You know, it was not a place I wanted to go. I’m a gay man of a certain age and I have a lot of weird internalized homophobia. Part of it was to not want to confront that aspect of myself, to deny that I have any femininity. I survived high school by not being feminine. I survived [and avoided] being beat up by not being feminine, by being in the closet in a way. This was really sort of risky to do that and I didn’t want to do it, but once we started doing it, I was so grateful for the opportunity to just let go and let it happen. It was really, really, really empowering and really, really freeing.

RT: So it was acting.

O’Hare: Yes, it was acting, absolutely.

Tag Cloud

canceled Lifetime Christmas movies war spinoff south america debate rotten movies we love spanish language obi wan Television Critics Association scorecard ID APB joker LGBT Oscars Polls and Games concert Trivia Cosplay Turner Classic Movies golden globes adaptation sag awards RT History rom-coms a nightmare on elm street Black History Month History Film Peacock christmas movies cancelled razzies mutant Netflix Christmas movies Kids & Family TruTV Lucasfilm TCA 2017 Writers Guild of America worst movies RT21 SXSW 2022 Amazon Prime Video universal monsters TBS monster movies spanish Universal name the review cats Lionsgate jamie lee curtis psychological thriller FOX miniseries Superheroe unscripted Holiday franchise Star Wars Celebration Ghostbusters Travel Channel Amazon WGN Countdown Summer Pixar cancelled TV shows 99% superhero Exclusive Video aapi Oscar Box Office children's TV Certified Fresh summer TV preview The Academy Brie Larson screenings twilight IFC Films hispanic heritage month diversity sequels Pirates book Paramount Syfy Paramount Pictures mob television 1990s critics GIFs Fantasy halloween tv MCU Sci-Fi cops fast and furious docudrama 2018 crime thriller gangster The CW sopranos Dark Horse Comics BET Broadway thriller Shudder TCA Awards dogs E3 black political drama Tubi Walt Disney Pictures ViacomCBS Mary Poppins Returns hollywood VH1 Super Bowl ABC Signature crime drama Christmas spider-man harry potter toy story king arthur romantic comedy dramedy Calendar Awards OWN adenture critic resources FX Stephen King movie news Mary poppins Best Actor Sundance TV TNT archives legend supernatural Sundance Now Rocky President emmy awards MTV technology new york USA Network 94th Oscars Animation kaiju BAFTA reboot teaser comic books historical drama italian award winner Paramount Plus aliens social media TV movies Tags: Comedy richard e. Grant YouTube Red Turner BBC Universal Pictures jurassic park South by Southwest Film Festival TCA what to watch stoner casting Netflix Amazon Prime MSNBC Set visit anthology Rock Mary Tyler Moore free movies Arrowverse Pacific Islander Nickelodeon Hallmark Christmas movies TCA Winter 2020 live action Tokyo Olympics Red Carpet dceu rotten Comic-Con@Home 2021 green book HBO streaming Hollywood Foreign Press Association Creative Arts Emmys 90s Musicals Mystery Focus Features canceled TV shows CW Seed Rom-Com docuseries Premiere Dates 2021 Tarantino kong blockbusters documentaries best mcc Winners facebook Schedule sequel Avengers DGA Heroines The Purge Sony Pictures Sundance Columbia Pictures indie japanese worst child's play 2015 vs. Musical 71st Emmy Awards know your critic basketball SundanceTV Interview pirates of the caribbean screen actors guild TV renewals werewolf art house stop motion Epix Alien Pop TV disaster justice league VOD Comic Book Hallmark 24 frames BET Awards biopic young adult Pet Sematary trophy Trailer doctor who ABC Family DC streaming service game show FX on Hulu revenge films 45 streamig WarnerMedia finale die hard football NBA Fall TV Martial Arts breaking bad travel streaming movies boxing olympics Chilling Adventures of Sabrina godzilla medical drama Bravo politics AMC book adaptation Best Picture Toys king kong Vudu Mindy Kaling Music target dragons Academy Awards FXX ESPN CMT Disney streaming service Character Guide mission: impossible mockumentary hispanic marvel cinematic universe Valentine's Day TCM australia interviews Election Showtime science fiction rt archives Disney Channel japan 007 psycho The Arrangement wonder woman PBS fresh Endgame spy thriller 21st Century Fox feel good latino Shondaland obituary toronto First Look indiana jones DC Universe rt labs critics edition PlayStation halloween biography rt labs Biopics parents series dexter hidden camera CNN Marvel Studios dc cancelled TV series TIFF Horror Paramount Network Hulu festivals Elton John cinemax Best Actress 2019 HBO Max game of thrones women TLC comic Emmy Nominations quibi MGM cancelled television AMC Plus Rocketman 20th Century Fox vampires Nat Geo natural history Comedy Quiz National Geographic blockbuster deadpool kids live event transformers Esquire ABC comedies Amazon Studios Apple TV Plus zero dark thirty Pop Sneak Peek new star wars movies Marathons Fox News chucky venice reviews all-time Funimation TV Land spider-verse Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Watching Series comiccon OneApp saw TV 2020 directors black comedy Television Academy royal family zombies Legendary GLAAD Song of Ice and Fire Crunchyroll 73rd Emmy Awards Cannes tv talk Freeform binge comics renewed TV shows documentary Disney+ Disney Plus strong female leads remakes romance video on demand Black Mirror Winter TV hist 4/20 nbcuniversal zombie YA leaderboard independent NYCC Spike Food Network Tumblr Country anime dark sports Apple TV+ Trophy Talk Video Games heist movie crime dreamworks Best and Worst Star Trek based on movie video elevated horror Disney festival ratings blaxploitation HBO Go LGBTQ The Witch theme song E! high school VICE Superheroes Extras BBC America Drama Nominations GoT Infographic telelvision versus action-comedy 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Binge Guide Adult Swim Logo Baby Yoda A&E Action movies 72 Emmy Awards Western scary movies Discovery Channel Comics on TV Hear Us Out USA 2017 SDCC james bond singing competition nature trailers lord of the rings Pride Month Masterpiece popular TV One Opinion superman marvel comics foreign Classic Film Cartoon Network summer preview 2016 Teen Neflix SXSW Crackle Fox Searchlight true crime Star Wars slashers Warner Bros. discovery Reality DirecTV golden globe awards 93rd Oscars posters criterion french New York Comic Con slasher cars CBS All Access YouTube Premium robots Holidays Disney Plus Reality Competition Ellie Kemper boxoffice spain sitcom genre Emmys comic book movies Best Director batman Family HFPA 79th Golden Globes Awards Apple talk show NBC laika Starz CBS Fargo witnail cults YouTube scene in color See It Skip It El Rey Film Festival San Diego Comic-Con A24 cooking animated Spring TV BBC One Captain marvel period drama asian-american Grammys Podcast IMDb TV comic book movie Acorn TV space Britbox prank cartoon Year in Review Anna Paquin stand-up comedy adventure composers Mudbound DC Comics suspense Tomatazos police drama scary IFC Photos broadcast international Wes Anderson Image Comics satire crossover classics The Walking Dead Awards Tour Instagram Live summer TV Sony new zealand Comedy Central serial killer ITV Women's History Month X-Men Spectrum Originals ghosts First Reviews Marvel Television Prime Video Ovation Chernobyl Thanksgiving The Walt Disney Company nfl PaleyFest Marvel American Society of Cinematographers Lifetime