‘American Horror Story: Hotel’ Star Denis O’Hare Explains How He Became Liz Taylor
Denis O’Hare’s Liz Taylor is definitely a favorite in this season of American Horror Story and now fans know how she transformed from married man Nick into the fabulous free spirit that resides at the Hotel Cortez.
The latest episode of Hotel gave us a flashback of how Liz started out as Nick, an unfulfilled family man with secret desires. When a trip for work landed him at the Hotel Cortez, he allowed himself to be the woman he felt he was behind closed doors. The Countess picked up on his uniqueness and encouraged him to be the person he was born to be (in true Lady Gaga fashion). After her Liz Taylor makeover, she decided to remain at the hotel and never look back.
Denis revealed that when Ryan first approached him with the role, in true Ryan Murphy fashion he didn’t give much detail. “He never tells us much. Mostly it’s a visual sense that he has,” O’Hare told The Daily Beast in a recent interview. “So for Liz he sent me an email saying, “Shaved head. Cleopatra eyes. Full lips. Gorgeous, exclamation point!” And that kind of was it until I got on set. He was directing the pilot episode luckily, so of course I cornered him and asked for more. I also got there early and wanted to do a costume fitting just to get a sense of what he was thinking.”
The initial idea of becoming Liz Taylor did make O’Hare nervous, but that nevousness was also one of the main reasons he signed on for the part (aside from knowing to never say no to Ryan Murphy). “I was definitely nervous. It’s not in my wheelhouse. It also wasn’t anything that I had envisioned for myself. It was not what I expected. So I was really thrown for a loop. I definitely spent some time just thinking about it and contemplating it. I would never say no, because a) it’s Ryan and I love working for him and b) I love a challenge. So whatever is given to you, you should do. The old rule of thumb for an actor was if it makes you scared you should do it.”
Once he began to learn his Hotel character more, there was one thing about her that he insisted was part of who she is and needed to be shown in the series: Liz ain’t no dummy. “One thing I was very opinionated about and that I was very happy that the writers and Ryan liked, was that I said early on that she’s not shallow, she’s not stupid, she’s not vain, she’s not mean. She is intelligent,” he told the site.
“When she’s sitting at the front desk I don’t want her reading magazines. She’s reading James Joyce and Proust in French and the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius and The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. I want her reading intellectual stuff because I think she’s a fierce person, intellectually as well as style-wise, fashion-wise. And they loved that idea. So I love that one of the first shots you see of her she’s reading James Joyce’s Ulysses.”
Are you a fan of Liz Taylor? What did you think when you learned her backstory last night? Talk to us in the comments below.