‘American Horror Story: Hotel’ Star Kathy Bates on Iris’ Hotel Relationships, Playing Dark Roles

American Horror Story: Hotel premiered with a lot of blood, a lot of sex and a lot of mystery.

Last night’s episode did what most first episodes do by introducing us to the hotel’s wide array of characters and beginning to chip away at the overall plot of the season. Kathy Bates’ Iris is one of the Hotel Cortez’s many inhabitants whom we learned is willing to do anything for her son Donovan (Matt Bomer), whether he wants her to or not. As manager of the hotel, she’s responsible for keeping tabs on all that goes on in the sinister establishment and does her part to make sure the victims guests never want to (and never get to) leave.

Bates spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about her mysterious character, touching on Iris’ estranged relationship with Donovan, her “tenuous” relationship with The Countess and what it’s like playing such dark characters in the series.

On whether Donovan is her sole reason for staying at the hotel

“Yes, at this point, that’s what it is. At the very end of episode one, you don’t know what happens to Donovan. She has no idea who The Countess is. But as you see in the present day, Donovan survives, so she’s probably made some kind of deal with The Countess that we don’t know yet.”

On Iris and The Countess’ relationship

“It’s easy to see that she’s absolutely terrified of The Countess. Everybody’s terrified of that glove for one thing. The Countess does own the hotel. I think anybody’s position there is tenuous at best. Sally gets Iris into trouble, and probably with a lot of glee, by letting the girl out of the cage. She knew that Iris would have to pay the price for it. It’s the cardinal sin of the hotel to let someone out, because God if they do, the jig’s up.”

On why she loves being in such a dark show

“It’s always fun. I go back to when you’re a kid and you’re playing dress-up and monsters and pirates and this and that. That’s acting really at its base. And I know it’s a craft, and I know we take many years to learn things. We learn you have to sustain a character over a long period of time, whether you like it or not, if you’re a professional. But at the very basic level of just playing pretend, we all love that. There’s a little kid in all of us, and certainly in all of us actors who love to play dress-up, who love to pretend to be different characters and mimic other people. It’s so much fun to pretend to be an entirely different human being for a day and then to, in this case, to dive into that character when you go to work and when you work on a script like this — I don’t know how to describe it. You’re certainly drawn to it, God help you.”

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Photo Credit: FX


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