“As someone who has spent her life working in horror films, many of them not written well, the reason why we are all here is because of the writing,” extolled Scream Queens actress Jamie Lee Curtis about Ryan Murphy’s writing at the upcoming Fox show’s Comic-Con panel today. Scream Queens shared a double bill with American Horror Story, and unlike last year at the San Diego confab, Ryan Murphy showed up.
The session kicked off with a sizzle reel from AHS: Freak Show and a trailer for Scream Queens, which premieres September 22 on Fox. Zero footage for AHS: Hotel was shown, which was the case at last year’s Comic-Con for Freak Show.
“Most of the stuff we read as actors isn’t written well, and we try to do what we can with it. But it’s a pleasure and rarity to be able to have writing which supports everything you do,” continued Curtis, who plays Dean Cathy Munsch, who is locking horns with the queen bee sorority on her college campus that’s run by Emma Roberts’ Chanel Oberlin. Roberts’ character is very much in the bitchy wheelhouse AHS fans have so loved.
When Murphy and American Horror Story EP Brad Falchuk hatched Scream Queens, Murphy said to Curtis, “If you’re not doing the show, we’re not doing it. It was an homage to her.”
He added: “I wanted to see Jamie Lee Curtis have sex with an 18-year old! If you hire Jamie Lee Curtis, you want to see her kicking ass and fighting back. So we’re writing a scene where she’s fighting three killers.”
Murphy and Falchuk first spoke about Scream Queens during AHS: Coven. “We were talking about how much we loved writing some of the comedy, particularly Emma Roberts’ stuff. Two years later we had another conversation about doing something more network-oriented but keep the horror vibe. We were obsessed with Halloween and said, ‘What if it’s Halloween meets Heathers?'”
Curtis expounded on how her character is an anomaly, particularly in regards to the horror genre: “Everyone has so many colors,” she said. “We lob people into boxes and expect them to be one thing. Ryan’s shows are quite complicated … the genius is you think you know who Cathy is, but as more is revealed, it contradicts the original impression. That’s what keeps you coming back every week.”
The actress mentioned that there’s a specific tip of the hat to her Laurie Strode character from Halloween in Episode 2. “There’s a word list homage,” said Curtis.
When the conversation turned to AHS: Hotel, which bows in October, Murphy spoke about how he locked down the series lead star Lady Gaga (who was a no-show at today’s panel, in addition to Scream Queens pop star Ariana Grande, who’s on tour). Gaga’s character won’t be singing, which has been largely known.
Murphy explained that he often receives phone calls from actors pining to be in the show. Gaga wrote to him about whether she could appear in it, and Murphy said “I responded YES — CAPS CAPS CAPS.”
Gaga phoned Murphy. “The best words you can ever hear are, ‘Please hold for Gaga.’ She was lovely. She told me she had an acting background. She told me she wanted to play someone evil. I said, ‘OK, you came to the right place.'”
Gaga, who has a zany schedule, cleared a wide portion so she could focus on AHS: Hotel. “She is very collaborative, incredibly fun,” said Murphy. “Part of her role involves fashion. You want her looking a certain way. Designers have been coming out of the woodwork.”
Appearing at today’s panel from AHS was Roberts (who is also in Scream Queens), Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, Kathy Bates and Matt Bomer, who is in Hotel. From Scream Queens, Abigail Breslin, Lea Michele, Keke Palmer, Skyler Samuels and Billie Lourd were on the dais.
The Scream Queens at a Comic-Con signing session.