Actress Adina Porter loves American Horror Story as much as fans do — she just happens to also be one of the people they regularly watch unravel before their eyes in Ryan Murphy’s long-running horror anthology series.
Porter has, technically, been with AHS since the beginning. She had a brief stint in the series’ first season, Murder House, as one of Dr. Ben Harmon’s (Dylan McDermott) troubled patients, Sally Freeman. Porter returned to the show for Season 6, Roanoke, in which she won fans over and solidified her place as a recurring talent. Her role as American Horror Story: Cult’s intrepid reporter Beverly Hope earned Porter critical acclaim and an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie.
**This story contains potential spoilers for American Horror Story: Apocalypse, Episode 2, “The Morning After.”**
“I love being included as an ensemble player in this crazy world because I’m constantly being challenged,” Porter told SYFY WIRE this week. While the series’ biggest challenge came in the form of Cult — which she would choose, if you "put a gun to [my] head," as her favorite thus far — she won’t put Apocalypse out of the running just yet. “We’re still shooting [Apocalypse], so who knows what’s left to come. So this might be my favorite season.”
Porter stars in Apocalypse as Dinah Stevens, one of the not-so-lucky remaining members of the human race. After escaping nuclear apocalypse in Season 8’s first episode, “The End,” Dinah and her bunker mates learn to live with and hate one another by the time Michael Langdon (Cody Fern) rolls in and promises survival or damnation in Episode 2, “The Morning After.”
Audiences know very little about Dinah so far; she’s prone to religious soliloquies, was rich (or smart) enough to land a spot in the bunker, wears beautiful gowns... and that’s about it. SYFY WIRE spoke with Porter in the wake of Episode 2 to discuss her character and Apocalypse. It turns out Porter doesn’t know much more about Dinah’s story than fans — and that’s exactly how she likes it.
Will we get to learn more about Dinah in the coming episodes?
Yes. You will see more. I’m looking forward to finding out more about Dinah, too. Because the great thing about American Horror Story [is that] you create things with the script and then the director and editors get to choose like a buffet what stays in the final production and what leaves. So a lot of the information that was originally shot is not in it.
It’s kind of a puzzle that I’m also enjoying as I watch and go “Oh! We’re going with this. What happened to that?” It’s going in a bit of a different direction that I didn’t even foresee because what was shot got edited. It’s interesting. It’s kind of like Play-doh. We’re both learning about who I am together.
It’s an adventure for all of us.
It is! And I don’t think it’s because they didn’t like what happened. It was like, “Oh! We’re going to take this and we’re going to take that and we’re going to roll with this and see how it kind of works out.”
What were some of those other scenes?
I’m not going to say because I think... it will lead us down a rabbit hole. It’s no longer included. It’s on the editing room floor.
Some AHS fans online are already theorizing that this apocalypse isn’t real. And a couple of the characters, Timothy (Kyle Allen) and Emily (Ash Santos), consider that possibility in Episode 2. What do you think?
Oooh. Well, I thought it was the apocalypse. But, as I stated before, what we shot and the direction that we shot it in... a lot of key things aren’t there. And as I watched along [with Episode 2], I was like, “Oh, well, maybe that is true?” Because I could see why that could be a possibility.
But what I also really love about American Horror Story is that some people — and if I had the power, I would be one of them — you watch it over a glass of chardonnay or merlot, you’re talking with who you watched it with, and you begin theorizing. Then you watch it again. And I did watch the 10 o’clock hour and then half of the 11 o’clock hour [this week] because I was like, “Oh they really went with that there!” That’s the fun head trip of American Horror Story.
I’m also tripping with everybody else because I don’t know which way it’s going to go. And we’re still shooting, so I don’t know which way it’s going to go.
And it’s delicious. And teasing. And [it’s] great foreplay. So I’m just saying, let’s just enjoy the TV. I can’t give any definite answers because I might be wrong. The producers and the director are cherry picking each moment. [I have to] let it go.
But isn’t that incredibly exciting?
We’re eight seasons in and this is your fourth season on American Horror Story. What keeps you coming back? What keeps fans coming back?
I can tell you what hooked me. And it might be some of the things that hooked other fans.
I love watching these actors that we think we know — because we’ve seen them in other roles — reinvent themselves in a new year, a new character. What Evan Peters is now doing is delicious and so incredibly different than Kai [Anderson from Cult] and Tate [Langdon from Murder House] and other characters that he’s played. I love watching and then watching it [again] even more closely to see if I see a little morsel of other characters he’s done in the past.
And that might be another reason why I have to watch it again. Because I have to watch it for the characters and try to see if I can see anything from the past. Then I have to watch it again to go, “Okay, now I’m not watching it as an actor. Now I’m just watching it to follow the story.”
Those are just some of the thing I watch it for. There’s watching it for the characters… for the story… and then there’s watching it for the twists and turns [or] watching it for the scare! When am I going to be scared and how am I going to be scared? I think that was what I was enjoying [in Episode 2]. And even though I know what’s going to happen with the music and everything else, I’m still turning my head and cringing.
And then I also just want to listen to Joan Collins. Her take I felt was like ice cream. It’s a delicious food and then a soothing, even ride before I get freaked out again by the rubber suit.
And then I’m learning! I have to find time to Google the names that Evan Peters character was screaming out in pain... because they are LGBTQ activists from the ‘80s and ‘90s. Except for Harvey Milk, I didn’t know any of the other names. So it’s like, “Okay, now we get to learn about that.” It’s exhausting watching this show because it’s like Trivial Pursuit and all these different games at once. It’s so incredibly active. You can’t watch it and do bookkeeping on your computer at the same time — at least I can’t. I have to sit back and follow intensely along.
That’s why I keep coming back because it’s such a delicious head-trip.
And I’m going to be nasty and enjoy all the different kinds of art — because I find that rubber suit hot, too!