Since starting in the industry at 15, Evan Peters has immersed himself in the unpredictability of acting. A mild mannered 26-year-old, the St. Louis native got his start by taking acting lessons in Michigan, and seeing where things fall year by year. Crediting luck and opportunity as the perfect recipe, Peters has enjoyed exploring the darker sides of characters throughout his residency in Los Angeles. It’s that “luck” that has made Peters a break out star in FX’s American Horror Story. In season one Peters played a misunderstood, murdering sociopath Tate, and then threw himself on the opposite end of the spectrum by playing a captive asylum patient in season 2. It’s not a complete shock that his acting heroes are Leonardo DiCaprio and Ryan Gosling, who have proven to be the cream of the crop of character-actors with juxtaposing matinee looks. As the years pass, Peters seems to be lining up projects that may just set his career down a mirrored path.
This year has brought the announcement of American Horror Story’s third season, and Adult World. The latter is a film that sees Evan as the love interest to Emma Roberts’ character Amy. The actor proves that he’s not someone you throw in a film as a plot device. Instead he lends himself to be the heart of the story as he aids to Amy’s ultimate self-discovery.
The Inquisitr’sNiki Cruz spoke with Evan Peters about character study, American Horror Story, and porn shops.
THE INQUISITR: Can you tell the readers a little bit about Adult World?
EVAN PETERS: My character is Alex, and he works at Adult World porn shop that Emma’s character Amy comes in to, to work at because she’s a failing poet. I kind of help her out, and obviously have a crush on her, and then the comedy ensues.
THE INQUISITR: How did you find the chemistry to be with Emma?
PETERS: It was great! It was effortless. I had a crush on her in real life, and it turns out she had a huge crush on me too so it worked out really well.
THE INQUISITR: How did you get the role?
PETERS: I just auditioned for it. Emma and Scott wanted me as their first choice. I read it, and I was really drawn to the idea that the love interest wasn’t just in love. He has other things going on. He’s kind of tied to the message of the film, which is doing things for yourself and not for other people. It was funny because most of my scenes take place in a porn shop. We were throwing dildos around. It was really funny. There was a lot of stuff in there. There was a butt plug with a bunny tail on it.
The INQUISITR: Did you film your scenes in a real adult shop?
PETERS: No I think it was an abandoned office space in between other buildings that were operating.
THE INQUISITR: Did you film the store scenes chronologically?
PETERS: No we filmed it all out of order. Even the way it was edited together, it’s completely different from how the script was organized. I was excited to see it and figure out how the movie ended and started, and if all the jokes were still there.
THE INQUISITR: Where did they get the paraphernalia?
PETERS: I think they had companies that supply it. I’m not really sure, but it wasn’t very high-end stuff. I mean, I left it all home! [LAUGHS]
THE INQUISITR: Scott Coffey started off in the industry as an actor, so as a director did he give you any tips?
PETERS: Yeah Scott was awesome. There was one particular day where I wanted to give a certain kind of performance, and I found it very hard to draw it out of myself organically. He said, “Dude, it’s okay, you can do whatever you want. You don’t have to do anything, it’s totally fine.” I thought that was awesome. It was kind of relaxing and nice to know that you can just glide right into a scene. He also let a lot of the takes open ended, so that we can do whatever we wanted. It allowed us to take the scene wherever we wanted to go, and that helps a lot with the reality of the scene. It makes it a part of everything that’s going on in that person’s life. That was a huge acting lesson that I took to heart.
THE INQUISITR: Was it your first time doing improv?
PETERS: It wasn’t my first time but it was the first time improv’ing that much. It was a lot but it was really fun.
THE INQUISITR: Do you feel as you get older there’s better material?
PETERS: Yeah. The material is getting a lot better. There are a lot of roles out there for people our age. Previously it was a much older crowd, and I use to say, “Oh I can’t wait to be 30 and get all the great roles.” But there are so many good roles out there for people our age. There’s complicated people and it’s really interesting stuff to work on.
THE INQUISITR: Can you discuss some of your acting background?
PETERS: I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. I lived in Grand Blanc, Michigan for a year and that’s when I got involved in acting and took classes there. A manager who saw me at the agency I was at in Michigan wanted me to come out to LA. He said to come out and audition, so I started auditioning and we took it a year at a time seeing what I would get. My mom moved out to Los Angeles with me when I was 15, and then when I turned 19, 20 she moved back to Missouri. I’ve been going at it for ten or eleven years now. I hope with each year I keep getting work.
THE INQUISITR: Was there a desire to study acting formally?
PETERS: There was. There was a huge desire but to do that, some classes you can’t audition. There’s acting schools that are like that, so there was a decision between studying it and learning as you go along by reading books, and developing your own technique and methodology. There’s so many actors out there that are doing that right now. I’m not the best actor I can be, so I’m just working on it. I’m not the quickest reader in the world but when I get an acting book I can read it in two days.
THE INQUISITR: What are some of the books you’ve read?
PETERS: Sanford Meisner on Acting book, and the older Meisner technique. I read the Stella Adler one, and Lee Strasberg. It really is all the same stuff though.
THE INQUISITR: How is it working on television as opposed to film? Do you find that more fulfilling?
PETERS: Well television is grueling. The hours are grueling, it’s hard work, and there’s a lot of pressure to get it done without a lot of rehearsal time. We didn’t have a lot of rehearsal time on this but we were all trapped in this setting. I feel like that in television as well, but with this it was more guerrilla style, like the craft services was granola so you’re kind of starving. I feel like there’s so much heart behind the film that’s driving it. There’s a lot of heart in television as well but it’s very much a machine, just getting it out and getting it done. You try to make the right choices and having the time to do that.
THE INQUISITR: And with television it’s told in a 42-page script so you kind of have to hit everything.
PETERS: Oh yeah! American Horror in particular is a really crazy show. We have crazy crap happening to us on that show. [LAUGHS] It’s unbelievable. I don’t even know how we get it all done.
THE INQUISITR: How is American Horror Story as a character study for you? Since you play a different character every season.
PETERS: It’s difficult. I was very excited and drawn to the idea of playing someone new, but also terrified. A lot of people liked Tate a lot. I was like, “Oh man I don’t know how I’m going to create this guy as good or cool as Tate.” I don’t know. I did my best. I think you can’t hit it every time but at least you try. When the stars aligned, and the script happens, and it all comes together, that’s what makes it an amazing character. When luck and opportunity meets preparation good things can happen.
THE INQUISITR: Do you have any tidbits on the new season of American Horror Story?
PETERS: Not really. I know that it’s called American Horror Story: Coven, and that’s all we get. I think it’s being shot in New Orleans. I’m excited! It’s going to be fun.
THE INQUISITR: Nothing else?
PETERS: I really can’t. I do know my new character but I haven’t read anything. I had a little sit down with Ryan and he talked to me about it. I can do a little research but still there’s no script and I don’t exactly know the research, so I can be going off in a totally different direction and be completely wrong.
THE INQUISITR: What’s your next project besides American Horror Story?
PETERS: I don’t know. The problem is that everything I would be going out for shoots in the fall so that window is pretty small. There’s a very small window between January and March that I can audition for stuff and shoot. I think next year we’ll try to get something but I’m enjoying my time.
THE INQUISITR: Are there any actors you idolize right now?
PETERS: Oh man, yeah. Leonardo DiCaprio is a genius, and Ryan Gosling is amazing. Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, obviously. All of those guys.
THE INQUISITR: So how is it being at Tribeca with this film now, especially since Robert De Niro is such a huge presence here.
PETERS: I hope he sees it! It’s my first time, and it’s really cool.
ADULT WORLD IS CURRENTLY PLAYING AT THE TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL.