‘American Horror Story: Hotel’: The Real-Life Horror Story Behind Mr. March

For American Horror Story fans of Evan Peters, Episode 2 of Hotel finally introduced the actor. And what a change it was from the normal roles Peters plays in AHS.

SPOILER ALERT: This article contain information about Episode 2 (entitled “Chutes And Ladders”) of FX’s American Horror Story: Hotel. Please proceed with caution if you have not yet viewed this episode.

If you were wondering about the history of the Hotel Cortez, then Episode 2 of American Horror Story: Hotel delivered. In a monologue delivered by Kathy Bates (who plays Iris), viewers found out the hotel was built by a man called Mr. March (Evan Peters). Iris explained that Mr. March designed the Hotel Cortez around his murderous desires. Within the walls are hidden torture chambers, hidden passageways, doors that lead nowhere, insulated walls to muffle screams, and the chutes from the episode title that were used to dispose of bodies.

As Vanity Fair pointed out, Evan Peters’ character, Mr. March, was based on a real-life serial killer, H.H. Holmes. He also designed a hotel just like the Hotel Cortez. Holmes’ hotel “featured gas lines that fed into rooms, enormous furnaces, lime and acid pits, and large vaults where Holmes tortured, suffocated, and strangled his victims.” While FX have changed the name from Holmes to Mr. March, it certainly seems like they have used Holmes as the inspiration behind Evan Peters’ character.

American Horror Story H.H. Holmes
Mugshot of the real H.H. Holmes. Photo credit via Harpers

H.H. Holmes was executed in 1896 after it was finally discovered just how murderous he was. Although, to this day, it is still unclear just how many murders he committed. Most of them, however, were women and many were dissolved in acid or had their bones resold in order for H.H. Holmes to make a profit on his killing spree. Holmes did admit to killing 27 women according to Vanity Fair; however, it is widely believed that he killed closer to 200 individuals. It will be interesting to see just how many Mr. March kills in American Horror Story this season.

Mr. March is a classic character one might find in the early days of movies — if he wasn’t a serial killer. Actors such as Clarke Gable and William Powell come to mind when visualizing characters similar to Mr. March. For Evan Peters, it was a welcome change from an acting point of view, although it was also very taxing on him, as he told Variety after a particularly harrowing day on set that involved an awful lot of blood.

“I’ve done five seasons and this is starting to really get to me. It’s starting to get a little weird. I’m starting to see things a little differently. I think I’ve got to kind of step out for a minute and get back to reality because you become desensitized to it.”

However, creating the accent for Mr. March in American Horror Story was not as hard. According to Ryan Murphy in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Evan Peters came up with the accent he used for Mr. March in American Horror Story: Hotel by watching old movies. Peters then sent Murphy four different recordings of accents he had developed and Ryan Murphy made the final call.

“I told him certain movies to go watch and certain leading men of the time: William Powell, Clark Gable. Then he on his own sent me four different voice recordings of him reading the same speech with different voices that he was working. I think I said, ‘Number four is the one.’ So that’s something he came up with on his own. He did a lot of research. That character is very educated and at the time that meant he probably had gone overseas so there’s a little bit of that in there. I’m proud of him. He really has done his homework with that.”

American Horror Story Hotel Evan Peters stars as Mr. March Episode 2 entitled Chutes And Ladders

As EW explained, American Horror Story: Hotel has been the season where its creator, Ryan Murphy, turns viewer perceptions on their head. Besides giving the audience two graphic sex scenes in Episode 1 (one including a murderous foursome, the other a brutal rape scene), he is determined to switch up the characters of the actors. Normally, Evan Peters plays roles in American Horror Story the audience can support. He is usually the good guy. Not in this season of American Horror Story. Sarah Paulson is another actor who has had a role reversal with her character of Hypodermic Sally.

As for viewers who are interested in learning more about H.H. Holmes, Vanity Fair pointed out that Leonardo DiCaprio will be bringing this character to life in a movie based on him. As yet, there is no reported release date for the movie, but it will be based on Erik Larson’s novel The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair That Changed America.

American Horror Story: Hotel returns to FX with Episode 3 (entitled “Mommy”) on Wednesday, October 21, 2015.

What did you think of Evan Peters as Mr. March in American Horror Story this season? Let us know by commenting below!

[Image credits: FX]