‘American Horror Story’ tackles 1980s movie thrillers

FX anthology series shrieks its way into Season 9

Leslie Grossman stars in “American Horror Story: 1984,” premiering Wednesday on FX.

For those who cover television, one of the chief horrors of “American Horror Story” is that relatively little usually is known about a new season before it starts.

On the other hand, that’s a built-in necessity of executive producer Ryan Murphy’s famously bizarre FX anthology, which begins its ninth round Wednesday, Sept. 18. This much has been confirmed about it: Titled “1984,” it puts a campy spin on “slasher” movies such as “Friday the 13th” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street” that targeted teen characters during … yes, the 1980s.

That likely accounts for the absence of some “American Horror Story” repertory members, with Evan Peters missing his first season since the series began. “Horror” staple Sarah Paulson reportedly has a drastically reduced role, but Emma Roberts, Billie Lourd and Leslie Grossman are among the returnees who will be quite evident again. John Carroll Lynch also is back.

Notable among the cast additions for Season 9 are Matthew Morrison – no stranger to the Ryan Murphy camp, thanks to his six seasons as Will “Mr. Schue” Schuester on “Glee” – and Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy, in his first acting turn.

Emma Roberts stars in “American Horror Story: 1984,” premiering Wednesday on FX.

A big appeal for actors who have worked on “American Horror Story” time and again is the chance to play a different character in a different story, though suspense and terror obviously are constants throughout all the variations of the show.

“I think you would like to stay in that world as long as you probably can,” Grossman has noted, allowing that “it’s so scary to say anything” about the show without being sure of what should or shouldn’t be revealed. “Something that’s been said many, many times — by many different people, much more intelligently than I will say it — is that Ryan gives you opportunities that other people wouldn’t.

“He sees things in you that you don’t see in yourself, and you say, ‘That’s not possible. I can’t do that.’ And he says, “Oh, but you’re going to be doing it, so I guess it is possible.” So, who wouldn’t want to take that opportunity over and over again? I really think it’s his world, and we want to be in that world.”

Roberts has added, “You see the clips and we are covered in blood, screaming and crying … and in-between, there’s just so much laughter on this set and ridiculousness. When they call ‘Action!,’ obviously (the work begins), but there is a lot of fun between all of us. And a lot of support. I know that was what made me so excited to come back. It makes me so happy, and I feel so lucky to get to be a part of that.”

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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