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"You put on a Make America Great Again hat and people lose their minds for a second"
If you weren't already convinced of Kai's (Evan Peters)) powers of persuasion, Tuesday night's episode of American Horror Story: Cult might have done the trick.
The blue-haired anarchist recruited two more members into his murderous, clown mask-wearing cult including a disgruntled TV reporter named Beverly Hope (Adina Porter) and Gary (Chaz Bono), a Trump supporter who found himself chained up in a basement by Ivy (Alison Pill) and Winter (Billie Lourd) as a means of preventing him from voting for the reality TV host.
In the chilling final moments of the episode, Kai not only convinces Gary to cut off his hand in order to escape his predicament but also helps rush Gary over to the polls so that he can cast his vote for Trump before seeking treatment at a hospital. We caught up with Chaz Bono to break down that startling moment, as well as learn his thoughts on what it's like to play such a divisive character -- and one that couldn't be further from himself.
How does it feel to get to play a cisgender male character on the series?
Chaz Bono: I'm a character actor. That's what I like to do, so I kind of stayed away from doing any sort of transgender parts because I don't want to be pigeonholed into something and I've seen a lot of transgender actors do that and seem to get pigeonholed. It's just a decision I made a long time ago... And it might have taken a little bit longer, but everything I've done has all been [cis male characters].
How did you get inside Gary's head?
Bono: Honestly, I've played generally really bad guys. It's kind of what I love to be. But I did have a slight pause at first with Gary... Maybe just a little bit nervous because [at] first, he just seemed the polar opposite of me. Like okay, this is interesting. How am I gonna relate to this person? And then eventually, I just really started to fall in love with this character. He just became a lot of fun.
How would you describe Gary's relationship with Kai?
Bono: People are gonna have to watch and see where things go. But it sets up an intense beginning with Kai for Gary. Kai rescuing him and giving him that speech which leads to him cutting off his hand is, I think, a pivotal moment in Gary's life.
What was it like filming that scene where Gary cuts off his hand?
Bono: I knew it was gonna be hard to do and it was. It was an emotionally intense day of filming... That actually brought up kind of a phobia from when I was a kid. It reminded me of a nightmare that I had around somebody cutting off their leg in front of me when I was a kid.
Was it just a dream?
Bono: Somebody didn't actually do it. It was like one of those dreams from when you are kid [that] you remember everything about it and it freaks you out so much. Of course, I forgot it. And when I saw that [in the script] I was like, "Oh god. Of all the things that I have to do." It was pretty gross.
American Horror Story: Cult Finally Unmasks Those Creepy Clowns
Were you ever concerned that your character would amplify the voice of real-life Trump supporters?
Bono: To me, it's very seperate. I don't mix politics in my acting and I felt like my only responsibility is to create as well-rounded a character as I could create within the bounds of American Horror Story, which obviously is a show that has extremes to it.
I posted pictures from the first episode [in costume as Gary in a Trump hat]. [I've played a character where] I bashed somebody's head in with a hammer and I've played a junkie and crackhead hoarder in a movie I did. I've played a reverend who robs somebody. I did a play where I played a serial killer. They're roles. Nobody stops to think that I am any of those things. But you put on a Make America Great Again hat and people lose their minds for a second. You're like "Wow! Okay, this is interesting. It's just a hat." I got a lot of "I hope you burned that after it was over." And I was thinking, "It wasn't my hat to burn." It belongs to the wardrobe department.
What phobias do you have, and do you think we'll see them represented on the show?
Bono: I have a weird phobia and I doubt it's gonna be on the show because I don't think anybody else has it. But I have kind of a weird flower phobia. I don't mind looking at them, but I really don't like touching them. They give me the heebie-jeebies. I don't really mind looking at them and if they smell nice, that's nice ... but I don't like touching them. I don't like to be the one that, when they start to go south, I don't like throwing them out. And if they have the big middle section, that really grosses me out... And edible flowers on food is a real thing to me that is just like... really should not be a thing.
What else can we expect this season?
Bono: You're gonna see probably more people get killed... and more scary stuff. You're gonna start to get some answers to things. [It's] gonna be a great season.
American Horror Story: Cult airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on FX.