While Billy Eichner is best known for his comedic talents on projects like Billy on the Street, Difficult People and Parks and Recreation, the boisterous comic is changing pace a bit with his role on the upcoming season of American Horror Story, and he says fans are going to see him in a whole new light.
"I get to be dramatic and violent and sexual," the 38-year-old actor revealed when he sat down with ET's Nischelle Turner at Tavern on the Green in New York City on Tuesday. "People may not be prepared to see that side of me."
Eichner, who explained that he actually began his career as a dramatic actor, was interested in returning to it now that he's carved out a niche for himself in comedy. "I haven’t done it in a while and the public hasn’t seen [it], so I thought now is the time to do it," he shared. "I was confident enough in my abilities that I could pull it off. You're working with really great, accomplished and acclaimed actors, [so] I really want it to be good."
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The seventh season of the FX horror series, titled AHS: Cult, is reportedly set around the 2016 presidential election and a surreal, violent examination of its aftermath.
According to Eichner, he got the attention of creator Ryan Murphy after he "courted [him] for a couple of years."
"I think he's such a genius. He takes big swings at bat," Eichner shared. "I think Billy on the Street is a big show, but why do a show if you won't make it original and unique and powerful? I look up to him."
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"He came to me last September at an Emmys party and said, 'I think I have a role for you,' and he came through," he added. "I trusted him. I didn't know the role, [but] I dove in."
For Eichner, being a great comic isn't as far from being a great dramatic actor as many people seem to think. "You can't be a great comedian without having self-awareness about others or your own faults. You need a strong sense of self and view on the world. That's what great actors have too," he said. "Jim Carrey and Steve Carell did dramatic roles. I look up to them. You want a career like that."
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As for his part on American Horror Story, he couldn't share much about the role, but he did explain that he's a pretty integral part of the large cast. "It's a real ensemble. We're all together," Eichner said. "[I share] scenes with Sarah Paulson, Leslie Grossman, Colton Haynes. [And] a lot with Evan Peters."
American Horror Story: Cult premieres Sept. 5 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on FX. Check out the video below to hear more about the frightening (and timely) upcoming season.