After breaking out with her stunning performance as Candy on Pose, Angelica Ross has parlayed her success to become one of Ryan Murphy’s latest repertory players and is now appearing in her second installment of American Horror Story. While speaking with ET, the actress opened up about starring in the franchise’s 10th season, Double Feature, as the Chemist, what to expect from the remaining episodes of the first half, “Red Tide” -- and how that may connect with the latter, dubbed “Death Valley.”
“I love any opportunity to be the boss or the woman in charge,” Ross says of the impeccably styled, Harvard-educated scientist previously employed by the government to create a drug that suppressed creativity before escaping to Provincetown, Massachusetts to develop the exact opposite.
And despite the ethical dilemmas that arise -- this is American Horror Story, after all -- Ross says the Chemist is “a brilliant, Black woman,” revealing that she tapped into what it means to be a marginalized, divorced woman in a male-dominated industry. “I just dove deep into all of the many Black women that I know who are brilliant in spaces that don’t always tell them that they are affirmed.”
[Warning: Spoilers for the first four episodes of American Horror Story: Double Feature.]
In episode four, “Blood Buffet,” audiences finally get the backstory of the pills that have turned some into successful auteurs of their crafts with a taste for blood and others into blood-thirsty, scavengers of the night. Both are essentially vampires made from different sides of the same coin.
“She used to work with the military for nine years, developing a drug to lock up the creative parts of the mind,” Ross says, noting the many parallels to society that the show is commenting on this season. “So she decides that she’d rather be invested in unlocking it.”
As it turns out, the Chemist started developing something new, and used the townsfolk of P-Town as her guinea pigs. “Is what she’s doing ethical?” ask Ross, who notes that it doesn’t really matter all things considered.
Eventually she secured clients, like author Belle Noir (Frances Conroy) and playwright Austin Sommers (Evan Peters), with the help of local sex worker Mickey (Macaulay Culkin), before things slowly spiraled out of control.
Cut to five years later, and the arrival of struggling screenwriter Harry Gardner (Finn Wittrock) and his family, who move into a rental home during the winter, while his agent, Ursula (Leslie Grossman) shows up soon after. Within days, the Chemist is determined to clean things up and keep the whole operation secret despite Ursula’s urging to monetize the pill.
“She’s not about the money. It’s about really proving herself,” Ross says. “You know, cracking the code. That’s what she’s interested in.”
As a result, the Chemist orders Belle and Austin to kill Ursula, Harry and his family, hopefully stopping the secret of the pill from getting out from beyond P-Town. And after Grossman teased to ET that the next encounter between Ursula and the Chemist will not disappoint fans, Ross confirmed that it will be well worth the wait.
“The fact that episode four is called ‘Blood Buffet,’ I was like, ‘OK, but what about the rest of the episodes? Cause there’s a lot more blood,’” Ross teases. “I was very shocked, I’ll say, at how very gruesome things got. But yeah, a lot of people are not safe and a lot of people are gonna die.”
She adds, “I don’t think the Chemist gives a damn,” especially when it comes to the many newcomers who have disrupted their balance.
Given that there are only a few episodes left of the first half, “Red Tide,” before “Death Valley” takes over and introduces an alien-themed narrative, Ross says she has “no idea” how the two will connect. “You can be part of Ryan Murphy’s world and narrating or telling the story and still have no idea how it comes together.”
That said, fans have started putting pieces together based on FX’s cryptic, two-part teaser. While Grossman said that certain threads will make themselves clear, and it’s been since reported that the actress will be part of the second half, Ross says that there are “theories out there that are good guesses.”
Ross, at least, did confirm that she’s back for the second half before deflecting to the fact that fans have been trying to connect things that happened in season 2’s Asylum. “There were aliens and other things,” she says, revealing that “I’ve been reading what they’ve been saying. I’m trying to find out too, y’all.”
Wrapping up the convo, Ross teases, “When I tell you... Part Two is just, ‘Wow.’ All I can say is, ‘Wow and stay tuned.’”