Billie Lourd on How Ryan Murphy 'Saved My Life' With 'American Horror Story' (Exclusive)
By Jennifer Drysdale
Victor Boyko/Getty Images For Christian Dior
“It is heavy. We spend like, 14 hours a day crying, and sometimes I go home and I will cry in my car for no reason, because it's like peeing. Once you break the seal, you can't stop,” Billie Lourd confesses with a laugh of her time on American Horror Story. She’s connecting with ET in a taxi en route to a resort in the Bahamas. “This is how I do my best interviews.”
The season finale of Lourd’s second AHS installment, Apocalypse, airs Wednesday, and after having just wrapped filming, it’s understandable the actress would need to decompress. Normally, she says she cranks up Dr. Dre and raps her “heart out,” but now that she’s officially done playing Mallory, it seems a more holistic approach was needed.
“It’s exhausting sometimes, because she feels everyone’s feelings like they’re her own,” Lourd says of her Apocalypse character, a powerful new addition to the coven. “Mallory is very different from any character I've ever played, because [Scream Queens’] Chanel #3 was super deadpan, super intense, kind of a b**ch, and [AHS: Cult’s] Winter, kind of the same thing, really hardcore.”
That’s not to say this season of AHS isn’t just as “intense.” Lourd believes she and her castmates are making a real statement in Apocalypse, as they join together to try to stop Antichrist Michael Langdon (Cody Fern) from ending the world. So far, they’ve been unsuccessful, but there’s still one episode left.
“It means so much more because of the #MeToo movement,” she says, noting that the unity of women around the world likely made the season “even more powerful than it would have been.” “Getting to watch all of us be more powerful than even the Antichrist, it was so inspirational, I think, and such a great message for young girls and women out there.”
“Getting to play Mallory has made me find this sense of, like, kindness and empathy in myself that I know is there, but I don't really get to access every day. It's been really, really rewarding to play this lovely, sweet person who is just so empathetic and connected to the other characters,” Lourd adds. “It's refreshing for me.”
The 26-year-old actress calls it “surreal” to be able to join the coven and its women, who she so admired on AHS: Coven. “Honestly, these women are some of my best friends now. Leslie Grossman, Sarah [Paulson], Emma [Roberts], it's incredible to be on set with them,” she raves. “I feel so lucky, I pinch myself every day. It's so fun.”
It’s executive producer Ryan Murphy, however, whom she credits with having saved her life by ushering her into his AHS world. “When Ryan offered me Cult, it was just a few months after my mom passed, and it honestly helped me process all of my emotions through these characters,” Lourd says of mom Carrie Fisher's unexpected death in December 2016.
“Being able to cry for Winter helped me cry for myself. And it's been really healing and cathartic in an amazing way, and getting to be around all the incredible people on set, they've become like a family to me, and I cannot thank Ryan enough,” she continues. “Honestly, it kind of saved my life.”
It’s that rapport that keeps many actors cycling through Murphy’s projects -- even if they need a Bahamian break in between them.
“I love doing this show. It is so much fun and so challenging and has taught me so much. I would do as many seasons as they would offer me,” Lourd reveals. “I mean, obviously I would like to do, like, a sweet romantic comedy on the side too, but, like, this is my jam. I love this show so much. And I would do anything Ryan asked me to do. I trust him with all of my heart.”