Leslie Grossman on Playing Ursula and How the 'AHS: Double Feature' Parts Will Connect (Exclusive)
By Stacy Lambe
Back for a fourth time on American Horror Story, Leslie Grossman has become a fan favorite thanks to her variations on mean girl types from the selfish socialite Coco St. Pierre Vanderbilt in Apocalypse to an acid-tongued Hollywood agent named Ursula in the franchise’s 10th season, Double Feature.
“I love playing people who say things that you would never say to people in real life. There is something incredibly gratifying [about it],” Grossman tells ET about the character, who is quick to give her client, struggling writer Harry Gardner (Finn Wittrock), a tongue-lashing for not meeting his potential.
And when it comes to Ursula, there’s no shortage of scathing monologues or retorts that the actress excitedly gets to deliver, especially in episode 3, “Thirst,” written by series’ co-creator Brad Falchuk. She adds, “There’s so much this season to really dig into and enjoy.”
[Warning: Spoilers for the first three episodes of American Horror Story: Double Feature.]
Told in two parts, “Red Tide” follows Harry, who, after Ursula’s urging, moves with his family to Provincetown for the winter so he can find inspiration and salvage his career. What he doesn’t expect to find is a secret clan of vampires led by Austin Sommers (Evan Peters) and Sarah Cunningham (Frances Conroy), who share that their secret to success comes from a little black pill.
After Harry suddenly produces the best work he’s ever written, episode 3 sees Ursula arriving in town only to discover that he’s taken the pill -- and is now a vampire. “Good, cause I didn’t come all this way to deal with emotional shit. You know, you want that, get a manager,” she subsequently tells him, unfazed by his bloody turn. (Grossman notes that this is a person who not only has dealt with deplorable personalities but also “metaphorically murders people on a daily basis.”)
Later, while trying to figure out what’s going on with the town, she encounters sex worker Mickey (Macaulay Culkin), who clues her in on the locals’ mysterious ways. She quickly decides to monetize the pill popping process, which eventually leads her to the Chemist (Angelica Ross), who has no interest in striking up a deal with Urusla and ultimately wants her dead.
On the day of its premiere, Grossman tweeted, “Tonight’s episode of #AHSDoubleFeature is the perfect example of why I am so goddamn lucky to be on this show. I get wonderful words to say and the best people to act with and incredible clothes to wear and not to be a nerd but I appreciate it all so much.”
Tonight's episode of #AHSDoubleFeature is the perfect example of why I am so goddamn lucky to be on this show. I get wonderful words to say and the best people to act with and incredible clothes to wear and not to be a nerd but I appreciate it all so much❤️
And with lines like, “If I wanted to listen to a sh*tty Captain and Tennille cover band, I would have just killed myself, because I’m sure that’s what’s playing on an infinite loop in hell,” it’s easy to see why Grossman is having the time of her life.
When it comes to “those words,” Grossman credits Falchuk for knowing how to write her a delicious monologue. “I feel very fortunate,” she says of getting those moments, while also acknowledging that co-creator and longtime collaborator Ryan Murphy has given her some of the best one-liners and insults to deliver over the course of her career.
Grossman adds that she also loved this particular episode because of all the screen time she got to share with Culkin, who is new to the franchise this season. In one notable scene, Mickey confronts Ursula while she’s in the bathtub, threatening to kill her. Nonplussed, she quickly makes him a deal he can’t refuse and needles her way deeper into the underground world of the vampires.
“He’s such a perfect screen partner,” she gushes, before revealing that at one point, Culkin was handing out cigars and celebrating with everyone on set after his partner, Brenda Song, gave birth to their first child together. “He’s got a great sense of humor about himself.”
Noting how he fits in perfectly with Murphy’s universe, she welcomes another opportunity to work with him again. “I would jump at the chance,” she continues, adding that “he’s a wonderful actor.”
Grossman is also quick to note that she loved getting to work with Wittrock for the first time and interact more with Lily Rabe, who she only briefly got to work with in 1984. And when it comes to Ross, who she absolutely loves, Grossman promises there’s a lot more in store for the Chemist and Ursula.
Their scenes together “are so much fun,” the actress says, teasing that audiences will not be disappointed. “I had such a good time doing it,” she continues, noting that this “installment, so far, is my favorite.”
And when it comes to the second half of Double Feature, “Death Valley” and how it will connect with “Red Tide,” Grossman says that there “are threads” that will make themselves clear throughout the course of season 10. And like past seasons, she hints, there’s plenty of Easter Eggs and references to the American Horror Story universe that fans will enjoy.