Of all of the off-kilter characters on FX's "American Horror Story," none straddles the line between creepy and eerily endearing better than Larry Harvey. Actor Denis O'Hare plays he tragically burned widower with his characteristic intensity. In a recent conference call interview TV and film's greatest chameleon talked about his role on the scariest show around.
Denis O'Hare Talks About Getting Cast on 'American Horror Story'
O'Hare was most recently seen as the devilish vampire Russell Edgington on "True Blood." So it's not unthinkable that "AHS's" creator would believe in his ability to pull off the comedic edginess of Larry the Burn Guy. O'Hare explained how he got the role. "I received a phone call, my agent got a phone call from Ryan Murphy saying he wanted to talk to me… And he basically outlined 'American Horror Story' for me and said that there's a character named Larry the Burn Guy, and I'd like you to play it."
Murphy couldn't give him much info and needed an answer right away. O'Hare recalled, "He sent me the pilot, which I read over the weekend, and we were supposed to begin on Monday. And he said, 'Do you want to do this?' And I said, 'Absolutely, I'd love to do it.' And that was it. We made the deal and we moved on."
Denis O'Hare Was Surprised to Learn About Larry's Lies on 'American Horror Story'
But working on a show like "American Horror Story" keeps an actor like O'Hare on his toes. A student of a form of the Stanislavski Method, he tends to look at where his character is headed and where he's been before.
So O'Hare believed what the audience had for weeks - that Larry had killed his wife and children, suffering disfiguring burns in the process. But in last week's episode Larry revealed that it was all a lie and that his wife had set the blaze after he confessed to being in love with their neighbor, Constance.
O'Hare described his reaction to the revelation. He confessed, "The challenge, of course, is that I'm not always up to speed about what is true and what's a lie. And I've had a shocking conversation from Ryan about a month ago where we're talking about where Larry was headed, and given [the recent] episode he said to me, 'Well, we'll find out that everything Larry said is a lie.' As an actor you're like, 'Oh, so all the things I've been playing are a lie.'"
But he admitted that he was happy about the unexpected twist which he called "genius on one hand, because actors with too much information can be very dangerous creatures. So it's nice to not have all the information but to simply play what I think is happening in front of me."
Denis O'Hare Talks About Larry and Constance's Relationship on 'American Horror Story'
Besides he acknowledged that he feels like Larry fit in to the neighborhood a bit better now. "It's certainly what deluded people do, and many of these characters are deluded. So it's nice to be in the same boat as they are. "
What Larry would really like is to win the heart of his former neighbor Constance, played by Jessica Lange. O'Hare defined their relationship. "It's an obsession. She is an incredibly vital, attractive woman who exerts an incredible pull on Larry, who is an ordinary guy. And he has given up everything for her, and when you give up everything it's hard to go backwards."
He continued, "So for him to decide or to, I suppose, fall out of love with her would be very, very difficult. He paid such a massive price, to admit that that price is not worth it would be devastating. That being said, in the upcoming episode we do see that he begins to evolve in his power relationship with her."
Denis O'Hare Reveals Larry's Many Motivations on 'American Horror Story'
But if winning Constance's heart doesn't work out for Larry, O'Hare divulged that his character has other motivations. "On a prosaic level he's looking to expiate his guilt. But what does that mean? Is [he] going to pay for his crimes? Or does it mean he's going to finally be held accountable and judged, I suppose, is one."
O'Hare added, "But in a metaphorical sense, I think he's looking for meaning. Why have I gone through this? Why have I experienced this pain and suffering? Why have I not been allowed to reach happiness? And I think what he wants is resolution in the form of an answer, and that answer can be an action or it can be a message… He's looking for a way of out of what he considers to be a hellish existence."
Enjoy Larry's hell by watching "American Horror Story" on Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. EST/9 p.m. Central on FX.
More From This Contributor: