Evan Peters knows a thing or two about scaring you silly.
Peters has been a regular cast member of "American Horror Story" since it's groundbreaking first season, playing (in short order) a high school psychopath, an insane asylum inmate (who had a close encounter with extraterrestrials, mutants, and a serial killer), a frat-boy Frankenstein monster, and, most recently, a freak-show performer with lobster claws for hands. Scary right?
Well in this week's "The Lazarus Effect," the latest production by "Paranormal Activity" and "Insidious" mastermind Jason Blum, Peters is back in the oogey-boogey business, this time playing a grad student who is working, along with Olivia Wilde, Mark Duplass, and Donald Glover, on a top secret project that could bring people back from the dead. What could go wrong, right? Riiiiiight.
We recently spoke to Peters about what he finds so appealing about the horror genre, whether or not he'll be back for the next season of "American Horror Story" (which, in between the time of our interview and its publication, was revealed to be about a haunted hotel), his scene-stealing role in "X-Men: Days of Future Past," and why running really fast is now his forte.
Moviefone: Between this and "American Horror Story," you have certainly made your mark in the horror genre. What is it that specifically appeals to you?
Evan Peters: I just think it's fun to scare people. And I think that this was a particularly cool story because it dealt with the scientific aspect of horror, which I'm a big fan of -- and that was bringing people back from the dead. I love "Frankenstein." And I just love the idea of that actually happening and then sort of dealing with what happens and what the consequences are.
What was it like going from the over-the-top horror world of "American Horror Story" to the more grounded scientific realm of "The Lazarus Effect"?
It was cool. In horror films, things go wrong. There's always something that goes horribly wrong and bad. So there was that aspect that I was sort of used to doing but it was really cool to have it more contained and to have these five characters all together dealing with this situation in such a small space. I love that idea and it was fun to get to play around with this crazy idea.
Obviously, Jason Blum and his team at Blumhouse know how to do this kind of thing better than anybody.
What was it like working for that team?
It was cool. It's amazing what they can do with such a little amount of money and they make it all work and seem very professional and put-together. They do it all. It's quite an unbelievable thing to see.
And you get to work with a really great group of actors. What was that like?
Everybody was very nice and very funny. I believe Donald said it, he said, "Comedy and horror are intertwined -- with a comedy movie, you're looking to see if you're getting laughs and with horror you're looking to see if you're getting screams." They go hand-in-hand, I think, in some odd way. It was cool to work with people who work a lot in comedy but are also very good dramatic actors as well and to push it to the limit and see what we could to in this small area.
The movie definitely seems to owe a debt to both "Flatliners" and "Pet Sematary." Were those movies that you were aware of and paid homage to?
Oh definitely. I love those movies.
The movie, not to give too much away, certainly leaves things open for sequels -- and if anybody knows how to make a horror franchise it's Blumhouse. Would you be game to come back?
Yeah, of course. It would have to be some different version of Clay. It could be fun, definitely.
This season of "American Horror Story" was terrific. I know that people are sort of scattered to the wind for different Ryan Murphy projects, between "Scream Queens" and the "American Crime Story" spinoff. Are you going to one of these spinoffs or are you sticking around?
I'm always down to come back to "American Horror Story." I would love to come back. Yeah, I'm not on any of the other shows, I don't think. I'm very happy for everybody who is -- I think they're great shows and I want to check them out. But yeah...
Do you know where it's headed?
I have no idea. I wish I did. I'll let you know when I know.
Has Emma started on "Scream Queens" yet?
No, I think she starts in March. It's definitely going to be fun. I'm going to come and hang out and watch her film. I think it'll be great.
Another thing that you did recently was the "X-Men" movie and you stole the show, totally.
Aw, thank you for that.
What was it like shooting your big slow-motion sequence?
It was awesome. It was a lot of technical work. But it was really fun to do and in the end I was really blown away by the end result. It was like, "Is that me?" It was so weird and very, very cool. I think the directing and the editing and the special effects guys are just mind-blowing in that movie, and I owe a lot of it to them. I did very little. They were the real orchestrators and I thought it was very cool. And I hope in the next one I get to do some cool stuff as well.
So you will be back?
Yeah, I hope so. Knock on wood.
What was more fun -- shooting your big scene or shooting that Carl's Jr. commercial?
[Laughs] The Carl's Jr. commercial was great! I had fun doing that, too. It was a lot of similar stuff -- people being frozen and me running around. It's a fun thing to do.
They say nobody does it better!
[Laughs] Freeze people and have him run around -- the Evan Peters Special!
Are you excited to see what Aaron Taylor-Johnson does with the character?
I am! I can't wait to see that movie! I'm a big fan of those movies and a big fan of Aaron's so I'm excited to see it!
Is there another hero you'd be excited to play?
I always wanted to play someone with a superpower, specifically an X-Man because I loved the movies so much as a kid. And I think it's really cool to play one of the fastest people in the world. It's a really cool superpower to have. So I'm pretty happy to have it.
You were in "Kick-Ass," but you didn't have a superpower.
Yeah, I was just drinking coffee and reading comic books. If that's a superpower, I'm damn good at that, too.
What's the next big mountain you want to climb, career-wise?
I want to do a movie like a Joaquin Phoenix movie or a Paul Thomas Anderson movie or a Clint Eastwood movie. Something that, on it's own, is really much more serious and dramatic and slow-paced. I think that would be something cool to do.
A movie where you have to do very little running?
[Laughs] Yes. No running. My character is very slow in the next one.
"The Lazarus Effect" is in theaters February 27.