Spoiler Alert: Do not read on if you have not yet seen Episode 10 of FX's "American Horror Story: Asylum," titled "The Name Game."
On last week's episode of "American Horror Story: Asylum," two central characters met their deaths and Lily Rabe, who played Sister Mary Eunice on the FX series, says, "[There are] a lot of people left to die."
Below Rabe talks about tearing up over her death scene, Sister Mary Eunice and Dr. Arden's twisted love story, trying to get herself involved in "The Name Game" scene and much more.
What did you think about Sister Mary Eunice's death scene when you read it?
Well, I knew the death was coming for a little while, but I really just thought the whole episode was so great and that the death scene was [too]. At a certain point, if you know your character's going to die, you really just want a great death and with the show, so many of us are going to go and we know it. So we just hope we'll get to do a great stunt or something, which I got to do. [Laughs.]
You did the whole thing yourself, right?
Yeah, I did! It was so much fun.
What was the preparation like for that?
We did it all in one day. We shot it on a weekend day and it was a stunt double I had worked with before and I felt really comfortable with her. They gave me a little time to get used to the wires, but I got comfortable pretty quickly. It was a lot of fun to do that stuff. Of course, the actual shooting of the scene was painful, but getting thrown from very high up on wires is definitely my idea of fun.
Did you shoot the fall slowly? It was such a beautiful expression she had on her face as she fell -- how'd you control it?
We shot it a lot of different ways. When we shot the actual fall, it was very fast and then sometimes, I was just sort of suspended half-way through, which was a great ab workout. [Laughs.] But I think that allowed them to cover my face more. It was sort of about getting it all different ways so they could have what they needed in terms of getting the actual stunt and be able to get my face and tell the story.
It was sad to hear Sister Mary Eunice say she didn't want to fight anymore.
Yes. As she says, she's tired. In the show you only see her emerge once in a while, but that battle is going on for her every moment -- she's fighting the thing that's taking her over. So I think the relief of knowing that she doesn't have to keep fighting ... When I read the episode, there were tears on my pages. That's for sure.
I felt like her death scene went so quickly.
I know! [Laughs.] But the season's almost over and there are a lot of ends to tie up and a lot of people left to die so to me, it was kind of the perfect ending.
You had a lot of scenes with the Monsignor, who's played by Joseph Fiennes, towards the end of your run. What was it like working with him? You had so many heavy scenes together.
Oh, just a rape and a murder and assisted suicide or whatever ... No big deal. [Laughs.] We had a great time together. Joe and I got along really well and he's a very open, generous person and actor. In a way, I think the fact that we hadn't necessarily been spending the whole season together and intimately working together was helpful. It's better if there is a certain newness and lack of familiarity between the two of them also.
That rape scene was something we rarely see on TV since it depicted a woman raping a man. Was that scene difficult for you? Did you talk about it a lot in advance?
[Laughs.] Nope. Talking doesn't really help, except to pass the time. With scenes like that, it's better to just do it and to use how bizarre it is in a moment like that -- it's all valuable. We just sort of went for it or I guess, I did. [Laughs.] He didn't have much of a choice.
The final scene of the episode with Dr. Arden [James Cromwell] and Mary Eunice in the incinerator was very shocking to me. What was it like to shoot that scene?
That was really, really hard. Even though I was dead, that was probably the hardest scene for me to shoot actually of the whole season.
Were you happy with the close to their bizarre quasi-romantic storyline?
I thought it was quite beautiful, actually and I thought it was the fitting end to their very, very, very bizarre love story. I knew the death was coming, but I could have never foreseen that moment of him going with her. It was a surprise to me. But when I read it, I thought, "That's kind of perfect, actually."
Was there any talk about any symbolism with him essentially cremating himself and Arden's Nazi soldier past?
Absolutely. That was definitely something that was discussed. It was sort of a massive thing to go through, and to go through that with a person on top of you, as well. [Laughs.] But it was all exactly right. At that point, James and I been through so much together so we felt very safe together.
There was so much with Sister Mary Eunice and Sister Jude [Jessica Lange] at the beginning of the season and I wished there was something to give that story some closure, even though that's obviously not what this show is about.
For me, theirs was the most profound relationship of the season. Because I believe [Jude] is the person that [Mary Eunice] loves the most. I think she had tremendous love for Dr. Arden in certain moments, but I think Sister Jude is really the mother she never had and the woman who, from the beginning, sees something in her that no one else sees. Her cruelty towards Mary Eunice in the beginning was so much about, "I see you and I see that you're more than this. You're not living to your full potential." Those people in our lives who push us like that, I think that's so intimate. So the demise of that relationship and the fact that Mary Eunice ends up being her greatest enemy in so many ways was really painful. Perhaps there really is no way to wrap that up.
There's a moment in the scene where Mary Eunice is performing the electroshock therapy on her and for the two of us -- and I'm sure on-screen it's a fleeting moment -- but there is a moment of recognition, a final moment of contact between the two of them before her brain is fried and she has to go into this whole other place and before the battle between Mary Eunice and the devil becomes a losing one completely for Mary.
Were you bummed not to be part of "The Name Game" scene?
Yes! I was! Because I love singing and dancing so much. We thought about how we could get her involved, but the truth is, it just couldn't be. She had dropped off the juke box and left to go do her horrible things. [Laughs.] God, I would have dressed up like someone else just to do the singing and dancing. That's how much I love a day of shooting a musical number.
What was the biggest challenge for you this season in playing Sister Mary Eunice?
The greatest challenge always is making sure that you're tracking the truth of this person's evolution or devolution. For me, it was so much about navigating that battle of this dark thing entering into this pure, clean soul -- and what effect that has and how much is left of that person at every moment or how hard that person is fighting. Holding those two things inside of the character at every moment was the important thing to me, even though in the end, of course, she doesn't win.
Also, something that's so important and amazing about what Ryan [Murphy] created is that possession isn't only bad for Sister Mary Eunice. That's the complicated thing. She would never be singing and dancing and drinking wine and putting on lipstick and having sex and doing all these things that are part of this awakening of her as a woman. There's this gift that she gets from whatever release it is that this other thing taking her over lets her experience before it goes too far in a bad direction.
Should you come back for Season 3, who would you like to work with more?
Evan Peters! He's so amazing. I love Evan. I think he's so special and he's just a great guy and a great actor. Evan and I had a little bit in Season 1. We're sort of like, "Hey, Ryan. What about us? C'mon. Give us a scene. Let's go!"
"American Horror Story" airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. EST on FX.