Mark Consuelos took the time to chat about American Horror Story: Asylum and hischaracter, Spivey. Spivey is an inmate at Briarcliff who was first seen during a rough encounter with Kit (Evan Peters) in Chapter 1 and reappeared again last week in “The Origins of Monstrosity,” where he revealed a perversion towards the seemingly innocent Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe). American Horror Story: Asylum airs Wednesday nights at 10:00 p.m., only on FX.
Press Conference Call Interview Highlights:
Q: Can you tell us how you got involved in this part?
Mark Consuelos: Yes. I was … Ryan Murphy and he wanted to talk about this particular project, and over dinner he explained the role and how ‘Spivey’ was going to look. And we really got into the physical characteristics of ‘Spivey’ and he did warn me that he’s going to be a super dark kind of character, extremely demented, and for me I said, you understand that’s exactly why I would want to play ‘Spivey.’
Q: So you were aware ahead of time of what you were going to have to go through with makeup and –
Mark Consuelos: No, I had no idea. But I literally said whatever you’re about to ask me to do, Ryan, the answer’s yes.
Q: How long did it take to get that makeup on?
Mark Consuelos: Oh, it takes anywhere from two and a half to three and a half hours, depending on what’s going on. Whenever they say it’s going to take that long I’m like, yes, right, there’s no way, what’s so hard about that. But these guys are definitely artists. They’re amazing at what they do. And just getting it on and then once they get the stuff on the prosthetics, the way they go about touching them up and painting them and adjusting them, like I said they’re really artists.
Q: Would you be interested in being on the show again next season?
Mark Consuelos: Absolutely. … . It’s been so fun just to be part of it, the whole buzz around the show is exciting, and then when it actually starts airing people absolutely love it. I got extreme street credibility from my high school aged son, he’s like, “Dad, the fact that you’re in American Horror Story is absolutely cool.” And I was like, “I’m not sure if it’s appropriate for you.” And he was like, “Dad, come on, I’m a New York City kid in high school … .”
J. Nunn Right, right. Well, come back and visit us in Illinois soon.
Q: It’s obviously such a dark show, how do you protect yourself from taking that character and the tension of the storytelling home with you every night?
Mark Consuelos: As dark as you think the stuff that you’re doing as an actor on that show is, once you watch it you’re like, oh, man, it could have been a lot darker, having seen some of the other things that people were doing. And so I don’t know, I saw it as such a great opportunity that I literally had so much fun doing it and there was excitement about doing it, and I didn’t have that much trouble separating myself from what was going on, on set. I had a lot of fun, actually.
Q: What’s the atmosphere like on set between takes?
Mark Consuelos: I think it’s super professional. The directors have been amazing. The crews for the days that I’ve been there are outstanding, and the actors, that list of actors, gosh, you can’t get much better than that. Everybody’s super, super professional and I think they have a good time as well, but they’re there to work. You would think it would feel super heavy sometimes, but I think the stage manager … the assistant director did a really good job, when those moments are happening everybody was super respectful.
Q: Looking over the stuff you’ve done this is really quite a departure from anything you’ve done in the past, so it must be really exciting for you as an actor and as a performer. Obviously, you were a fan of the first season?
Mark Consuelos: It is. Thank God. Yes, I was so excited to do this. Yes, a big fan, a big fan. I thought it was really interesting how they, I guess, classified it as a miniseries, that each year would be a little bit different –… super smart. It’s really interesting for an actor as well that you can continue to do season to season and not be playing the same role, which is one of the interesting things as an actor is you always want to try new things, so the fact that they set it up that you would be doing different things each season –
Q: Did Ryan come to you, or did you go to him, or how did this all come about for you?
Mark Consuelos: We met each other at a social thing and we decided to talk about a project that he was interested in me doing. Initially, he had written something with me in mind and I turned it down, and I said, “That would never have happened.” And he said, “No, it happened. You turned it down.” “No, I did not do that.” And he was like, “Yes, you did.” And after getting to know Ryan just a little bit, and he’s absolutely wonderful, I found out that he remembers every single thing, he’s so specific, and that’s one of his strong points, and very, very specific, he knows what he wants and he knows how things go. So there was actually a conversation about something that I didn’t do turned into a conversation about something I could potentially do, which I’m glad, timing is everything, so I’m glad it actually worked out.
Q: With the asylum being such a character itself within the show, what is it like, is it challenging at all to act in that environment? How intense is that?
Mark Consuelos: I’ve never been in an asylum, and you always feel like it’s sort of creepy and there’s this lore about them, so I didn’t really know what to expect. I tried to watch and do as much research as I possibly could. And I watched this one documentary called, I think it’s called … Follies, and I think it was shot in the mid-60s, at the same time this show was set. And it kind of informed me a lot. It made me actually even more afraid after watching that documentary. But, yes, the set, the production designer … did such an amazing job, everything looks so authentic and substantial and it really sets the mood for the show.
Q: You have an ABC comedy that you’re going to be producing with Kelly. Do you prefer producing because it gives you more control, or do you prefer acting?
Mark Consuelos: Oh gosh, I guess it depends on the project. There are certain projects that you love to be involved in no matter what capacity, as producing, or in front of the camera, whatever it is, and there’s certain projects that probably I wouldn’t even consider getting behind, just the sheer magnitude of certain projects I couldn’t produce, so just to come in and act would probably be a lot easier. But I like aspects of both. I think that for a couple of years I focused on more the producing because I wanted to be close to home after traveling a lot for work. And now that the kids are a little bit older I’m enjoying acting again and taking these jobs. This particular job for FX really I would travel one day, work one day, maybe two days, and then be on the red eye home. So a lot of times I was only gone for two to three days, which is perfect for having a family in a different part of the country.
Q: Are you hoping that American Horror Story will change how people think about you and maybe they will offer you more dramatic roles?
Mark Consuelos: I really love the dramatic roles. And the great thing about this job is that although it’s extremely dramatic, it’s so much fun. … roles, but it is a drama, and it’s not necessarily a procedural like cop show, this is extreme drama, and it’s so fun to play. And, yes, I think that typically I wouldn’t be seen as, or given the opportunity to do this job or play this character, so I hope that opens me up a little bit to more opportunities.
Q: Were you allowed to give your own input in developing the character yourself, or did they have it pretty well set that they had a certain agenda for you to work the character?
Mark Consuelos: I think that with most good scripts and good shows they expect the actor to bring some of their ideas and some of the things, the back story of the character, or just certain aspects, they expect the actor to do some of that stuff, and I think it’s always a good collaboration between the actor and the writer and the director to try stuff out during the process. And I think what was really great is that people were open to certain things and they would let you know if that was something they wanted you to do more, cut that in half, do more of that, we need you to do this, but I feel like on any really, really good show I think everybody comes with their own stuff and you want to try as much as you can. I would say that the character was really clear in some of the things that he’d been doing and some of these actions, so it makes it easier for the actor, it informed the character and what you would think he’d be going through. There wasn’t really a lot of gray area here. Do you know what I mean? They wrote him very specifically, which I really appreciated. But just because they are very specific about those things, it doesn’t mean that it limits you. Actually, it makes those possibilities and some of your choices even greater.
Q: Now, would you say that you’re more of a fan of that type of direction, or do you like to sometimes have a little bit more defining in a role?
Mark Consuelos: No, I love the collaboration. I think every actor would probably say that it’s always a collaboration and if you ask directors they expect the actors to bring something. They don’t want to be thinking for everybody. I think I enjoy this kind of – again, I think it was a hybrid of both. There was a lot of collaboration but it was also very, very specific with an extremely specific view, especially from Ryan, on certain things that I thought were really good. You have to have a specific view and you have to be pretty precise about that. I think as an actor it’s always great to have a little bit of both.
Q: How did you get into character, because there’s a lot of dark stuff that ‘Spivey’ has in his personality?
Mark Consuelos: Yes. I don’t know, I think you just kind of get into it a little bit. And I was saying before that the sets are so amazing and the makeup and the wardrobe are also really specific that it really, really helps that kind of suspended belief, and you get into character pretty easily on set. And then again you’re working with some of the greatest actors ever, they’re so fantastic, and I think that also helps, and the directors were great. I think what they do on the show specifically is they set you up to do really good work, you’ve got a lot of support all around.
Q: How has your family and fans reacted to this role, since it’s very different than what a lot of people have seen you in?
Mark Consuelos: Yes, I think it disturbed my wife a little bit, in a good way. She’s hooked on the show, but she finds it so disturbing and she can’t look away. She wants to look away, but she can’t look away. And I have one 15-year-old son who loves the genre and he’s been watching it too, which I’m kind of on the fence whether or not he should be able to watch it, but I’ve gotten an incredible amount of street credibility for being on “such a cool show,” as he puts it. And I think the fans have responded really, really well to it, and they didn’t expect it, and they’re appreciating it and enjoying it.
Q: You mentioned that your son watches it, even though you said he was a bit young. How does it feel knowing you’re doing a role that your son can really love and be proud of and tell all his friends about?
Mark Consuelos: Again, the fact that he likes it and thinks it’s cool, for a father, you immediately become uncool once you become a father and especially the older they get and the older you get it’s that inevitability of just as cool as you think you are you’re probably just as lame in your kids’ eyes, so the fact that he really likes it, and he really likes the horror genre and some of the sci-fi stuff as well, so we do have some discussions about doing the character, the makeup and how they do it, and it’s cool. I’ve been enjoying the conversation with him.
Q: What are the odds that we’re going to get Kelly to guest star?
Mark Consuelos: Hey, listen, you never know with Mr. Murphy, because he can have anybody on the show.
Q: Do you like taking adventurous roles like this?
Mark Consuelos: Oh God, yes. Yes, absolutely. And the great thing about this role is when I was talking to Ryan Murphy about it, he had very specific opinions about what he would look like. And he was like, we’ll start with your teeth, they can’t be that white and nice, so we’re going to completely screw up your teeth and everything. And then we’re going to start with …, and your hair, and your face, and body type and the way he walks, and it was just so exciting just to come at it from that point of view, because frankly a lot of the stuff that I do, it’s the exact opposite of that, and they want to make it as perfect as possible. I’m typically the guy that ends up kissing the girl at the end of the scene, or at the end of the show or whatever it is, not that that’s not fantastic, but for an actor, especially since I’ve been doing that kind of stuff so much, to be given the opportunity to play a role that people, if you didn’t tell them that it was me, they probably wouldn’t even figure it out, which is great. To me that’s a huge compliment and there was a lot of thought that went into that, in the appearance of the guy and the era and how they lived and how unhealthy he was, and that was fun, yes. And absolutely, I’m absolutely open to continuing in getting those opportunities.
Q: I’ve always understood from every actor I’ve talked to that doing the soaps is a good training ground for actors.
Mark Consuelos: Yes, a tremendous amount of material and the workload is significant on soaps. You really, really have to learn how to work quickly and make specific choices and work long hours and you’re just appreciative to be working. So in that respect, yes, I think it can be a great training ground.