Sarah Paulson won an Emmy last year for portraying real-life figure Marcia Clark in The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. The actress is looking to play a real-life figure, albeit a much more divisive one, in the upcoming seventh season of American Horror Story.
"I'd like to play Donald Trump," Paulson told The Hollywood Reporter Sunday when asked who from AHS' large ensemble of returning castmembers should step into the president's shoes.
Ryan Murphy, the mastermind behind both American Horror Story and American Crime Story, first revealed in February that the theme of the new season would be about the most recent presidential election.
"American Horror Story is going to be about the election that we just went through. And what I'm interested in doing is not just the obvious, single-minded point of view but rather express all sides of that equation," he told THR. "And then all of the stuff that I'm developing now is going to be about illuminating and highlighting people who don't have a voice in our culture - people who are ignored by the current administration and who are afraid and feel terrorized that their lives are going to be taken away."
When asked on the PaleyFest red carpet Sunday who should play President Donald Trump, Paulson volunteered herself. "If Donald Trump is going to be in a character in it," she said, adding that prosthetics would likely be involved. "Why not? That's an acting challenge to be sure."
It's not yet known for certain whether Trump and/or his former opponent Hillary Clinton will actually be characters in the upcoming season. When asked in February, Murphy said "maybe" about a potential Trump character and later said in a different interview that the two presidential candidates would just appear in smaller parts. Although there were rumors that frequent AHS castmember Kathy Bates might play the president, she denied that speculation in a recent interview.
Paulson said she gasped when she first heard the theme for the new season - AHS details are frequently kept under tight wraps - but praised the decision as "inventive."
"Ryan has a very unique perspective on everything. Is there anything that he has put out into the world that hasn't been a sort of unique or inventive way to look at something that maybe some could say has been done before? He reinvents everything," she said. "Whatever the angle he's going to take, it will be unique, which will make it new, which will make us interested and make our eyes and ears open probably in a way that we hadn't thought about."
Denis O'Hare, who has appeared in five of the six seasons of AHS thus far but is not yet confirmed to return, shared that sentiment.
"I don't think it would be a direct attack," he said. "Ryan's usually working in metaphors and so it would definitely be coming from an angle, which I think makes it more powerful, more interesting."
American Horror Story would be the latest scripted series to tackle the election. The Good Fight opened with liberal leading lady Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) watching Trump's inauguration and has several episodes written about the issue of free speech in the new administration. HBO recently announced that it is developing a miniseries about the 2016 election from the Game Change team of director Jay Roach and exec producers Mark Halperin and John Heilemann.
So how will American Horror Story's take add a new perspective? "Because there are no rules with American Horror Story. It is fantasy, it is bold, and operatic and rough sometimes, kind of like politics," said Cheyenne Jackson, who has appeared in seasons five and six of AHS. "He could probably put his point of view out there and speak for what a lot of people possibly are thinking but also do it in an entertaining, disgusting way."
When asked about Murphy's decision to tackle the election, O'Hare said it was a natural direction.
"People kept saying 'American Horror Story: The Election' already; I saw T-shirts with that on it. So he's, in a way, listening to the zeitgeist," he said. "He's really good at listening to what people want."
Season seven of AHS is expected to premiere later this year on FX.