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Lily Rabe on Stevie Nicks Coming to 'American Horror Story': 'It Definitely Makes My Heart Race a Little!'

Joyce Edwards
Yahoo TV
November 20, 2013

Lily Rabe as Misty in "American Horror Story: Coven"
Lily Rabe as Misty in "American Horror Story: Coven"

It's pretty difficult not to have a soft spot for Misty Day, the reclusive and well-intentioned hippie witch played by Lily Rabe, but it's really her immense love for Stevie Nicks that has made her a standout character on this season's "American Horror Story: Coven." Lily and Misty's deep fandom for the singer only makes the icon's impending guest appearance that much more special, and it's fair to surmise that Nicks will be working closely with her hippie witch counterpart.

Yahoo TV talked with Rabe by phone after creator and director Ryan Murphy's announcement of Nicks's impending arrival at the New Orleans coven. Rabe expressed concern for Misty's ability to survive an encounter with her idol (Rabe herself has an image of Nicks on her phone) and discussed the instinctive nature of her character's power of resurgence. One thing's for certain: There will soon be shawls and lots of twirling at the coven as the two worlds finally collide.

Ryan Murphy tweeted that Stevie Nicks will guest star this season.

It definitely makes my heart race a little! When you meet someone you really look up to and have been inspired by, you never know how it's going to go. It makes me so nervous. I don't know what Misty would do if she met Stevie — I'm a little bit more worried about Misty surviving that encounter. (Laughs)

Ryan Murphy has been pursuing Stevie for a while. I can't imagine that if [Stevie] wasn't a fan of the show she would be interested in coming. I'd like to think that she's fond of Misty. I can't talk specifics or plans, but it's such an honor to garner Stevie's interest. It's really cool; I definitely think she likes the show, and what an impact she has on Misty.

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If Stevie were to join the coven, what power do you think she would have?

I think that maybe because of how I feel about the Stevie connection to Misty, and Misty's own power of resurgence, she would have the same power? I should think more outside of the witch-power box, but I feel like she would share that power. I connect the two of them so much, and it's really meaningful to me, so I'd like to think that they are similar in their powers as well.

Lily Rabe as Misty in "American Horror Story: Coven"
Lily Rabe as Misty in "American Horror Story: Coven"

How did you prepare to play Misty Day?

For Misty I definitely spent a lot of time saturating myself with Stevie videos, and I even have a photo of Stevie as the background on my phone screen, too. (Laughs) When I play someone who is madly in love or obsessed with someone, I try to have that person around me as much as possible. It was already kind of there, because I really love Stevie anyway, but I learned to turn the dial up and have as much Stevie around me as possible.

Also, in New Orleans there's this wonderful access to witchcraft and voodoo at my fingertips. I'm a real dork about research, and because we have this opportunity to just walk into these witchy places on the street, I like to take advantage of it.

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In last week's episode, "The Axeman Cometh," Misty uses her power of resurgence to bring Madison back to life but was initially hesitant. How do you think Misty knows when someone has "too much death" to bring them back?

She really feels it. It's definitely easier to bring people back to life who haven't been dead for a long time. The longer their soul has left their body, the more work it is to retrieve it. It becomes difficult to gauge, but I think she can really feel it and know instinctively when she can bring someone or something back to life.

What are the consequences of bringing someone back to life? Is there really anyone she can't bring back?

I don't know the answer to that! I feel like there could always be people that she wouldn't really want to bring back to life. Whether she's brought back a person or an animal, she's always had success, so her power is certainly quite strong and we don't know, and I don't personally know, if there are any limitations to it.

We also see Misty nursing Myrtle Snow back to health in "The Axeman Cometh," by burying her in earth and watering her. How does Misty's more natural and earthy approach to witchcraft vary from the other witches'?

Nature is a huge part of Misty's life because of where she lives, out on her own in the swamp. I think she spends most of her time in her garden, and she has a strong relationship to the mud. There's magic in the mud, and it's all because the garden is so precious to her, because of her lifestyle, and because of where she lives.

Misty was drawn to this isolated life away from civilization after she was burned at the stake. She's certainly afraid of being part of society in the way that she was before she was burned. I think her solution was to really isolate herself, and nature is a very comforting haven that also works within her powers. She uses nature to heal people and herself.

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When we see Myrtle Snow [Frances Conroy] back in action, will Misty and Myrtle team up as outsiders?

They are both such outsiders, aren't they? Two very well dressed outsiders. (Laughs) The more time I have acting with Franny, the better! I love working with her, and I'm obsessed with her character this year. They are both misfits, and I think it's always fun to watch two misfits join together in some way.

Speaking of well dressed, where does Misty get all her great clothes?

It's definitely from thrift stores, and it's all very lovingly worn, that's for sure! She's a definite dumpster diver and dollar store kind of gal. She's not shopping at department stores. (Laughs)

Misty seems to also be able to communicate with and control the alligator. Are there more powers to her? Could she be the Supreme?

The thing with the alligator was actually just the use of her same power of resurgence. She brought the alligator back to life, and any living thing can be brought back. I don't think she was manipulating or controlling the alligator after she brought it back to life, but the alligator became aware of her and her power and behaved accordingly out of respect, I think. I'm not sure about future powers or being the next Supreme.

How is this season different than previous seasons? It seems a bit lighter, with much of that coming from your character.

Aw, thanks! I think the main difference is shooting on location and being in New Orleans and having that onsite experience. For me that definitely sets this season apart from the first two seasons. Each year is a singular and unique experience from the previous year. I've always found some really wonderful dark humor in the writing throughout the seasons, but I think there's more of it for everyone this year, which is great!

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What has been your favorite scene to shoot so far this season?

I loved shooting the scene in this [past] week's episode where I'm all to myself after Zoe and Kyle leave the swamp. Alfonso [Gomez-Rejon] directs a lot of the scenes, and I love working with him because he has such a great sensibility about the scenes and understands the show so deeply. I said to him, "When can we just turn the music up and just roll the camera?" and that's where that scene came from. We did some takes of me with the music blasting and me just grieving with Stevie after having been disappointed by these two people. Misty's with Stevie, who is the one person she can count on, and I liked shooting that scene very much.

How long do you plan to stick to the "American Horror Story" franchise?

It's such a wonderful thing to be part of this [repertory] company! There are a couple of shows on Broadway that are in rep, but this idea translates over to television. I think [repertory companies] are definitely getting a spotlight in TV right now, and "Horror Story" represents that. I feel really lucky to be one of the five or six people who've been able to come back each year and be a part of it in that way.

It's kind of a perfect gig; you have all the great things at once. You work with the same people on the same crew, and you feel at home; and yet you get to tell a different story each year and play a different character. It's really great, and I'd love to continue doing it.

Watch a preview of the next "Coven":

"American Horror Story: Coven" airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on FX.