Britta (Admin of Finn Wittrock Source on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook) had the chance to chat with actor and screenwriter Finn Wittrock (Ratched, American Horror Story, Judy).
First of all, congratulations on the success of your latest TV show RATCHED which is currently streaming on Netflix! This is so well-deserved.
I really enjoyed every episode of it!
Finn, you play mass murderer Edmund Tolleson in Ratched alongside many brilliant colleagues of yours such as Sarah Paulson, Sharon Stone, Judy Davis, Jon Jon Briones and many more.
When you first learned about Edmund Tolleson’s story, his social background, his childhood, his personality and the way his character evolves throughout the show, what was your reaction to it? Did it scare you or challenge you as an actor – or maybe both?
Scared, challenged, excited, unsure if I could pull it off… all of those feelings. I was scared of doing something so extreme, because it’s easy to fall into some kind of stereotyped version of what you think a serial killer is like, and it’s also easy to repeat yourself if you’ve done that kind of thing before. But because I had a unique and thoroughly written backstory, it became clear that I wasn’t playing a run of the mill “psychopath” or even the story’s actual “villain.” I knew he would do horrible things but I felt my job was to have him fight against his own demons as much as possible – to have him try to find the beauty wherever he could. He smiles more than you might remember. He falls in love, hard. These things bring lightness into the dark territory I spent so much time in.
Working with such a brilliant cast, describe your feelings when you think back to the time on set. Which scene did you find the hardest to film? Which one was the funniest?
I guess the hardest scene was the big one with Hanover in episode 2. I had prepped for it for a few weeks, but according to the original schedule, I still had two weeks before it was due to film. Then (Sarah) Paulson got sick and they scrambled to find a scene to shoot. And that scene was chosen, so at 11 am I was called and asked if I could be on set by 2 to do it. And suddenly my two more weeks of prep became two more hours. But I think it was good for me – I had to rely on the work I had already done and the adrenaline that was pumping and throw the rest of it to the wind. I think it made the scene better. One other moment that stands out is episode 5, The Dance. I think Jon Jon (Briones) and Judy Davis are not getting enough credit for their dancing skills. Jon Jon did the Charleston so full out for a bunch of takes and was sweating like crazy, and I was very impressed. He’s a Broadway guy, and so is she – she is a true stage legend. So it was nice to get a front row seat for that performance.
You spent most of the time locked up and tied up. Did this influence your performance one way or another? I mean, did it help you to empathize with Edmund? Getting closer to his inner demons maybe?
It’s the funny thing about acting – your actual day to day experience often resembles your characters just for the logistics and the physical specifications alone. There are those sweeping panoramas up the Pacific coast, those lavish hotel rooms that Sharon was in, I didn’t experience much of that. I spent a lot of time in a few confined locations, and I do think that affects you. I didn’t have much to distract me from the thoughts in my own head. It was more bare bones. And I think that’s how Edmund feels – deprived of the luxury he knows is out there. Although I did get to drive that amazing car in the final episode so I got a taste of swankiness.
Many fans consider Dandy Mott, the mentally deranged, rich kid you played on American Horror Story Freak Show, one of the most hated characters of the show because of what he did to the folks from the circus.
With Edmund, at least this is what I’m reading on the internet, fans seem to be way more compassionate. Why do you think is it easier for people to like Edmund than Dandy?
I think it’s easier to feel for a monster that is formed, rather than one who is born that way. I don’t know why exactly. But I don’t think Edmund was born that way, and I kind of think Dandy was. I think Edmund was molded by a vicious unforgiving childhood and that’s what made him a violent criminal. With Dandy, he was born a bit psychopathic, and yeah probably if he had had good psychotherapy from age 3 might have overcome his demons. But he didn’t – he had infinite wealth and a mother who indulged his every impulse and so his inner freak took over. But that’s the thing with villains – There are some aspects we relate to, and others that fascinate us because (I think) it’s something unexplored within us that we are both enthralled and repulsed by. Why do I love Anthony Perkins in Psycho? Yes he is sympathetic, but he is also monstrous, yet something about the monster itself is so intriguing. There is a mystery behind his eyes that you want to solve, but also know you will never solve. That’s a good character.
You’re about to start filming the 10th season of American Horror Story. I’m pretty sure fans can’t wait to see what Ryan Murphy has prepared for them this time!
How much do you know about the theme in general and your character in particular?
I’m sworn to secrecy, or else I forfeit my first born child. However, I think I am allowed to tell you this: This season is structured in a way no other season has been. And yes it has something to do with sharp teeth.
Talking about getting back to work, what are you most looking forward to after this imposed lockdown? What did you miss most?
I’m looking forward to working, period. It’s been so long since I’ve been on a set, I’m dying to be working again. I miss the camaraderie of the group working together, I miss long nights and early mornings, even though they suck when you’re doing them. I miss shooting the shit in the hair and makeup trailer, I miss the craft service snack table, I miss it all. It’s all gonna be totally different when we go back but at least I’ll be able to do the thing I love again.
Can you already tell us something about more new projects you’ll be working on in the near future?
New projects are still very much up in the air. The whole world of filming is still pretty upended, so besides Ratched Season 2 I don’t know what else is up the pike. A few films to watch out for that are coming out in the near future: Long Weekend, A Mouthful of Air,” and Deep Water. Those are movies I’ve completed and which had a great plan for them until these little bugs got ahold of world, and now no one’s quite sure about any movie’s future. But they’re done, they’re in the can, and hopefully you will see them someday.
And last but not least, any recommendations for your fans for some good TV shows to watch after they’ve finished RATCHED?
I May Destroy You, The Undoing, I know this much is true…, The Trial of the Chicago 7, wow. What else? I’ve been watching Curb Your Enthusiasm during this time and god is it brilliant. Locating Silver Lake, the film I made with my good friend Eric Bilitch, was just put onto Hulu, so that’s a quick plug for a film you might find refreshing. Give it a watch!
Thank you so much, Finn, for taking some time out to chat with me about your work! All the best for your future projects!
Follow Finn Wittrock on Twitter and Instagram: @FinnWittrock
Photos: Odda Magazine