Q&A with 'Horror's' Connie Britton

Connie Britton

In " American Horror Story," the freaky-deaky new drama that airs Wednesdays on FX, Connie Britton plays Vivien Harmon, a woman who must confront the emotional fallout from her husband's adultery, weird next-door neighbors who regularly break into her house, and the knowledge that the home has been a murder scene on at least one occasion.

In other words, Britton -- who previously played a football coach's supportive wife on " Friday Night Lights" -- is not in Dillon, Texas, anymore.

The two-time Emmy nominee recently took a few minutes to chat about the weirdly compelling series and how her attitude toward horror was shaped by wise words from Rob Zombie. Yes, Rob Zombie.

Q: I can't think of a more different TV show for you to do after "Friday Night Lights."

A: Right? I know. Isn't it crazy?

Q: Just in terms of basic things. Like some of the words you get to say.

A: I know! Listen, I think I could not be speaking the obvious more loudly when I say that was a lot of what drew me to doing this show. Coming from "Friday Night Lights," which was such an amazing experience and such a unique experience, I wanted to do something completely different. This filled the bill in every way.

Q: The house on the show, where is that? Is that a set?

A: That house is the most amazing thing. It is a location. We shot the entire pilot in that house in Los Angeles. So then, to shoot the series, they have actually built sets that are exact replicas.

When we're on the set, it feels like we're in that house, to the point where on the set -- you know, if you run up the stairs to the second floor, it kind of ends. It sort of just ends into nothingness, like you could

actually eventually walk off of a platform. I get thrown every time I run up the stairs. And by the way, I do a lot of running around on the show, a lot of running up and down stairs, usually in a great deal of fear. And every single time I get to the top of those stairs, I go, "Whoa."

Q: "American Horror Story" has such a dark, twisted tone. As an actor, do you find it hard to leave that behind?

A: I have always had a hard time with horror because I'm just a big baby and I take it all too personally and too seriously. So I haven't really been a big horror-watcher, but it's very interesting when you're actually doing it. There is something -- because I've had conversations with people over the years about -- what is it about horror? What does that create for people psychologically?

And I actually remember having this conversation with Rob Zombie once, about his movies. You know, because he's the greatest guy and such a sweetheart and a hardworking, nice guy. And yet he makes these crazy, horrendous movies.

I was like, "Rob, what's going on?" He said, there's an outlet for that. There's something about getting that energy and that darkness out. I have to say, shooting it day in and day out -- which, while we're shooting it, for me, it's difficult.

Sometimes as an actor it can be really hard to sustain that state of being for the six hours or the eight hours that I need to get a scene done. But I do find that in being able to do that in that moment, I actually feel very free from it when I go out and back into my life.