Connecticut born, Dylan McDermott was encouraged by his playwright step-mother to pursue acting as a career. He began his career on stage, doing both Regional Theater and Broadway, and made his film debut in the Vietnam War film “Hamburger Hill.” His first major role was that of Jackson Latcherie, husband to the doomed Shelby in “Steel Magnolias.” In 1993 he got his first major role, that of Clint Eastwood’s partner in the Secret Service themed film “In the Line of Fire.” Starring roles in films such as “Miracle on 34th Street,” “Home for the Holidays” and “Wonderland” followed. In 1997 he began a long run on the Emmy Award winning series “The Practice,” winning a Golden Globe for his work on the show as well as an Emmy nomination. He also headlined series like “Big Shots” and “Dark Blue” and now, after appearing last year, he re-appears on the critically acclaimed “American Horror Story: Asylum.” While preparing for a new story arc on the show McDermott took the time to speak with Media Mikes about his work on the show, what scares him and the difference between appearing in a remake or a sequel.
Mike Smith: What is the strangest thing that has happened to you on set, or personally, from doing this show.
Dylan McDermott: Well, I mean if you watched all the episodes, you know that I’ve had to do some strange things clearly, but that was part of the ride when I talked to Ryan [creator Ryan Murphy] about this show. Obviously the cry baiting and walking around naked, and now I’m playing a serial killer, is all in terms of doing American Horror Story, this is what comes with the dinner. So you just have to be up for it.
MS: As a show that not only really stretches your acting abilities but part of your personal fear factor is there any one fear that you would like to try to conquer by doing this show?
DM: Well, I think if you had any fears , you’d better not have them walking into this show because all your personal things are public. So I think that you really have to be not too shy to do a show like this, let me just put it that way.
MS: Can you tell us a little bit about your character and where you hope he ends up at the end of the season.
DM: Well, he’s obviously a troubled man, so where I hope he goes and where he goes are two different places But I think he’s got a sole purpose in life and really that is, he feels so scorned by his mother. Everything is about his mother. The reason he’s doing all these horrible things is because he was rejected so harshly by his mother, obviously aborted. His father was a serial killer. His mother aborted him and he still lives. So his whole trajectory in life is really about her.
MS: Can you give us a breakdown as to how you got involved in this show again? Were you looking to come back and what happened? Did Ryan give you a call and say, listen, I’ve got this sick, twisted character that I want you to play?
DM: Yes, we talked in the summer and he said he was looking for something for me to come back. I wanted to come back and we weren’t sure in what capacity. Then the day the show aired, he called me and said he wanted me to come back as the son of ‘Bloody Face,’ the modern day ‘Bloody Face.’ He just told me; I hadn’t read any of the script, so I knew nothing about it. It was sort of a blind call. When he told me the story of it, I was just like flabbergasted. I mean, I couldn’t get—because it was just so horrendous how this guy would survive and what he would become and who he was. I was just fascinated by him. It was so different from, obviously, ‘Ben Harmon,’ to come back to this same show with a different character. I just thought it was a great way to make television completely different from anything you see on television, because when do you get to play different characters on the same show.?
MS: Without giving too much away, can you tell us how many more episodes you’re going to be appearing in?
DM: I will be, I believe, in the next three out of four.
MS: I realize it’s early yet, but could you see yourself coming back for the third series, if Ryan came up with another big idea for you?
DM: Yes, I mean I love this show. I just think it’s just really—if I wasn’t on the show, I’d be watching it; so I’m a fan of this show as much as an actor on the show. So whatever—like I said before, I really trust Ryan and he has a great instinct with me. If he asks me to come back on, of course.
MS: Do you have a favorite type of horror story?
DM: I do like the Polanski stuff more than anything else. I mean, “Rosemary’s Baby” is still one of my favorite movies of all time. The idea of her being impregnated with the devil and all that stuff is just like so frightening and being in New York at The Dakota, it’s so scary. I’m going to work on a movie, actually, in February, called “Mercy from Jason” and there is a similar theme to “Rosemary’s Baby” in the movie. So somewhere I am attracted to that in a strange way, so that does scare me; the sort of demon baby, more than anything else. Like we had in the first season of American Horror.
MS: Since you like psychological thrillers a lot…the whole demon baby aspect, would you ever consider doing a remake of “Rosemary’s Baby?”
DM: No, because that’s a great movie. I don’t think you can—it’s like remaking “Psycho.” You can’t. Some movies you just can’t remake and that certainly is one of them. Some things should be just left alone—maybe the sequel to “Rosemary’s Baby,” but not the remake.