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SXSW ’15: “AMERICAN HORROR STORY’s” John Carroll Lynch talks Karyn Kusama’s “THE INVITATION”

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One of the most-praised genre films to play at this year’s SXSW Film Festival has been the intense, character-oriented chiller THE INVITATION. Among the ensemble is actor John Carroll Lynch (“Twisty” on AMERICAN HORROR STORY: FREAK SHOW), who discusses his role in this exclusive FANGORIA chat.

In THE INVITATION, Lynch, who Fango caught up with at last weekend’s Monster-Mania convention in New Jersey, is part of a cast led by Logan Marshall-Green as Will, a man haunted by the death of his son two years before. “It’s a really intense, personal movie about a man who doesn’t know whether or not he’s losing his mind,” Lynch tells us. “He goes to this dinner party with his ex-wife and his ex-wife’s new husband, and all of his old friends whom he hasn’t seen since this tragedy occurred a couple of years before. They’ve all been kind of estranged, and they’ve been brought back together for this gathering. As the evening unfolds, you as the audience are going, ‘Is he nuts? I think he might be nuts.’ It’s a terrifically tense, beautifully made film; I’ve been struggling with saying exactly what its genre is. Really, I would describe it as a thriller with horror overtones.

“My character is named Pruitt,” Lynch continues, “and he has met David [the party’s host] in Mexico and returns with him to be a part of this big party. I loved playing Pruitt, because he’s one of the most centered, peaceful characters I’ve ever played. He’s spiritually sound—but the movie is a testament to the danger of true believers.”

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Written and produced by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi, THE INVITATION was directed by Karyn Kusama, returning to her independent roots after taking on the studio productions AEON FLUX and JENNIFER’S BODY. “I’ll tell you,” Lynch says, “she brought all of the skills she learned on those larger movies back to the palette of her first film, GIRLFIGHT, a really intense little picture. This too is a small, intense picture, and yet she brought all that bravado, all the understanding of the technical elements. The editing is masterful, the soundscape is incredible and no one can believe how short the shoot was [18 days]. What she got out of that schedule was incredible.

“We had a terrific time making THE INVITATION,” he continues, “because it was all-in, man; we were all together in that one house for the entire thing. No dressing rooms; all the guys dressed in one room and all the women dressed in another. There was a coffee station we set up, and people would come in and bring their most intense and fun coffees. It was a great group of people, and from such disparate worlds of acting—every single type of experience, from standup comedy to soap operas to musicals. It all came together in a very interesting way, and the movie really pays off.”

INVITATIONLYNCH2Lynch’s INVITATION role is a far cry from Twisty, the disgraced and deranged clown who stands as one of AMERICAN HORROR STORY’s all-time creepiest characters. “Twisty is not spiritually sound!” Lynch laughs. “I had some excellent guidance in that part from [co-creator/director] Ryan Murphy, and from Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, the second director, who does every year of AMERICAN HORROR STORY; he’s terrific, and so were the scripts. It was such an outside-in job, because Twisty’s look is so dominant and so important. He’s a silent character, so I was really brought into his interior by the way he looked and moved. I loved the fact that they paid off Twisty’s story; you got a sense of how insensitivity and intolerance create monsters.” Twisty is enough to make coulrophobes out of everyone, but not Lynch: “I have never been afraid of clowns,” he says, “and I do not fear clowns now!”

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About the author
Michael Gingold
Michael Gingold has been a member of the FANGORIA team for the past three decades. After starting as a writer for the magazine in 1988, he came aboard as associate editor in 1990 and two years later moved up to managing editor. He now serves as editor-in-chief of the magazine while continuing to contribute numerous articles and reviews, as well as a contributing editor/writer for this website.
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