You've probably seen Evan Peters any number of different ways. The actor has grown from a tween appearing in PlayStation commercials and guest starring on the Disney Channel shows to becoming one of Ryan Murphy's go-to troupe members, featuring in some form in practically every new series the super-producer creates, including his latest, Pose, the acclaimed show whose first season finale aired on Sunday night. Audiences might be hard-pressed to think up a role Peters has yet to occupy—he has shape-shifted himself from dorky adolescent to Frankenstein frat boy to superhero to cult leader. The only genre Peters has yet to tackle is comedy, but the 31-year-old actor is chomping at the bit for a chance to do that, too.
When did you start thinking about acting?
I was 15. I'm from St. Louis, Missouri, and I looked in the Yellow Pages. I found a local agency in Grand Blanc, Michigan, of all places. There was a Flint Youth Theatre that I was involved in a little bit, but I stayed out of it in high school because I was new, and I never did it in grade school. I mean, we did grade school plays and stuff, but I wanted to separate the two, you know? I just didn't want to get beat up, I guess.
What was the first thing you auditioned for?
I don't remember. But the second thing I auditioned for was this independent film called Clipping Adam, about a boy who loses his mother and sister in a car accident and then grows his hair out. I had this incredible Whitesnake mullet for the whole movie, which was hilarious. And then, at the end I cut my hair and let it all go. I had to wear extensions, which was kind of intense and a little weird.
What commercials did you do?
I did a Sour Patch Kids commercial. First they're sour, then they're sweet. The Sour Patch Kid throws eggs at me, at my front door, and then comes over and gives me a hug at the end. I also did a Sony PlayStation commercial. They don't give you anything. I thought I was gonna get Sour Patch Kids, I thought I was gonna get a PlayStation. I didn't get anything, but I did like it. I thought they were fun.
And was your goal to do films, or were you interested in TV, or you just wanted to work?
I think I wanted to do everything. I was a big fan of Shia LaBeouf and Even Stevens, and was like, "Oh, man. I would love to be on Disney Channel and have a show," because it was what I watched. Obviously, movies would be incredible, but that seemed further down the line.
How did your role as Quicksilver in X‐Men: Days of Future Past come about?
Well, [the film's director] Bryan Singer was a fan of American Horror Story. It was 2013, he called me and was like, "Yeah, I got a cool part for you. He kind of has caffeine or whatever, he kind of goes crazy, and he's in his mom's basement, and kind of comes in and saves the day. And then kind of gets out. So it's kind of, like, a quick role, and it should be really fun, with cool special effects." And I was like, "Dude. Yes. I'm in." I was so excited and jumped on the couch.
Were you a comic book fan?
Yeah. Well, I'm more of a comic book movie fan. And the X‐Men movies I grew up watching, so I was obsessed with them. And I love special effects movies. So, yeah, I was over the moon.
How long did it take to shoot?
The first one didn't take too long, a couple of weeks. A lot of green screen with the two treadmills, which is a lot of fun. But it's such a fun superpower. And, obviously, the way that they decided to shoot it was pretty genius on Singer's part. I think he originally wanted to do it for a music video, and then brought it to the X‐Men films as Quicksilver, as a kind of genius way to shoot that superspeed.
Tell me all the different characters you've played in the Ryan Murphy universe.
In the Ryan Murphy world of American Horror Story, I played Tate Langdon. Crazy. He was just crazy. A teenager, kind of love‐obsessed with Violet and wanted to be in this relationship with her, but also was seriously chemically imbalanced and had a horrible childhood, and just was kind of a monster. So, yeah, he was crazy. I played Kit Walker, who was kind of your every man, who was in an interracial relationship and then got abducted by aliens. He came back seemingly insane to everybody else, but he was just sort of living his truth. He was put in an insane asylum—kind of a horrific thing to have happen to you.
Then it was Kyle, who we called Frankenkyle, because he's this college frat guy who gets in an accident and then gets sewn back together and brought back to life, sort of as this kind of Frankenstein monster who has to relearn how to talk and walk. That was probably the hardest one that I had to do.
And then it was Jimmy Darling, who had the lobster hands, for Freak Show. That was crazy. Then Mr. March for Hotel. He was also insane, and a mass murderer. He was kind of based off of H.G. Wells, which was pretty cool. I love the book Devil in the White City. I listened to a lot of 1930s music, and that stuff is so creepy and so weird. Then I did Edward Mott, and he died. And then I played Rory [Monahan]. I don't know his last name. He was the actor who was playing Edward Mott.
So you played an actor who was playing a person who had died, whom you had played?
Yes. That's absolutely right. I was playing a person who played a person who had died.
But you played that person.
I played that person, and then I also died as that person. Both of them died.
And then you played yourself, essentially.
Essentially, I played myself, yeah, and got married to a British version of Sarah Paulson.
When Ryan Murphy calls you and says, "Okay, you're in the next season," do you just go along with whatever it is he presents to you? Is there any hope that maybe one character won't be crazy?
He basically just calls you and tells you what the role is. You go into it like, "I'm not going to play anybody crazy again. I don't want to do that. That's too much." Then he's like, "You're playing this kind of Charles Manson–esque crazy guy." And you're like, "Okay, sure." But he just makes it so, I don't know, so appealing, and makes it sound so fun and interesting to do—and always, always a challenge. Then you can't resist, and you're like, "Well, maybe I could do it. Maybe I should definitely try to do that. That'll be good."
Do you find people are now afraid of you at parties?
Sometimes you'll get the person who'll be like, "Oh, man, you scare me. You freak me out." I'm like, "I guess that's good." It's a scary show. We're trying to do that, so that's good.
Do you like scary movies?
My older sister showed me Hellraiser when I was like 4, and Friday the 13th. She kind of scarred me, but I like watching scary movies with people because you're together in this scary situation. It makes all that more fun. Working on a scary show, I've actually grown to really appreciate them, and the blood gags and how hard it is to make a scare work. Some of it can be really cheesy and hokey, so you kind of have to fight against that somehow.
And now you’re starring in the television series Pose.
It's a really fun show. It's great for the transgender community. We need it now more than ever, and it's going to shed a lot of compassion and a lot of light on their plight. It's set in 1987. If you've seen Paris Is Burning, it's based off of those balls and that culture and that world. I play Stanley, who's a yuppie, essentially, from New Jersey, and is trying to climb the ladder of New York City success and rise to the top. He's actually got a job at the Trump office. James Van Der Beek plays my boss, and Kate Mara plays my wife. I sort of get bit by the bug of the transgender underworld, and chaos ensues. It's more of a love story for me. Tragic, but like I said, it's a really fun show.
You’re also starring in the film American Animals right now. What’s that about?
I have a lot of unrest in that one. It's not the first time I've played a real person, but this juxtaposition to the real person, definitely. My character’s name is Warren C. Lipka. He's just doing the whole going-to-college, on-the-soccer-team, got-the-scholarship thing. He's having an existential crisis and doesn't really know why he's doing this or what it's all about. It's hard, but choosing to do something before you know what it is that you want to do can kind of lead to you blowing up your world. He didn't want to do soccer. He didn't know what he wanted to do. He wanted to do something that would make his life special and important. He obviously made the wrong decision, but he got a movie out of it.
Did you meet the real people the film is based on before or after filming?
[The director] Bart Layton firmly didn't want us to talk to them or meet them. He showed us some video footage of them, basically what you see in the film, but I was not having that. I was like, "There's no way I'm playing this guy without talking to him. That's crazy." I went through Twitter and found him and e-mailed him and asked him all these questions. Then Bart intervened again. Damn it. Then I lost all the juice that I wanted from that. I knew what Bart wanted—he wanted to separate. These guys are 10 years older, and they've been through a lot. They were different people, so [Layton] was worried that they would color what we decided was their reason for doing it. It's Warren’s story. Also, I would hope that they would've had a little more faith in me to be like, "Oh, he's fabricating that to make himself look better," you know what I mean? I'd be like, "You know, I can probably see through that."
What was the first album you ever bought?
I think it was either an MC Hammer cassette or a Vanilla Ice cassette. Parachute pants was where it was at with me.
You wore parachute pants?
Oh, yeah. We had those net mesh shirts that were cut off and that we'd wear outside with our parachute pants. We were also into Kris Kross, and we did the backward pants for a little while, too.
What's your karaoke song, as long as we're on this particular subject?
The last one I did was Enrique Iglesias “I Just Wanna Be With You.” That's a fun one. I mean, you can do all the hits, but it's kind of a weird one that's really fun to sing. And hilarious.
What was your first date?
A movie? A roller rink? I don't know. I guess it was just driving around in my Pontiac Vibe. A sexy silver hatchback. You're just like, "Let's hang out. You want to hang out? Alright, cool. Let's hang out." And then you're like, "I don't know. What do you want to do? Let's drive around, go get some food or a Slurpee or something."
Where was your first kiss? In that same car, I'm sure.
No, that was probably spin the bottle, back in St. Louis.
How'd that go?
Good. Really good. Well, you know, it's always weird. You have a crush on the one girl, and then you end up getting the other girl. Or she gets your friend, and you're like, "Oh, damn." It's hard to match up with the girl you really want to kiss, but then, when you finally do, it's like, "Oh, my God." Your chest is pounding. It's a little too wet and weird, and people are watching.
What were your favorite movies growing up?
Forrest Gump, Tommy Boy, and Ace Ventura. Forrest Gump was just the best. I mean, it makes you cry every time. It makes you laugh. It's like this big, epic tale. Tom Hanks is incredible. Everybody's incredible. The music's great.
Were you a big Chris Farley fan?
Huge Farley fan. Huge. Yeah, he was the funniest person in the world to me. He's so endearing in Tommy Boy as well.
Have you ever done a full-out comedy?
No, I'm dying to! It's where my heart really lies, I think. I love physical comedy.
Get Ryan Murphy to write a comedy!
He said next season is going to be be more of a comedic role. And Mr. March was more in my ballpark, too, with comedy. But it was still a very kind of over‐the‐top character, so it was fun.
Who was your cinematic crush growing up?
Well, first it was the Olsen twins. For sure. Yeah, they kind of got me out to L.A. in a way, because I was like, "I gotta meet 'em!"
Could you tell them apart?
Definitely. Well, they're fraternal, you know. They're not identical. You know who I loved for a long time was Carey Mulligan. She's such a great actress. I had this huge actor crush on her. She's awesome.