Gloria Laino Talks AMERICAN HORROR STORY, GOLIATH and Upcoming Projects

ATM: What is the level of fear or curiosity that a show like American Horror Story could bring to a regular viewer?

GL:  As human beings, we feel morbid fascination for the unknown, and for what lurks in the dark. The American Horror Story team wisely spins the plot around this dark fear factor, attracting a huge audience of people feeling this fear, perhaps experiencing it themselves through the dark and threatening twists and turns of the story.  

ATM: What energy do the characters you play on the show evoke on someone who watches it?

GL: I appear in American Horror Story in Season 2 and in Season 8.  Asylum, and Apocalypse.  In Asylum, I play an insane asylum patient called The Mexican. My God-fearing character here is terrified by the dark force of Satan, which in fact has possessed Sister Mary Eunice, a nun played by Lily Rabe.  My character is the first to understand her possession. I am terrified when the nun figures me out and murders me. In Apocalypse I play an opposite character: now a Satan worshipper in a devil-church where Satan is played by Cody Fern. It’s been exciting to portray these two opposite characters, and to see how the contrast gets a lot of ongoing interest from fans everywhere. I have an international fan base ranging from the Americas to Europe. Viewers speculate about what my character crossover could mean, and whether I’m going to be brought back to the show for yet another season. This is the genius of Ryan Murphy.  

ATM: What message are your characters in American Horror Story sending?

GL: As the Mexican, in Asylum, even though my character is crazy, I represent the force of good against the force of evil; the eternal struggle. I speak out; I call out the nun as the Devil and use everything within my spirit to oppose her. As a Satan worshipper, in Apocalypse, I’ve switched sides, and joined the evil forces. This can happen.  

ATM: Why do you feel it is easier for evil to prevail than good? What is it about evil that might seem appealing even though it is evil?

GL:  Evil attracts. It tempts people.  Some buy into it, depending on their circumstances. It can be a seductive appeal for people who are vulnerable, and can seem like the easier path, even though in the end, good will prevail.

ATM: What’s the communication between the members of the Satanist group in AHS: Apocalypse.

GL:  In Apocalypse, the devil worshippers want to buy what Satan is selling.  They don’t get it that evil has a big price tag. 

ATM: At what point does the internal behavior overrule the verbal behavior?

GL:  Evil hearts can make you use evil words.  That’s what’s happening to the devil worshippers.  

ATM: How does the feeling of the set control the feelings of your character?

GL:  The environment of the set is one of the elements that helps me believe I am the character I’m portraying, whether it’s an insane asylum or a Satanic worship group setting. Like being surrounded by crazy people and barred windows in a dark architectural setting or praying to the devil in a red-tinged room.

ATM: What does the Mexican learn about herself while in insolation?

GL:  The Mexican is a good person who was dealt some bad cards that got her into an insane asylum. Interesting that you ask about this. During my preparation, especially for the scene where I am murdered, I thought about what happened to this woman that got her into this deadly situation. It wasn’t just that she knew the devil was coming to kill her. There was more, before, and I had to find it, or create it, to make my character real.

ATM: How was the experience on Amazon Prime’s Goliath.

GL: I loved the experience of being in this show.  Besides the thrill of playing a scene with Billy Bob Thornton, I had the chance to play a nun, which I’ve always wanted to do. And a conflicted nun at that, with her faith and her rage and suspicion all together. Imagine how in my scene I slap a young woman in the face.  Nuns shouldn’t do that. I had asked the universe for a role as a nun, and this was what I got. Not a sweet and kind nun, but an angry and embittered one. Not at all the nun I’d thought I might play, but the opposite of what I’d imagined might come my way.

ATM: Was this perception based on the world’s view on nuns or how they are viewed on television?

GL:  The perception I’d had in my mind was that I’d play a kind nun, not a difficult nun like the ones who’d been my teachers in the Catholic school I attended years ago.  My experience in real life was that if we students didn’t meet the demands of one of our nun teachers, she’d threaten us with a ruler.  We had to be on guard around her. I always wanted to play a nun that was the opposite of that nun with the ruler, but instead, I ended up playing exactly her, which in retrospect is amusing.

ATM: So, this character gave you a nostalgic feeling of your past?

GL:  Yes. In one of the episodes there’s a picture of me where I’m a nun with my students.  It brought me back to the school pictures with the nuns in my elementary school. It took me right back to those days, with nostalgia.

ATM: While in this nostalgic state, how did you put a partition between how you think now and what you thought in the past?

GL:  As an actress, first I have to be completely in the moment of the situation I’m portraying.  Otherwise, it doesn’t work. At the same time, my experiences from the past help me create the character I’m portraying now.

ATM: What is a nun’s safe haven while they are by themselves?

GL:  Prayer. I recall my scene starts with me sweeping the floor in my little chapel. As the nun, I pray.  At the beginning of the scene, while I sweep, I pray, to connect with God. It also helps that we do the scene in a beautiful chapel with candles, the cross, and the pews. It becomes very real.

ATM:  You spoke Arabic in the show The Last Ship.  What do you feel are the differences between the American English style of speaking and the Arabic style?  

GL:  There are differences between Arabic and English.  In Arabic, word beginnings and endings can change a lot. Arabic flows, expressively, sounding like water in a creek. I also speak Spanish, which is my primary language.

ATM: What characteristics does a person who is trying to save the world have?

GL: In The Last Ship the only chance my character has to save the world is to be suspicious, to survive, to hide, to be tenacious.

ATM: How does your character fit in the line of the premise in the series What We Do in the Shadows?

GL:  I play the Baron’s Familiar, which is the Vampire’s assistant, a woman from the old world who will do anything to protect her master.  It’s a comedy. 

ATM: How would you classify the word association of the title with this same project?

GL:  What We Do In The Shadows is a hilarious vampire story about problems a trio of Old World vampires have when they try to adapt to our modern world.

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