Lady Gaga Says 'American Horror Story: Hotel' Is About Addiction

The cast weighs in on the driving theme of season five and how the pop star has "reinvigorated" the FX anthology series.
Lady Gaga at the 'American Horror Story: Hotel' Premiere in downtown L.A. on Oct. 3  John Salangsang/Invision/AP

Lady Gaga is offering up more details about American Horror Story: Hotel.

The pop star, who makes her acting debut in the fifth installment of the FX anthology series from uber-producer Ryan Murphy, says that the upcoming season revolves around addiction.

“There is a journey for my character, in particular, through hemophilia and her need to drink blood to survive and to stay young, and that’s entwined with other stories about a need for sex, a need for freedom, a need for drugs, a need for attention, a need to survive,” she tells The Hollywood Reporter of her bloodthirsty (and incredibly well-dressed) hotel owner character, The Countess. "What’s interesting about this season is that you see the dichotomy of the two worlds: You have the hotel world, which feels decidedly like the Ryan Murphy world, and then you have the outside world. It’s addiction as the public sees it versus how it really is and how that all plays into each other."

“Addiction has certainly become the central theme,” agrees co-creator Brad Falchuk, who remains mum on plans for the (very likely) sixth season, only acknowledging that ideas are “tickling in the back of the brain.” He insists he and Murphy have been all-consumed by the current installment, which takes place at a vintage-style hotel located in Southern California, the Hotel Cortez. “This is one of those run-down hotels in downtown L.A. that attracts people who are looking for privacy, for a way to hide out and disappear," adds Falchuk, "so addicts end up being drawn to places like that, and we explore that."

The Countess is hardly the only one struggling with addiction at the Hotel Cortez. Several characters are straight-up junkies. Max Greenfield plays a heroin addict who has a memorable encounter with a creepy, wax-encased man, The Addiction Demon, who lurks around the hotel. "You can see how it sort of looms over the hotel," says the New Girl star. "There’s a lot of scenes that metaphorically show the pull and the weight that an addiction has over a human being."

Horror Story vet Sarah Paulson, too, plays a drug addict, the frizzy-haired Hypodermic Sally. “The name itself lets you know that I’ve got an issue,” jokes Paulson, who uses the words "dark," "sexy" and "bloody" to describe the anthology this year. "The way that we can all be addicts in different ways that are detrimental to our health is a big part of this season, whether it be love addictions, sex addictions, drugs addictions, alcohol addictions."

Matt Bomer’s eyeliner-loving character, Donovan, who plays a lover of sorts to Lady Gaga's Countess, is an example of someone who not only shoots up, but takes his relationships for granted, too. “He feels like the world owes him a lot,” says Bomer, who notes that the season reminds him of the first iteration of Horror Story, Murder House, in that the fear is a relatable one. "We’ve all stayed in a hotel, or at least at someone else’s place, where our well-being was in someone else’s hands," he says.

The fifth rendition of Horror Story has ushered in a boost of energy on set, which Finn Wittrock, who plays an up-and-coming male model who competes for the affections of The Countess, attributes to Lady Gaga's presence. "Ryan is obsessed with Gaga, so that helps. She’s just basically his muse. They text all the time. They’re always talking and exchanging emails and her ideas, so he’s definitely reinvigorated," he laughs, adding: "I think the show is really trying to shed its skin and reinvent itself this year."

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