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AHS' Evan Peters Loved The Challenge Of Communicating Nonverbally In Coven

Evan Peters has had the chance to play a rather stunning array of characters during his years on "American Horror Story." Some of these roles — serial killer James Patrick March in "Hotel," Satanist tech bro Jeff Pfister in "Apocalypse" — have allowed him to absolutely chew the scenery. Others — wrongly committed mental patient Kit Walker in "Asylum," for example — have been more understated and naturalistic. 

Each of these kinds of roles have certainly come with their own challenges. But when it comes to the role Peters played in "Coven," the challenge became rather unique. This was Kyle Spencer, the fraternity brother killed and dismembered in a bus crash, reassembled Frankenstein-style and revived by Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) and Madison (Emma Roberts). This magically undead Kyle is scared, angry, and, at least at first, more or less mute. 

Acting without words can be a challenge for any actor. But then, a good actor loves a challenge. Not long after "Coven" began to air, Evan Peters gave an interview with the college newspaper Slippery Rock University Rocket, where he said that Kyle had been his favorite role on "American Horror Story" thus far. "He's way more emotional than Tate [Langdon, from Season 1], or Kit. And it's just crazy, the stuff I have to do as this person. And I can't speak, and I have to communicate nonverbally. So I'm going through the script and sort of trying to write out, you know, how I'm gonna try to convey what my character's going through without being able to speak. So that's been a huge challenge, and I love that. It's really fun."

Subsequent AHS roles were even more challenging

That, however, was in 2014. Since then, there have been eight more seasons of "American Horror Story," all of which, save Season 9's "1984" and Season 11's "NYC," have featured Evan Peters — and there have been plenty of chilling and challenging roles to play since then. There have even been a couple of seasons where he's had to play multiple roles. "Apocalypse" had him playing not just Jeff Pfister but hairdresser and doomsday survivor Mr. Gallant, and saw him revive the characters of Tate Langdon from "Murder House" and James March from "Hotel." The previous season, "Cult," saw him mainly playing psychopathic Trump-supporter Kai Anderson, but a whole line of cult leaders from Charles Manson to Jim Jones to Marshall Applewhite of Heaven's Gate. 

Unsurprisingly, "Cult" proved especially tricky for Peters. Not least of all because it required a lot of research on some of the above-mentioned cult leaders, as well as trying to get into their heads. "It's one of the most difficult roles I've ever had to play," he told Decider. "And you know, maintain a life as well, and maintain my sanity and who I am as a person when you're dealing with such extreme behavior that is not condonable in any way." 

These are the types of roles that don't just challenge an actor but can also take a serious toll on them. Peters' decision to temporarily leave "AHS" was for sure in part due to his commitment to other roles, but it was also, at least partially, motivated by his desire to get his mental health in check.