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The real reason Evan Peters is leaving AHS

For the past eight years, American Horror Story has taken viewers to all kinds of places where things go bump in the night, from a haunted house in Hollywood Hills to the halls of an insane asylum to a nuclear fallout shelter. Each standalone season focuses on different new characters and storylines, but certain cast members have consistently stepped into new roles over the course of the series. 

Since the first season, Murder House, fan favorite Evan Peters has taken on one creepy role after another. He made his AHS debut as Tate, a seemingly charming young man who turns out to be the ghost of a school shooter. Since then, he's been a citizen of the ghost town Roanoke, a modern day cult leader, a hairstylist who survives the apocalypse, and more.

It's hard to imagine AHS without Evan Peters, but the actor recently confirmed that he would not be appearing in the ninth season. So far, Peters hasn't elaborated on what prompted his final decision, but past interviews do shed some light on the motivations behind his departure. Here's why Peters is staying on the bench for the next season of AHS.

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He's busy with Dark Phoenix

AHS has definitely been Peters' main priority over the past few years, but he has also appeared in other movies and television shows. In 2014, Peters first appeared as the mutant Quicksilver in X-Men: Days of Future Past. He later reprised this role in X-Men: Apocalypse, and will be returning to the big screen as Quicksilver once again in the next installment of the X-Men series, Dark Phoenix.

Shooting for Dark Phoenix already wrapped in the fall of 2018, so it's not like production would interfere with shooting the next season of AHS. But the film is due for release in June 2019, and Peters will be busy with press and promotional events. If he really wanted to, he could certainly balance that with another season of AHS, but realistically, sitting this season out frees up a ton of time in his schedule and takes some responsibilities off his plate.

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He's returning to Pose for season 2

In 2018, Peters decided to take on a role that put him way out of his creative comfort zone. He appeared in the first season of the critically acclaimed FX series Pose, a drama that focuses on New York City's LGBT community in the late 1980s. Pose has very little in common with Peters' other projects, but he thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

In Pose, Peters plays Stan, a married man trying to work his way up the ladder in his new job at Trump Tower. He begins seeing Angel, a transgender prostitute, and carries on an affair with her behind his wife's back. Peters will be returning for season 2, which will likely air in the summer of 2019. Peters feels that he has gained a lot of insight by working on this show, and being a part of the cast of Pose has helped him become more educated on LGBT issues. "This is a whole world and culture that I knew nothing about," Peters told GQ. "I've learned a lot from the trans community. They're an incredibly strong community, and they've had to deal with way bigger problems than anything I've ever had to deal with."

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AHS took a toll on his mental health

AHS is be a popular series, but it's understandable that some people may find it difficult to watch. The show is always exploring difficult issues through the lens of classic horror tropes, and there are graphic scenes in practically every episode. The visuals are not for the faint of heart, and it's enough to make squeamish viewers close their eyes and look away. So if it's tough to watch, imagine how exhausting it can be to film those scenes.

Peters has confirmed that years of working on AHS has had a negative impact on his mental health. "It's all been a massive stretch for me and really difficult to do," Peters told GQ. "It's hurting my soul and Evan as a person… it's really mentally draining." Getting into the right mindset to play these twisted characters would take a toll on anyone after a few years. No wonder Peters has decided that it's finally time to take a break.

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He felt like he couldn't express himself

It's easy to assume that Peters is a serious, brooding artist even behind the scenes — after all, his characters almost always have a dark side. But Peters insists that in real life, he has basically nothing in common with any of the characters he has played on AHS. In fact, he says that playing these roles can actually have a bad influence on his attitude because he has to spend so much time acting like someone he's not.

Peters describes himself as a "goofy" and "silly" person who just wants to have a good time, and that's not a side of himself that he gets to express on AHS. "I don't like to yell and scream… it's been a challenge for me," Peters told GQ. "AHS sort of demanded that from me." He says that he occasionally has moments when he realizes that he needs to separate himself from his characters — for example, when he finds himself shouting at someone in traffic and has to make a conscious effort to snap out of it.

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Embarrassing moments on set

There are plenty of risque scenes in AHS, and if you've ever felt awkward while watching a few of them, you might have wondered if the actors were super relieved when the director finally yelled cut. According to Peters, shooting nude scenes was his least favorite aspect of working on AHS. Plenty of actors say that they have no issue with them and they just view it as another part of the job, but Peters admitted that when he started working on AHS as a self-conscious twenty-something, he felt pretty vulnerable on set. He's also owned up to a few embarrassing moments when he ended up being way more exposed than he originally anticipated.

These scandalous scenes in AHS are rarely sensual or romantic — in fact, they often turn abusive or violent — so it's easy to see why Peters would be so uncomfortable shooting them. Needless to say, he's probably looking forward to keeping his clothes on this year.

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He wants to be in a romantic comedy

Peters has played a few different characters on AHS, but even when he's playing someone relatively normal, like Kit Walker in "Asylum," it's never been a lighthearted show. Maybe this is why Peters has his sights set on totally new roles in the future. For example, Peters says that he actually wants to try comedy next. "I would love to do a romantic comedy," Peters told GQ. "I've been watching so many of them. I love them."

This would definitely be a major deviation from Peters' previous roles, but there's no doubt that he has the range for it. After all, he handled every crazy challenge that Ryan Murphy threw his way on AHS. Plus, his female fans would definitely be happy to see him play a heartthrob on screen. With all the time freed up in his schedule this year, he may finally have the chance to turn this dream into a reality.

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He doesn't want to be typecast

Throughout his time on AHS, Peters has had mixed thoughts on the possibility of being typecast. While some actors have no qualms about essentially playing the same character over and over again, others crave new challenges. Peters falls under the latter category. Just a few years ago, he stated that stepping into a new role for every season of AHS was "a dream come true" because he never felt like he was being typecast. But recently, he began changing his tune.

"It's not that I'm pigeonholed as any one character, but all the darker stuff gets more thrown at you," he told GQ. "In a way, I have to prove that I'm not this crazy guy." Perhaps this is his way of finally getting away from those darker roles and making a very intentional choice to show that he's got the chops to play all kinds of characters — not just the kind that people see in their nightmares.

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He was struggling with burnout

Sure, acting is probably more enjoyable than the typical 40-hour work week, but that doesn't mean it's a walk in the park. The long hours can be grueling, reshooting uncomfortable scenes over and over again is a true test of patience, and having very little separation between your personal and professional life could drive anyone crazy. Actors may lead exciting lives, but they get worn out just like the rest of us.

Peters said that the pressure of working so much was really starting to get to him in 2018, and he knew that the press and his fans alike were starting to notice his frustration coming through in interviews. "I think it was full-on burnout," Peters told GQ. "I'm going to take a break, regroup, decompress, get back in touch with what I feel like I want to do." Clearly, this means sitting out the upcoming season of AHS to create some desperately needed breathing room in his busy schedule.

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He's interested in playing music

After spending so many years working on AHS, Peters has revealed that he is open to exploring some completely new interests with his newfound free time. "I want to play music," he told GQ. Perhaps his interest in music was sparked by his first appearance in a music video in 2017 for the Grand Southern's song "Traded Heaven."

Long-time AHS fans know that Peters can actually sing, too. In Freak Show, his character Jimmy Darling covered Nirvana's hit song "Come as You Are." Sure, his voice was altered to sound more like Kurt Cobain, but there's no denying that the guy can carry a tune. Maybe he just meant that he wants to play music as a hobby to unwind, or maybe he'll be making some unexpected career moves in the coming months. We're not expecting an album in the future, but either way, he'll be trying his hand at some new hobbies.

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He lost touch with family and friends

For many people, acting is a dream job, and every aspect of life in Hollywood seems glamorous. But ask any actor, and they will probably be the first to admit that this career path comes with some serious sacrifices. Peters is no different. He uprooted his life to chase his dream of becoming an actor, leaving his family behind in St. Louis, Missouri, when he began working in Los Angeles at 15. He says that he rarely had time for a social life while shooting AHS.

"We're shooting insane hours, I'm learning lines when I have a few hours not working, and it's absolute madness," Peters told Deadline. "I lost touch with a lot of my family and friends… I couldn't hardly do it." Peters says that he was proud of himself for going after his dream and never giving up, but he needed to maintain a life outside of acting as well.

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His break up with Emma Roberts

Peters was in a long-term, on-and-off relationship with actress Emma Roberts since 2012. The couple got engaged in 2013, but they had a rocky road ahead. They broke up for the first time later that year, and although they got back together, they called it quits again in 2015. They reconciled, split up once more a year later, and then stuck it out for three more years. But it looks like Peters and Roberts have finally gone their separate ways.

The couple broke up for good in early 2019, and Roberts is now reportedly dating Triple Frontier star Garrett Hedlund. Interestingly, unlike Peters, Roberts is slated to appear in the ninth season of AHS. She also appeared alongside Peters in earlier seasons, and despite their tumultuous relationship, the couple always remained professional on set. Perhaps the post-break up awkwardness made Peters hesitant to jump right back into working with her. This is why dating a coworker is always a risky move.

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He hopes to win an Oscar one day

Peters has been working as an actor for over 20 years now, and he has dreams beyond appearing in TV shows and Marvel films. Although he is proud of what he has done so far in his career, he is definitely ready to push himself beyond his limits.

Peters said that when he first moved to L.A., his favorite movie was Forrest Gump. He described the film as "epic" and found it inspiring. Peters hopes to one day work on similarly impactful, critically-acclaimed films with Academy Award-winning potential. He's been in Hollywood for two decades, but overall, his career is still young. He still has plenty of time to achieve his biggest goals.

Of course, Peters' fans are hoping that he will eventually return to AHS for the tenth season, which has already been greenlit. But if he chooses not to, there will be plenty of other places to see him — his best work is still ahead.