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Why Lily Rabe Was Never The Same After American Horror Story: Asylum

One face that many American Horror Story fans are sure to recognize is Lily Rabe. The actress has been in almost every single season of the series, and she's taken on various roles ranging from the ghost of Nora Montgomery in Murder House to the kindhearted swamp witch Misty Day in Coven. Of these many characters, the one role she said she was never the same after was Sister Mary Eunice in Asylum

Sister Mary Eunice is introduced to viewers as an innocent and meek nun in Asylum. However, early on in the season, she ends up getting possessed by the Devil, causing her personality to do a total 180. In her possessed form, Sister Mary Eunice becomes a sadistic and violent nightmare for all of the inhabitants of Briarcliff Manor. Being forced to make such a jarring transition pushed Rabe's acting skills to their limits. Despite the finished product being one of the actress' greatest feats, it wasn't without its toll.

Lily Rabe wasn't thrilled about playing the role of an abuser

American Horror Story may get things wrong about history, but it is detailed in its depictions of trauma. And in the role of Sister Mary Eunice, Lily Rabe was forced to act out all sorts of atrocities. Whether it was torturing characters like Sister Jude (Jessica Lange) with electroshock therapy or killing residents like The Mexican (Gloria Laino), Rabe had to let go of any sense of humanity for the role. During filming for Asylum, Rabe would often find herself having trouble dealing with the emotional toll that came with such a horrific character. She explained these difficulties during a 2013 interview with Collider.

"I've been a victim a lot, so I've often played the person who's getting raped or murdered or abused," Rabe said. "And so, to actually be raping and murdering and abusing people is a whole different kind of challenge, and one that was very difficult at times. Sometimes I would go home from work and just stare at the wall for a couple of hours."

Still, Rabe enjoyed the challenge of her American Horror Story: Asylum role

Although Rabe did experience internal conflict with the role, she found the entire process to be one of the "most exciting" things she's ever done. As an actress, Rabe wanted to push her abilities, and Sister Mary Eunice was the perfect opportunity to do so. She also touched on this during the same interview with Collider. "Whatever knocks you out working is the kind of work that I want to be doing because it's always those challenges that are the most exciting, and the signs I hope to get to keep doing in my work."

After her role of Sister Mary Eunice, Rabe moved on to make various appearances as other characters in the AHS universe. Her role as Lavinia Richter in 1984 had her take on another ghostly character who was haunting the campsite that serves as the season's setting. While Lavinia does have her violent tendencies, they pale in comparison to the absolute monster Sister Mary Eunice was. Considering how much of a toll Sister Mary Eunice took on Rabe, perhaps this role is a welcome change for the actress.