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What You Didn't Know About Ally Mayfair-Richards's Phobias In AHS: Cult

Actors participating in shoots for the "American Horror Story" series often find themselves surrounded by nightmarish mock-ups of creatures – from murderous clowns to wicked ghosts to horrifying monsters of the psyche. This sounds like it can be great fun, especially when you're slathered in prosthetics and fake blood, trying to get authentic-looking scares out of your co-workers all for the benefit of scaring your viewers much later.

It's perhaps not shocking that horror maven Ryan Murphy, creator of the "American Horror Story" franchise, might want to make those scares as realistic as possible for his actors. In Murphy's case, that means exploring the nooks and crannies of the ugliest urban legends, real-life murders, and other assorted nasties. It also might mean taking an anxious character – such as Ally Mayfair-Richards in the "American Horror Story: Cult" season - and giving her realistic reasons to panic that any viewer can relate to.

What don't you know about how Ryan Murphy selected Ally Mayfair-Richards' anxiety triggers? 

Sometimes fiction and reality collide

According to BuzzFeed and Paulson herself, via an interview with Ellen DeGeneres on her talk show, Sarah Paulson's own phobias match many of Ally's from top to bottom, and Ryan Murphy intentionally wove those facts into the character's life.

On the show, Paulson admits to having a phobia of clowns, heights, bees, and trypophobia – which is a fear of clustered or interconnecting depressions or holes, such as a honeycomb – all of which show up on "AHS: Cult" as things which trigger Ally's panic. Bees are a frequent theme in the season, as are images that might trigger trypophobia. 

Paulson admitted, re her clown-based phobia, "I could be carrying a small child, and if a bee came around, that baby's getting dropped...it's gotta go, I can't manage my feeling about it." And as far as that fear of holes goes, "I can't look at a coral reef or a natural sponge," Paulson told DeGeneres. "I bet you someone in the audience has it." Sure enough, 10 other members of DeGeneres' audience raised their hands.