Lady Gaga appeared in “Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For” and “Machete Kills,” before American Horror Story: Hotel, but her appearance as “The Countess” in Ryan Murphy’s anthology marked her first major foray into acting.
And the “Shallow” singer quickly won a Golden Globe for her depiction of the cruel, blood-sucking, sex-obsessed vampire. Gaga prepared tremendously for the role, discovering her character by studying a few unforgettable screen killers.
Variety noted that Ryan Murphy wanted the character of Gaga to be “more of a bitch, meaner, more reserved.” And Gaga wanted to make such a role seem “effortless.” Thus, in film history, she studied some of the biggest screen killers. She studied Anthony Perkins’ Norman Bates in “Pyscho” and Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter in “The Silence of the Lambs.” She also studied Robert Durst in The Jinx – a six-part documentary series that followed a real-life millionaire accused of three murders. So let’s look at both of them.
Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates in ‘Psycho’.
Psycho laid the groundwork for the many twist-ended psychological thrillers that were to come. Perkins played a man with dissociative identity disorder in Hitchcock’s masterpiece (then called multiple personality disorder).
He disguised himself as his mother, whose dead body was left mummified in the fruit cellar, as the film’s final moments reveal.
A scene with Jamie Lee Curtis that made a major impact on Lady Gaga.
While disturbed and homicidal, as the hotel manager, Bates was very cool and collected. He could be both intimidating and charming – moving effortlessly between a nice young man and a terrifying and unpredictable attacker.
So researching Bates’ performance makes sense for Gaga, as the Countess is a modernized and feminized version of a similar duality – alternating between flirtation and violence.
Anthony Hopkins in ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ as Hannibal Lecter.
In The Silence of the Lambs, Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter is a cannibalistic serial killer.
Therefore, in AHS, there is an instantly evident connection to Gaga’s character.
The Countess and Lecter are both feeding on their victims.
And it’s easy to picture Lady Gaga presenting a scene similar to the “fava beans” moment many recall from The Silence of the Lambs, in which the killer speaks about using the liver of a victim as the main course to prepare a meal.
But it is the sinister look of Hopkin – one that seems to peer into the soul of the audience through the camera – that makes his performance a goosebump moment. It is a look that probably sat with Gaga as she discovered the dormant gesture of The Countess for verbal war.
Gaga also researched Robert Durst, a convicted triple murderer from ‘The Jinx’
Unlike the aforementioned films, ‘The Jinx’ is based on the true story of Robert Durst, the American real estate heir and suspected murderer. In the HBO miniseries “The Jinx.” Gary Napoli portrayed a version of the character.
As well as actors who portrayed the guy, the six-part documentary series featured the real Durst, and it was focused on about a decade of study. Such a person possibly gave Gaga a new perspective – a viewpoint outside of the purely fictitious world of actual heinous crimes and into the less obvious, guilty-not-guilty world.