By Monica Pryts/Staff Writer
SLIPPERY ROCK —
If the energy in the Smith Student Center Ballroom at Slippery Rock University was any indication of Evan Peters' star power, it's easy to see why the young actor is already commanding the small screen and landed a role in the "X-Men" movie franchise.
"I loved it. It's fun to interact with them," Peters said backstage Wednesday after speaking to a crowd that included screaming girls proclaiming their love for the blond 26-year-old, who hails from St. Louis, Mo.
Peters' appearance was hosted by SRU's University Program Board, which sold about 700 tickets to students and the public, and the evening kicked off with a few video clips from Peters' current hit TV show, "American Horror Story: Coven," which airs on FX.
Scores of cell phone cameras went off as Peters made his way onto the stage and started a question-and-answer session with moderator Ryan Morgado of SRU's Center for Student Involvement and Leadership, the conversation beginning with how Peters decided on his career path.
"I didn't want to have a 9-to-5," said Peters, whose family was living in Grand Blanc, Mich., when he and his mother moved to California while he was in high school so he could get into acting.
He got an agent and started getting auditions, which was stressful at first. He wasn't "too crazy" about his earlier work, which included the Disney Channel's "Phil of the Future," but said it was fun.
Peters, who has also appeared in movies including "Kick-Ass," "Never Back Down" and "Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown," knew he made it big when he landed "American Horror Story," which this season stars veteran actresses Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett and Sarah Paulson, plus Peters' girlfriend, Emma Roberts.
Created by Ryan Murphy, also the mastermind behind Fox's "Glee," and Brad Falchuk, the show is in its third season, and was signed on by FX for a fourth; Peters has played a different character each year, as has Lange.
"You don't get tired of it. This is amazing. Who knows what's gonna happen next season?" Peters said.
When he auditioned for the show, he had no idea the characters and story lines would change each season. His character from season one, Tate -- a dead mass murderer whose spirit is trapped in his neighbor's home -- was the only role included in his audition.
"I think I like Tate the best because he's so crazy," Peters said when asked about his favorite character, adding he kept the infamous black rubber suit.
Season two, "Asylum," had him playing Kit, who was locked up and trying to escape, which he said was a hard role but fun, while this season focuses on witchcraft and voodoo and is set and filmed in New Orleans.
His "Coven" character, Kyle, is a frat boy who is killed in the season premiere then brought back to life after his head is attached to body parts taken from his fraternity brothers, who died with him in a not-so-accidental bus crash.
"I didn't even know it was gonna be that insane. Ryan was like, 'You're gonna be Frankenstein,'" he said.
Peters is enjoying it, especially working with his talented castmates like Lily Rabe and Taissa Farmiga, but there have been some intense moments, like the scene in the first episode where Kyle walks in on Roberts' character being gang raped at a party and he starts throwing punches.
"That sucked," he said. "I was, like, enraged."
He also admits that he's "terrified" of horror movies, and while he's OK with the scary and bloody stuff on his own set - because he knows it's not real - the spookiness factor of New Orleans has been getting to him.
"New Orleans has given me a lot of nightmares," he said when asked about how the area is known for its hauntings and ghost stories.
But that kind of thing takes a backseat to the fact that he gets to work with acting legends every day. "I'm still starstruck saying hi to Jessica," Peters said of Lange.
He's also learning to play the trumpet while in New Orleans and enjoys catching his own show on television, commercials and all, to get a feel for what the fans are seeing at home.
Up next for Peters is his role as Quicksilver in the Marvel Comics film "X-Men: Days of Future Past," which stars Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Lawrence, Peter Dinklage, Patrick Stewart and Halle Berry.
Peters had time for a quick chat backstage after taking questions from the crowd, saying he doesn't know yet if he'll be on season four of "American Horror Story," but he hopes so.
And just like the fans, he's on the edge of the seat waiting to find out how the current season will end, and it helps that parts of the Big Easy are scary, he said. "There's a dark energy in that town," Peters said.
He's been interested in learning more about its history, including more recent events like the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. He also wants to visit a youth theater group.
And while the show itself is dark and serious, Peters said the set is the complete opposite when the cameras aren't rolling because the cast and crew are like family, especially his talented peers, who make him feel more relaxed and help him to do his best.
"It elevates you to another level," he said.
The show has attracted a number of guest stars and this season will include Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac, which Peters said is really exciting news. He was also thrilled to talk about the show's People's Choice Awards nomination for "Favorite TV Movie/Miniseries.
He'd like to attend the awards ceremony, even though walking the red carpet in what he calls his "monkey suit" makes him nervous, unless Roberts is by his side - then it's not so bad. When asked about the best career advice he's ever received, Peters spoke of his first acting coach, Bill Schwerin. "Ears open, mouth shut," he said.
Published Nov. 20, 2013, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.