Wes Bentley on Why American Horror Story Gets Addiction Right
Spoilers ahead for the most recent episode of American Horror Story: Hotel.
On Wednesday night’s American Horror Story: Hotel, John Lowe is invited to a dinner party along with Aileen Wuornos, Richard Ramirez, Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, and the Zodiac — a murderer’s row of serial killers. “John is clearly not yet our kind,” their host James March tells them when the detective balks at their idea of amuse-bouche and desserts. Was Lowe invited to this strange soirée because he’s a guest of the hotel, because they enjoyed the idea of a helpless law-enforcement official in their midst, or because he might actually be a kindred spirit? Wes Bentley, who plays Lowe, helped shed a little light when he chatted with Vulture about AHS theories, understanding addiction, and why he wants Gwyneth Paltrow’s head in a box.
Why do you think John Lowe was invited to the Devil’s Night dinner?
We’re not quite sure why, and whether it’s in his head or not, if he’s having a breakdown. Because this is the episode where John takes a drink for the first time, and soon as he takes a drink, Aileen Wuornos shows up, played by the great Lily Rabe. So is it because he starts drinking, all these fantastical things start to happen? That dinner-party scene was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had as an actor. John was just taking it in. He doesn’t believe what he’s seeing. It might be a trick. It might be people pretending to be these people. And we’re starting to learn that John is not the most stable person. He has issues, and part of that is drinking, and what happens when he drinks. But it could all be real. You never know in this hotel! [Laughs.]
Well, there seems to be some debate over whether he’s actually an alcoholic. His wife says he’s not, but then again, Hypodermic Sally is drawn to him, and she’s only drawn to addicts …
What happens a lot is that people don’t really know if you’re an addict. And a lot of times, people who are addicts, or do have a problem, the people closest to them don’t want to believe it either because it destroys their life, too. Or maybe they’re right — some people aren’t. But this is a typical thing that happens, so I thought it was a cleverly written scene. Does he have a problem? Maybe he didn’t hardly drink before that, but he wants to blame things on something. He’s got to figure it out, but it’s a fine line, and some people struggle with that identification. That’s the first part of the process of recovery, to say, “I am an addict.” And a lot of times, if you say it, you find out if it’s real or not.