Zachary Quinto is what one might call a quadruple threat. He is a movie star (catch him as Spock in the Star Trek movies), theatre actor (he starred in Angels in America in 2010), TV star (as Sylar on Heroes), and a producer (his production company made Margin Call, which won an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature).
The Pittsburgh-born actor returns to the small screen for the second season of American Horror Story, premiering on FX tonight. Set in a haunted house in LA, the hair-raising series, created by Ryan Murphy, acquired a fanatical following during its first season. For the second round, some of the original cast is back but playing different characters in a new setting. Quinto chatted with ELLE.com about his latest role as psychiatrist Dr. Thredson, and revealed that even he finds the series utterly terrifying.
Name: Zachary Quinto
Provence: Los Angeles
Relationship status: “Spoken for”
On seeing the season two premiere of American Horror Story: Asylum this past weekend: “It was so cool and exciting, first of all, because I’m not in the first episode. So I didn’t have anything to worry about in terms of seeing myself, which can always be a challenge for an actor. Instead, I got to enjoy everyone else’s work. It was so scary and so exciting. I think Jessica [Lange] is giving an incredible performance.
On shaking off a particularly intense or dark scene: “I’m not super-duper method-y all the time. I take time alone if I have to do something really intense or challenging. Sometimes I do take it home with me and feel weird for a few hours until I go to bed, but usually by the next morning I feel okay. I don’t blur the line between my life and my reality with my responsibilities and my work. I understand there’s a way to engage it and then go home. You better be able to do that or you’re [in trouble].”
On his character Dr. Oliver Thredson: “He’s very outspoken and precise about his point of view. When he comes to Briarcliff, he’s there for a specific task: to evaluate one of the patients. In the process of doing that, he begins to see there are a lot of aspects of this place that are unsettling, unethical, and inappropriate. He begins to shine a bit of light on that, which doesn’t win him any points with Sister Jude [Jessica Lange]. “
On his first steps in the biz: “I started performing on stage when I was a kid so my lineage always goes back to that. I moved to LA as soon as I graduated from college. But in a lot of ways, it was only so I could move back to New York. I recognized that TV and film actors populate so much of New York theater. It’s so commercially driven.”
On bringing his pets to Boston for his next gig as Tom in The Glass Menagerie at A.R.T. in Cambridge, M.A. (runs February–March): “I have to figure out the animal situation. I have two dogs and a cat. I never take the big dog on a plane, unless he is in the cabin with me. I just can’t put him on a plane in a cage; I just can’t do it. He’s almost 10 years old. I’m exploring ways, but I worry about him because he’s used to 75-degree weather, and it’s not going to be 75 degrees in Boston in February.”