The recent Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour was an ideal time for Ryan Murphy to clear the air: The out producer was still riding high on the success of Glee and the generally good buzz about his new fall show, American Horror Story. But the public thrashing he got for announcing that Lea Michele, Chris Colfer and Cory Monteith would be departing Glee at the end of next season still stung. (He’s since back-pedaled from that proclamation.)
Hitting the press rounds, Murphy gave a couple of “mea culpas,” painted himself as something of a victim and teased his upcoming projects.
In chatting with Deadline.com’s Nikki Finke, Murphy revealed he’s had his life threatened over Glee—not from angry fans but from the homophobic lunatic fringe.
I’ve gotten death threats. Yes, I have. I think any time you shine a spotlight on homosexuality or minorities and you try and say they are as normal or as worthy as acceptance as others, the people who are on the fringe don’t like that and they will come after you. And they have come after me.
The thing with Kings of Leon was them saying, ‘Isn’t it cool that we turned down Glee.’ It was stupid and arrogant and I said ‘Fuck you, Kings of Leon’ and I should have never said it. I feel that started a douchey thing about me that I don’t think is true and I’m very regretful about that. I know that’s where it started. Up until then, Glee was gold. I made a mistake. Because the truth of the matter is I love that band. I screwed myself.
Of course Kings of Leon just imploded, with singer Caleb Followill walking off stage mid-concert and the band canceling the remainder of its tour, so maybe Murphy actually feels vindicated on that front.
Still for an Emmy-winning super-producer worth billions, he knows how to play the wounded-puppy card.
When I read a Nikki Finke piece where she calls me ‘a megalomaniac in the making’, does it hurt my feelings? One hundred percent. It makes me stand back and say, ‘What? Am I that person? I don’t want to be that person.’ Does seeing that word in print connected to my name make me feel that I need to try harder to express myself in a gentler calmer way? Yes. Everybody wants to be liked. Do I fuck up? All the time.
Moving on to American Horror Story, his new FX series about a troubled couple (Friday Night Lights‘ Connie Britton and The Practice‘s Dylan McDermott) who move cross-country to save their marriage and encounter Lynch-like weirdness in their new home. With the show yet to air—and no inflated actor egos to sidestep—Murphy seems a bit more on solid ground.
We call it a psycho sexual thriller. It has an amazing cast: Dylan MacDermott, Jessica Lange and Connie Britton. I always wanted to work with all those actors and I went after them and I got them. To me, it’s what I was obsessed with as a kid which were thriller horror movies. It’s my homage and tribute to movies like Don’t Look Now, The Shining, and Rosemary’s Baby.
But the way he describes it to the Los Angeles Times’ Yvonne Villarreal, it sounds more as Desperate Housewives (R.I.P.) than Twin Peaks.
Murphy cautions against getting too wrapped up in the horror of it all. The show “was never really about horror,” he said. “It really was about marriage and infidelity. It permeates all the characters, they all experience different points of view on that topic.”
When it comes to talk of films, Murphy was mum on the upcoming Glee 3-D but he did drop something of a shocker in his chat with Finke: He’s planning on helming the long-awaited film adaptation of The Normal Heart.
I optioned it and there’s a brilliant script that Larry Kramer wrote and I’m going to do that with Mark Ruffalo and maybe Julie Roberts. I believe in that play.
First Barbra Streisand, and now Ryan Murphy threatening to bring Kramer’s magnum opus to the screen? Do you have to be a gay (or gay-adjacent) egomaniac to have anything to do with that script?
And while we still love Julia Roberts, we’d sooner buy Chris Colfer as Ned Weeks than Miss Eat Pray Love as Dr. Emma Brookner.