Interview: Leslie Grossman

From the interview archives.


Los Angeles native Leslie Grossman has been seen in shows like Popular, Nip/Tuck and Scandal and now you can catch her on American Horror Story: Cult. VULKAN caught up with Leslie to talk to her about working again with writer Ryan Murphy on the series and what attracted her to the role of Meadow.  

You joined the cast of American Horror Story: Cult this season. What was the one thing about Meadow that really stood out to you and made you want to play that part?

The one thing that stood out to me about Meadow was her desperate need to be seen and loved. I felt so terribly sad for her. I wanted to go beyond how pathetic she seems and figure out why she has allowed herself to get to this place in her life.

In what way is this role challenging and how did you prepare for it?

Playing Meadow was super challenging for me in many ways. It was very hard for me to relate to someone who would allow herself to be treated so badly and doesn’t believe she deserves any better. I prepared for it by basically going against every natural instinct I would have and forcing myself to see things through her perspective. I started out really not liking her but ended up have so much sympathy for her.

This isn’t the first time you’ve worked on a Ryan Murphy series. What is one thing you think that Ryan just “gets” about hit TV that makes you as an actress interested in continuing to appear in his productions?

Ryan is, flat out, a genius. He has an incredibly unique perspective and sensibility and just knows how to make shows that are fascinating and compulsively watchable. He also crafts characters that you become obsessed with.

Are you eager to take on more roles like this that are a bit more quirky and strange?

The truth is basically every role I play goes under the “quirky and strange” category! It’s interesting to me because in my real life I am a totally regular wife and mom and am pretty boring. I am ok with being seen as unique. I understand I don’t fit a cookie cutter mold and that’s what sets me apart from everyone else.

These days people express outrage at any and everything that they choose to, and often times TV and film are attacked for being insensitive. Do you think there is a boundary that shouldn’t be crossed in film & TV, where certain subject matters should be to some degree untouched or treaded lightly over, or do you think that all is fair in art?

I think tv and film is a mirror of what we are going through. To shy away from difficult or controversial topics would be a disservice. If something makes you uncomfortable, good! Dig deeper. See why that is triggering for you.

In what way would you say you are similar to Donna Shellstrop in The Good Place? Any plans or hopes for a return cameo?

The character I play on “The Good Place” is 100% nothing like me. Which is what makes her so fun to play. She is truly the world’s worst mother. I would love to get the chance to go back and play her again. I love that show so much. It’s hilarious and brilliant.

What is the biggest difference between the set of The Good Place and AHS: Cult?

The biggest difference between the set of “The Good Place” and the set of “AHS” is one set has wayyyy more fake blood on hand. 

What shows are you binge watching on Netflix right now or that you’re looking forward to checking out?

I loved “The Handmaids Tale” and “Ozark”.  I am so so excited for “Westworld” to come back for it’s second season. I am a huge fan of that show.

You’re a pretty frequent tweeter & your timeline is equally hilarious as it is informative. Does it weird you out at all having such a wide reach and did you ever think you would have this kind of platform when you were first starting out?

The power of Twitter is immense and I don’t think anyone knew how broad its reach would be when we all signed up years ago. I do not shy away from expressing my views on many topics, and I know some people don’t like it. That’s OK. We are living in an insane political climate, and for me to be silent about issues that mean so much to me would feel irresponsible.

Do you ever face backlash on social media for any of the things you post, and do you ignore it or challenge it?

I have definitely had some backlash from people on social media about my political views and I am totally ok with that. As long as you are not hateful and abusive, I am open to hearing all sides of a position. But attack me personally or spew anything bigoted and we are done. The block button is a wonderful thing.

Kids today are growing up with the ability to have any and all information at their fingertips at all times. Do you think your view of the world or the way you interact with people would be different at all if you were growing up in it today?

As a mom of a tween, I am constantly worried about the influence the internet and social media have on my child. Just the other day I was explaining what the encyclopedia was to her and she was totally baffled by it. Tons of big books used to be Google? For a million reasons I am so happy there was no internet when I was growing up. I know I would have embarrassed myself endlessly.

What would you say to young actresses today that are hesitating about going to auditions because they just feel like the odds are against them and they won’t “make it”?

To young actors I would say is there anything else you love? Is there anything else you feel excited and passionate about? If the answer is yes, do that thing. This business can be so brutal and difficult. If there is something else that brings you joy and happiness do it. But if acting is really the thing that feeds your soul, then I say go for it. Do not focus on the odds. Someone has to get the part, why shouldn’t it be you?

How would you describe your personal fashion style?

I would describe my personal fashion style as laid back california with a clean edge. My daily uniform is a pair of Current/Elliott jeans, Chloe flats and a The Great t-shirt. I love Self Portrait and Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini dresses. And Isabel Marant tops and Ulla Johnson dresses!

Who’s your favourite designer today that you think is really doing something innovative and special in the fashion world?

I have always loved Valentino. And RedValentino. I love the whole super feminine aesthetic with a playful edge. It’s classic and modern simultaneously if that makes any sense.

First thing on your list to do if you have a completely free Saturday? 

Sleep!

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