(Warning: This post contains spoilers from the “American Horror Story: 1984” premiere.)
Zach Villa joined the Ryan Murphy family this year with his role on “American Horror Story: 1984,” the ninth installment of the FX anthology series. And boy is this part a killer one — literally.
Villa portrays notorious real-life serial killer Richard Ramirez a.k.a. the Night Stalker, a man who terrorized Los Angeles in the ’80s and was convicted of thirteen counts of murder in 1989. On “AHS:1984,” the fictionalized version of Ramirez has set his sights on Brooke (played by “AHS” vet Emma Roberts). In the premiere, he breaks into her home and threatens her life, steals what appears to be a wedding ring and then runs off before he can be caught.
By the episode’s end, he’s shown up at Camp Redwood, where Brooke and her new friends Xavier (Cody Fern), Montana (Billie Lourd), Chet (Gus Kenworthy) and Ray (DeRon Horton) have signed up to be counselors for the summer. While most of the group went to escape the chaos brought on LA by the ’84 Olympics, Brooke joined them because she was scared the Night Stalker would come back for her. And now he has — but why?
“It’s a questionably healthy process to get into the mindset of what the character requires,” Villa told TheWrap in an interview, which you can view via the video above. “That should tell you something about where things are going, you know. And obviously seeing him with Brooke in that first scene is, you know, pretty terrifying. He’s not the best guy.”
“You know, it’s tricky, there’s a lot of historical reference for what his movement was,” Villa told us. “Richard was, I mean, obviously a real person, and so I think it’s interesting, like, why he found his way to Camp Redwood. You’ll just have to watch and see I guess, at the end of the day. She gets away, I mean, I feel like, if anything serial killers do tend to get obsessed with their victims.”
As for how Villa prepared for playing a real-life serial killer, he said there is “a lot of source material” to draw from but “at the end of the day, when I prepare for any role, I always try to just devour as much as possible and there’s this moment where whatever we’re creating on the show takes over and suddenly it’s not really based on anything, it just kind of exists.”
Watch the full interview above.
“American Horror Story: 1984” airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on FX.