A Conversation with
American Horror Story's Jim Ortlieb
By Gabby Etzel and Cathleen Freedman
For those of us who have watched American Horror Story: Red Tide, it is safe to say that all of our hearts ached at the horrible things Belle Noir's husband Ray Cunningham said to her in the fourth episode of the season, "Blood Buffet." These things were so horrible that he fell victim to his own wife's pill-induced bloodthirsty rage. Absolutely Anything had the chance to sit down and speak with the man behind the monster, Jim Ortlieb. You may have seen Jim in Six Feet Under, Home Alone, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Roswell, and plenty more. Click above to watch our interview with this eloquent actor on his experience with American Horror Story, his most iconic lines, and his appetizer preferences. Find the transcription below.
GABBY ETZEL: While taking a look at your IMDb, we couldn’t help but notice that you’re from New Jersey before anything else! I’m a Jersey girl myself, I’m a Jersey Shore girl. What part of Jersey are you from?
JIM ORTLIEB: I’m from Hazlet! Monmouth County. Where are you from?
GABBY ETZEL: I’m from the LBI region… We’re actually going to Cape May this weekend!
CATHLEEN FREEDMAN: I’m from Houston, so she’s my New Jersey tour guide.
JO: Oh, fantastic! Well, there are many parts of New Jersey that are just gorgeous… and many not-so-gorgeous.
GE: Oh, very true. I think we’ll get to that later in the questions!
CF: Why don’t we start getting into some craft-based questions? How did you first get into acting?
JO: Wow… It was on the Jersey Shore! When I was three, my parents were looking at a house in Hazlet, New Jersey. We were living in North Jersey, and I guess they wanted to get out of the city, or just be somewhere where they could have a backyard, and we went to a restaurant called the Shore Point Inn. I stood up in a booth, and sang “Happy Birthday” to my brother, and the waitress brought out a cake. That was my first paying job… and it wasn’t my brother’s birthday.
CF & GO: Oooooh!
JO: That was the lure for the rest of my life. Someone might pay me for lying!
CF: On that note, were there any roles or films that you watched that inspired you to continue that path of performing?
JO: Well, it was sort of unreal for me until I was invited to do a show at The Barn Theater in Rumson, New Jersey in 1977 and began working with Lois Macdonald, who owned the place, and I made wonderful friends there. That was a wonderful summer theater thing that happened fourty four years ago last August. That was when I really started doing it. Of course in grammar schools, you do some plays, you spend some summers doing summer theater work, but it was never really serious for me. It was always a social event, until 1977, although it was social event for me then, too. It got really serious for me when I went to Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers. Or, it got serious when I went to New York, New York and tried to live there for awihle, and it was just really hard in ‘78 and ‘79.
CF: Especially in New York City. So you started in theater and onstage, so what’s your process going between performances onstage and onscreen?
JO: Let me just say, I did a lot of musicals when I started out. They were all musicals. I can sing pretty well, so that was the introduction for me doing theater. When I graduated from Rutgers, I went to Chicago, and I lived there for sixteen years. That’s when I really started focusing on the acting for film and television. It was just another extension for me, then, of realistic moment-to-moment talking and listening. I didn’t do much film right away because I went to Chicago to teach the Meisner Technique. But I stopped teaching after six years, just because I thought I was procrastinating, and I wasn’t that great of a teacher!
CF: Well, we’re glad you got back into the craft!
JO: Thank you very much! In fact, I just got off the phone with a student of mine who left my classroom in ‘84 and went to Juilliard.
CF: Oh! I don’t know if we told you where we are, but we’re on 96th Street right now, so we walk past Juilliard to go to school everyday.
GE: We go to Fordham Lincoln Center, so we’re neighbors!
JO: Oh my gosh, that’s fantastic, you guys are go-getters. Good for you. Are you in the theater?
CF: Actually, I’m a dramatic writer!
GE: I study film and television!
CF: We’re so excited to have you because you encompass a lot of our interests. I worked at Williamstown Theater Festival, and I’m doing my Honors Seniors Thesis. I’m adapting a screenplay that I wrote for the stage.
JO: That is very, very exciting. As for the transfer between the two, they say that the acting is the same, but it really is not the same. You have a house of 4500 people in some cases, and in other cases it’s 50 or 40, I’m doing a one person show in Los Angeles where the most people that we can fit in the theater is 35. So, it is really different with film acting. Every time I do another show on TV or film, I’m just so surprised with the things that I learn. They always say, “Do less, do less, do less!” I see a lot of people doing less, and I don’t see anything. There’s a lot of work that you do internally before you get to the set, at which point you have to put that aside and do your listening and answering. Everything you planned on, that wonderful performance that you saw up on the screen for yourself, you have to put aside and work with the other people. That’s where the lovefest happens. That’s where it’s just people being together. Even though there are people all over the place—craft services, behind the camera, people fiddling with a coat every here, someone’s hemming your pants here. It’s a crazy thing. It is very difficult. I love both of them.
GE: We saw you in Episode 4 of American Horror Story: Double Feature as Ray Cunningham on that TV right offscreen, and you were husband to Frances Conroy’s Belle Noir. We gotta say… You were NOT the most likeable guy on that screen! So walk us through your American Horror Story audition process, and don’t leave out the gory details.
JO: So I was teaching when I got that audition. I think I was teaching Hamlet.
GE: Big Shakespeare fans here.
JO: Good! So am I. I was teaching Hamlet, and I was so involved in lesson plans that I was doing auditions probably five times a week, setting up the camera, setting up the lights, doing the whole at-home audition thing. I was really fast in learning the scene and getting it up and hurrying it out so that my wife, who was also a teacher, could read with me on the other side of the camera could do it. The script did not change very much from the time of the audition to the shoot. Given that little piece of information, I had to apologize to my wife before we started, because it was just so awful.
GE: The next question was going to be... Ray puts his wife through a lot of emotional torment. Even before he admits to cheating on her, he had some very sharp, and very heartbreaking things to say to her, and he ended up dead for it. So, what was your reaction to reading this script and to finding out your characters’ arc?
JO: Having lived a little bit of a life before getting that audition, and also having seen my fair share of unhappy marriages—I have only been married once, by the way—the only way that you can do the scene is to understand that they did not start out like this. No matter how sad that is, and it really is very sad, if you end up in a place where you get to be able to talk so brazenly to your partner who is in another place, you must have gone through something awful to get there. I’ve seen people treat other people quite poorly, who you would never think that would happen to. It’s just a horrible thing. It’s a horrible way to end up, and I have to say, as much as demons, the devil, transformative personalities and physicalities happen on this show, I felt like I was being transported. I felt like I was possessed—not because I had to read these lines, but because anyone could become this. I could become this. Wally Shawn wrote a line in The Appendix to Aunt Dan & Lemon that says, “The ease with which a fly can land on a queen’s nose is the ease with which the world can fall apart like something rotten.” That’s what it’s like to do these auditions in the afternoon in between classes, and that’s what it’s like to tell your wife that it’s over.
GE: That is a beautiful answer, and it segues right into what we wanted to talk about next. The awfully beautiful thing about horror in general, but especially this season of American Horror Story, the horror is driven by human elements, and all of these supernatural forces act as a catalyst to heighten the little horrors inside of us. Your character happened to be one of those humans that carried a lot of weight for the horror of the episode, so as an actor, did you feel pressure? What was the preparation like to bring the “horror” to American Horror Story like that?
JO: It was on the page. I thought it was on the page. It is horrible. It’s awful. It’s the mundane evils that happen everyday. When someone is yelling in a grocery store, and there’s venom coming out of their mouths. This is a venomous, horrible time where people are feeling very free to speak poorly about another human being who goes through whatever they may go through during the day and treat them as if they’re dirt. My preparation for that was listening to the writers. Knowing also, how beautiful Frances is. We all love Frances. Everybody loves Frances. I go into the costume fitting, I don’t even know who my wife is yet, and they’re talking about “Fran.” They say she’s beautiful. I say, “Is it Fran Conroy?” Yup. And I knew it. The more evil I was to her, the better off the scene would work. They don’t pull any punches. It’s awful. And just at the time where she’s in the zone! She’s Michael Jordan up there, this is it, she’s just at the fine point of being Michael Jordan with greatness, and I come in as if I have discovered myself. So, as much as actors don’t like to say it’s all about us… It’s all about me!
GE: Of course!
CF: Ray has quite the gory death scene. Would you be able to walk us through the special effects process of that moment?
JO: Not specifically, because I don’t know all the lingo! The one thing that I can say is that it was perfectly enjoyable. Really fun! Even getting fitted for a new neck, and they put all of the mechanics and hoses in it, even that was an enjoyable process. Halloween is not my favorite holiday, even though it’s my daughter’s birthday, so for that reason it is my favorite holiday. I never liked getting into costume, though, and everyone would say, “Well, you’re an actor!” I would say, “If you wanna pay me, I’ll get into costume.” But I really enjoyed getting killed! It was a lot of fun. She was terrific, and after she sucked my neck, we both burst into laughs. It was just gorgeous. Gorgeous!
CF: How many times did you have to die?
CF: Twice. Not too bad.
JO: We do these scenes in different ways. She does the slice, right. I think she did that five or six times. And then, I think I just fell down… twice.
GE: Good to know… To speculate, what moments do you think flashed before Ray Cunningham’s eyes before his bloodthirsty wife slit his throat?
JO: Probably, “If I knew this was a part of who you were, none of this would have happened.”
CF & GE: That is a good answer.
JO: Of course, these drugs that are giving people this power this season is a message from the writers, from Ryan, to the audience. You don’t need horror in your life to take chances, to really strive to do the best and be the best you can be. But that’s me as a father speaking!
CF: That’s spot on, and that’s why I’m in love with this season. I just adore the message.
GE: That last scene in the most recent episode with Sarah Paulson… That was heavy. It didn’t matter as long as she was satisfied with her work. That was all that mattered. It doesn’t matter if she was a pale person or not.
JO: That’s right.
GE: I know that you were on Six Feet Under, but I also know that you were killed before you had the chance to interact with Frances Conroy’s character. Have you worked with her before this season of American Horror Story?
GE: How was it?
JO: She was wonderful. It’s a lot of work, this stuff. I talked to her about this. In the scripts, they’ve hidden a lot. She has an idea of what the season is about, but really, specifically, it’s week to week. Sometimes the new script happens immediately. Ours was pretty much sturdy the whole time, as I mentioned during the audition. But it’s a lot of work for her, and she’s a good worker. As we were changing things a little bit in one of the scenes we were doing before the end, she said, "What we’re asked to do is inhuman. To repeat the same thing over and over again. It’s just crazy." And the last thing we want to do is repeat it exactly. But her consistency and her consistency in availability is something that comes from a lot of practice—a lot of consistent practice when you’re on camera a lot. She was wonderful. She was lovely. As I said to my wife before the audition, “I’m sorry.” And she said, “Why?” And I said… “Well, you’ll see.”
CF: Yeah, you’ll hear!
JO: Fran was off book when we did that scene. When I first met her, I said, “I’m so sorry for what I’m about to do.” She didn’t apologize to me.
GE: Honestly… Rightfully!
CF: In that same vein, what was it like to have worked on Home Alone with Macaulay Culkin and then again, decades later, working with him on a very different type of project?
Jim Ortlieb and Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone (1990).
Jim Ortlieb and Macaulay Culkin in
American Horror Story: Red Tide (2021).
JO: I like Macaulay. I really like him. I haven’t spoken to him but once since we both sat near each other at the premiere. I was right next to him and his friends when we saw the premiere of Home Alone back in ‘91. He was just a delight. I was on the very first day of shooting for that movie.
CF & GE: Wow!
JO: It was the very first day of shooting in Kenilworth, Illinois, and there was a huge snowstorm on that very day. And he was...a delight. Just so sweet and cute and wonderful. And the old man in the movie, Roberts Blossom, was a poet. He was a wonderful guy. I really had a wonderful day that day. And then, when I first moved out to Los Angeles in 1999, I think about five years later, I saw Macauly at Hugo’s in West Hollywood, which is a wonderful restaurant. He smiled and waved, and I went over and said, “It’s been a long time. I’m so happy for your success, so it’s good to see you again.” He didn’t call me Herb, but I know he was thinking about it. So it’s sort of a lovely reunion. Although I wish I would’ve had a scene with him.
CF: So you didn’t get to see him at all during production?
JO: No, but he had a scene with Dennis, so that’s close enough.
CF: What was your favorite American Horror Story Season?
JO: I’m liking this one the best. I agree with you. I love this message. Although Sarah Paulson’s first season I loved too. I love Sarah Paulson.
GE: She is fantastic.
JO: I did a movie with her a long time ago.
CF: Everything really is so interconnected in this world.
JO: It’s a small world! It was a movie called “Bug.” If you’ve been around long enough, you’re going to get to know everyone. Like Willie who died yesterday. I never knew Willie personally, but we were in the same audition rooms for ten years.
CF: What would be your dream American Horror Story season theme? If Ryan came up to you and asked, “Where should we set this story? What should be the big meaning?” What would you pitch?
JO: I think it would need to be in a couple of years. I’m an old white guy. You can tell. And old white guys are getting angry because they’re getting left out, they’re getting cancelled, and that sort of thing. I’d like to see some reason brought into their heads about why all of this is true. I’d like to see the show involved not only in current issues, but I’d really like to see it get involved in our politics. I would love to see horror involved. And the magic of the mystical. And it’s got to be scary. But you’ve got white guys in it, and they’re always scary. There are years and situations where Ryan has done this.
CF: Are there any other Ryan Murphy productions you’d want to be involved in.
JO: I did 9-1-1: Lonestar. Just a single episode, but I just think he’s reinventing TV right now and stories.
(Then we met Jim’s daughter!)
GE: To bring it back to Red Tide—not that you would need it—but would you take the little black pill?
JO: My whole life’s been on a little black pill. I’ve had all sorts of chances, all sorts of opportunities. I have the family I want, which is the end of all my dreams. I sort of took it when I was young!
CF: At the inn… What was it?
JO: Shore Point Inn!
CF: There must have been something in that cake!
GE: Yeah, that was the Muse!
JO: I’ve been following my dreams for a long time.
CF: No black pill needed.
GE: To keep going with the black pill thing, we were watching the show and thought it would be really funny if somebody were to take the pill, expecting it to heighten their writing or their singing, but really it just develops a secret talent nobody knew they had. For example, I can do the Stitch voice, and I think that I would be able to do the Stitch voice really, really well on the black pill. So do you have any secret talents that would be heightened after taking the black pill?
JO: Well, I sing. I did Guys and Dolls on Broadway in 2009, but secret… I don’t think so. I’m a good storyteller. Given the fact that I’m in this business, and I’m not acting all the time, we always write when we can, we always come up with ideas when we can. I direct. I form and shape stories. I’m working with a good friend now who started his own production company, so I think I’m tapping into all of that. In my imagination, what I’d like is to have an ambassador-like way to rule the world.
CF: That’s an interesting juxtaposition with the black pill [side effect.]
JO: It really is. Look at all the forces you’re against if you’re ruling the world in a way that takes humanity into consideration. We’ve had people like that. We know leaders like that. But it’s certainly different than dictatorship. But I don’t have that skill!
CF: And you don’t need the black pill anyway! All hypothetical! Did you shoot on location in Provincetown.
CF: No! I was betting yes!
JO: It looks pretty good, doesn’t it?
CF & GE: It looks fantastic!
CF: Would you like to visit sometime?
JO: I’d love to! I’ve never been there. Being from New Jersey, there are so many places I’d like to go to in the Northeast. I’d love to go to Acadia Forest in Maine. I have been to Maine. I’ve done shows in Massachusetts. But I haven’t been there. This play that I’m doing now was actually done for two in Provincetown, I think…
CF: Your filmography is so vast and so varied. Does it reflect your television viewing preferences when you take a break from being a performer on the screen to being a viewer in front of the screen?
JO: Sort of. At the same time, there’s so much now. It’s hard to keep up. My daughter watches all the time. My wife watches all the time. My other daughter watches all the time. There’s so much right now. I like to be busy, so I’m trying to read my own stuff, write my own stuff, books and other people’s plays. Just recently I got other plays that I might want to do, so I’m reading a lot of things. I’ll tell you what I’m watching right now. It’s the Ken Burns documentary on Muhammad Ali. I do want to watch Ted Lasso, and we are in the middle of White Lotus. But I love to see friends on TV.
CF: You probably see them all the time.
JO: I do and given the fact that I lived in Chicago for so long, I see a lot of them on Dick Wolf shows. So I love seeing those just to see friends. When I see them in New York, I say the same thing. I like to see friends' work. I like to see their success. I’m excited about it.
CF: You’re a good friend!
GE: As far as your craft goes, what is your process like when you book a new gig?
JO: Something has happened in the last year where I’ve realized that the audition is not the role. I sometimes hang onto that as an actor. I used to think, “I auditioned with that scene, so I’m going to do the same sort of thing…” and then all of a sudden, the writing changes. You get to the set, and it’s totally different. The process really is availability. Emotional availability, if he’s that kind of character. If it’s a broad character, I did a TV show—oh, it feels like twenty years now—as a recurring role on a show called Push, Nevada. My name was “Middle Management Man,” so three M’s. I just thought this guy was so goofy. The director was looking at me oddly through my shooting for the character and said by the end of it, “You know, I never thought you would be able to carry that character all the way through. You did it wonderfully.” And I really thanked him for it. I was really well complimented. Coming from the theater, you can do some broad characterizations, and they can be realistic, especially if you’re emotionally available and working off others. He was really surprised by that. He was surprised that I would bring a character that didn’t have the longevity for even one single episode, let alone four. But that’s different now. This show? It’s not different. And this role is a total emotional role. And it was a realistic role of a guy at the end of his life who is ready to jump off the diving board, which he hasn’t done at all. Emotional availability is very important, and whatever you’re working on, whatever it is, be ready to let it go.
GE: That was great. What have been some of your favorite roles that you’ve had?
JO: I loved doing that one on Push Nevada. I thought it was so funny and ridiculous. There was an actor in Hollywood back in the 20s/30s/40s. Pangborn was his last name. He was the most ridiculous guy that you’d ever see, but he was funny! There were a lot of funny guys like that in the 30s. I sort of like those guys, they’re sort of fun. Edward Horton was another one, he was in a lot of Fred Astaire movies. But my favorite to date is hard to say. It’s very hard to say. I enjoyed doing Roswell. A lot of mine are single shots. I do a single shot here, a single shot there. I did a show called The Closer with Kyra Sedgwick, and I played another sort of middle management man in a nursing home who was basically a bureaucrat right out of Nazi Germany. I would make sure that there were no empty beds in the place by the beginning of the next month, which meant that if I thought that someone was going to die between the 21st and the 30th, I had to make sure that they died. That’s another element of “I can’t believe that this could happen,” and it already happened fifty years, seventy years before I did that show. I loved doing that role. I loved holding, as Shakespeare said, the mirror up to nature. I love to surprise and awaken and shock. I like that.
CF: And that’s what you do with Ray’s role.
GE: Yes, of course. And have you had any favorite lines that have stuck in your head?
JO: I’m doing a play now that has so many great lines. My wife keeps saying the lines to her first graders. It’s just so funny. You should hear the language in this play, John Kolvenbach’s Stand Up If You’re Here Tonight. It is so good. We may bring it to New York, and if we do, we’ll let you know!
CF & GE: Ooooh!
GE: If you do, we’ll absolutely be there.
JO: Oh, good! My one famous line is, “I don’t know.”
GE: That is a good one!
JO: You know that one already. There’s another one that was another shocked, and I think it was the biggest laugh of the whole movie. It was my first movie, and it was also Billy Crystal’s first movie, and it was called, Running Scared. My scene had a lot of “shits” in it. I’m a drug chemist for the police, and Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines come walking past me and I say, “These drugs are shit.” And they say, “Good shit?” And I say, “It’s shit shit. This shit isn’t worth shit.” It’s not my favorite line because it was my first movie, and my family was like, so this is what you went to college for? But that’s a pretty funny line. There are some other things that I don’t think about much. When I’m done with a play or a movie, I sort of forget them.
CF: Well, those are some pretty good ones.
GE: Yeah, I mean, the “I don’t know?” (Clutching her heart) Right here.
CF: Like, how many times a day do I say that!
CF: So, what are you writing right now?
JO: I’m putting my family’s story to rest, where it should be. You know, my parents, their lost hopes. If they had a pill, maybe their lives would be different, too. That’s what I’m doing. I’m not sure if it’s poems, or short stories, or long form but that’s it.
CF: Very cool. Well, we already know that you’ve worked with so many incredible actors. Are there any that you haven’t worked with that you really want to?
JO: I would love to work with Kathy Bates. I was disappointed that she wasn’t in this season! I’ve seen her in the grocery store!
CF: That’s kind of American Horror Story!
GE: Yeah, that is very American Horror Story!
JO: It is very mundane American Horror Story! So I would love to work with her. Oh, so many. This cast is terrific. I’m so proud to be working with this cast, honestly.
CF: On that very same note, who are some actors that you have worked with that you have learned something from?
JO: James Earl Jones was great to work with. That was the first top-of-show role that I ever had in Chicago, and he was just such a wonderful man that was wonderful to work with. I worked with a woman named Laila Robins on that show, and she and I subsequently worked on a movie together a couple of years later. That was a wonderful thing to do. F. Murray Abraham, always curious, always excited, always making sure that his attention is out and about and in action. He’s terrific. I’m not a Clark Gable type, I’m more of the F. Murray Abraham type of character actor. I find that I have a need to make myself enjoyable to watch on camera, which is a tricky situation when you look like F. Murray Abraham or myself. Not to diss F. Murray Abraham, I think he’s a very handsome man!
GE: As are you!
JO: Thank you, that’s all I needed!
CF: Okay, well, let’s move onto some of the Absolutely Anything questions! It gets a little wild, but you’re just gonna have to roll with it! For our first one: Belle Noir and Austin use “Islands in the Stream” as their first karaoke song in the episode. We were wondering, what would be your duet karaoke song, and who would you sing it with?
JO: A duet? Oh God. “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers.”
CF: Hm! And who are you singing it with?
JO: That’s a good question. It really could be a knock-down drag-out fight with Fran. That’s for damn sure. It’s mud wrestling! It’s mud wrestling karaoke.
CF: I love it!
GE: I would love to see it!
CF: So in the episode, Ray could not be swayed by Belle at the suggestion of calamari from that restaurant. What appetizer would make you go to that restaurant? These are tough questions!
JO: When I was in Paris thirty years ago, I had a little money because Home Alone got me some residuals from Blockbuster. It was a very good year for Blockbuster to open. I had escargot in puff pastry, with a brown cream sauce that was astonishing, and I think it was probably a truffle sauce. So you can’t beat that.
GE: So it’s that appetizer over the haunted dune tour any day?
JO: Totally. If only she would’ve said that!
CF: Everything would’ve been different!
GE: So in the vein of food, I’m sure that as a Jersey boy, you know that there’s no better bagel than a New Jersey Bagel. What is your bagel order?
JO: I like a sesame seed. Sesame seed, garlic, toasted.
GE: Beautiful. Beautiful! And to keep riding the Jersey wave here, Provincetown, Massachusetts was a very charming location for AHS: Red Tide. Are there any cities in New Jersey that you think would be a prime location for American Horror Story?
JO: Well, I would love to see something down in the Jersey Pines.
GE: Oooh, like some Jersey Devil type of theme?
JO: Yeah! Let’s really examine what’s in there. Underneath, in that huge, massive reservoir of water underneath the Jersey Pines, and the haunted nature at night. Maybe we’ll find that Russian guy from The Sopranos.
CF: Yeah, we should call Ryan Murphy right now!
GE: I’m from right above the Pinelands, so I’m always driving around and wondering if I’ll see the Jersey Devil jumping from tree to tree.
JO: That is so funny.
CF: This next one's gonna make you think a little bit. Tell us a joke that you wish you came up with, and we’re gonna laugh as if you came up with it, okay?
JO: I just heard it this weekend. There’s a Mexican magician, and he says to the audience, I’m gonna disappear on “three.” He goes, “Uno… dos…” and POOF! He disappears… without a “tres.”
CF & GE: AH!! Good! So clever! HAHA!
CF: So every year instead of hosting a friendsgiving, we host a Freddiesgiving, which is essentially a friendsgiving party themed around Freddie Mercury. What celebrity would you have as your theme for your Friendsgiving?
JO: Tracy Lettsgiving.
CF & GE: Oooh, good one!
JO: Do you know who that is?
CF & GE: Nope.
JO: Remember the play, August: Osage County?
JO: He wrote it!
CF: Oh, yes! You’re right, that is an excellent friendsgiving theme!
JO: It’s Lettsgiving! He’s a close friend of mine, I’ve known him for thirty-six years, and he is a great inspiration.
CF: Well, I think you need to text him and tell him that instead of Friendsgiving, you’re having one in his honor!
JO: I’ll let him know! I’ll email him.
CF: You were on Will and Grace, and I’m a huge fan. So, we must ask: Will or Grace?
JO: What does that say about me? Let me think.
CF: Answer it any way you want.
JO: Well, I had a friend on that show, and his name was James Burrows. I miss him dearly, I haven’t seen him in years. He was nominated for an Emmy for a show he just did.
CF: I love it! The answer to Will or Grace is James!
GE: If you were a professional fighter, what would your walkout song be?
JO: Did I win or lose?
CF: You’re going to compete.
JO: I used to play soccer in New Jersey, and our soccer song was just a strange, strange walkout song. That’s what I would choose because it means so much to me.
GE: I fight professionally, and I have to choose walkout songs. I always try to go “strange,” so that’s something I’ll have to look into. Recently, it’s been horror movie scores. I’ve done the Gremlin Rag several times.
JO: It’s called “California Saga.” There are three segments in “California Saga,” and the last one is “California.”
CF: We’re going to play it.
GE: We’re absolutely going to play it.
JO: It’s antithetical to competitions and winning completely.
GE: Good! That is exactly how I like my walkout song.
JO: And as I listen to it, it’s really sort of about environmentalism, which is far out. My friend choosing this song in 1972/73... it’s sort of astonishing!
GE: One of my recent walkout songs was with American Horror Story in mind. I did the “Tonight You Belong to Me” that they play when Cody Fern comes back from the whole Murder House thing.
JO: That’s very cool! What kind of boxing do you do?
GE: I actually do Brazilian jiu-jitsu, so grappling.
CF: And she’s very good!
GE: Well, I don’t know about that, but I do have some good walkout songs.
JO: Are they on earphones or a public system?
GE: The public system! The venue plays it, and I try not to trip on my face with all the fog machine.
CF: It’s very theatrical.
GE: To wrap things up, the part one finale of American Horror Story: Red Tide premieres tonight. What would you like to see happen, and what do you think Ray Cunningham would have liked to see happen?
JO: I think Ray Cunningham saw what he wanted to see. Honestly. I would like everyone to realize that they didn’t need to take the pill. I think I would have liked a “Just click your heels three times” moment where they realize, “You had it inside of you all along.”
CF: Let’s see if we get that tonight!
JO: I bet we do for somebody.
GE: For Sarah, tragically, we did get that from her in a heart wrenching way.
CF: Well… that’s the end of our questions.
JO: It’s been fun! You guys have been fun.