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Ryan Murphy On 'American Horror Story: Coven' Success And What Surprises Him About 'Glee' (EXCLUSIVE)

What Inspired 'American Horror Story'?

Quick, someone arrest Ryan Murphy -- because nothing this good is legal.

Yep, "American Horror Story: Coven" co-creator's irreverent-yet-haunting witch masterpiece was so deliciously sinful, you know the Indianapolis native broke a few laws and cast a gaggle of spells to deliver it to our screens. And thank The Goddesses he did.

The 47-year-old Emmy and Golden Globe winner obviously had to rely on some supernatural powers of his own to deliver his myriad accomplishments on the big and small screen. The former "Nip/Tuck" impresario continues to lead TV phenom "Glee" each week, he's already busy prepping the next two seasons of "AHS" and he's pumping his heart and soul into adapting the upcoming Larry Kramer AIDS agitprop, "The Normal Heart," co-starring Julia Roberts and Mark Ruffalo, for HBO this May.

HuffPost TV Canada caught up with Murphy in Los Angeles recently to dish on Jessica Lange's awesomeness, the Sochi Olympics and whether he's more of a briefs or boxers kind of guy. Not necessarily in that order.

HuffPost TV Canada: Why did this season's "American Horror Story" explode into the zeitgeist? Entertainment Weekly named it last year's best series and "Coven" made most of 2013's Best TV Lists.

Ryan Murphy: You never know why. It could be because the show revolves around all amazing actresses and infectious female energy. I think the mixture of my witch's stew, as I like to say, the glamour, comedy, darkness and diversity made a perfect recipe for audiences. When we shot the finale, it was emotional to say goodbye to this cast and this chapter of the series. I think that's why I like to use the same actors in new seasons. What worked for us in "Coven" this year is like '70s horror cinema, I don't just rely on plot but also make sure character is a big part of the narrative.

And you did, Blanche; you did! Speaking of Entertainment Weekly, you once toiled as a reporter there. You're a hero to many showbiz journalists because you made the transition from reporter to showrunner. How hard was that?

I still pinch myself because, like you said, it's not easy to make the transition. Originally, I wanted to go into the movie business; that was always my dream as a kid. But I couldn't afford film school, so I moved out to Los Angeles to become an entertainment journalist. That was my Plan B. I said, "Well, I'll do this for now but, maybe one day, when I'm in a better financial position, I'll pursue my dream." At a certain point, I began writing scripts and luckily it went from there and here I am.

Why do you think gay men have this unique knack and skill for writing fierce roles for divine actresses like Jessica Lange?

I don't know if it's necessarily about writing for women ... but writing for underdogs. People who are misunderstood I can, somehow, naturally, relate to that. Go figure! [Laughs]

What inspired "AHS"? Because, I have to admit, I was a bit surprised you entered the horror genre.

The daytime soap opera "Dark Shadows." I was obsessed with it as a child. What I really wanted to do was my version of it, where there are creatures, soapy drama, and sex. Believe it or not, I owe my career to my grandmother, who used to make me watch "Dark Shadows" as punishment! [Laughs] And I was three!

Can you tease Season 4 of "AHS"? How are you going to top yourself this time?

Jessica will be back. She says it's her last [season] but I'm going to do everything I can to convince her to continue with the series because I see "AHS" running for decades. She'll be playing a Marlene Dietrich-type, which has always been one of her dreams. Season 4 will take place in the 1950s ... that's all I can say.

Twitter: Creatively, is it a genius tool or a hindrance?

Both. I've learned a long time ago that people go insane on Twitter, so I stay off it, especially during my seasons.

With entertainment platforms changing so dramatically due to all the technology, do you find yourself writing your shows differently?

Yes! Goodies, that's what we call them. I try to bury a morsel in an episode so it will entice fans to go back and watch on Hulu, Netflix and whatever have you because it's easy to miss during the first viewing.

Are you still surprised at how "Glee" took off?

Yes! Totally. I thought the show was so weird. I figured that it's either going to work or not. I also got lucky with the casting of the show, too, which I think helped. When you have a hit, it's a marriage of every element coming together. You can only hope for the best. I'm still surprised -- and thrilled -- that it worked.

Is your best work ahead of you?

I hope so. I hope I still have another 15 years ahead of me. I'd like to do more films. I just finished the movie "The Normal Heart" with Julia Roberts for HBO and I'm really excited for that.

Finally, a hard-hitting question: Boxers or briefs?


"American Horror Story: Coven" had its best ratings in its three-season run, and the latter half of the fifth season of "Glee" starts at the end of February.

Gabourey Sidibe as Queenie, Taissa Farmiga as Zoe, Sarah Paulson as Cordelia

'American Horror Story: Coven' Season Finale Sneak Peek

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