Miguel Sagaz and the Cult of American Horror Story
I warn you now, American Horror Story fans, there are spoilers ahead so if you haven’t caught yourself up on the current season, don’t write me a bunch of angry emails later. Go watch episode 7 (Valerie Solanas Died for Our Sins: Scumbag) and then come back to this interview. Otherwise, be brave and dive head first into this piece featuring a talented newcomer to the horror genre, Miguel Sagaz. While Sagaz is a seasoned actor who began his career in Hollywood in 2005, he’s also a creative director, choreographer, and entertainment journalist who has both covered and hosted numerous events in Los Angeles including the 24th EVVY Awards and many Latin American awards programs and features. His recent appearance on American Horror Story: Cult has welcomed him into the warm embrace of horror fandom and given us all a chance to see what this talented entertainer has to offer.
Dan - What interested you in becoming an actor?
Miguel Sagaz - I caught the bug when I was young. My entire family is full of lawyers and scholars but I wanted to perform. I’d put up a sheet as a background in the living room and do shows for my family at night when I was younger. It’s something I’ve always been passionate about.
Dan - AHS has never strayed from pushing boundaries and touching on societal topics. Would you say that this season in particular is really exploring that fundamentalist induced societal horror gripping America?
Miguel Sagaz - Definitely.
Dan - The episode you appear in, Valerie Solanas Died for Our Sins: Scumbag, has to have been one of the most socially and politically charged stories I’ve ever seen on AHS. What are your thoughts on the overall social commentary of this season?
Miguel Sagaz - I think it’s a clear reflection of what we’re living in right now. It’s the reality of the American horror story we’re all experiencing with how dangerous and politicized these ideologies are becoming on all sides. But the show has always been about pushing boundaries and art gives us a chance to open a dialogue and talk to each other about what is happening in this country and around the world. We just need to listen.
Dan - Let’s talk about your character, Bruce. Specifically, tell me about dying on screen.
Miguel Sagaz - It was very exciting. I had to undergo a three and a half hour fitting not just for the body cast but for pieces in the arm and throat where Lena (Dunham) stabs me. Near the last day of shooting, though, I got a call saying they wanted to use me in the actual death scene at the very end. They wanted to bury me alive and use my head in the final scene. As a horror fan I wanted the full experience so of course I said “yes.” I was standing on an apple box in this hole so that my head was at the right angle and height with the cast body parts that had been laid out. I had the fake genitals in my mouth and so what you’re seeing in the end is my real head on top of the pile of parts in the desert. It was hot, though, and I spent a lot of time out in the sun not able to move and sweating. It was a great experience and challenging as well.
Dan - Was it surreal to see yourself dead on screen?
Miguel Sagaz - It was. My mother had the hardest time with it. She called me after watching the episode and said “That was so gruesome. Why did you want me to see my son like that on television?”
Dan - I love the unsolved crime angle that this story in particular takes. It connects the attempted murder of Andy Warhol with the Zodiac Killer and a radical feminist movement all at the same time.
Miguel Sagaz - It was incredible. I had no idea that I was going to be the Zodiac Killer until I arrived on set and saw a full script. Here I am in the midst of this cult of women trying to send a very powerful message and my character decides that he wants to take credit for these killings by sending puzzles and ciphers to the police and press. He tries to rob them of the recognition for the work they’ve done and ultimately pays for it. A lot of people thought it was a stand alone episode when they saw it but once they see the season finale they’ll understand how everything really ties back in to SCUM and this cult.
Dan - You also spent some time on screen with one of my favorite actresses, Dot-Marie Jones. Tell me about these women you had a chance to work with.
Miguel Sagaz - Dot was great. I met her my first day during hair and make-up. She was incredibly sweet and, honestly, there was a very familial sort of environment with us all. It was all very fun and very humbling. They were all so fierce and intimidating and then, in between takes, were very sweet and inviting. It was a great team to work with.
Dan - AHS has a way of resurrecting characters as ghosts every season and, with all of the various seasons supposedly interconnected. Do you think Bruce may reappear somewhere down the line?
Miguel Sagaz - I can only hope and pray. It would be absolutely incredible. I’d be back in a heartbeat to play any character in this series and I’d be happy to do anything that Brad (Falchuck) or Ryan (Murphy) asked of me.
Dan - Are there any specific characters or stories you’d like to be involved in or portray elsewhere in horror?
Miguel Sagaz - I appreciate the campy sort of horror stories, I really do, but I’d love to be involved in more psychological sorts of horror thrillers. It’s such a great chance to explore characters that are so nice and normal on the surface but are actually hiding these psychotic personas. Something like The Shining or The Orphanage would be amazing.
Dan - You have any advice you’d like to offer to aspiring actors out there?
Miguel Sagaz - Understand the concept of patience. It’s not a sprint but a marathon and if you don’t enjoy the process, the work, then you won’t last long in this business. People come into this hoping to be famous and they don’t understand all of the hard work that goes into the glamour of Hollywood. If you’re passionate about your art, there’s nothing that can stop you.
Miguel Sagaz is an incredible actor and, despite only a brief role in American Horror Story: Cult, he’s definitely one of the most memorable -and gruesome- figures I’ve seen in a while in horror television. Miguel is represented by Brandon Cohen at BAC Talent and AAA so take note, horror producers. Fans can follow him on social media as @MiguelSagaz and you can also see him in the musical comedy Cherry Pop. American Hororr Story: Cult is on FX now so check your local listings for times and dates and be sure to check out previous episodes if you aren’t already caught up. Miguel Sagaz is making that scary on AHS and, with any luck, will be appearing in other horror related films and shows in the not too distant future.
Dan Lee is a horror fiend and freelance writer with a special place in his heart for monster movies and demonic possession stories.
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