Dylan McDermott: Scared Straight

The American Horror Story star explains why, even at 50, he’s not afraid to show some skin.

BY Brandon Voss

November 16 2011 5:00 AM ET

DYLAN MCDERMOTT SHIRTLESS AMERICAN HORROR STORY XLRG | ADVOCTE.COM So what was it like to watch yourself in American Horror Story at the big Hollywood premiere?
When my ass was 70 feet up in the air at the Cinerama Dome, I got a little shy, but people seemed to appreciate it afterward.

No kidding. Mere hours after the television premiere, screencaps of your nude scenes were everywhere online.
Oh, no. [Laughs] I knew going into it that there was nudity and that a lot of people would be watching, so I knew I had to be in really good shape. I’m no fool, so I hit the gym and watched what I ate. Actually, when I first got the role, production called me and asked, “Who’s your body double?” I said, “Oh, hell no. It’s going to be all me, baby.”

Some have commented that yours is not the ass of a 50-year-old man.
Well, I was 49 when I did those scenes, so they’re right.

How does the big 5-0 feel?
It’s a bit freaky, I have to say. I don’t know exactly what it all means. I asked my father, who’s close to 70 now, how old he feels, and says that he still feels like he’s 18 years old. Age is a funny thing: You get wiser, your body changes, but I think we all get stuck at an age where we don’t feel much older than we really are. I was talking to Eve about it the other night and she said, “Life begins at 50. You kind of have it figured out by then, because you know there’s so much bullshit in the world and you know not to be so worried about it.” I actually noticed that for myself when I was able to stay away from the reviews for American Horror Story, good and bad. I really like that I’ve arrived at that point in life where I don’t have to be validated. Of course, it’s nice when you’re validated, but if it all turned to shit, I would still be me. So I like the maturity that comes with turning 50, but you’re hit with mortality more than anything else. There’s always the element of, Oh, shit, is time running out?

When it comes to filming nude scenes, some actors modestly rush into their bathrobes and other actors let it all hang out at craft services. Which actor are you?
I’m probably somewhere in the middle. When I’m in the role, in the moment, I’m comfortable. After they yell “cut,” I don’t need to put my balls in someone’s face.

Were you at all intimidated by the show’s overt sexual content?
I’ve never been uncomfortable with sexuality. That goes back to my growing up in New York in the ’70s, which was a very sexual time. I was sort of a club kid, and I’d go to places like the Mudd Club and Max’s Kansas City. Being a part of that whole world, sexuality always seemed very normal to me.

Did men ever hit on you in those clubs?
Oh, yeah. Honestly, I’m cool with everyone, and people pick up on that. I’d say, “I’m not gay, but it’s all good.” It’s kind of like going to Paris when you don’t know the language; some Americans get into trouble over there, but I’m just like, “Sorry, I don’t speak French.”

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