Ryan Murphy's 'Pose' is an 'optimistic Valentine' to '80s dance era
PASADENA, Calif. — Producer Ryan Murphy has tackled high-school choirs, plastic surgeons and murder cases, from O.J. Simpson to this month's Gianni Versace project. His latest fascination: 1980s ballroom dance culture, the downtown scene and the rise of Trump in Pose, an eight-episode FX series due later this year.
Pose drew headlines for its inclusion of a large group of racially diverse and transgender actors, many of them newcomers to acting, and the cast also includes Kate Mara and Evan Peters (American Horror Story) as a New Jersey couple and James Van Der Beek as a financial kingpin.
The story is an "optimistic valentine" to a community and "a search for being authentic," Murphy says. "People were disenfranchised and cut off, and we want to celebrate them. I think the timing of this show is very important."
The season begins in 1987 "and ends when Madonna releases Vogue, and this wonderful world becomes mainstream," he says. He directed the first two episodes last month from scripts by Steven Canals.
But like some of his projects, there's a deeply personal element. In one scene, "a father finds out his son is gay and beats him bloody with a belt. That happened to me, that was my coming-out process with my father. He's dead now."
Why did Murphy recast the role of a teacher, cutting Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black) from the show? "We needed an older figure in that world to be a dance teacher, someone who was a mentor more than a peer," he says. And, referring to another seminal '80s project, Fame, he added, "We needed a Debbie Allen character, to be blunt."