American Horror Story: Double Feature's Alma Actress On Lily Rabe, Violin Skills And What That Baby Leg Was Made Of

ryan kiera armstrong's alma playing violin in american horror story double feature

Spoilers below for the latest episodes of American Horror Story: Double Feature, so be warned!

In only five episodes, American Horror Story: Double Feature star Ryan Kiera Armstrong has already cemented herself as the most evil pre-teen in the franchise's history. (Not counting the almighty Infantata, who was portrayed by two different adult actors.) As the music-obsessed bloodsucker Alma, Armstrong has taken part in some truly bonkers moments so far. From chowing down on a dead rabbit to feeding off of her own infant brother, Alma didn't even need to wish death on Lily Rabe's Doris to earn her monster status during the "Red Tide" chapter.

CinemaBlend spoke with Ryan Kiera Armstrong about bringing a more youthful sense of evil to American Horror Story, and I think we can all appreciate that while the actress did find a personal connection to her portrayal of Alma, it had nothing to do with drinking anyone's life elixirs, and everything to do with mastering the violin. In her words:

Yes, [she's] a very, very evil vampire. But this is actually funny, I kind of could connect to Alma in a way. When I was preparing for Alma, shooting got pushed because of COVID quite a few times, and that kind of gave me lots of time to work with the violin. Alma wants to be the best at the violin, right? She wants to be the greatest, and that's what she desires. And I've had so much time - I think I'd had like a year in advance with the violin before shooting - I kind of could understand why she wanted to do this and how it was so hard to be the best, but why she wanted to be the best. So, you know, I think that had a huge impact where I could connect with her and say, 'Oh, I can kind of see why it's hard, and the pressure on you, and why you would want to be the best one.' With acting, of course, I could kind of connect with her with that. It's overall really fun preparing, though, because I knew there was gonna be a lot of blood.

In the first place, Ryan Kiera Armstrong gets big props from me for using her time wisely in honing her skills with a violin and bow, instead of just playing video games and using her violin as a paperweight. (I'm not projecting, you're projecting.) And it's both intriguing and somewhat inspirational to know that her violin training helped her develop a deeper connection to a character that she may not share much in common with otherwise.

For instance, Ryan Kiera Armstrong isn't an old pro at gnawing on infant legs, or any infant limbs for that matter. So it was quite the one-of-a-kind experience for the actress. When I asked about that truly shocking scene, which was the apex of nightmare moments for the gaslighted mother Doris, here's how Armstrong explained it:

The baby leg was actually like this silicone thing. It was kind of almost like chewing on a gummy bear in a very weird way. But it was a very interesting scene. Obviously, I've never really worked with a gummy bear in my mouth for a whole scene, just chewing on the baby's leg. But it was very interesting. I was actually kind of curious how we were going to shoot that when I got the script. Yeah, it was just a silicone baby's leg that I had to chew on for five minutes.

As disturbing as the scene was during the episode, that's how amusing it was to hear Ryan Kiera Armstrong talk about chewing on baby legs so matter-of-factly. Because it sounds like that experience was slightly more enjoyable than the fake dead rabbit scene and all of the fake blood involved. When I asked about the taste of American Horror Story's faux blood, the actress said:

The scene where I'm chewing the dead rabbit, I think that's at the end of Episode 2, that scene had to use a lot of fake blood just all around my face. And you know, when I look up my mom, there's like a lot of fake blood in my mouth, and this blood tasted very, very sweet. They put, like, a whole ton of sugar and thickener and stuff in it, and it was really, really gross, honestly. I just don't have a sweet tooth. I like sour things. So at the end of the day, when I was shooting that, it was disgusting. Because after each take, they were just refilling the blood in my mouth, and it was really gross.

While the taste of real blood isn't exactly haute cuisine, I can relate to being grossed out by substances that are artificially sweetened without having any other flavor component. Granted, it's not like the fake blood was there as a beverage, but considering how much of it had to be in her mouth while filming, it's a shame they couldn't have blended up some Sour Patch Kids in the mix.

While her experiences with fake blood weren't all that wonderful for the taste buds, Ryan Kiera Armstrong was beyond happy to be working with Lily Rabe as Alma's mother (even if their familial characters aren't exactly BFFs within the storyline). When I asked how she enjoyed working with a franchise legend like Rabe, Armstrong said:

Yeah, I absolutely agree with that. She is definitely an American Horror Story legend, and she is so inspiring. Her work in so many of the scenes - in Episode 5, for example - just the transition between being a mom and then becoming a pale person with no life. It's so inspiring to work with her, to be honest. Like the details she put into the work, and whenever we're on set, I can just see her; she's in that place. And it's really really, truly inspiring, and I'm so grateful to work with her. It's crazy how amazing she's doing. Honestly, it's fantastic.

One can only hope American Horror Story fans will get to see Ryan Kiera Armstrong returning to the anthology series in the future, whether it happens immediately in the alien-fueled "Death Valley" arc or if it comes in later seasons or even the American Horror Stories spinoff. Or if they want to develop a video game or choose-your-horror book, that works, too.

American Horror Story: Double Feature airs Wednesday nights on FX at 10:00 p.m. ET, with episodes hitting FX on Hulu the next day. Be sure to keep watching to see where all your other favorite shows are popping up on the 2021 Fall TV schedule.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.