Ryan Murphy is one of the most notable television producers working today. He is the mastermind behind FOX's Glee, 9-1-1, and Scream Queens, and has produced a number of series for FX, including American Horror Story and American Crime Story, as well as Pose. In 2018, Murphy signed a $300 million deal with Netflix that resulted in a number of successful shows for the streamer, like The Politician, Ratched, and most recently Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story and The Watcher. The latter two are a couple of the most popular series streaming right now.
There are several reasons for Murphy's success, including genre-bending entertainment, kooky characters, and outlandish storytelling that always intrigues. However, many cite his casts and frequent collaborators for tending to elevate the material. Here is a list of some of the most frequent and reliable collaborators who Murphy relies on for his fan-favorite television series.
Sarah Paulson seems to find her way into almost every Ryan Murphy-produced endeavor. She has played a variety of characters on almost every season of American Horror Story, excluding Season 9, 1984. Her roles on the anthology series have ranged from a starring role as Ana Winters in Asylum and Roanoke, to a guest appearance in Murder House.
She also starred in the hit Netflix show, Ratched, and American Crime Story: The People vs. OJ Simpson, for which she won an Emmy for playing lawyer Marcia Clark. In addition, Paulson played supporting roles in Feud: Bette and Joan, and American Crime Story: Impeachment, for which she received yet another Emmy nomination. The actress has collaborated with Murphy since the very beginning, when she played a guest role on Nip/Tuck.
Evan Peters is yet another darling of Murphy's. He has starred in nine seasons of American Horror Story, only excluding 1984 and New York City. Like Paulson, Peters' AHS roles have ranged from centerpiece characters like Tate from Murder House, to more experimental seasons like Cult and Apocalypse where the actor has portrayed multiple characters throughout.
He also acted as a producer for the Double Feature season. In addition to AHS, Peters plays Stan Bowes, a member of the Trump Organization on the FX series, Pose. Most notably, he plays the titular role in Netflix's Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, for which he received a Golden Globe nomination.
Darren Criss has been a Murphy favorite since his Glee performance as Blaine, the a cappella-singing love interest to Chris Colfer's Kurt. He switched things up by following that with The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, where he played the leading role, serial killer Andrew Cunanan. His performance was critically acclaimed and he swept the awards' circuit. He went on to work with Murphy again in Hollywood. In addition, Criss guest starred in an episode of AHS: Hotel.
Jessica Lange is yet another favorite. The Oscar winning actress has participated in five seasons of American Horror Story, most notably, Murder House, Coven, Freak Show, and Asylum, and makes a guest appearance in Apocalypse. She also had a starring role in FX's Feud: Bette and Joan, where she played Joan Crawford. In addition, Lange plays the cunning grandmother to Zoey Deutch in The Politician. She is also set to star in another Murphy-led project about Marlene Dietrich for Netflix, so even if she's done with AHS, there is more Lange/Murphy to come.
Nothing says Ryan Murphy like Emma Roberts, who is yet another American Horror Story alum. She participated in five seasons of the FX show, including Coven, Freak Show, Apocalypse, and 1984, while also making a single episode appearance in Cult. In addition, Roberts was the lead in the sorority horror show, Scream Queens, which ran for three seasons.
Kathy Bates is yet another Oscar winner who caught Murphy's eye. The Misery actress starred in five seasons of American Horror Story, including her iconic, bone-chilling character in Coven, for which she won an Emmy, and the fan-favorite evil concierge, Iris, in Hotel. Bates also continued her collaboration by playing Joan Blondell in Feud: Bette and Joan.
Dylan McDermott is another familiar face for Murphy fans. The actor is one of the original stars of American Horror Story, and participated in five seasons, including AHS: Asylum. He is best known for his performance as the father of a problematic family in Murder House, which the season is centered around. He also plays a scandalous gas-station owner in the Murphy-produced Hollywood and makes an appearance in Netflix's The Politician.
Angela Bassett is another favorite of the creator's. She is the star of FOX's 9-1-1, where she plays the badass Athena Grant. She has also made an appearance on the spin-off show, 9-1-1: Lone Star. In addition, Basset has been in a grand total of five seasons of American Horror Story. Most notably, in Coven, she portrays a fictionalized version Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans. She reprised the role for Apocalypse.
Finn Wittrock has found his way into numerous Murphy projects, including five seasons of American Horror Story. He made his AHS debut in Freak Show, where his incredibly disturbed character earned him an Emmy nomination. He has gone on to appear in The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story and Netflix's Ratched. In addition, he plays a supporting role in the Murphy-directed television film, The Normal Heart.
Nobody loves Broadway like Murphy, so it makes sense that Patti LuPone would be featured in many of his projects. LuPone participated in two seasons of American Horror Story, Coven and NYC, as well as more glamorous roles in Pose and Hollywood. The Broadway legend also makes a cameo appearance in Glee, where she plays herself.
Who doesn't love Matt Bomer? Ryan Murphy sure does. The White Collar star has made a number of appearances in the showrunner's projects, including three seasons of American Horror Story. He had small roles in Freak Show and Stories, and most notably had a major role as Lady Gaga's lover in Hotel. Bomer has a major role in The Normal Heart and Boys in the Band, and makes brief appearances in The New Normal and Glee. He also got behind the camera, directing an episode of American Crime Story: Versace.
Leslie Grossman has worked with Ryan Murphy since the early days of Nip/Tuck. The actress had minor roles in his short-lived series, Popular, and The New Normal, and additionally starred in five seasons of American Horror Story, and has had leading roles in every season she's been in. She continues to be apart of the show, and was a definite stand out in the Season 11 cast.
When Jim Parsons left The Big Bang Theory, he made it a point to work with Ryan Murphy. The actor has had starring roles in films like The Boys in the Band and The Normal Heart, and plays the predatory manager to Rock Hudson in Netflix's Hollywood. The role was something very different for Parsons, but Murphy has a talent for drawing out performances from actors playing against type.
Billie Lourd is another young actress Murphy has taken under his wing. The Star Wars actress started her collaboration with the producer in Scream Queens, where she played one of the killer sorority girls. She subsequently starred in six seasons of American Horror Story, playing a main role in most, including NYC, the most recent season.
Before The White Lotus, Connie Britton was a staple in the Ryan Murphy Universe. She is most known for her performance as Vivien Harmon in Murder House, a role she reprised in Apocalypse that landed her an Emmy nomination. She was also a fan favorite in 9-1-1, where she played a 911 operator. In addition, she played Faye Resnick, a friend of Nicole Brown Simpson in The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story.
Some would say Ryan Murphy made Lea Michele a star when he cast her as Rachel Berry in the musical teen comedy, Glee. She became one of the most recognizable stars from the show, and the role earned her both Emmy and Golden Globe nominations. She also dawned a neck brace as an unconventional sorority girl in Scream Queens.
Clearly Murphy has his favorites, and continues to work with the same reliable, talented actors in order to make his projects as binge-worthy as possible. Other notable collaborators include stars like Gwyneth Paltrow, Julia Roberts, Frances Conroy, Lily Rabe, Adina Porter, Cheyenne Jackson, Neil Patrick Harris, Jane Lynch, and John Stamos. For more information on where to check out some of these iconic projects from these iconic stars, make sure to check out our Ryan Murphy streaming guide, as well as the 2023 TV premiere dates.
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