After his performances on WandaVision and Mare of Easttown, it’s clear that Evan Peters is underserved by the formula of American Horror Story.
Evan Peters has received plenty of praise for his roles on WandaVision and Mare of Easttown, both of which show just how he’s been underused on American Horror Story. The actor has been with the horror anthology since its very beginning, appearing in eight of its nine seasons so far. But it’s his two most recent performances, away from American Horror Story, that has arguably earned him the biggest spotlight.
Peters’ successful streak began earlier this year when he appeared at the end of WandaVision episode 5, seemingly playing another version of Pietro Maximoff, and it’s continued into his turn as Det. Colin Zabel for HBO’s Mare of Easttown. The two characters don’t share many similarities, with his WandaVision portrayal serving both to further the show’s mystery and pay homage to sitcom tropes. His role on Mare of Easttown, meanwhile, has allowed him to embody a detective with something to prove to himself and his partner. But both characters have resulted in fans and critics alike taking a second look at Peters, long after the actor established himself among Ryan Murphy’s frequent collaborators.
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This has been most evident during Peters’ time on Mare of Easttown. In the limited series, which focuses on a small-town murder, he ingratiated himself quickly with audiences in a key scene that took place in the episode. Full of drunken bravado, Colin approaches his partner Mare (Kate Winslet) at a bar. Oscillating between alcohol-infused confidence and wrenching vulnerability, Colin slurs his way through a confession: His fiancé left him, and his life is far from what he wishes it would be. What makes the scene work isn’t just how Peters accurately conveys drunkenness, according to the consensus of many viewers, but also how he manages to cultivate a sense of sadness and so much regret in a brief conversation.
Peters would return to that sadness in later episodes of Mare of Easttown, making Colin vulnerable to Mare and espousing a sort of foolish optimism that’s at odds with the dire realities of his job as a detective. It’s a supporting performance, all the better to highlight the cynicism and guardedness Winslet brings to the main character, but Peters leaves his mark. He’s committed to selling Colin’s excitement, kissing Mare in a joyful outburst, and it makes it that much more devastating when Colin is ultimately killed at the end of episode 5. It’s hard to imagine Colin’s death causing so much of an impact if it was another actor portraying him. Peters has since given a round of interviews, talking about the shocking death and commiserating with fans that wanted to see more of his character.
Peters was at the center of a similar situation on a very different series. Although his version of Pietro was only the focus of WandaVision episode 6, showing up intermittently thereafter, it was enough to launch calls for Peters to officially join the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Part of that was related to the fact that his take on Quicksilver was already established in the X-Men movies, albeit it was just as vital that his Pietro established a rapport with Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen). The dynamic between the two siblings, alternatively warm and tense, was promising. Though, ultimately, to the disappointment of a lot of viewers, Peters’ WandaVision character was revealed to be a minor MCU figure.
It’s perhaps by design that Peters hasn’t made as big an impact with American Horror Story. The anthology series has increasingly prioritized outlandish twists and ostentatious line readings, aiming to grab the attention of audiences with campy violence and propulsive plots. It’s a formula that has led to success for the series, with Peters showing that he’s as capable as anyone when it comes to selling the tropes and tendencies of a typical AHS installment. But it doesn’t leave a lot of room for the building of character and chemistry that has garnered Peters his recent acclaim. Given that Peters has said that, moving forward, he’d like to star in projects which reflect daily life, his positive streak could be poised to continue.
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