Evan Peters is no stranger to playing villains on American Horror Story, but his character in Season 7 might be especially difficult to stomach. Kai Anderson is all about controlled chaos. He believes in exacerbating people's fears so that he can take advantage by rising as a protective force, a leader who can rule the fearful better than they can rule themselves. Anyone familiar with the concept of a dictator can surely spot the similarities, but is there more specific inspiration behind the character than that? Is Kai Anderson in AHS: Cult based on a real person?
Kai is fictional, but the kind of men he's satirizing are very real. Considering the show's post-election setting, it's clear Kai does reflect a certain rising group of angry, prejudiced people who have been emboldened by Trump just like Kai was. But Kai is on the path to becoming a cult leader in his own right, and he also serves as an amalgamation of several real people throughout history who gathered followers by preying on people's worst instincts. Kai exhibits the same passion for his warped ideologies as many real life cult leaders, but AHS Season 7 is taking the comparisons a step further by having Peters step into those roles as well.
For years fans had wanted series creator Ryan Murphy to tackle the Manson family on American Horror Story with Peters in the lead role as Charles Manson. Murphy told Entertainment Weekly that he actually planned to do so for many years, but couldn't find a way to put a new spin on the material. In Season 7, fans will finally get their wish, because Peters is playing several characters in addition to Kai — and one of them is Manson.
Peters will also be playing Jim Jones, David Koresh, and Andy Warhol. It may sound like one of these things is not like the other — Warhol never killed anyone, after all, nor did he encourage his acolytes to do so — but there is a connective thread between all of these characters. They all created what Murphy called a "cult of personality" that allowed them to "put their finger up to the wind and see that that's what's happening and using that to rise up and form power." As told to Variety, Murphy said that these cult leaders were able to use people's vulnerabilities to manipulate them during a divisive time in society.
Kai Anderson may not be a real person, but the fact that he feels like one is part of what makes him so very terrifying.
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