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Stevie Nicks talks witches and her role on Wednesday’s ‘American Horror Story: Coven’
Stand back, Stevie Nicks fans: The legendary songstress makes her much-anticipated appearance on “American Horror Story: Coven” at 9 p.m. Wednesday on FX.
The longtime Fleetwood Mac rocker, famous for her singular voice, signature shawls and on-stage twirls, has a guest-starring gig on this season’s 10th episode, titled “The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks.”
In the show, swamp witch Misty Day (Lily Rabe) is obsessed with the singer. Misty gets to meet her idol in Wednesday’s episode when Fiona (Jessica Lange) invites Nicks to the young witches’ New Orleans home.
Nicks talked about her “AHS” debut during a phone interview Tuesday from her house in Phoenix (edited Q&A below). Nicks hasn’t seen the episode yet; she wants to be surprised when she sits down to watch it later that night after performing a concert in Vegas with Fleetwood Mac.
“I’ll be walking around telling everybody, ‘If you’ve seen it, don’t tell me what happens — or I’ll have to put a spell on you,” Nicks said.
Q. You became friends with “AHS” and “Glee” co-creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk when “Glee” did its Fleetwood Mac episode. What did you think when they asked you to be on “AHS?”
A. In my stupid mind I’m thinking I’ll wear a long black dress and walk through the beautiful white house and just say, ‘Hello witches!’ and keep on going.
Q. Were you nervous?
A. My assistant read the script out loud to me and at the end I’m like, ‘They do know I’m not an actress, right?’ I didn’t sleep too good that night. I was seriously worried I was going to suck. Strangely enough, I walked into that big, gorgeous white house — it’s incredibly similar to my house — and I’m like, ‘Oh my God, it’s my house on steroids.’ I just said, ‘Stevie, you’re going to have to focus and listen to what they say. Listen to your director Alfonso [Gomez-Rejon] who’s amazing and listen to all the girls. They’re going to help you.’
Q. You perform two songs in the show. Did you pick them?
A. They decided everything. I was pretty sure ‘Rhiannon’ would be in it. It’s Misty’s anthem. It’s Stevie’s anthem. I was really glad because that’s probably the only song I sit and play whenever I walk into a hotel that has a piano. I hadn’t played piano in eight or nine months. I’m like, ‘Not only am I going to be terrible at reciting lines but I’m going to make lots of mistakes on the piano because I haven’t played in so long.’ I didn’t [make mistakes], actually. I was even able to look up once in a while. It was pretty great.
Q. Are you worried your appearance on the show will resurrect the witch rumors that have dogged you for so long?
A. No. Everybody is smart enough to know that I wore black for one reason. Why do we all wear black? Because it makes you look skinnier, of course. When Ryan asked me, he knew about all [the rumors]. He said, ‘I know you kind of had a problem with it.’ I said I don’t have a problem with it. I am a) not a witch and b) even if I was a witch, it’s my life. I’m 65 years old and I can do anything I want. I’m not going to not do stuff because there might be a crazy little bunch of wacko fans out there that are going to take it the wrong way.
Q. You hadn’t seen previous seasons of “AHS” when they first asked to use your music. What did you think when you saw this season’s premiere?
A. I’ve never been to a horror show in my life, ever. When I saw the first episode I was a little shocked, honestly. I was like, ‘Oh my God, if my mom was still alive, what would she say?’
Q. Why did you let them use your songs in the show?
A. They basically told me my music was needed because there was a character who was a witch that wasn’t part of the coven, who lived out in the swamp and basically heals people and animals and was really nice. She had no friends, no family. My songs were like her go-to self-help book. That’s how I hope my songs will affect everybody — the same way they affect Misty in the show. So I was thrilled. Misty was going to singlehandedly take my music to a whole new generation of people who probably never heard of Fleetwood Mac or me. That’s that age-14 to age-40 group. What a gift that is for me as a writer to know that my music would be picked up by a whole other generation of young people.
Q. You give Misty your shawl in the episode. Did you give anything to the actress, (Northwestern alum) Lily Rabe, who’s a big fan of your music in real life?
A. I did give Lily a really beautiful black skirt and velvet jacket that is just fantasmagorical. I just made that word up. She has done me a huge favor by being that girl that takes on my spirit and sends that music out into the world to a whole other generation. There is no greater gift. I thought a beautiful black outfit was the least I could do for Lily Rabe. She lost her mom [actress Jill Clayburgh] not very long ago, one year before I lost my mom. When I wrote her the note that went with her outfit I said, ‘I know you lost your mom and so did I. I’m around if you need me.’ We’ll probably be friends forever.
Q. Television can entail long hours on the set. Was it tiring?
A. [My routine is] I go into makeup at 5, I go on stage at 8, I come off at 11. I change, get in an airplane, fly to the next city and order room service. This is my life. By the time we got through six or seven hours and they’re like, ‘One more time,’ I’m like, ‘Are you insane? Again?’ Sixteen hours in, I thought I was going to turn into the old crone witch any second. I’d been wearing my high-heeled Stevie boots all day long. I couldn’t have been more tired if I tried.
Q. Would you do it again?
A. This is a step into a whole other world for me. It does not mean that I want to be an actress. It means that there are other things out there for me to do beside just touring and just singing. I look forward to seeing what happens to me after this. I feel like this is going to change my life in a lot of really good ways. It’s proven to people I can step out of the mold.
Before we hung up, Nicks asked how we were coping with the brutal cold in Chicago. Her parents lived here for three years in the late ’60s while she was in college.
“It was the only move I didn’t make with them,” the Arizona native said. “I went there when they were looking for a house. It was so damn cold I said I don’t think I can live there. And I love Chicago.”
“I know you guys are suffering,” she added. “I just want you to know I’m blowing hot wind toward you.”