Annabelle Dexter-Jones on the Freedom of ‘American Horror Story’ and Being Inspired by ‘Succession’

What better way to pivot out of the world of “Succession” than by portraying a pair of centuries-old twins from the mind of Ryan Murphy?

When Annabelle Dexter-Jones was first sent the script for “American Horror Story: Delicate,” she was initially a bit confused.

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“There wasn’t a full script available, and they gave me two character names. I was like, ‘Wait, what’s going on?’” she says on a recent morning in New York.

It turned out the part was for Sonia Shawcross and Adeline Harding, a good twin and a bad twin of sorts, who have been alive for hundreds of years. The framework allowed Dexter-Jones plenty of room to research and build her own identities behind each woman.

“What was exciting to me about working on this was I very rarely heard ‘no,’” she says. “There was this idea that there was a good twin and a bad twin, and of course, you want to make it more nuanced than that.”

At one point, there was the idea for the dark character, Sonia, to have a lot of piercings or tattoos. “For someone who’s been alive for so long, I wanted it to have more [nuance]. I think that it’s your job as the actor to figure those things out,” she says.

Annabelle Dexter-Jones
Annabelle Dexter-Jones

Working in Murphy’s world had always been on her bucket list — Dexter-Jones is a fan of his work with the horror genre.

“And of course, he famously has great parts for women,” she says. “So when this came around, I was very excited about it. I knew that with a Ryan Murphy project, it seemed to me as an outsider like, ‘Oh, that seems like such a fun place to work and a place to play, because though it’s very rooted in history, it’s also there’s a lot of creative license.’”

Dexter-Jones’ role in the show (the finale airs Wednesday), comes on the heels of her turn in “Succession” as Kendall Roy’s too-chic girlfriend Naomi Pierce. In the midst of promoting “AHS,” Dexter-Jones is busy at work writing a feature film, which she hopes to direct, and says she’s taken many lessons from “Succession” to heart as a writer.

“Working on ‘Succession,’ I learned a lot. It was so funny, and it was such a specific dialogue, and these people spoke in such a specific way, and it was so written into it that when you say you would say the words. It just sounded natural with the ums and the pauses and these in-between spaces of when we’re searching for a word,” she says. “I’ve been doing a lot of improvisation when I’m writing, and I think that coming from ‘Succession’ that emboldened me to take up that kind of improvisational space.”

She cites Elaine May as a career inspiration, and though we’ll likely see her acting again soon enough, she’s fully focused on writing at the moment.

“I’ve had to carve out real space for [writing], because otherwise there’s always a job,” she says. “It’s a lot. It’s really putting yourself out there, and I’m such a control freak, so it’s really scary and uncomfortable. But in a good way.”

Annabelle Dexter-Jones
Annabelle Dexter-Jones

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