I finally got the chance to check out the premiere episode of “American Horror Story: Apocalypse,” the eighth season of FX’s hit horror anthology. Immediately I was drawn to the character Evie Gallant. The actress behind the character, who clearly mirrors her very existence and yet nearly survives the end of the world due to an empty seat, was so enthralling to me; effortlessly exuding the old-school Hollywood style of acting while being dressed to the nines like only old-time starlets know how to look. Her face was familiar, but I couldn’t recall her name. A quick Google search and I was left smacking my forehead. Joan Collins. Of course. One of the only soap opera stars to ever “make it” out of that bubble, although she’s more known now as a Dame (as dubbed by Queen Elizabeth II for her contributions to charity) and her former love life (she literally dated EVERYONE and is on husband number five). Incase you need a refresher, Joan Collins is a UK native turned actress, turned writer, singer and spokeswoman. Though she was born in 1933, she didn’t pursue a mainstream career in acting until she was 18 in 1951. When she began this journey, she gobbled up any part that was offered to her; eventually finding a path in modestly successful movies that fully encompassed the genre gamete – crime, thriller, drama, romance and comedy. Ms. Collins made a fortune playing glamorous, seductive, slutacious characters, but her break-out moment came when she landed the role of Alexis Carrington on “Dynasty” from 1981 to 1989, as well as the same part in “Dynasty: The Reunion” in 1991. Playing Alexis Carrington made Joan a household name, while simultaneously earning her a Golden Globe Award, a People’s Choice Award, two Soap Opera Digest Awards and an Emmy Nomination.
Following her time on “Dynasty,” Joan forged ahead with movie roles that went marginally overlooked and booked guest spots on hit television shows including “The Nanny,” “Roseanne” and “Will & Grace.” And although she starred in a season of “Guiding Light” in 2002, her career all but puttered out just after that. It seemed that after five decades in the business, one of the biggest brands in soap opera history and an accomplished author in her right, Joan’s time in the limelight had run out and her glory days were over; the inevitable fall from A-list stardom as new hotshots came into the picture. Literally. Now, it should also be noted that Joan Collins starred in a string of horror films in the 70’s. Seven to be exact. Out of 124 credits as of this writing. Joan can be found in the lead role in Inn of the Frightened People (1971), Tales from the Crypt (1972), Fear in the Night (1972), Tales That Witness Murder (1973), Dark Places (1973), Sharon’s Baby (1975) and Empire of the Ants (1977). For this, she will always have a home in horror history, too, and that is perhaps why her casting in “American Horror Story: Apocalypse” is so genius. She may pop up in random episodes of “The Royals,” but right now Collins needs a new chapter in her career if she wants to regain some of the fame and fortune that has alluded her in recent years. Despite only being one episode into her stint on the show, I think Evie Gallant is going to be one of the most colorful characters in the bunch, thus giving Collins the opportunity for a Bette White inspired career comeback. Here’s why.
Warning. Spoilers ahead. In the first episode of “American Horror Story: Apocalypse,” viewers find Evie Gallant as the incredibly wealthy (like 1% kind of wealthy) grandmother to Evan Peter’s character. When missiles are launched at every major city around the world, CoCo (Leslie Grossman) scoops up her two closest friends – aka servants – to board a private jet sent to bring her to safety by her parents, and her hair-dresser (Peters) brings his grandmother along for the plane ride. It wasn’t easy getting her on board, either. No, Grandma Evie was too busy asking for end of the world champagne and was seemingly unbothered by society crumbling around her. You know what did bother her? The fact that the private jet that saved her life had no flight attendant and she’d be forced to fetch whatever she needed by herself. Oh, yeah, and she wasn’t bothered by the fact that the plane had no pilot and was driving itself. This is the most that we see of her until the end of the episode, and she blends in with the rest of the cast in an underground bunker. As the title of this post states, the casting of Joan Collins was genius. She is the perfect woman for the job. She’s a stone-cold classic, and that old-school Hollywood style and aura just can’t be bought in this day and age. Her former star-power alone is bound to drive a couple more viewers to check out the new season of the FX show. Also, I could see Evie becoming a villain down the road, ultimately putting her skills that won her so many awards on “Dynasty” to work on “American Horror Story.” The two fan bases could possibly collide, resulting in a breakout star no one saw coming!
“American Horror Story” essentially relaunched the careers of Emma Roberts, Evan Peters, Leslie Grossman and Sarah Paulson, while also breathing new life into the careers of Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett. I’m hoping that a tiny bit of this luck will rub off on Joan Collins. We all love a good comeback, and I think it’s time for Joan Collins to have one. At age 85, raunchy, violent, taboo roles probably aren’t being offered to her on a yearly basis. “American Horror Story: Apocalypse” gives the Dame a chance to tackle new material for the first time in her career. It’s going to be just as gratifying for her as it will be for the audience, and I’m pleasantly surprised to see she was daring enough to co-star in a show that’s seen some pretty disturbing scenes (Drilldo Rape is forever burned into my brain). Already I can see that Evie Gallant has a devil lurking behind her make-up brush beaten face. And it’s dying to come out! Hell, even in the first episode she was quite obviously eating soup made out of human remains – and she still enjoyed it! I cannot wait to see what Joan Collins brings to “American Horror Story: Apocalypse.” I hope you tune in to see where this interesting character goes next.