American Horror Story Wiki
American Horror Story Wiki

Denis Patrick Seamus O'Hare (born January 17, 1962) is an American actor.


Denis Patrick Seamus O'Hare was born on January 17th, 1962 in Kansas City, Missouri, USA. As a teenager, he was in his school's choir and in 1974 he went to his first audition, gaining a chorus part in a community theater production of Show Boat. In 1980 he left Detroit for Chicago to study theater at Northwestern University. He has become a renown theater actor and has received several awards for his work.

He has appeared as a guest star on several episodes of Law & Order and its spin-offs. In 2008, he appeared as a guest star on several episodes of Brothers & Sisters. In 2010, O'Hare joined the cast of HBO's True Blood in its third season as Russell Edgington, the 2,800-year-old vampire king of Mississippi. Recently he has appeared in a recurring role as Judge Charles Abernathy on the television drama series The Good Wife.

His feature film credits include The Anniversary Party, 21 Grams, Garden State, Derailed, Michael Clayton, A Mighty Heart, Half Nelson, Milk, Edge of Darkness, Charlie Wilson's War and Changeling.

Work on American Horror Story[]

Denis O'Hare was part of the ensemble cast of AHS since its first installment. O'Hare portrayed Larry Harvey, the scarred former owner of the Harmons' house in the first season of American Horror Story, dubbed Murder House. Denis O'Hare is credited with the honorary "with" in the opening credits.

After being absent during the show second season, O'Hare portrayed Spalding, a mute butler to a witch finishing school in Coven. During the filing of the third season, Denis O'Hare remained in character while on set refusing to speak to anyone, he had to rely on gestures when being directed. The following year, O'Hare was part of the fourth installment, Freak Show as con-artist Stanley.

Denis O'Hare portrayed transgender bartender Liz Taylor in Hotel. In Roanoke he appears as actor William van Henderson, re-enacting Professor Elias Cunningham in the in-universe docuseries My Roanoke Nightmare.

After four years of absence from the franchise, O'Hare rejoined the ensemble cast as Holden Vaughn, a mysterious businessman in the first part of Double Feature, subtitled "Red Tide."

In 2022, Denis O'Hare joined the second installment of the spin-off series, American Horror Stories portraying Samuel Van Wirt, a businessman with a fascination for dolls and Spalding's father. This brings full circle O'Hare's willingness to revisit the character of Spalding who, according to him, "never got explored in any depth to a great extent." [1]

O'Hare joined the cast of the eleventh season of American Horror Story, titled AHS: NYC as Henry Grant.

For his roles in Murder House and Freak Show, Denis O'Hare was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie.

Denis O'Hare on Larry[]

  • You're playing such a dark character, and a lot of times we hear actors say that you have to like who you’re playing to be able to play that character convincingly. So, what do you like about your character, and how do you connect with him?
    • O'Hare: "You know, it’s funny. I love this character, and I love him because I feel like he is engaged in a sort of timeless epic struggle. And I see him as kind of a Dante-esque figure. He’s somebody who is trapped in a circle of hell, and he’s trying to work his way out. And he’s a human being who’s flawed, and he’s obviously weak, and he’s given into temptation and made bad choices. But through that all, he’s still got this sort of, I don’t know, passion and dream to achieve something. And he’s an odd character. Like no other character I’ve ever played in my life. I find that I have to reach for a metaphor to describe him. I have an innate sense of who he is, and when I’m playing him, it’s all very instinctual. But to describe it, I find myself running to literature, and so I think it’s sort of like 'Igor' in the Frankenstein mythology, or an amanuensis in some other mythologies, or a psychopomp as they call them sometimes, somebody who traffics between worlds. And it’s a really odd, beautiful character."
  • It’s amazing. And you, as an actor, seem to really be able to lose yourself in every role you play. You’re so great all the time, but it always takes a minute to go, “Oh, it’s him!” because you’ve become that character so incredibly. So how do you do that, because it’s not something a lot of actors seem to be able pull off?
    • O'Hare: "Well, part of it is the richness of the character. A part of the reason I’m drawn to characters like this guy, or like Russell Edgington, or like even the guys like John Briggs in Milk, is that they’re sharply etched, and they’re clearly defined. And so I, as an actor, have an easier task. I know where I’m going, and if you add to it an aspect that’s larger than life like someone like Russell Edgington who’s 2800 years old, or someone like Larry who’s got a very severe physical deformity, it takes away part of your resistance as an actor, and you simply give over to the character’s features and the character’s characteristics. You know, Ryan [Murphy] wanted me to have a wooden arm and sort of a limp. So the minute you start putting these things on you feel different and you feel like someone else, and that then forms everything."[2]

Denis O'Hare on portraying Liz Taylor[]

Speaking to Lola Ogunnaike, the host of Couch Surfing, Denis O'Hare said he felt honored to play the character. He started the conversation by saying that he is now against cisgender actors playing trans characters because there are trans actor who can do it. He also added to the issue about straight people playing gay character. To O'Hare, the problem is when said parts are barred or taken away from someone like gay actors not getting work. The interview brings up as an example his role as State Senator John Briggs, a homophobic conservative heterosexual man in the film Milk, where the titular gay character Harvey Milk is played by Sean Penn, a straight man.[3]

"In 2015, one of the last moments [it wasn't as popularly controversial that] a cisgender man played a transgender woman character. My rationale", O'Hare said, "is that they did not know the character was transgender when it was written. Initially the character was a cisgender man doing drag. Ryan [Murphy] didn't pitch the character. He didn't say anything. All he told me, 'you are playing Liz Taylor. Smoky eyes. Fabulous. Shaved head.' Initially, I assumed that Liz was a man in drag. Who maybe had a male counterpart. And as we got into it deeper, we all realized that wasn't the case. But we didn't know it at first. And so the writer changed their understanding of the character as well. As the character is growing into her own identity, I am growing into that identity."[3]

The relationship with the character and the character herself were simultaneously evolving. Moreover, Denis O'Hare explained that it was Liz who he had the hardest time letting go of once filming on Hotel wrapped.

"I usually have no problem laying my parts aside," he explained. "That being said, I always retain something from a character – a gesture or a moment; something that I can usually use in a different character. Many times, a character, which is a creation, opens up a door that I can go through again. They show me the way to create another character similarly. I do all the hard work. The one character I think that I had the most hard time shaking was Liz Taylor from American Horror Story season five, but she was also a character I had no interest in revisiting because she was a complete story." [1]



Episode appearances for Denis O'Hare
Story or Series Character Episodes
Murder House Larry Harvey
Coven Spalding
Freak Show Stanley
Hotel Liz Taylor
Roanoke William van Henderson
Double Feature: Red Tide Holden Vaughn
American Horror Stories Samuel Van Wirt Dollhouse
NYC Henry Grant
Delicate Dr. Andrew Hill

From Chapter 1 to 5, O'Hare portrays actor William van Henderson, who re-enacts Elias Cunningham in "My Roanoke Nightmare".