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|“||I think everyone in the world thinks they're either blessed or cursed. I've come to realize I'm neither. I am a curse.||„|
|~ Elizabeth to Ramona Royale.|
Elizabeth Johnson, often simply referred to as The Countess, is one of the two main antagonists (alongside James Patrick March) of American Horror Story: Hotel.
She is the vampiric former owner of the Hotel Cortez, which was built by her ex-husband. She also kidnapped numerous children and turned them into vampires.
Elizabeth was born in 1904. In 1925, while trying to become a famous actress, she met Rudolph Valentino and his wife Natacha Rambova. They started a relationship but soon it was reported that he's dead. Upon realizing this, Elizabeth became the wife of James Patrick March. Regardless of this, she proceeded to visit his tomb daily for months leaving a single red rose every day. When she went to do it one day, she found Natacha who revealed that Ruddy is still alive, and he and Natacha have been infected with an ancient virus that grants eternal youth and life, among other supernatural characteristics, at the cost of requiring a diet of fresh human blood. When she agreed to leave with them, they gave Elizabeth the virus, unaware that James March had been listening in on them. As a result, James imprisoned both Rudolph and Natacha within the Hotel, leaving Elizabeth with no choice but to stay with James, until his suicide to avoid being arrested.
In 1926, she paid a visit Dr. Charles Montgomery at the Murder House, and asked for an abortion, which ended unsuccessfully and she gave birth to Bartholomew. In the 1970s she was fond of roaming LA's discotheques, wherein fed openly upon one another. In her best days, she was rich and decided to make more money thanks to an accountant who her friends used. After he was sent to prison for fraud, Elizabeth lost her material riches.
Over time, Elizabeth had also collected a number of towheaded children who have been afflicted and live within the hotel to create a good and healthy blood source to sustain herself. In 1977, she met Ramona Royale at the hotel and they started a sexual relationship. The Countess also turned her in order to stay together forever. However, Ramona soon found a man that she thought to be the love of her life and turned him as well. When Elizabeth found out, she killed him and broke Ramona's heart which made her want to get revenge. In the 1980s, Liz Taylor checked as a man into the Cortez and Elizabeth helped her to come out to the world as a trans woman. In 1994, she "turned" a younger Donovan dying of a heroine overdose and took him as her lover of the past twenty years. In 2010, at a carnival in Santa Monica, Elizabeth took Holden as one of her children, leaving his parents to think that he's been kidnapped, or even killed.
Elizabeth and Donovan go to a cemetery where they find and seduce another couple at a movie screening. They take them to the hotel, and after a foursome, they kill the other couple and feast upon their blood. Unbeknownst to any staff or resident, she has put the hotel on the market and invites Will Drake to check it out. She takes Will's son Lachlan to the game room - the place where she keeps her bloodsucking children and presents him to Holden.
While attending Will Drake's fashion show/party at the hotel, Elizabeth takes an interest in cocky male model, Tristan Duffy. After he goes on a crazed search of the hotel for drugs, she hunts him down and feeds him her own blood, thus afflicting him with the virus. During a wild night of sex, she instructs him in the rules of being one of her kind. The following morning, she breaks off her relationship with Donovan. When Tristan finds out that Will Drake wants to tear down a whole floor of the hotel, he decides to kill him but his plans are canceled by Elizabeth who wants to marry him because of his money. She invited him to dinner and served him a glass of wine while seducing him.
When Alex Lowe found her long lost son Holden at the hotel, she took him home. After he felt thirsty, she brought him juice only to find him drinking the blood of the family dog. He then asked her to take him back to his "other mommy". He led Alex back to the hotel and took her to the empty indoor pool where Elizabeth's children sleep in glass coffins. The Countess then showed up behind her and said that she might have a lot of questions and she has answers. The two sat down at Elizabeth's penthouse and she told her about Holden's virus. After offering her to "turn" her as well to be with her child forever, but also making her her subordinate, Alex got crazy and threatened to kill her but Tristan came and hit her having her being scared and leaving. She soon came back and Elizabeth gave her the ancient blood virus by slicing her own breast and making her drink the blood running from it.
After Iris is turned by her son Donovan, he teams up with Ramona to get a revenge on Elizabeth and they plan to use Iris to get into the Cortez. Being nervous about the Countess noticing that she has the virus, Iris gets sweaty and catches her attention when she arrives at the lobby dressed as Marie Antoinette for a Halloween night out with Tristan. After a short talk, she leaves uninformed about her condition. Elizabeth gathers Alex with her long gone son Holden and gets a big glass coffin put in the indoor pool for them both to sleep in.
Elizabeth has sex with Will Drake trying to make him fall in love with her and demands Tristan to continue with the act since Will is gay. She is invited to go on a vacation to Paris with him and his son, Lachlan and she agrees. She goes to Room 33 to say goodbye to her son Bartholomew. After she is gone, Ramona tries to kill him to get revenge on her but she is scratched by him and leaves without closing the door, so Bartholomew escapes. When The Countess comes back, she leaves Will to have rest with his son and sees Liz Taylor who admits to have an affair with Tristan. Furious, Elizabeth calls Tristan and after being asked if they can be together she slices his throat. After going to see Bartholomew, she finds the door open and Alex holding him inside. Alex then explains that he has possibly gone out and got to her family home where she found him in the grass and brought him back to the Cortez. Elizabeth takes him in her hands and puts him to sleep.
One of the hotel's greatest secrets is revealed when Will Drake starts his renovations. A secret hallway that has been closed for years has been opened and has set free unknown creatures who killed the workers. When Elizabeth comes to check out the place, Iris says that she has never seen her so scared before. Elizabeth asks James if they can host their monthly dinner a week earlier because she has something that she wants to tell him in person and he agrees. She comes to his room and reveals that she plans to marry again - for Will Drake. James is pleased by the fact and asks her not to kill him at the hotel but she says that she might have truly fallen in love this time. Mad at the fact that she's teasing she never loved him, he reveals that the creatures who were trapped in the hallway are her former lovers - Rudolph and Natacha.
In 2010, The Countess is having her monthly dinner with James when Donovan interrupts them and presents them toJohn Lowe. After seeing so much talent in him, James asks them to leave him alone with John. A few weeks later, Jamesasks Elizabeth to make John forget about what he had done and gives her Holden in return.
The Countess goes to the now opened hidden hallway at the Cortez to look inside Valentino's luggage and to try to find something to help her find him. She is crying and does a monologue about women's love and sadness. She puts on his coat and finds a few fan cards with his photos. She hires a detective and gives him the cards to find him. At the lobby, she talks about their wedding with Will Drake and decide to have a intimate private wedding instead of "the event of the season" as Will wanted. She asks Liz Taylor to order the flowers for the wedding but she refuses. While getting pedicure, Elizabeth watches TV and Alex serves her some fresh blood. She then receives a call from the detective who announces that he has found Rudy. She goes to the motel that he has been seen at and they kiss at the door of his room. She has sex with Donovan at her penthouse and tells him she is sorry for throwing him out. He then asks her to promise to have sex with whoever she wants but to love only him. Elizabeth is seen standing in front of the hidden hallway with a worker who she has asked to close it by putting a security door and few cameras inside. She explains to him that she wants to turn the wing into a security archive for Will's previous collections as her wedding gift to him. The worker says it will take much longer than a day but James appears and he makes him agree to make sure it's all ready by the next day. The Countess is mad and slaps him saying she never wants to see him again. James is desperate and begs her to continue their dinner arrangement. Elizabeth is with Rudolph at the motel and they plan to turn the Hotel Cortez into a fortress against the modern world with the money she'll receive after killing Will. Elizabeth asks Rudy if he can go on withoutNatacha and he says that it's okay. Then she invites her to a girls' night at her penthouse. At the wedding, Liz Taylor is the witness and says that she is against Will and The Countess being together. Elizabeth explains to the justice of the peace that she drinks and they are now wife and husband. Later, after a small talk at the bar with him, James leads Will to Room 33 to see Bartholomew. He says it doesn't even look like a human and Elizabeth slams him with a toy train. After Ramona and Will being locked at the hidden hallway, Elizabeth is in her penthouse watching the cameras.
Natacha accepts Elizabeth's invite to stay at the hotel, however Elizabeth kills her shortly after she arrives. At a dinner with Donovan, The Countess finds out that he has killed Valentino. Heartbroken, she goes to his motel room and finds him dead on the floor. She arrives back at her penthouse crying and sees Donovan blasting to "Hotline Bling". She stops the song and he tells her that he knew he could never be him and that's why he killed him. He also says that he knows that she might kill him and he is happy to die this way. She is proud of the character she's created and they hug. However, Iris and Liz Taylor come in and start shooting at them.
Elizabeth is shot multiple times and Donovan goes up to protect her, but ends up dead. When Iris and Liz try to find her, they only see a trail of blood and no trace of her. It turns out that Sally has saved her. She takes her to the dungeon, takes the bullets out and then stitches the wound. Sally says that she has done that because she doesn't want to be alone and now the Countess has to do something for her. She has to bring John back to the Cortez to die here and to stay with her forever. Elizabeth agrees but she still isn't strong enough to do this. That's why Sally brings her blood-sucking children and they convince Elizabeth that she needs their help. She is transfused their blood and becomes strong again. Elizabeth kidnaps Alex, Holden and Scarlett and leaves the key to Room 64. After she comes back the hotel, Ramona visits her in her penthouse to kill her, but then she apologizes and asks her to just let her leave. Otherwise, she can kill her, but screw her first. However, Elizabeth packs her bags and heads to the exit, but when going onto the elevator, John kills her in order to complete the Ten Commandments killings and be with his family again. He takes her head to the secret chamber in Room 64. She then comes back as a ghost to her monthly dinner with James and he finds out that she wasn't the one that gave him to the police, but his servant Miss Evers.
As a ghost, she acts as the one who kills Liz out of mercy before her death, so she can reunite with the participants at the Hotel as a ghost as well. At the end of the show, she approaches an unknown man and begins flirting with him, however, her true intentions are unknown.
- Elizabeth is Lady Gaga's first acting role in a TV series.
- The line Elizabeth said to Iris saying "Your boy has a jawline for days." was improvised.
- Elizabeth's name is an allusion to Elizabeth Báthory, a real-life countess who is infamous for the torture and murder of women she conducted.
- Her story and personality are similar to the vampire Miriam Blaylock, portrayed by Catherine Deneuve in the movie The Hunger.