Liz Taylor From American Horror Story Is Unrecognizable In Real Life

The world of American Horror Story is filled with actors who made startling transformations in order to take on their roles in the show. Sometimes, those transformations are merely physical, involving costumes and carefully calibrated makeup work. Other times, though, the actors inhabiting the role also shoulder some responsibility for disappearing into the character they've been assigned to play. 

Liz Taylor, the transgender bartender in American Horror Story: Hotel, was one such transformative role. Liz plays a key role in the drama of Hotel and has intimate knowledge about the serial killer case at the center of the season. Over the course of the season, viewers also learn about the trauma that Liz has already been through in her life as she is misgendered and misunderstood wherever she goes. She's a fundamentally tragic figure, one who we come to understand intimately thanks to the combined powers of the writing and Denis O'Hare's performance. O'Hare managed to inhabit Liz with remarkable precision, and it's all the more impressive when you realize what the actor actually looks like. 

The cast was shocked by Denis O'Hare's transformation

Because Liz plays such a crucial role in the message that Hotel sends, O'Hare realized that he had to totally immerse himself in the role. In an interview with The Daily Beast, he explained that he never let any of his fellow actors see him outside of his makeup and costume. 

"I always make sure that when I'm shooting I show up in costume. I don't want to walk on set in my street clothes, especially with a character like this. Everyone was overwhelmed when I first walked out. I remember I did a scene with Sarah Paulson and she was like, 'Oh. My. God,'" he said. "I had to be in costume. I had to be in full makeup. I had to be in heels." 

Liz wasn't the first role that O'Hare had played in an American Horror Story season, but he made an extra effort with Liz to ensure that he could totally disappear. 

Denis O'Hare worked hard to find Liz Taylor's look in costuming

In addition to showing up on set in costume, O'Hare also did work ahead of time to make sure Liz's look was exactly what he felt it should be. "In terms of putting the stuff on, costume fittings are great," he said. "Lou Eyrich, who is a phenomenal costumer, she takes time to find it. We take time to find it. We try a lot of stuff." 

The costuming helped him transform, but he also said that he was initially hesitant to take on the role. 

"I was definitely nervous. It's not in my wheelhouse. It also wasn't anything that I had envisioned for myself," he said. "It was not what I expected. So I was really thrown for a loop." Eventually, though, the nervousness he felt became his best justification for taking the role. "The old rule of thumb for an actor was if it makes you scared you should do it," O'Hare explained.