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Pepper From American Horror Story Is Unrecognizable In Real Life

Nine seasons of American Horror Story have given fans some truly memorable characters, but perhaps the most stand-out roles belong to the FX series' fourth season, Freak Show. With such unique characters as Evan Peters' Jimmy Darling and Angela Bassett's Desiree Dupree, the cast of AHS brought circus freaks to life in a way that was both humanizing and horrifying. 

Actors such as Peters and Bassett, along with other returning cast members Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates, are immediately recognizable even with the various prosthetics and makeup effects used to transform them into a close-knit family of social outcasts. But there is one actor among the Freak Show cast who underwent such a drastic transformation that no one would recognize them if they saw them walking down the street. It takes courage for an actor to completely overhaul their looks, but one woman made the leap in order to give one of the most unforgettable performances in American Horror Story history. 

Naomi Grossman plays Pepper in American Horror Story

Naomi Grossman plays Pepper, the young woman with a microcephalic condition who appears in both American Horror Story: Asylum and Freak Show. Pepper's innocence and childlike demeanor makes her tragic story all the more heartbreaking. After losing the love of her life and later being framed for infanticide, Pepper is placed in a mental institution where she lives out the rest of her days.

Grossman began her acting career through various small television roles and short films, but it was her role as Pepper that skyrocketed her into the public eye. She also starred in the workplace comedy Ctrl Alt Delete, which ran for three seasons between 2017 and 2019 and earned Grossman a Primetime Emmy nomination.

Considering all the work that was put into bringing the character of Pepper to life, it's no wonder that Grossman became unrecognizable. She relayed her experience in an article for Entertainment Weekly, wherein she described the long and arduous process. Grossman reported spending up to three hours in makeup, wearing silicone on her hands and ears, sporting fake teeth, and even shaving part of her head. "Ultimately, the end-product is well worth sacrificing my hair and sitting countless hours in the makeup chair," Grossman stated. "It's a true gift of a character, on a major hit show. I didn't think twice about it. I figured I'm an actress first, a person with hair second."

Though Grossman may have sacrificed her looks for the role, she earned the admiration of cast and crew alike for the incredible transformation into Pepper — not to mention the love she still receives from fans of American Horror Story.