American Horror Story doesn’t call its latest anthology Freak Show for nothing!
To become the small-headed Pepper—a fan-favorite character, who first appeared in season two’s Asylum—Naomi Grossman has to undergo quite the transformation before getting in front of the camera.
After sitting in the makeup chair for about three hours, Grossman transforms into the unforgettable mental patient-turned-circus performer—complete with buck teeth, a shaved head, and prosthetic ears. And that’s just the start of it.
“People tell me, ‘Oh, I could never [sit so long for of the makeup],'” Grossman exclusively shares with Us Weekly. “To which I say, ‘Really, you couldn’t go to your job, and lay back and close your eyes for three hours?'”
Grossman adds, “Granted, on a sixth day in a row of shooting, when my skin is super-tender from having glue applied to the same place everyday, I think about how quaint it would be to act with my own face.” Nevertheless, the stage actress admits, “I wouldn’t be Pepper without all those prosthetics. She’s been so good to me, and she’s such a joy to play.”
Not that there aren’t any drawbacks to the process. “The one contact lens. It blinds me in that eye, so I’ve been known to take a tumble!” Grossman says. “Those intense, close-up scenes when I have to look into someone else’s eyes and really communicate? Forget about my eyeline—that’s all over the place.”
She also has to make sure to blow her nose before the Emmy Award-winning AHS makeup, hair, and costumes teams get down to work. “Before I can’t for another eight to 12 hours!” she quips.
Of course, there is one big perk to the mega-transformation: “There’s the added benefit of the whole world telling me how pretty I am [offscreen], which is absurd,” Grossman humbly says. “Though far be it from me to correct them!”
Tune in to American Horror Story: Freak Show on FX, Wednesdays at 10 p.m. EST.