Remember ‘Pepper’ from American Horror story? She is unrecognizable (and gorgeous) in real life

American Horror Story has captivated audiences worldwide with its unique blend of horror, drama, and dark storytelling. From its talented cast to its creative direction, the series has garnered acclaim for its immersive and chilling tales.

Among its unforgettable characters, Pepper stands out as an iconic figure.

But who is the actress behind Pepper, and what does she look like in real life? Keep reading to see pictures of how this gremlin-like character is actually a beautiful and very talented woman.

Anyone who has watched American Horror Story has likely noticed Pepper — the deformed, almost mute dwarf. This character appears in the seasons Asylum and Freak Show, leaving a lasting impression on viewers with her unique presence and captivating portrayal.


In the series, Pepper is a microcephalic woman and former performer with Fräulein Elsa’s Cabinet of Curiosities. Her experiences in the series were largely shaped by society’s perception of her creepy-looking appearance. People viewed her as a freak due to her physical deformities, leading to a series of unfortunate events in her life.

However, despite the prejudice she faced, Pepper possessed a heart of pure innocence and deserved nothing but kindness and compassion. Following the loss of her beloved husband (who also performed with Fräulein Elsa’s Cabinet of Curiosities) and unjustly being accused of infanticide, Pepper finds herself confined to a mental institution for the remainder of her life.

To me, Pepper’s episode was the most heartbreaking of Freak Show.

#AHS #AmericanHorrorStory #AmericanHorrorStoryFreakshow #Pepper #NaomiGrossmanWhen someone says "Hotel" is their favorite season of American Horror Story.

Posted by Bret Joseph Muraski on Wednesday, December 16, 2015

And one who evoked all these emotions with her fantastic portrayal is none other than the actress Naomi Grossman, 49.

Naomi has worked as an actress since the early 1990s and appeared in several films and TV series – but she will probably always be associated with Pepper.

She grew up in Denver, Colorado, and began pursuing an acting career at a young age. Naomi was raised in a typical middle-class American family, but longed for a more adventurous life.

She participated in several community theater shows, but it was probably in high school that many realized she was a talent beyond the ordinary. According to Naomi, she always knew she wanted to be on TV and she was always very unabashed about that.

”My parents were always really good about exposing me to culture. I remember my first film was Hair…so you get the idea. They were not shy about sharing the world with me  (laughs). I used to do children’s theatre every Saturday morning at the Comedy Works in Denver. And that’s how I started,” Naomi told Tenere Williams in 2016.

The actress, who spent her junior year of high school in Argentina, later attended and graduated from Northwestern University, with a theater major. After that, Naomi realized she needed to move to Los Angeles, partly to kickstart her career and partly to follow her great love at the time.

”Well, my boyfriend at the time had moved out here, so I followed him when I graduated from Northwestern…though I would’ve come out regardless. Anyway, we broke up soon after I arrived.  So I’m in a new city, I don’t have a job, I don’t have a place to live, I don’t have many friends, and suddenly, I didn’t have a boyfriend.  But I think it was a gift in disguise…to be on my own and forced to explore and not get too comfortable.  Still, that was hard to see at the time,” she said.

Like many other talented actresses, Naomi struggled to break through in Tinseltown. All of her time was spent sending out headshots, reading breakdowns, auditioning and ”all this sort of bullshit that wasn’t acting really at all.”

She began to pay more attention to her appearance, adopting a regimen of yoga and cutting back on her daily intake of Chicago-style pizza after school, resulting in weight loss.

Naomi knew she was a skilled character actress, and she was confident in her ability to excel in comedy roles – but nobody wanted to give her a chance.

However, in 2012, things took a different turn.

Unaware of the role she was auditioning for, Grossman submitted an audition tape for American Horror Story. She hadn’t really followed the show before the audition. When she auditioned, they didn’t disclose the role. The breakdown simply described it as ‘4-5 feet tall, possibly malformed, child-like.’

Looking back, it might seem a bit odd that Naomi landed the role of Pepper. She grew up in a very cultured, intellectual household. She was never a horror fan – as mentioned, her parents were extremely passionate about art, music, theatre, so that was Naomi’s world.

At the same time, it feels like she was absolutely perfect for the role of Pepper. And looking at the reception, there’s no doubt that she turned Pepper into one of the most intriguing characters in American Horror Story.

Naomi Grossman as Pepper from FX’s “American Horror Story” Asylum” attends Son Of Monsterpalooza held at Burbank Marriott Airport Hotel & Convention Center on October 27, 2012 in Burbank, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)

”In terms of the character, I’ve never played a pinhead before, but at the same time, Pepper is very much in-tune with all these big, crazy, Groundling-style, SNL-like characters that I’ve always played. But I didn’t know that at first,” Naomi says.

The fan-favorite would make a comeback in the series’ fourth season, American Horror Story: Freak Show, reprising her role from the second season, marking her as the first to portray the same character in two different seasons of the show.

Due to the extensive prosthetics and makeup, many are unaware of Grossman’s true appearance. Many of the interviews she has done in recent years have also focused on her physical transformation into Pepper and all the work that was put into bringing the character to life.

First of all, in preparation for the role, Naomi was required to shave her head completely bald – which she had no issues with. In fact, Naomi enjoyed being bald, walking on the streets of Los Angeles.

”It was really hot when we got here in July. So I could take on this whole, new, bald persona. Which was sort of fun and empowering,” she reflected.

HOLLYWOOD, CA – OCTOBER 05: Actress Naomi Grossman attends FX’s “American Horror Story: Freak Show” premiere screening at TCL Chinese Theatre on October 5, 2014 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

But there were other aspects of the role that perhaps weren’t as charming. The actress would spend up to three hours in makeup, applying silicone to her hands and ears, and wearing fake teeth.

A few years ago, Huffington Post asked Naomi which of Pepper’s prosthetic head pieces was the most challenging to wear.

”My least favorite would be the contact lens, because it’s so disorienting. I only see half of what’s around me, which make scenes with lots of moving pieces especially challenging. Nevermind connecting with your scene partner. And then there’s the nose – you have to remember to blow before they put that on, and can’t for another twelve hours. I can’t hear real well with the ears, and I definitely can’t text or even go to the bathroom with those big man-hands. The teeth make me glad I don’t have much dialogue, and of course the heat escapes right out of my bald head. Not that I’m complaining – it’s a small price to pay for such a great role,” she said.

There are surely many people who still watch American Horror Story and look at Pepper, thinking that the character is really an actress who looks like that.

”Ah, and what a great complement that is! It’s funny when people ask me, ‘Aren’t you afraid of being typecast?’ I wonder, why would anyone think of me as an odd, creepy, dwarf-like character? I am nothing like that,” she told Huff Post.

As you can see, her scary onscreen look is far away from her real face.

When observing Naomi’s true appearance, it’s evident that the 49-year-old star is quite different from the gremlin-like microcephalic woman she portrayed on TV.

Many have commended her looks upon seeing other pictures of the actress, and the stark contrast is indeed striking! As Naomi herself puts it, the difference is quite remarkable.

”I’ve never been told I was so pretty until I played the ugliest person on TV,” she told Salon in 2014.

With her brunette locks growing back, absence of prosthetic nose, and impeccably groomed eyebrows, Naomi appears as an entirely different person!

Naomi Grossman at “The Wiz” Pre-Broadway L.A. premiere held at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre on February 14, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Lisa O’Connor/Variety via Getty Images)

In my opinion, a truly exceptional actor is someone capable of complete transformation, transcending mere physical appearance or charismatic persona.

There’s a profound beauty in the art of acting, where actors breathe life into diverse characters, offering audiences glimpses into the vast spectrum of human experience.

Naomi Grossman’s remarkable portrayal of Pepper in American Horror Story epitomizes this transformative power, reminding us that true greatness in acting lies not in vanity or repetition, but in the ability to immerse oneself fully in the art of storytelling – share this article on Facebook if you agree!