‘American Horror Story: Freak Show’ Star Naomi Grossman: “Hollywood so rarely entrusts the little guys with these types of opportunities”

Naomi Grossman as Pepper in American Horror Story

Naomi Grossman is enjoying the success of American Horror Story: Freak Show in her role as the gremlin-like Pepper. However, getting to that point of career satisfaction certainly wasn’t easy.

She talked to Salon about her journey to series regular on the Ryan Murphy show.

“It was an audition like any other. Agent called. Sent some sides to prepare. Of course it wasn’t the real script, since that’s under lock and key, but rather scenes from the first season — just so they could see me act. I had no idea what the character was,” Grossman shared. “Not until I was cast, and they were fitting me for prosthetics and asking me to shave my head, did I have any real sense. Because ‘developmental actors’ (like me, at the time) are typically reduced to itty-bitty costar parts, like second nurse to the left. We say things like, ‘Scalpel, Doctor.’ And that’s it. So it never occurred to me that this might be my big break. Hollywood so rarely entrusts the little guys with these types of opportunities. Again, it’s not our job to forecast the future, and decide this is how I’m going to become famous! You do the work, and it happens. Or maybe it doesn’t. But the end result is really out of our control.”

The FX star undergoes a lengthy process of makeup and prosthetics to transform into Pepper.

The petite actress explained how this has also changed her thinking, “I’ve never been told I was so pretty until I played the ugliest person on TV. But now I have a twin! So now maybe he’s ugliest? I kid, of course. My agent and manager were concerned about my decision to go bald. They feared I would look like Pepper. I was actually slightly insulted by that! It takes two makeup artists working feverishly for three hours for me to look like Pepper! I like being bald. It was really hot when we got here in July. Plus, no one knew me (yet). So I could take on this whole, new, bald persona. Which was sort of fun and empowering.”

American Horror Story: Freak Show airs on Wednesdays on FX.

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