American Horror Story took the world by storm when it first came out, and it’s continuing to prove that people LOVE getting scared. There’s something about the feeling of thrill you get while watching scary stories. Maybe it’s the sweaty palms, the fast heartbeat, and the nuzzling up close to your best friend (or teddy bear). Whatever it is, American Horror Story has hit the nail on the head. From spooky hotels to carnival freak-shows, American Horror Story has showed us that there’s always more than meets the eye.
The stories are both independent and interweaving. The seasons stand alone almost as their own segmented movies, each with a different theme. This theme almost always has to do with something creepy. With all that intrigue, we had to take it a step farther and look into the men (and women) behind the madness. American Horror Story has employed some incredibly intelligent, attractive people. Would you have guessed that by looking at their characters, though? Probably not! Many of the actors get so many special effects added to them it’s hard to tell who’s who. We’ve compiled 15 of the most shocking photos of the AHS cast out of character. Trust us… You don’t want to miss this.
15 Grace Bertrand - Lizzie Brochere
Lizzie Brochere is a French actress that has had quite a bit of success in her time so far, and no doubt will be achieving more. In American Horror Story she plays the role of Grace Bertrand. This is from the second season, Asylum, which was a popular season that focused on patients in a mental institution, as well as the events around them and the staff in charge of them. Grace was, as you can guess, a patient. While you’ll have to watch the show to get some of her charming background, take our word for it that Grace and Lizzie are totally different people. While the intense stare is the same, it’s so shocking how different these two look… And without any prosthetics!
14 Pepper - Naomi Grossman
On the other end of the spectrum, we have Naomi Grossman. This hardworking actress has achieved a lot of success on AHS, performing as Pepper in both the Asylum and Freak Show seasons. Pepper, a person with microcephaly, is a surprisingly important character in all the horror show din. Humanizing “freaks” and having their story of becoming a sideshow character was a refreshing take that AHS Freak Show had on characters like Pepper. It doesn’t make it any less freaky to see Grossman’s transformation though! Apparently it took three hours for her to get into prosthetics every filming day. And the results are well worth it! She has undergone a complete transformation, as she’s actually quite a beautiful, normal looking woman. That’s one of the things we love about this show; all the delicious, gory make up turning people into their creepiest selves!
13 Marie Laveau - Angela Bassett
Angela Bassett is an interesting part of American Horror Story because she actually plays a few different characters in different seasons. But, unlike Naomi Grossman’s character, none of them actually are all that visually creepy. Even her three-breasted freak in AHS Freak Show looks remarkably… Normal. While she does look different as Voodoo queen Marie Laveau, it’s a subtle sort of different. Angela Bassett always looks so clean and put together in real life, pulling herself together effortlessly and elegantly. All of her American Horror Story characters are the total opposite though! She has to get down and dirty, changing her moral code, belief systems, and taking away that clean-cut look Bassett wears so well. It’s truly a talent, and no wonder they’ve brought her back for so many seasons! It’s not everyday you can find transformation like that in a person.
12 Literally every character - Evan Peters
What a sweetie! This cute kid has had numerous bit parts and supporting characters on not only American Horror Story, but other shows as well. His talent lies in bringing subtle differences to each character, while still retaining his “I’m a well-intentioned young adult” energy. None of his characters are necessarily evil… They all have their own motivation and goals. It just depends on where your moral compass is pointing! Evan Peters as a person, though, is as lovely as lovely can be. As far as we can tell he’s never been in the tabloids, and is way past the point of getting caught in scandals. His charming smile is enough to make even the saddest baby stop crying, and his hair shines like molten gold in dawn’s light. It’s a stark contrast to his murderous ghosts and creepy teenager characters that he portrays!
11 Bette and Dot Tattler - Sarah Paulson
Let’s start with the obvious: Sarah Paulson does not have two heads. She, as a real, living human actress, only has one head. While we know her two heads is probably a feat of computer engineering (rather than prosthetics) it’s still an incredible transformation, and one that shows Sarah Paulson’s versatility as well. She has to become each one of those heads before they splice them together! Talk about the best of both worlds. Each head has its own personality, which means it’s a fantastic feat of acting ability on Paulson’s part. Needless to say, she’s quite different in real life. She’s got an average number of heads, and beautiful hair. Not to mention a magnetic smile that just draws people in! AHS really chose well with this character, and really managed to make the actress into something wild.
10 Myrtle Snow/Frances Conroy
Who doesn’t love a good witch? American Horror Story seems to know how much we love witches, making Myrtle Snow into a blunt, honest everyday witch who’s just trying to make her way in the world. You know she’s not the worst character on the show, even though she’s head of the witch pack. She’s got standards and ideas, and they’re probably all kept in her outstanding hair. This is incredibly different from Frances Conroy, the actress who plays Myrtle. She seems to have upped the volume to play Myrtle, both in terms of hair and in terms of vocality. Frances Conroy isn’t someone to bring attention to herself. She’s kind, polite, and very different from this witchy counterpart. If you want to see more, you can check out AHS Coven to see the magic firsthand.
9 Winter Anderson - Billie Lourd
Winter was one of the most praised characters on Cult, one of the more recent seasons of AHS, setting the actress, Billie Lourd, up for even bigger and better things! We hope they keep Lourd around, because she brought an incredible depth to Winter that we hadn’t really seen before. Billie Lourd is a newcomer, and might not look that different, but her acting is strong enough to make this a complete transformation. She’s portraying a nanny with a deep, deep fear of children. The irony isn’t lost on the writers, who use these character traits to build a complex storyline that involves a lot of unsettling images. Plus, that thousand yard stare of her’s is more than enough to set us on edge…. Yikes. While we hope to see more of Billie Lourd, we don’t know if we can handle that Winter chill much longer.
8 SO MANY CHARACTERS - Denis O'Hare
A standout from the show from the very start, Denis O’Hare is an incredible actor. He started off American Horror Story with burn victim Larry Harvey, owner of the “murder house”, as it’s affectionately called, and having a large amount of the plot involve him and the backstory. He also plays Spalding, the creepy servant in season three. While he doesn’t say anything as Spalding, he certainly makes up for that with his most talked about role, Liz Taylor. Season 5 was a good season for O’Hare, and they just keep getting better. The best part? He’s always so different on screen than how he is in real life. While he might not be the cutest anymore, he’s certainly distinguished and attractive in his own way. And talented! You have to be, to handle all these different roles.
7 Dandy Mott - Finn Wittrock
If you know anything about Finn Wittrock, you’ll know that he’s an incredibly attractive man. He’s what we’re talking about when we say “yummy”. His charming smile and well dressed look gives him this distinguishment that isn’t common in people as young as him. It’s not far off from his character, Dandy Mott. Dandy is the clean-cut son who falls in with Twisty the clown. We won’t give away any more than that, but we can assure you that that clean cut is just an image in Dandy’s case. Serial killing is a theme in Dandy Mott’s life, as is mental disturbance as the show notes in later seasons. His plotline is so good, and it’s so rare to find someone that actually looks like themselves on this show!
6 Timothy Howard - Joseph Fiennes
Joseph Fiennes is a mischievous, quirky guy that looks a little more mad scientist than priest. We were a little shocked when they first brought him on to be such a holistic character, but quickly we understood why. Joseph Fiennes is very different from his Timothy Howard character, who runs the Briarcliffe Manor Sanitorium. As far as we know, Fiennes has no aspirations to become Archbishop of New York, nor any strong religious beliefs. He’s nowhere near as corrupt as Timothy Howard, and really does come across as more of a fun guy than a scary priest. This is definitely a really good thing. No doubt Joseph Fiennes has more friends than Timothy, and more admirers. Basically, we’re glad that Joseph is so much different from Timothy. There’s just no place for that character in real life! Not to mention how he’s so much cuter without the cross and glasses.
5 Penny - Grace Gummer
Penny is different from Pepper, but is still almost as shocking a difference. Grace Gummer, in real life, is an absolutely gorgeous woman with beautiful, long hair. She’s got a few credits to her name, and has made a splash in both the movie world and the TV world. She’s on two seasons of AHS, both Coven and Freak Show, where the character Penny really shines. Her father disfigured her, giving her the tattoos and forked tongue that’s a key component to the character of Penny. Grace is very different, and she doesn’t have a forked tongue (as far as we know)! However, she does a good job of portraying that pain in her American Horror Story seasons. And the best part? Like many of these characters, she can go home and wash off the tattoos, disfigurement, and pain, and go back to her normal self.
4 Twisty - John Carroll Lynch
Who doesn’t love a good clown? Clowns are funny and totally make us laugh! Right? ...Wrong. At least in the case of Twisty the clown. He’s a little bit killer and a little bit creepy. We know that he’s got some murdery feelings up his sleeve, which (hopefully) is much different from John Carroll Lynch, the actor cast as Twisty. John Carroll Lynch is not a mass murderer, thank goodness, and he’s definitely not a clown missing part of his face. He’s actually quite handsome, in his own way. While he’s a little lacking on the hair front, he’s got a lot of charm and personality to make up for it… And just look at those eyes! It’s wild to think that he was chosen to play this wicked character. The makers of American Horror Story definitely picked right though, that’s for sure. He’s awesome, and way different from Twisty.
3 Dell Toledo - Michael Chiklis
Don’t you just want real life Michael Chiklis to pick you up and take you in his big, strong arms? We know we do. He’s a funny guy, and wears his muscles well. In real life he’s been in a few different things, with a long standing career that’s only been made better by American Horror Story. He portrays Dell Toledo, a character in the Freak Show season of American Horror Story. This character is stupendous, as he is a fan of proclaiming. One of the most normal of the freaks, his thing is being a strongman. He’s even got the moustache and everything. He takes charge of the freakshow, often announcing or generally making his presence known. Michael Chiklis plays it with dignity, fun, and a pair of beautiful arms.
2 Valerie Solanas - Lena Dunham
Why did we put Lena Dunham in here? Because she looks SO different. It doesn’t even look like Lena Dunham when we see pictures side by side. While she only appeared on one episode, she’s the perfect example of being radically transformed while still sticking to her beliefs. Her real life persona is surprisingly similar to this character (which was drawn from real life inspiration), which made Dunham an easy choice for casting. Everybody thinks she’s done a fabulous job too, which we agree with. Her portrayal of this revenge-seeking justice-oriented feminist is a breath of fresh air to see on television. She plays it with righteous rage, not blind anger; that’s an important difference. It just goes to show that there doesn’t need to be freakshow level make up in order to give someone a total transformation. They can change with just a wig and some eye make up!
1 Elizabeth - Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga caused quite a media splash when it was announced that she was going to be stepping up as an actor on American Horror Story. It seemed like a natural fit as someone who (in her real life) is all about the performance spectacles and boundary pushing. She’s a real artist, which is clear in her acting work. While she plays almost an identical looking character on the show, they’re so incredibly different from each other. While Lady Gaga is ageless, she’s not quite 112 years old. She’s also not quite the murderous vampiress (c’mon, we all know that that was the inspiration) that Elizabeth is. They’re equally as glamorous though, and there’s something about Lady Gaga’s sense of fashion that comes through in her portrayal of Elizabeth. She was a beautiful addition to the Hotel season, and we hope Lady Gaga does more acting… She’s really good!