Naomi Grossman is one of the most popular “American Horror Story” guest stars ever, but she hasn’t been seen on the FX limited series since 2018 (not counting her appearance on Hulu’s spin-off “American Horror Stories,” which aired last summer). If Ryan Murphy called her up to ask her to star on the upcoming 11th season, would she be game? “Well of course!” Grossman recently told me exclusively. “What fool actor wouldn’t? I come when I’m called, you know? I would say yes. Where? When?”
Grossman’s fan-fave character Pepper is in the “AHS” record books for being the first character to appear in multiple seasons. The microcephalic woman with the caring heart first appeared in “Asylum” (Season 2) before returning in “Freak Show” (Season 4). The actress later popped up in “Apocalypse” (Season 8) as a new character named Samantha Crowe, who was a member of the Church of Satan along with Miriam Mead (Kathy Bates) and Anton LaVey (Carlo Rota). Over on “Stories,” she played the one-eyed Rabid Ruth in the “Drive In” episode, a woman who tried to prevent innocent people from turning into zombies.
Pepper’s journey (watch below) begins as a member of Elsa Mars’ (Jessica Lange) freak show in the 1950s. When Pepper’s partner Salty (Christopher Neiman) dies, she loses interest in performing, so Elsa takes her to live with her sister Rita Gayheart (Mare Winningham). As it turns out, Rita is beyond cruel, calling Pepper “dim-witted” and even accusing her of murdering her deformed child. That’s when Pepper is sent to Briarcliff Manor.
She becomes friendly with a nun, Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe), who tasks her with custodial duties in the library. Later, Pepper is abducted by aliens who experiment on her, turning her into a well-spoken genius. She protects a pregnant Grace (Lizzie Brocheré) from being poked and prodded by Arthur Arden (James Cromwell) and then visits with Sister Jude (also Lange) when she becomes committed. However, it’s later revealed that Jude actually imagined her friendship with Pepper, and that Pepper died two years earlier from pulmonary fibrosis.
Grossman is a 2018 Emmy nominee for Best Short Form Actress for “ctrl alt delete,” losing to Christina Pickles (“Break a Hip”). Some of her recent projects include “The Allnighter,” “Just Swipe,” “Sky Sharks,” “Murder RX” and “Good Girls.”
Little is known about the upcoming 11th season of “American Horror Story,” other than the fact that it has reportedly begun filming in New York. The cast and theme of the new installment will be announced at a future date.