We have asked Naomi Grossman, one of the stars of “American Horror Story,” about the second season of the show and about her role, Pepper. You can’t find any spoilers in the article, so you can read it weather you’ve seen the new episode of the show or not.
– For the readers would you tell us some things about yourself?
– Sure. I’ve been acting for a while, though never had real mainstream success until now. Aside from Pepper, I’m primarily known for my solo shows and sketch comedy. I have two one-woman shows: “Girl in Argentine Landscape” is my autobiographical coming-of-age tale set in Argentina; the other is “Carnival Knowledge,” a comic, carnal romp that chronicles my real-life misadventures as a single gal in LA. Both enjoyed extended, sold-out runs and rave reviews both in Los Angeles and New York. The first was nominated for an LA Weekly Theatre Award for “best solo performance;” the other was reprised at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, and was later transferred to London’s West End. In addition to my solo work, I also do sketch comedy… I’m a former member of the Groundlings Sunday Company, where I first developed many of my silly comedy shorts, which have gone on to nationwide film festivals and are available for view on various comedy sites and youtube. (http://www.youtube.com/user/naomigrossman?feature=mhee) That’s me in a nutshell: acting, writing, acting, writing, yoga, dancing, socializing, traveling, acting, writing, acting, writing.
– We are a blog about TV series so I would like to come to the point. What kind of series are you enjoy watching? Horror, drama or comedy (etc.)?
– I generally prefer comedy. Although AHS is so well-done, you clearly don’t have to be a horror or drama-person to love it! I certainly do (although I admit to not having seen it before I was cast). I don’t actually watch a lot of television– I get antsy! My friends make fun of me– when we watch together, I often like to have something to do while I watch. And alone, I really don’t watch! In fact, I even have post-it notes beside my remote controls to remind me how to work them! I tend to like the quirky cable shows that get cancelled right away, like the “Sarah Silverman Program” or “Flight of the Concords.” I know it’ll date me, but “Sex in the City” was my absolutely fave– still mourning that loss. And of course I’ve always loved “Saturday Night Live.”
– American Horror Story is not an ordinary show to watch. If you would not star in it would you watch the episodes week by week?
– Now, yes! It’s addicting. From the moment I was cast, I scoured the internet for the first season, and watched the whole thing within a few weeks. It’s just so well-done– everyone involved is at the top of their profession. It’s exciting to see such great work being done on television, much less be a part of it. I think we’re experiencing a television renaissance, actually.
– How did you get the role of Pepper? Was it already made character or did you have the hance to evolve the character the way you have wanted it?
– I think they pretty much knew what the wanted, but kept it very secret as not to divulge spoilers to all the actors auditioning, their agents, managers, etc. Initially, they asked for someone 4-5 feet tall (I know you use meters– I don’t know what that would be– but quite short!), possibly malformed, and childlike. So at first, I didn’t really know what they were going for– I never would have gotten microcephalic from that. But I must have done a decent audition, and well, I do enough big character work, perhaps they knew someone like Pepper was right up my alley. Then, once I was cast, they showed me pictures of what I was going to look like, which obviously informed my acting. I obviously watched Tod Browning’s film, “Freaks,” paying special attention to “Schlitzie,” the character Pepper was modeled after… So no, once it was made clear to me what they wanted, I didn’t really depart much at all.
Spoiler! First Pepper was operating in the back but when Grace retuned pregnant she got a bigger role in the story. End of spoiler! Personally I really liked that because on the first look she may seem bizarre but if you have the chance to really know her she turns out very loveable. What kind of reactions/critics do you receive about your character?
The response has all been very positive– both for the new Pepper, as well as the old. I was worried– people loved the old Pepper so much, I wasn’t sure how they’d react to the new. While the old Pepper is more fun to play, the new Pepper presents a whole other level of complexity. Her story as an advocate for the disabled is endearing, and has resonated with fans just as much, if not more, than the old Pepper. Which is thrilling for me as an actress, and not just a comedienne.
– What do you think about Pepper?
– I love her! She is a true gift of a character. Her humanity and naiveté… her advocacy and wisdom… Put it all together, and you have a beautiful and complex character– a true dream-role for any actor.
– The “Name Game” scene was phenomenal. Did you like doing a comedy scene after the lot of depressing and horroristic scenes? Pepper’s face when she found out that they were singing about her was unforgettable.
– I always like doing a comedy scene, regardless. I agree, it provided some much needed relief after all that doom and gloom! Indeed, seeing Jessica Lange point at me and sing was truly thrilling, both for Pepper AND me! That was method-acting right there!
– Speaking about music, do you find listening to Dominique all day tiring and annoying?
– No, they don’t actually play it on set that much. (Thank goodness!)
– How long does it take to transform to Pepper from Naomi?
– 2.5 – 3 hours. And that’s with two makeup artists working feverishly on me the whole time! It’s a long process, but they are consummate professionals, so the end-product is seamless. Time well-spent!
– How long does to take to shoot an episode? Please tell me about the process of the shooting.
– I think they shoot one every 10 days or so. They work extremely hard, very long hours. They are meticulous– everything takes a very long time. But it shows in the end. All that special care they put in really pays off.
– The show is filled with great actors. The creators have found the perfect actors/actresses for the roles. How was the mood among the shooting? Do you get along with your colleagues?
– That’s so nice of you to say! I agree though, the casting is quite ingenious. I mean, the actress from “Silence of the Lambs” who plays the therapist Bloodyfaceskins?! Brilliant! As for the mood on set, it’s 100% professional all the time. Everyone is very nice, but of course, we’re there to work.
– Do you have any plans for the future? Are we going to see you in the thirds season of American Horror Story?
– I hope so! This entire experience has been a dream for me. I can only wish for more! As far as plans, I’m riding the AHS wave for now… obviously I’m in a strategic position for this upcoming pilot season, so I’m hopeful for that. But regardless, I’ll be acting and writing, acting and writing. That’s what makes me happy, so that’s what I’ll be doing whether I’m successful at it or not!
– We are a Hungarian blog so it is my duty to ask, have you ever been to Hungary? (If not, would you like to visit?)
– I have not, and I would love to! Traveling is one of my passions, and I’ve heard great things. I hope to meet the Hungarian AHS fans someday!
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