American Horror Story: 25 Behind-The-Scenes Photos That Completely Change Everything

Created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, American Horror Story first premiered on FX in October of 2011. The show was initially billed as a new horror series that would likely continue in a traditional way, with the same characters facing new situations every season. However, it was soon revealed that the show would take a different approach, as it would include the same actors in new roles and stories each season.

Eventually, it was also revealed that the different worlds and seasons are largely connected. One of the highlights of the series has been the ability of the show to showcase different types of stories each season, and entirely new characters for many of the actors.

From Jessica Lange’s powerful witch character Fiona Goode in season 3 to Angela Bassett’s Desiree Dupree in season 4 and so on, the show has the opportunity to delve into new lives and situations for each new installment. As with any production, there is also a lot that goes on behind-the-scenes.

With that said, it’s time to take a look at these 25 Behind-The-Scenes Photos Of American Horror Story That Change Everything.


When AHS premiered, it introduced a different way of presenting a series. Each season would be self-contained, with actors playing different characters each season. In the most recent season, AHS: Apocalypse, more characters from previous seasons were reintroduced, showing just how connected the seasons are. This was hinted at previously in Freak Show and a couple of other installments.

In this photo, the cast and crew prepare to shoot scenes in Murder House. Not only did Murder House focus on the lives (and afterlives) of several main characters, but it also delved into the past and showed how some major and minor characters in the season who passed away.


In AHS: Coven, Kathy Bates plays Delphine LaLaurie, an awful woman who tortured slaves in the 1800s. For her portrayal, Bates won several awards, including an Emmy.

In Coven, Delphine was an enemy of Marie Laveau, whom the latter cursed with eternal life before burying her alive. In 2013, she is rediscovered by the coven, only to be dispatched once and for all. Here, Bates gleefully carries a replica of her character’s head. Like many of AHS‘s characters, Coven‘s LaLaurie was based on the real-life criminal, so it’s only fitting to relish in her demise, even a fictional version.


Sarah Paulson is one of two actors who has been featured in every season of AHS thus far (the other being Evan Peters). She’s been a medium (Murder House), a reporter (Asylum), a witch (Coven), a conjoined twin (Freak Show), an addict/criminal (Hotel), an actress in a haunted house (Roanoke), a stalking victim/cult leader (Cult), and an assistant/post-apocalyptic overseer (Apocalypse). In Apocalypse, she also reprises her role as a witch and medium.

This photo shows the playful side of the dynamic between Sarah and AHS creator Ryan Murphy. Sarah has also directed AHS, saying of the experience, “I [felt] as excited and terrified as I’ve ever felt about doing anything.”


Cody Fern is a new addition to the AHS family. In AHS: Apocalypse, he plays Michael Langdon, the petulant and ultimately ineffective Antichrist in the season. While he’s a menace onscreen, Fern has showed off his sense of humor behind-the-scenes.

In the background, it appears that the burned prop of his caretaker, Ms. Mead, is being spruced up for the scene. In AHS, his devotion to Ms. Mead is true and he’s devastated by her loss. As a servant of the Antichrist, she also acted as his mother when his own could no longer stomach his outrageous and dangerous behavior.


A nun, a psychiatrist, and a priest walk into an asylum… No, it’s not the start of a corny joke. AHS: Asylum features a nun (Jessica Lange), a priest (Joseph Fiennes), a psychiatrist/criminal (Zachary Quinto), and aliens, among other things. While some fans were miffed with an alien twist that they believed never really paid off, Ryan and Brad noted that the aliens were meant to be a commentary.

In an interview with Collider, Ryan stated, “I was always interested in those [alien abduction] stories, and the fascinating thing about them was the people who had claimed to be abducted and who had been on the ships. Did that happen? I don’t know.”


Evan Peters delivered a powerful performance as a psycho who wants to take over the world in Cult. Like most dangerously disturbed individuals, his character becomes corrupted due to unresolved trauma and lack of empathy outside of his own needs. In short, he’s messed up.

However, that doesn’t stop him from gathering a bunch of other messed up people to do messed up things on a large scale. In a THR interview, Peters stated of his fictitious character that, “Kai is the most vicious of all of the cult leaders. He has been a difficult character to play, with a lot of highs and lows, and a lot of darkness.”


Are two heads better than one? Maybe not. In this behind-the-scenes shot, Sarah Paulson sits patiently while her uncomfortable-looking and lifelike second head is added. Fractured FX, the award-winning company behind the practical prosthetics on AHS, created this design based on real people.

Daisy and Violet Hilton were real-life conjoined twins who worked for a carnival act after being emancipated from their stepmother at a young age. In Freak Show, Bette and Dot have very conflicting personalities. Sarah had the complicated task of portraying the duo, with the prosthetic attached.


While her character on AHS: Murder House and Apocalypse, Vivien Harmon, doesn’t have much to laugh about, Connie Brittion takes some time out to find the brighter side of things behind-the-scenes.

After having several difficult pregnancies, Vivien finds herself pregnant again shortly after she and her family move into Murder House. However, it turns out to be a supernatural pregnancy. In AHS: Apocalypse, it’s revealed that she’s the mother of the Antichrist, whose existence was brought about in a union between a human and a ghost. She realized he was evil and tried to end his life, but by that point he was already too powerful.


The coven returns for AHS: Apocalypse, which also sees the return of musician Stevie Nicks, who plays herself with the moniker of “The White Witch.” The Coven installment was one of the most popular of the American Horror Story series. One of the characters, Misty Day, was obsessed with Stevie Nicks.

In American Horror Story: Apocalypse, she comes back and gives a performance for Misty Day’s return from the underworld. In this picture, Sarah Paulson, Stevie Nicks, Lily Rabe, Emma Roberts, Taissa Farmiga, Gabourey Sidibe, and Frances Conroy pose behind-the-scenes before their characters tackle saving the world from the Antichrist.


In American Horror Story: Freak Show, Evan Peters plays a claw-handed young man. This behind-the-scenes photo shows some of the work that was put into bringing his character to life.

His character in Freak Show wanted to try to have a normal life but his hands always made him stand out. Freak Show focused on several real-life characters, one of which was Grady Stiles, Jr. He had a condition that caused his hands to look like lobster claws. As depicted in AHS, Grady worked in a sideshow. However, whereas Jimmy Darling was a more compassionate person, Stiles was known for his abusive behavior.


Pepper is one of the first signs AHS fans have that the different seasons are actually connected. Here, Naomi Grossman gets make-up and prosthetics to play the character. It was so convincing that many people wondered if any special effects were used.

Of the prosthetics, Grossman stated, “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.”


A little Murder House foreshadowing? Evan Peters (Tate Langdon) and Dylan McDermott (Dr. Ben Harmon) take a break, posing behind the rusty fence of the set of AHS: Murder House. In the season, Tate is also a prisoner/ghost within the walls of the home, but Ben soon follows, as the house eventually claims the lives of the entire Harmon family.

Of his character, McDermott stated, “Ben is an interesting guy because he is a psychiatrist himself but I think that he probably needs more therapy than anyone in the house. He’s really, really struggling and fighting.”


Behind the scenes of AHS: Hotel, Lady Gaga’s outfits for the role were nearly as complex as the prosthetics used in the season. Lady Gaga played the Countess, a vampire with relationship issues. While most might believe preparing to be a bloodsucker with amazing fashion sense wouldn’t take much effort, the role was more complicated.

Lady Gaga stated, “I find it funny that people wonder if that’s just the way that I really am. … The truth is that it’s actually very challenging to be sincere when you have all of that on. It’s not comfortable. It’s never been comfortable for me.”


After eating poisoned apples, Adina Porter and Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman take a break from being dearly-departed characters. Adina plays Dinah Stevens and Jeffrey plays Andre Stevens in AHS: Apocalypse. Dinah is a self-proclaimed “Voodoo Queen” and Andre is her son. As residents of Outpost 3 after the apocalypse, they endure each other’s company, despite Andre having no love lost for Dinah.

Dinah’s character ended up facing another unexpected ending at the end of the season. After being revived she betrays the witches yet again and sides with Michael, quickly finding herself on the receiving end of the real Voodoo Queen’s wrath.


Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine had a role on AHS: Asylum as an unfortunate newlywed who ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time. When Leo and his wife Teresa (Jenna Dewan Tatum) go to Briarcliff Manor as part of their honeymoon tour, they encounter more than one Bloody Face and their lives are brutally ended.

Of the experience, Levine stated that he was actually too scared to watch the episode. Though he took the role to face some of his fears, he found that the series was still too frightening for him to watch.


Here, a miniature on the Freak Show set is displayed. AHS: Freak Show is inspired by old sideshow carnivals, the popularity of which declined between the 1920s and 1940s. Sometimes these sideshows were their own attraction, while other times they were part of circuses or larger carnivals.

The season is also set in Florida, which was a very popular spot for sideshow attractions in their heyday. The lights and fanfare of the events often masked the less pleasant aspects of the attractions and the issues behind the scenes. As the season shows, most people viewed sideshow performers negatively and they often weren’t able to live their lives in peace.


In this behind-the-scenes photo, Emma Roberts’ character, Madison, stands with a feather duster instead of a broom – ready to wipe away the carnage in American Horror Story: Apocalypse. After being brought back from the afterlife, Madison plays a pivotal role in stopping the Antichrist.

She teams up with the warlock Behold Chablis (Billy Porter) to investigate the Murder House and Michael’s past. In an interview about 2013’s Coven, she stated, “It’s fun to play a character who just says what everyone wants to say sometimes. … But what I like about her is that… there’s glimmers of her being very nice.”


In this photo, a makeup artist works on a replica of Lady Gaga’s head for her role in American Horror Story: Hotel. Many of the prosthetics on American Horror Story are practical and require extensive work in their creation, on top of any necessary CGI needed.

Visual effects supervisor Jason Piccioni stated that turn around has become faster on AHS, given the schedule. According to Piccioni, “The challenge in American Horror Story is always turning around an episode that is up to our standards and up to Ryan’s standards every week. By the time we get into a season, we can turn around an episode in a week in post.”


Evan Peters’ character on AHS: Murder House, Tate, was a violent teen who took the lives of others. Here, Peters poses with Shelby Young, who played Leah, a friend/bully of Violet Harmon’s (played by Taissa Farmiga). While his character eventually changed after being faced with the horror of his actions and his relationship with Violet, Ryan Murphy has described Tate as the true monster in AHS: Murder House.

Of course, the deceased character changed in a way that only fictional characters can. Evan Peters has stated of his character that, “He’s a total psychopath. So, I mean, yeah. It comes from no remorse. It comes from no empathy, no compassion. But he does love Violet, so…”


Billie Lourd and Joan Collins share a friendly moment behind the scenes of American Horror Story: Apocalypse. In this installment, Billie Lourd plays Mallory, a witch with unique abilities who becomes the new Supreme and saves the world from the Antichrist. Joan Collins also plays a witch, Evie Gallant, who has a razor-sharp wit and the ability to read people’s minds.

Collins stated that she had nightmares about one of her bloodier scenes in the season. She had to wait under a coffin-like set-up filled with bloody sausages, but the payoff was worth it.


American Horror Story: Cult relied more heavily on psychological terror in its depiction of cult leaders and their followers. Leslie Grossman ( Meadow Wilton and Patricia Krenwinkel), Colton Haynes (Detective Jack Samuels), and Billie Lourd (Winter Anderson and Linda Kasabian) play devotees of Kai Anderson, and all are drawn to him for different reasons. In flashback scenes, Lourd and Grossman also play fictionalized versions of real-life historical figures.

These masks were used as part of the psychological terror of Sarah Paulson’s character as well as others in the series. Clearly clown masks are just as creepy onscreen as they are behind-the-scenes.


Connie Britton, Sarah Paulson, and Dylan McDermott take time out of filming Murder House to pose for a photo. Britton and McDermott played Viven Harmon and Dr. Ben Harmon, a married couple whose problems are made worse by the mysterious house they moved into. Paulson plays Billie Dean Howard, a medium. She reprises this role in both Hotel and Apocalypse; Vivien and Ben also make appearances in Apocalypse some of the witches return to the house to investigate the origins of the Antichrist.

While the witches manage to solve the issues of the couple and other ghosts in the residence, it’s not clear if things remained that way after time was reset in AHS: Apocalypse‘s season finale.


In AHS: Freakshow, Wes Bentley plays Edward Mordrake, a man with a second face who possibly existed in the 19th century. Reports conflict as to whether or not he was a real person, though the condition itself is real, though extremely rare. Records show that supposedly fewer than a dozen people in history have had the condition. As an urban legend (or not), the story of Edward Mordrake has managed to stick around for over a century.

Bentley also had larger roles in Hotel and Roanoke. In Hotel, he plays detective John Lowe and in Roanoke, plays one of the actors, Dylan.


While on screen, many of the characters of Freak Show had contentious relationships. Here, however, some of the cast members show their more playful sides in-between scenes. Evan Peters, Michael Chiklis, Angela Bassett, Kathy Bates, Emma Roberts, Sarah Paulson (and a mystery photobomber) take time out for a quick, cheerful photo.

Freakshow focused on a group of sideshow characters, many of whom wished to be accepted despite their differences. Of course, being AHS, there were other horrific characters that complicated things, outside of societal rejection. Like Twisty the Clown (John Carroll Lynch), a mutilated clown with a penchant for ending people’s lives. Or Dandy (Finn Wittrock) who had an unhealthy obsession with the sideshow.


Angela Bassett first joined AHS as Marie Laveau, known as the Voodoo Queen. Her entry into the series was a welcomed surprise, and many lauded AHS: Coven as one of the best in the series, though they were upset at Laveau’s final fate. The character makes a grand re-entrance in AHS: Apocalypse, only to be quickly felled by the Antichrist. In Freak Show, Bassett sported a very different look from her character in Coven.

Talking about her experience on AHS, she said, “What I saw, in addition to the horror, was that the writing was so wonderful and the characters were so realized … so I could appreciate that.”

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