With "American Horror Story: Freak Show" taking its final bow on Wednesday (January 21), we thought it was time to check in and pull back the curtain on the season's most mind-blowing transformations. From Twisty's mouthy reveal to Penny's forked tongue and back again, "AHS'" Emmy-award winning department head of makeup, Eryn Krueger Mekash, filled us in on the three makeup masterpieces that made "Freak Show" a season to remember:
Penny (Grace Gummer)
Lucky for Grace Gummer -- who is Meryl Streep's daughter, FYI -- she didn't have to sit through hours of temporary tattoo application to bring her "Lizard Girl" to life. Instead, a prosthetic was used to recreate the look that her father gave her as a punishment for her disobedience.
"The tattoos were done by AFX Studio, which is one of two companies that do the effects for the show," Mekash said. "All of the tattoos were custom fit to her face through a process of casting. There was a full-face prosthetic and a full-neck prosthetic, [and] it’s like a water transfer process, but it has to be glued underneath to stay on all day. The pieces are put on with water transfer, like a Bazooka Joe. Then there’s sealer that goes over, and powder, a little bit of airbrushing done around her mouth, and some beauty makeup done on her eyes."
This is obviously much easier day-to-day than reapplying tattoos, but since the prosthetic wasn't all in one piece, it still took one and a half to two hours to get it all on.
"It’s made up of about ten pieces that all fit together like a little puzzle all over her face," Mekash said, which you can see in a GIF from this video above. "There’s little sections that are smaller and some that are bigger -- like her whole jaw is one piece, then there’s little pieces that go on the side, and a piece that goes over her head to make her look bald."
And as for that tongue, it isn't even used every time you see Gummer onscreen, and the moving forks were partially created in post.
"You don’t see it quite as much when she's just talking," Mekash explained. "In the reveal it was made out of silicon, and she held it on her tongue. There might have been a little bit of visual effects done with that, but not too much. She could kind of push her tongue around and to the side, to make [the forks] move together."
Pepper (Naomi Grossman)
Everyone's favorite microcephalic, Pepper, also had some facial prosthetics to create her signature "pinhead" look. However, the "AHS" crew was not able to recreate their exact work from her first appearance in the series.
"[Pepper's look] was originally created by Tinsley Studio in season two," Mekash said, referring of course to "Asylum." "It was re-sculpted to make her look a little bit younger, since ["Freak Show"] was about 12 years [earlier]. She had a bit of smoothing out, had less wrinkling, and had freckles drawn in so she would look a little bit younger. It was a completely different piece this year."
This piece goes over Grossman's forehead and nose, then she has fake teeth and a contact that gives her a "wall eye" look. It has to be remade after every application since the edges of the prosthetic -- "the edge that makes it look realistic, the blending part" -- are damaged each time it's removed, but that's not even the tough part. The real work lies in making those eyebrows on fleek.
"All of the eyebrows are hand punched in one hair at a time," Mekash continued. "The eyebrows have to be re-punched for every piece, so there’s a complete factory going on at AFX doing Pepper and Salty's pieces."
Also, since Pepper is an IRL hottie, Grossman has to wear a body pad underneath her costume to make her look less curvy, as well as giant hand gloves to make her body look even tinier than it already is.
Twisty the Clown (John Carroll Lynch)
Unlike with Penny and Pepper, the horrifying mouth (or lack of) we saw on Twisty was not worn by the actor, Lynch, during filming.
"When they took his mask off we filmed two different versions," Mekash explained. "One with green painted all over his mouth for green screen for CGI, and then we did one with John talking with motion capture dots on his face."
Lynch's work on set in New Orleans was then taken by a visual effects team and merged with a completely separate head in Los Angeles, to get that nightmare-inducing face you saw on screen.
"We had a separate head that was him completely done, with his mouth sculpted in a way that reflected his injury," Mekash continued. "The special effects company, Fuse FX, took that and merged it with John actually talking on set, and made it move... It’s kind of amazing how it works."