Gilbert Speaks with Naomi Grossman on Her New Film ‘Bite Me’, ‘American Horror Story’ + More

I recently did a review of Bite Me which starred Naomi Grossman, Naomi McDougall Jones, Meredith Edwards, Mahira Kakkar, and Christian Coulson. You can read the review, here. Today, we get to here from Naomi Grossman herself on her role in the film.

Gilbert: Hi Naomi! I absolutely loved you in both American Horror Story and as Chrissy in Bite Me. I’m a big fan, so thank you for taking the time to answer some questions for Biff Bam Pop!. First up, with Bite Me, what about it made you want to be a part of the film?

Naomi Grossman: As an architect’s daughter, I always say:  if the blueprints aren’t solid, the house isn’t going to stand. The same goes for scripts. The bones were there— it was just a matter of shooting the meat of the story, then editing out the gristle. Plus, Naomi McDougall Jones killed me with the ultimate compliment:  she’d actually written Bite Me with me in mind.  Flattery will get you everywhere… with me at least!

Gilbert: In Bite Me, the mood was much lighter and more comical than the horror work you’ve done previously. What do you prefer doing, comedy or horror?

Naomi Grossman: I actually come from comedy— I worked for years at the Groundlings Comedy Theatre as a member of their Sunday Company, I wrote and produced and travelled the world with my 2 (mostly) comedic solo shows, and have another million silly shorts up on YouTube. So comedy’s kind of my super-power!  Something that fans, if they only know me from American Horror Story, may not know about me! 

Comedy is where I feel the most comfortable, and probably the genre I’d choose if given the choice of what movie to watch.  However, at the end of the day, it’s not comedy, so much as big characters that are really my jam—and those exist in any genre.  My favorite, truth be told, are genre-bending shows, like Orange is the New Black— which was up for “Best Comedy” one year, “Best Drama” the next— full of over-the-top characters with very real, grounded pathos.  

Gilbert: Are there any fun, behind the scenes stories of working on Bite Me that you could share? 

Naomi Grossman: My first day on set we shot the picnic scene in Central Park, which just happened to coincide with the solar eclipse.  So magic was already in the air… and all of New York City’s there… Meanwhile, we’re dressed as vampires, kicking over coolers, monologuing with fangs on, fighting those Christians like the time of the Crusades!  I’m telling you, these NY thespians were going for it— half the time the camera wasn’t even on them!  It was a beautiful thing to behold, and a great initiation into the House of Twilight. 

Gilbert: As fan, I have to ask at least one AHS question. As Pepper in American Horror Story: Asylum & Freak Show, you worked with an all-star cast. Who was your favorite actor or actress on AHS to work with?

Naomi Grossman: There’s not a bad apple in the bunch, obviously.  As with any group, certain people bring out certain things in us. James Cromwell was among the most supportive— literally gave me tips as to how to get more camera-time (which was remarkable, given the fact that if the camera’s on me, it’s not on him necessarily). Angela Bassett and Kathy Bates were like mother hens— always so nurturing. Sarah Paulson was the playful, fun one. And Evan Peters is just salt-of-the-earth— such a good, decent guy, who deserves every wonderful thing he’s got coming. But Jessica Lange was the one I never quite got over… She’s a legend. Everyday on set was an acting master class. She’s such a generous actor— she just gives and gives and gives, and so long as you’re present in the moment to receive what she’s giving, the results are guaranteed to be Emmy-worthy.  

Gilbert: Is there any role that you would love to play on either stage or film?

Naomi Grossman: I’ve always wanted to be an “Almodóvar girl.”  Other than Penelope Cruz, who’s drop-dead gorgeous in everything, Pedro Almodóvar typically fancies women with interesting faces, and pathos, in quirky, convoluted stories. Plus, I could use my Spanish, which is another super-power people may not know about me. Speaking of Latin auteurs, I’d love to be one of Guillermo del Toro’s creatures.  (His go-to SPFX guy, Mikey Hill, is partially responsible for me being cast as Pepper.) I’d also love to be able to use my yoga (my OTHER super-power) — maybe bend myself into some invertebrate monster, or (in another life) a Cirque du Soleil-something or other? 

I’d love a recurring character on a long-running show, that I could really get comfortable and grow with, like on an OITNB, which is mostly funny, then suddenly switches. I’d love to play Lily Tomlin or Gilda Radner or Carol Burnett or Tracy Ullman or any of my comedy idols. I’d love to play Hilary Clinton or Ghislaine Maxwell, who have deep, dark, sad secrets. I’d love to guerrilla film-make, improvising in character with Sasha Baron Cohen. I’d love to have one of my solo shows adapted as a scripted series, à la Fleabag. But the ultimate has always been to be on SNL. That’s the show that got away!

Gilbert: We’ve all had quite the experience the last few years; I’m wondering, how has Covid interfered with your work?

Naomi Grossman: Well, I just about lost my mind at first— an extreme extrovert, single, living alone, with nowhere to go? From those first 24 hours, through those 3 months that followed, I was in a very, very dark place. But then I resigned myself to this lame, new normal, and got busy writing my own 1-hour comedy special. Titled American Whore Story, it’s a companion piece to my previous 2 solo shows.  It’s a fast-paced, fan-friendly anthology of autobiographical tales: pre-Pepper, post-Pepper, as Pepper. I’m really proud of it, and proud of myself for making the most of that strange time. Other than that, yes, auditions came to a screeching halt, we all learned to self-tape, when I have worked, there are constant Covid tests and new protocols.  It’s interfered in every way.   

Gilbert: And finally, are you working on anything new at the moment? Where can we see you next, after we watch Bite Me?

Naomi Grossman: Other than the aforementioned AWS (which is pretty much all-consuming), I recently worked on a film called Replica with Micky Rourke. I play a neo-Nazi meth head— so another over-the-top character with a serious, dark side, and a complete departure from myself. That said, like Bite Me, it’s an indie film, and because time is money, if you don’t have money, it takes extra time!  So you may see me in something else before that!   Just stay tuned.

You can follow Naomi Grossman @naomiwgrossman

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