21 Celebs Who Surprised Us as Guest Stars on 'American Horror Story'

Martha Sorren | Oct 16, 2019 TV
21 Celebs Who Surprised Us as Guest Stars on 'American Horror Story'
Image: FX Networks

Jenna Dewan in American Horror Story: Asylum
FX Networks

Over its nine seasons, American Horror Story has featured guest stars of all types. From famous musicians to models to former Glee stars, AHS co-creator Ryan Murphy loves a celeb cameo in an unexpected role. In fact, Murphy takes his casting so seriously that he often brings the same actors back time and time again on his various TV shows. Many AHS stars have been on Glee, Pose, American Crime Story, The Politician, Feud, and even other seasons of AHS over the years.

Murphy loves to nurture longtime talent, like Jessica Lange, who's appeared in multiple Murphy-verse shows -- from AHS to Feud to The Politician -- but he also loves to cast rising stars to put them on the map. He did this with Billie Lourd, whom he cast in one of her first roles on Scream Queens and later re-cast on the most recent American Horror Story season, 1984.

But sometimes, Murphy wants to have a little more fun, which is where celebrity cameos come in. Sure, some of his guest stars have been in repeat shows for him. (Darren Criss guested in AHS: Hotel and went on to star in the Versace installment of American Crime Story.) But Murphy also has a little more freedom with the one-off AHS characters to bring in A-list talent for a single season or even a single impactful episode. It makes the appearance even more fun and surprising because fans usually don't see it coming.

Usually, the AHS cameos are drastically different than the characters the actors play on their main shows. Often, sitcom stars are suddenly thrown into a world of ghosts and ghouls, making for an interesting viewing experience, but probably also a fun challenge for the actor who gets to step outside his or her comfort zone a little bit.

Here are 20 celebs who tried something new when they guest starred on American Horror Story.

  • Billy Porter


    Seen in: American Horror Story: Apocalypse

    Billy Porter is known for starring in another Ryan Murphy project, Pose, but he also guested on season eight of AHS, playing a warlock named Behold Chablis. 

    Next up, he could be playing the fairy godmother in the new Cinderella, according to early reports.

  • Mark Consuelos

    Mark Consuelos
    FX Network

    Seen in: American Horror Story: Asylum 

    Actor Mark Consuelos is best known these days for playing Hiram Lodge on Riverdale. But once upon a time, he guest starred on the second season of AHS, playing Spivey, a violent inmate at the Briarcliff asylum.

  • Neil Patrick Harris


    Seen in: American Horror Story: Freak Show

    In season four of AHS, How I Met Your Mother star Neil Patrick Harris played Chester Creb. The character was part salesman, ventriloquist, Cabinet of Curiosities owner, and a magician.

    ... so, basically, the AHS version of HIMYM's Barney Stinson.

  • David Burtka

    David Burtka head shot
    Splash News

    Seen in: American Horror Story: Freak Show

    Neil Patrick Harris' husband David Burtka was also seen in the fourth season. He appeared in a brief finale cameo where he played a junior vice president of casting in LA named Michael Beck. This wasn't the first time Burtka appeared in the same project as his husband. In How I Met Your Mother, he played Lily Aldrin's (Alyson Hannigan) ex-boyfriend Scooter.

  • Naomi Campbell


    Seen in: American Horror Story: Hotel

    Supermodel Naomi Campbell had a cameo in the fifth AHS season. She played Vogue editor Claudia Bankson who definitely picked the wrong hotel to check into that night.

    Sorry, diva, looks like there's no sashaying away.

  • Joshua Malina


    Seen in: American Horror Story: Murder House

    Scandal star Joshua Malina guest starred on the first season of American Horror Story, where he played a murderous dentist named Dr. David Curan. As if going to get one's teeth cleaned wasn't already scary enough, Malina's dental practice was scarring in a number of ways.

  • Mena Suvari


    Seen in: American Horror Story: Murder House and American Horror Story: Apocalypse 

    Mena Suvari reprised her season one role in season eight for AHS: Apocalypse. In both seasons, she played aspiring actress Elizabeth Short who went on to become The Black Dahlia after Joshua Malina's sadistic dentist got his hands on her.

  • Clea DuVall


    Seen in: American Horror Story: Asylum

    Most guest stars meet a grisly fate on this show, just like Clea DuVall did in season two. The actress played Wendy who, before her ... passing, was a teacher and Lana Winters' (Sarah Paulson) girlfriend.

  • Eric Stonestreet


    Seen in: American Horror Story: Murder House

    Eric Stonestreet is best known for his time on Modern Family, but he also guest starred on the first season of AHS. He played Derrick, a character afraid of the Piggy Man legend, whose attempt to conquer his fear goes terribly wrong.

  • Mike Colter

    Mike Colter smiling head shot
    Splash News

    Seen in: American Horror Story: Coven

    Nowadays, Mike Colter is known for playing Luke Cage in the Netflix Marvel universe. (Well, before it got canceled ...) But he also once portrayed David the witch-hunter on the third season of AHS

    Mike can also be seen as Lemond Bishop in The Good Wife.

  • Darren Criss


    Seen in: American Horror Story: Hotel

    Before Darren Criss starred in another Ryan Murphy project, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, he played an over-the-top hipster who checked in to the hotel in AHS season five.

    Criss is also known for playing Blaine on Glee, which is another Ryan Murphy-led show.

  • Stevie Nicks


    Seen in: American Horror Story: Coven

    Fleetwood Mac singer Stevie Nicks plays herself in AHS season three -- or, at least, a version of herself with the same name. The show's iteration of Stevie Nicks is singer who is also a magical being known as the White Witch.

  • Max Greenfield


    Seen in: American Horror Story: Hotel

    Over on New Girl, Max Greenfield portrayed one of Jess' (Zooey Deschanel) roommates, Winston Schmidt. But his season five AHS character is a far cry from the high-maintenance, but lovable Schmidt. In AHS: Hotel, Greenfield tackled the role of heroin addict Gabriel, who has a terrifying run-in with one of the hotel's ... "residents."

  • Chrissy Metz


    Seen in: American Horror Story: Freak Show

    Chrissy Metz has cemented herself in viewers' minds as Kate Pearson from This Is Us. But before she landed that gig, Metz guest starred on season for of AHS as Ima "Barbara" Wiggles. Chrissy told Glamour in 2017 that she'd initially expected AHS to be her big break. "I thought, 'OK, awesome, this is a jumping board for my career!' But when it wrapped, there was…nothing." 

    The actress said she almost moved home to Florida, but she decided to stick it out in LA. Eventually she was cast on This Is Us, and the rest is history.

  • Lady Gaga


    Seen in: American Horror Story: Hotel and American Horror Story: Roanoke

    In recent years, Lady Gaga has expanded her career outside of the music industry by taking on acting roles. One of her first times playing someone other than herself was in AHS: Hotel, where she portrayed the Countess, a blood-sucking vampire. A season later, she went on to play the immortal witch Scathach on AHS: Roanoke.

  • Cuba Gooding Jr.


    Seen in: American Horror Story: Roanoke 

    Cuba Gooding Jr. has appeared in a couple of Ryan Murphy projects. Notably, he played the lead role of O.J. Simpson in The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story. After that, he played an actor named Dominic Banks who was playing the role of Matt Miller on a true crime show featured in AHS: Roanoke

    It was all very meta.

  • Kate Mara


    Seen in: American Horror Story: Murder House

    House of Cards actress Kate Mara was once in another kind of house -- AHS: Murder House. She played student Hayden McClaine who was dating psychiatrist Ben Harmon (Dylan McDermott).

    In 2018, Mara starred in Pose, another Ryan Murphy project. He likes to keep using the same actors over and over, and Kate Mara clearly made the cut.

  • Patti LaBelle


    Seen in: American Horror Story: Freak Show 

    When she's not singing, Patti LaBelle is often acting. She can be spotted in the fourth season of AHS as Dora Brown, Gloria and Dandy Mott's maid. 

    Outside of AHS, she's also acted on the shows Star, Greenleaf, and more.

  • Matt Bomer


    Seen in: American Horror Story: Freak Show and American Horror Story: Hotel

    Matt Bomer first appeared in the AHS universe in a small guest role on season four. He portrayed a "night" worker named Andy on Freak Show. Later, Bomer went on to play Lady Gaga's character's vampire partner on AHS: Hotel.

  • Jenna Dewan & Adam Levine


    Seen in: American Horror Story: Asylum 

    Jenna Dewan guest starred alongside Maroon 5 musician Adam Levine on the second season of AHS. They played horror-obsessed married couple Teresa and Leo Morrison who were on a tour of haunted places for their honeymoon. They certainly met their match when they visited Briarcliff.

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