Lady Gaga (The Countess Elizabeth)
THEN: The newly minted TV star became an international pop sensation with her 2008 debut studio album The Fame. Critics and fans alike raved about her chart-topping tracks “Just Dance” and “Poker Face.” She’s been creating global smashes since, including 2011’s “Born This Way.” Since then, Gaga has released a third studio album, Artpop, and a jazz collaboration with music legend Tony Bennett. Gaga’s music has earned her six Grammys.
NOW: After reaching out to co-creator Ryan Murphy, Lady Gaga is making her American Horror Story debut this season as The Countess, the glamorous, lethal owner of the Hotel Cortez. As the chainmail glove-wielding Countess, Gaga will contend with an insatiable appetite for blood and sex.
Evan Peters (James March)
THEN: After moving to Los Angeles as a teen to pursue acting, Peters nabbed the lead in the 2004 film Clipping Adam. He went on to pick up recurring roles on Phil of the Future and One Tree Hill and made guest appearances on shows including The Office, House, and Monk. Peters also appeared in supporting roles in 2010’s Kick-Ass, 2008’s Never Back Down, and An American Crime in 2007.
NOW: Peters made his American Horror Story breakout as as troubled teen Tate Langdon on the show’s 2011 premiere season. He has appeared in all subsequent entries in the anthology series as everything from a zombified boyfriend, a deformed freak show performer and a captive in a mental hospital. Now, the 28-year-old is taking on the role of James March, the Cortez’s homicidal designer, in Hotel. In-between AHS seasons, Peters took on the role of Quicksilver in X-Men: Days of Future Past in 2014 and will be seen in the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse.
Sarah Paulson (Hypodermic Sally)
THEN: Paulson’s first foray into horror television was 1995’s American Gothic, in which she played an emotionally traumatized ghost. She’s also popped up on Law & Order, Nip/Tuck, Grey’s Anatomy, and Deadwood. The actress earned a Golden Globe in 2007 for her role on Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.
NOW: The ever-evolving star transformed into aptly-named junkie Hypodermic Sally for Hotel. Paulson has received three Emmy nominations for seasons 2-4 of AHS, including for her turn as conjoined twins Bette and Dot in Freak Show. And there’s even more Murphy collaborations to come: She’s working on his upcoming American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson as prosecutor Marcia Clark.
Denis O'Hare (Liz Taylor)
THEN: O’Hare is an accomplished theater actor with one Tony Award under his belt for Take Me Out. He’s appeared in numerous critically acclaimed films, including 2008’s Milk, 2006’s Half Nelson, and 2004’s Garden State. He joined the cast of True Blood in 2010 as Mississippi vampire king Russell Edgington.
NOW: In 2011’s American Horror Story: Murder House, O’Hare played burn victim Larry Harvey, for which he was nominated for an Emmy. In Hotel, he’ll be portraying Liz Taylor, an Elizabeth Taylor-obsessed bartender.
Matt Bomer (Donovan)
THEN: Bomer first made it to TV on Guiding Light in 2001. His rise to fame continued with a starring role on USA’s White Collar for five years and a recurring role on the NBC action-comedy Chuck. He blew critics away in the 2014 TV movie The Normal Heart — after blowing the viewers away in 2012’s Magic Mike.
NOW: Bomer’s Hotel character Donovan spends his time at the Cortez obsessing over The Countess, his lover of two decades. After he wrapped AHS, Bomer got to work on the upcoming remake of The Magnificent Seven, in which he’ll star alongside Chris Pratt and Denzel Washington.
Kathy Bates (Iris)
THEN: Bates, of course, is a highly decorated talent — just check her trophy room. She has two Emmys, two Golden Globes, and an Oscar for 1991’s Misery to her name (plus she’s been nominated for Emmys a whopping 13 times). During her early career, she starred on soap operas, including a 1980s run on All My Children.
NOW: Bates joined AHS in 2013’s Coven as the racist immortal Delphine LaLaurie. She’ll run the front desk at the Cortez as Iris, Donovan’s hated, over-protective mother.
Angela Bassett (Ramona Royale)
THEN: The New York native has impressed in a number of biographical film roles: She played Betty Shabazz in 1992’s Malcolm X, Tina Turner in 1993’s What’s Love Got to Do with It (for which she earned an Oscar nod) and Rosa Parks in 2002’s The Rosa Parks Story, to name a few. The Yale School of Drama graduate’s extensive cinematic résumé also includes roles in 2006’s Akeelah and the Bee and 1998’s How Stella Got Her Groove Back.
NOW: AHS has treated Bassett decidedly well. She got Emmy noms for playing a voodoo priestess in Coven and a three-breasted performer in Freak Show. Now, Bassett is returning as Ramona Royale, a film star and ex-lover of The Countess.
Lily Rabe (Aileen Wuornos)
THEN: As a theater star, Rabe was celebrated for her performance as Portia in the 2010 Shakespeare in the Park production of The Merchant of Venice. In addition to her work on the stage, she’s taken on roles in movies like 2007’s No Reservations and All Good Things in 2010.
NOW: This summer, Rabe starred in ABC’s spooky science-fiction drama The Whispers. She made her AHS debut as dead Murder House resident Nora Montgomery. She’ll be seen as serial killer Aileen Wuornos in the sure-to-scare Halloween episodes of Hotel.
THEN: The niece of Julia Roberts, the now 24-year-old actress made it big on Nickelodeon’s Unfabulous as a teen. When the series signed off, she moved on to movie roles in 2006’s Aquamarine, 2008’s Wild Child, and 2007’s Nancy Drew. She later graduated to more adult fare with We’re the Millers in 2013, Scream 4 in 2011, and Palo Alto in 2013.
NOW: Roberts first caused AHS chaos as bad witch Madison Montgomery in Coven. She’s currently back in mean girl form as sorority president Chanel Oberlin on Murphy’s horror-comedy Scream Queens. The cast and creators have kept mum about her Hotel role, but she promised Entertainment Weekly that audiences are “in for a great shock” when she hits the screen.
Finn Wittrock (Tristan Duffy)
THEN: Like many, many before him, Wittrock got his foot in the TV door on a soap opera, specifically All My Children in the late 2000s. The former Juilliard student has also spent a significant amount of time on Broadway, and starred in Noah, Unbroken, and The Normal Heart in recent years.
NOW: Wittrock joined AHS with a bang (and a few slices) in his Emmy-nominated performance as Freak Show‘s spoiled maniac Dandy Mott. He’s in for a killer time on Hotel as a male model, Tristan, who attracts the un-ignorable attention of The Countess.
Chloë Sevigny (Alex Lowe)
THEN: Sevigny garnered attention as a trendsetter as a teen. In her senior year of high school, she was cast in the controversial 1995 film Kids after being spotted in a New York City park. Following a handful of other movies, she reached mainstream success for her work in the 1999 movie Boys Don’t Cry.
NOW: Sevigny’s character met a disturbing fate on Asylum. Now, she’s playing Alex Lowe, a grieving pediatrician and wife of detective John Lowe in Hotel.
Cheyenne Jackson (Will Drake)
THEN: Jackson has led Broadway casts in several musicals and plays, including All Shook Up, Xanadu, and Damn Yankees in the 2000s. Away from the stage, he gave a moving performance as Mark Bingham in 2006’s United 93. In 2013, he released his debut album I’m Blue, Skies.
NOW: The wild world of AHS will get their first taste of Jackson in Hotel. He plays Will Drake, a New York fashion designer who brings his thirst for inspiration, and his son, to the evil-plagued accommodations.
Max Greenfield (Gabriel)
THEN: The 35-year-old actor had a number of TV guest spots before landing supporting roles on Veronica Mars and Greek. His first lead television role was the quickly canceled Modern Men in 2006.
NOW: Greenfield currently costars on the FOX sitcom New Girl. We’re guessing he’s in for some very different roommates as Hotel‘s Gabriel, a Hollywood junkie that must contend with The Addiction Demon.
Darren Criss (Justin)
THEN: Criss co-founded StarKid Productions, a Chicago theater company that created 2009’s A Very Potter Musical. He quickly catapulted to fame as a cappella star Blaine Anderson on Glee. He’s since starred on Broadway’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.
NOW: Criss will appear on AHS for the first time as Justin, a hipster who makes the poor decision to check-in to the Cortez.