The Richest American Horror Story Cast Member Might Surprise You

Oh, to be a fly on the wall of the "American Horror Story" writers' room. What was the conversation that led to the horrific "Murder House" scene where Violet (played by Taissa Farmiga) discovers her own corpse? How did a single group of presumably well-adjusted human beings conceive literally anything that happened in "Hotel" — not least The Addiction Demon and his drill bit?

After 10 seasons of pure insanity, the series has graced creator Ryan Murphy with a reputation for conjuring the most twisted storylines possible, the kind that warrant Common Sense Media warnings and polarizing op-eds (see: Vanity Fair calling Season 5 "garbage" even though it kickstarted Lady Gaga's acting career). It's also made him a heck of a lot of money. 

In 2018, Murphy reportedly signed a $300 million producing deal with Netflix, the biggest in TV history. This was in no small part due to his track record with series-turned-cultural phenomena like "AHS," "Glee," and "American Crime Story." For a time, it seemed like whatever Murphy touched turned to gold, and he parlayed that into an astounding $150 million estimated net worth — but he's not the only one raking it in. The stars of "American Horror Story" aren't doing half bad either. 

A decade in, longtime members of the ensemble cast have established themselves outside of the show. Even the newest members, who've just begun to show their chops in "Double Feature," have become full-fledged TV stars. The richest might just surprise you.

Leslie Grossman: $1 million - $1.5 million

Leslie Grossman's relationship with Ryan Murphy has been decades in the making. As the world braced for Y2K, the pair went to work on the WB dramedy "Popular." It was Murphy's first executive producer credit and Grossman's breakout role, running for just two seasons but landing a spot on Entertainment Weekly's list of "26 Best Cult TV Shows Ever." In some ways, it set the tone for Murphy's entire career, but it didn't do the same for Grossman.

In the years after "Popular," Grossman struggled to break out of the realm of sitcoms. She landed a gig opposite Amanda Bynes on "What I Like About You." She appeared in Jason Bateman's short-lived comedy "The Jake Effect." She was, almost always, in the periphery. Somewhere along the line, her credits began reading like a list of bit parts in some of the most critically acclaimed series — from Murphy's "Nip/Tuck" and "Dexter" to "Grey's Anatomy" and "Modern Family" — but she rarely stayed for more than an episode.

It was Murphy who finally put her back in the spotlight, first as Meadow Wilton on "American Horror Story: Cult" and then in every season thereafter (even giving Grossman her favorite role ever). As of now, the actor's decades-long career has helped her amass an estimated net worth between $1 million and $1.5 million, which isn't bad considering she spent most of that time booking sporadic gigs.

Angelica Ross: $1 million - $5 million

Unlike some of her castmates, Angelica Ross didn't have many credits when she was cast in "Double Feature" — but she did have critical acclaim. The transgender actor began her Hollywood career in 2016 on the Emmy-nominated YouTube series "Her Story." By 2018, she was rubbing elbows with Billy Porter on the set of Ryan Murphy's Emmy-winning drama "Pose." It was a whirlwind of success but a whirlwind that was a long time coming.

Like most stars, Ross worked a few normal jobs — a less-than-glamorous gig at Applebee's, a brief stint in the navy, and two different jobs at shopping mall makeup counters. During this time, her family struggled with her trans identity. In a Cosmopolitan essay, she revealed that they kicked her out of the house when she decided to transition at the age of 19. That's when she moved to Hollywood — Hollywood, Florida.

In Florida, Ross worked as an escort and model, making around $1,000 per photoshoot while teaching herself the tech skills that helped her launch her own business. Eventually, she founded the nonprofit, TransTech Social Enterprises. "Learning computer skills helped me pull myself out of a difficult situation," she said. "I knew that members of my community could be their own saviors."

As her nonprofit grew, she started acting in her roommate's web series. Nobody could've predicted it'd land an Emmy nomination and kickstart her acting career. Today, Ross is worth between $1 million and $5 million.

Lily Rabe: $2 million

Lily Rabe isn't just a mainstay on "American Horror Story" — her Season 1 character, Nora Montgomery, is where "AHS" began. Montgomery was the inaugural ghost (and the original owner) of the infamous Murder House. As it turns out, Rabe isn't anywhere near as cursed as her characters.

Since her 2011 breakout, "American Horror Story" has helped Rabe amass an estimated $2 million net worth and share the small screen with some of Hollywood's biggest stars (think: Stevie Nicks and Lady Gaga). She's also found massive success outside of FX. In 2020, Rabe starred alongside Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant in HBO's critically acclaimed series "The Undoing." She was also the top-billed cast member in Amazon's "Tell Me Your Secrets," which garnered a 91% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. How does Rabe continuously choose so many successful projects? She doesn't — at least not intentionally.

"I'm never good at predicting whether something is going to hit or how something is going to be perceived," Rabe told Forbes. "When I'm thinking about doing a job, I am short-sighted, and I just think about whether I want to do a role and work with the other people."

Adina Porter: $2 million

Despite her work on "The Newsroom" and "Ray Donovan," Adina Porter has become somewhat of a science fiction icon — whether she's dealing with vampires, voodoo, or a post-apocalyptic Earth. Fans might not remember, but her journey with "American Horror Story" started way back in Season 1, years before she became a regular cast member. At the time, she was best known as Lettie Mae Thornton in HBO's "True Blood."

Porter became a fulltime "AHS" cast member in 2016 but not before she hit it big with "The 100," a young adult sci-fi drama that aired for seven seasons on The CW. By the time the series wrapped, it had secured cult status (and successfully confused fans who followed the convoluted plot through more than a handful of apocalypses). This was Porter's largest role to date, but it was also the role she thought she'd never land.

"I had my take on the role and I remember getting an adjustment but can't recall what the adjustment was," she told Direct Submit. "Perhaps it was to go deeper. The offense hurts even more ... Of the three auditions I had that day, I thought my 'The 100' audition was the weakest."

It just goes to show you that we're all our own worst critics. Porter has since amassed an estimated net worth of $2 million.

Evan Peters: $4 million

"American Horror Story" turned Evan Peters into the kind of teen heartthrob that launched a thousand Tumblr fanfiction accounts. His star power was only bolstered by his high-profile (but tumultuous) relationship with co-star Emma Roberts and subsequent fling with Halsey (who was a Tumblr fangirl herself). Considering the actor is now a sacred part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he's certainly come a long way from his days on "One Tree Hill" and "Phil of the Future." That doesn't mean it came easy. Peters actually bombed the audition for what could've been his breakout role in the blockbuster comedy "Superbad."

"I was trying so hard to play it cool, but I couldn't breathe, I was shaking, and my mouth was just so incredibly dry that, after the audition, I believe Seth or the casting director told one of the casting assistants to get me a cup of water," he told Backstage. "They brought me this giant cup of water, and that was the end of that."

Nonetheless, if fame is meant to be, it finds a way. Today, Peters is worth an estimated $4 million and has managed to achieve the rare feat of being universally beloved. Not only did he win an Emmy for "Mare of Easttown," but Collider voted him the "MVP of 2021." Even the notoriously caustic tabloids fawn over their so-called "snarky bad boy."

Frances Conroy: $4 million

Frances Conroy may just be one of the most revered actors in all of "American Horror Story: Double Feature" — and we're not even talking about her Tony-nominated theatre career. Between "AHS" and her breakout role on HBO's "Six Feet Under," she's racked up six Emmy nominations, SAG awards, and a Golden Globe. That's no small feat.

Conroy's darkest roles tend to be her most celebrated. When Joaquin Phoenix won an Academy Award for 2019's "Joker," it was not without the support of her heartbreaking Penny Fleck. The audience felt the same kind of pain in her inaugural "AHS" character, Moira O'Hara. The actor can effortlessly face her demons — or even be the demon herself — but in reality, she's not quite as fearless.

"I never watch horror movies ... they scare me," she told Daily Dead in 2013. "... It's interesting that I've been involved in these kinds of projects. They are compelling, but this kind of world scares me."

Nonetheless, Conroy's knack for horror has helped her amass an estimated $4 million net worth.

Denis O'Hare: $4 million

Like Adina Porter, Denis O'Hare was plucked straight out of HBO's "True Blood." It's a short skip from the kind of dark content covered in "American Horror Story." Even then, O'Hare took on some of the FX series' most twisted roles (see: Stanley from "Freak Show," but if you're squeamish, don't Google his ultimate fate).

In one breath, O'Hare is burning off half his face in "Murder House" and forcing the audience to examine his scars. In another, he's playing doctor opposite Tina Fey in the breezy comedy "Baby Mama." In yet another, he's having us max out our Kleenex budget with "This Is Us." It almost doesn't compute, but his varied career (and the accolades that come with it) are simply a matter of saying yes.

"I say yes to almost everything," O'Hare told Digital Spy. "If someone asks me to do a weird, experimental, German-Israeli art film in a hotel in Chelsea, I'm there. 'What do I do? I'm playing a drone pilot? I'm in.' Go to Venice to do a silent film about the plague? 'OK. I'm your guy. I'll do it.'"

This attitude has helped O'Hare amass an estimated $4 million net worth and a Tony Award, along with numerous Emmy and SAG Award nominations.

Finn Wittrock: $5 Million

Finn Wittrock appeared in more episodes of "All My Children" than most actors can book in their entire careers — and shaking the stigma of daytime soaps isn't easy. His debut as Dandy Mott in "American Horror Story: Freak Show" helped shatter his past image, pairing the face of a soap star with the sociopathic tendencies of Patrick Bateman. Cue: his first Emmy nomination.

Since then, Wittrock has nabbed roles in major blockbuster pictures, appearing opposite Ryan Gosling in both "The Big Short" and "La La Land." He's also become a favorite of Ryan Murphy, who tapped him for "American Crime Story" (cue: second Emmy nomination) and "Ratched." It's not surprising that Wittrock considers himself lucky, but his career isn't all down to luck.

"I've taken the stairs, not the elevator," he told BuzzFeed in 2014. "Some people jump to the top and I feel like I've had to work up, step by step ... I'm still fighting for every job I get. In general, the only reason I want any fame or notoriety is so I can work with the best people. It just opens the door to rooms you want to be in, rooms filled with the people you want to meet."

At the time of this writing, Wittrock is worth an estimated $5 million.

Sarah Paulson: $12 million

Sarah Paulson is the veritable face of "American Horror Story" — but also the face of Katy Perry, Adele, and a bizarre number of other celebrity doppelgangers. Seriously, as InStyle puts it, she could very well be "secretly related" to everyone in Hollywood. That's a lot of pressure, and Paulson doesn't feel like she stacks up.

"What I wish they were comparing was my talent to [Adele's] talent, and saying that mine was as great as her," she told Ew Live. "Which quite honestly ... they can't say, because no one's talent is as great as hers. Which is really irritating ... but I'll take looking like her. She's a beauty."

Sure, Paulson has room on her shelf for a couple Grammy Awards that she might never win (unless they start giving out Grammys for karaoke), but her acting career has still banked her an estimated net worth of $12 million. Beyond that, Ryan Murphy is taking up an increasingly large amount of space in her trophy case. "American Crime Story" helped her nab both an Emmy and a Golden Globe, and Paulson even admits the role changed her life.

Macaulay Culkin: $18 million

Macaulay Culkin is just about the last person fans would expect to see on "American Horror Story." In some ways, his role in "Double Feature" — which is his most significant in years — must've even surprised him. Back in 2016, the former child star still considered himself "effectively retired" as he toured around in a Pizza-themed Velvet Underground tribute band called the Pizza Underground (as retired people do). So what happened?

There was a point where Culkin was the highest paid child actor in history. According to ABC News, he made $8 million a film at the height of his career but stepped away to have a normal life before he started high school. "I decided to tell my mother, my representatives ... 'I don't wanna do this anymore, I wanna go to school, I wanna make friends ... so don't even bring up movies, don't even bring up acting,'" he told Barbara Walters in a "20/20" interview (via ABC News). "... I never wanted to do it again."

Today, he's still worth an estimated $18 million and has only dabbled in a few select acting projects (like voicing a character in "Robot Chicken," which allowed him to remain completely off-screen). It's unclear what was different about "American Horror Story," but his performance has been widely praised. If anything, it's fuel for the long-running conspiracy theory that Kevin McCallister is a psychopath. He's probably right at home with Dandy Mott and Tate Langdon.

Billie Lourd: $20 million

For Billie Lourd, acting is the family business. It also made her the richest "American Horror Story" cast member, albeit in a roundabout way. The star's mom is the late Carrie Fisher – or, as she's known in a galaxy far, far away, Princess Leia. Does that also make Lourd royalty? It depends on the line of succession, but Lourd did briefly take her mother's place on the throne. In "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker," the actor served as her mother's body double.

"It was a poignant thing and something that nobody took lightly — that she was willing to stand in for her mom," ILM Visual Effects Supervisor Patrick Tubach told Yahoo! Entertainment. "It was an emotional thing for everybody to see her in that position."

That's an impressive weight to carry for such a young actor. The star only made her debut in 2015, first with Ryan Murphy's "Scream Queens" and then as Lieutenant Connix in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" (a role she's since reprised). Though she became an "AHS" regular after "Scream Queens" was canceled in 2017, most of her money doesn't actually come from her career just yet.

According to the Daily Mail, Fisher left Lourd a nearly $25 million inheritance when she died in 2016. This reportedly included "her $18 million estate," the rights to her image, and "$6.8 million in cash." At the time of this writing, Celebrity Net Worth estimates that Lourd is worth $20 million.