‘Ratched’: The False Narrative Ryan Murphy Is Weaving Publicly, According to Sarah Paulson

Sarah Paulson — one of Ryan Murphy’s most prized possessions — can currently be seen as Nurse Mildred Ratched in the Netflix origin story predating One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The actor rises to the occasion, capturing both the subtlety in the character’s trauma, as well as the openness to violence inherent to her gray moral compass. 

Sarah Paulson
Sarah Paulson | Neilson Barnard / Staff

Though Ryan Murphy often ops for Sarah Paulson — as she has been at the center of many an American Horror Story narrative — she was not necessarily the shoo-in for Ratched that the showrunner claims. During an appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers, Paulson discussed the character and noted that Murphy has been selling a false story surrounding the casting. 

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Sarah Paulson talks Ryan Murphy’s ‘Ratched:’ Why she believes Murphy thought she wouldn’t want it 

Sarah Paulson discussed her commitment to Ryan Murphy via her appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers. Yet, she noted that she felt a “little weird” surrounding the Ratched casting process. She said: 

My agent called and was like, “Has Ryan talked to you about this Ratched show he has?” And, I thought, well that’s funny because no, he actually hasn’t. I called him up, and he was like, “Well, lady, you know, I didn’t know if you’d want to do it.” And, I was like, “Why would I not want to do it?”…And, I was like, “Look, if you want Cate Winslet, go get her. I’m sure she’ll do it…”

Late Night with Seth Meyers

Paulson went on to explain that, in American Horror Story, she played “a thousand characters…over the course of seven years.” And, she believes she became “accustomed to…shedding the skin of the character,” and taking on a new role each year. 

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When Ryan Murphy explained that Ratched is a “serialized thing,” Paulson got the impression that he felt the role would be out of sync with the actor’s go-tos and desires. Yet, Paulson was excited by the character’s history, and a backstory worth sinking her teeth into, working from, and expanding upon. Paulson says and “he let me have it.” 

Ryan Murphy broadcasts a different story 

Though Sarah Paulson discussed the role with Murphy, and Murphy chose to give Paulson the role, she doesn’t remember always being a sure-thing for the part, despite Murphy’s public persistence that argues otherwise. Paulson said: 

I like how publicly he’s speaking this narrative that it was always mine. It wasn’t. It wasn’t. 

Late Night with Seth Meyers

While the role wasn’t necessarily Paulson’s from the get-go, AHS fans couldn’t be happier with the decision — and the chance to play someone who the audience shouldn’t be “rooting for,” as Seth Meyers notes. Paulson explains that she is all for the “master manipulation” at work in Ratched.