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Sarah Paulson is an actor who is best known for her roles in Ryan Murphy Projects like American Horror Story, American Crime Story, and Ratched. There’s one Murphy role that changed Paulson’s life entirely — and as she describes it, the role made her life “worse.” 

Sarah Paulson
Sarah Paulson | Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Growing up, Sarah Paulson wanted to be Julia Roberts 

Before she became the star she is today, Paulson aspired to become the next leading lady in romantic comedies. 

During an interview on the Off Camera with Sam Jones podcast, Paulson talked about never doing a “big, sh*t-kicker, popcorn movie” — the kind of film you would “grab your girlfriends and go watch.” The Paulson we know has never gone after those types of roles.

“It was never something I was seeking,” Paulson explained. “Except when I was really young. I wanted to be Julia Roberts.” Paulson thought success meant emulating Roberts’s career exactly.

“I wanted to be that kind of winning, charm personified, America’s darling kind of person because I thought that was how you define success,” she added.

When Paulson didn’t attain Roberts’s level of fame, she had to alter her perception of success.

Sarah Paulson redefined success when she met Ryan Murphy 

Paulson and Murphy have become quite the dynamic duo. From her numerous roles in American Horror Story to her latest Murphy endeavor, Ratched, Paulson is grateful for her relationship with the entertainment master. 

“[I redefined success] when I met Ryan Murphy, where it dove-tailed and [success] revealed itself to me,” Paulson said.

What Paulson realized is that all she ever wanted was to work as an actor.

Sarah Paulson says her life ‘got worse’ after she played Marcia Clark 

In 2016, Paulson played the role of Marcia Clark in yet another Murphy project — American Crime Story: The People vs. OJ Simpson. Her portrayal of the legal icon caught the attention of audiences and critics alike.

Christopher Darden and Marcia Clark
Christopher Darden & Marcia Clark | POO/AFP via Getty Images

“She just has a real faculty for being somebody else,” Murphy told The New York Times. “If I said, ‘Sarah, next year you’re going to play Pope Francis,’ she’d say, ‘OK!’”

Taking on the role of the lead prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson murder case was something Paulson said “irrevocably changed” her life. After winning the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series, Paulson joked that her life “got worse.” 

Before her big win, Paulson was under the impression that her job as an actor would be easier after claiming an Emmy. Ironically, Paulson says it made things more challenging. 


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“[You think] ‘Is that it?'” she said on the podcast. “Am I ever going to get a part that’s that exciting and exhilarating and challenging and scary and resonate with people? Am I ever going to have a chance to have to fight hard for a character while doing it? Is it ever going to matter to me as much?”

Paulson’s fears came because of her deep connection to the Clark role. Fortunately for Paulson and her fans, she continues to take on iconic roles like the infamous Nurse Ratched.