The star of Ryan Murphy’s Ratched – award-winning actress Sarah Paulson – has opened up about playing the iconic antagonist Mildred Ratched in the Netflix prequel series to 1975’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
Speaking ahead of the psychological thriller’s release, the American Horror Story star revealed that she was given leeway to explore the character thanks to creator Murphy’s “extreme” approach to the show.
“There’s so little known about Mildred Ratchet from the film,” she told The Hollywood Reporter. “So everything was sort of open for interpretation and everything was on the table, and because it’s Ryan, he sort of went to some very extreme places.”
“And I was grateful for that because it meant I had a lot of room to move around where I didn’t have to adhere to one locked way of playing her,” she continued.
“It was very interesting to have an endgame in sight of knowing where she ends up and sort of rewinding at warp speed to a tie when she was in her developmental stage as a person.”
Ratched, which arrives on Netflix today, tells the origin story of psychiatric nurse Mildred Ratched, who begins work at a mental asylum where new and unsettling experiments are practiced on its patients.
A number of Murphy’s regular collaborators also star in the Ratched cast, including Finn Wittrock and Judy Davis, while the likes of Cynthia Nixon, Jon Jon Briones, Sharon Stone, Amanda Plummer, Sophie Okonedo and Brandon Flynn round out the rest of the cast.
Paulson, who starred in a variety of Murphy’s projects including American Horror Story, American Crime Story and Feud: Bette and Joan, also explained why she chooses to work with executive producer time and time again.
“A lot of people ask me, ‘Why don’t you go work with someone else?’ And it’s like, ‘If someone else were calling with as many interesting opportunities as Ryan continues to present to me, I would, but I keep coming back because the material is unquestionably a rich and real opportunity to sink my teeth into something.'”
She continued: “He tends to write stories for women who are at the centre of the story. All of these women are really, really defined and multidimensional and you don’t always get that.”
“Where every character has a real shape and a real life. How can I walk away from that? Hard to do,” she added.