Sep 17, 2020 08:43 AM EST

The Cast of Ratched Discuss What It's Like Portraying Their Characters And What It's Like Working For Ryan Murphy

The Cast of Ratched Discuss What It's Like Portraying Their Characters And What It's Like Working For Ryan Murphy

One of the most highly anticipated series of the Fall 2020 television line up is Netflix's Ratched.  Based on the character, Nurse Mildred Ratched (Sarah Paulson; American Horror Story), from the 1962 novel and 1975 film adaptation of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, the show is sort of an origins story of the infamous fictional nurse. Created by the unstoppable juggernaut that is producer/writer/director Ryan Murphy (Glee; American Horror Story), Ratched is set to premiere on the streaming channel on Friday, September 18, 2020.  The cast recently sat down via zoom for a virtual press conference to discuss the project.

For Paulson, there was a certain pressure about playing this character because she is well known and Louis Fletcher (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) won an Oscar for her portrayal of Nurse Ratched.  However, she brings a different insight into the role, explaining, "I think it wouldn't have been interesting to me to explore the parts of Mildred Ratched that aren't porous.  In the movie she is calcified, there's hardness, nothing ekes out.   

However, upon rewatching the 1975 film she theorized that, "…this woman is sort of a victim of a patriarchal infrastructure in this hospital. That it's quite possible and could it be considered that she didn't have any choice about whether or not she could access her heart in her work.  If she could bring her femininity and her womanhood to the job.  She's not a villain, she's a person who didn't have any recourse. I had to believe if I was going to play it that she did it because she thought she was adhering to some kind of rule she believed was most right."  This thinking allowed Paulson to play Ratched with a little more humanity than one remembers.   

Finn Wittrock (American Horror Story), who plays a central character in the show named Edmund discussed the motivation behind his character's actions. "I would say as we learn [Edmund's] history and his history with Mildred and her history … I really approached him as someone who had never really grown up in any kind of nurturing environment and who was so traumatized by the violence inflicted upon him throughout his childhood."  He also reminisced about one particularly hard day on set. "The big scene I had with Jon Jon in Episode two was probably the most challenging scene I had." 

Of course, the subject of working for and with Ryan Murphy inevitably came up and, while discussing Murphy, Jon Jon Briones (Sons of Anarchy) who plays Dr. Hanover stated, "it's hard to gauge him if he's kidding or he's being serious… it's light but he means business. As you go along, he shows you the genius that he has with his vision and the way he designed the whole world for his storytelling."   Finn (who has worked with Murphy on a few occasions) chimed in as well.  "I feel like he was even more meticulous… he really cared about and was into the nuances of how it looked and felt…But it's generally fun on a Ryan Murphy set when he is directing." 

Paulson, who has worked with Murphy so many times before that it seems as if she is his muse, explained how this experience was different for her than in the past. "He was very, very interested in empowering me in a way that I had never experienced before…I had never played a titular character before. I had never owned a piece of a show before. I have never been an Executive Producer for a show before. It was an interesting experience to think beyond my own narrow view of my performance and to think about the show as a whole, and what the story was."

The series, which has already been renewed for a second season before the first episode of season one has even aired, also stars Cynthia Nixon (Sex and the City), Sharon Stone (Basic Instinct), Corey Stoll (House of Cards), and Vincent D'Onofrio (Full Metal Jacket).  

Fans of Murphy's (especially his American Horror Story Series) won't be disappointed by his newest creation.  While It has heart and soul, it still includes much of the gore we have seen from a Murphy Production in the past.

About Allison Skornick-Rose

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