American Horror Story: Sarah Paulson On Why She Keeps Coming Back

Whether it's their decade-long collaboration on FX's American Horror Story or their upcoming One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest prequel series for Netflix, Sarah Paulson (Glass, Mrs. America) and Ryan Murphy (The Politician) are two people whose names have become creatively entwined over the years- and it doesn't look like that's going to end any time soon. With Ratched set to hit the streaming service next month, Paulson is already confirmed for the tenth season of AHS and will (at the minimum) direct an episode of spinoff series American Horror Stories (though we're still keeping our Stevie Nicks candles burning for a "Coven" episode). Outside of the "AHS-verse," Paulson is also returning to the series that earned her serious critical and awards season attention as part of the ensemble cast for Impeachment: American Crime Story. So with that much television filmography in common, what is it that keeps Paulson coming back to Murphy's (and co-creator Brad Falchuk) deep, dark universe?

American Horror Story
Ratched star Sarah Paulson plays Cordelia in American Horror Story, courtesy of FX.

"Working with Ryan Murphy has been arguably the greatest experience of my life and has borne a tremendous amount of my acting fruit if that's a sentence one can use. But you know, he continues to come to me. On American Horror Story alone I've played I don't even know how many- I mean, I did eight seasons of that show and in one or two seasons I played multiple characters, sometimes a reprisal of another character but in one season I had two heads. So you know there was… he just continues to throw me opportunities to play to stretch my acting muscle and also, I think, his giving me the greatest gift, which is not just the opportunity to work but he's already given the audience freedom and permission to not expect one particular thing from me. Which I think allows people to accept me- I hope allows people to accept me in different parts," explained Paulson.

"If you're on a show for seven or eight years playing the same character that people love and you tried to as an actor step outside of that and play something else in a movie or another television show, sometimes the audience gets very protective of it and they resist it. Whereas on American Horror Story, I've played so many different parts and it's part of what the audience likes about watching the show is seeing all the different actors playing different things every year and I think it allows for more elastic creativity and a willingness on their part to buy it when we play something different because they're already down with that and that means hopefully I'll get to do work into my dotage in a way that maybe would be harder if there was a certain assignment put on me about what I can or can't do, you know?"

About Ray Flook

Serving as Television Editor since 2018, Ray began five years earlier as a contributing writer/photographer before being brought onto the core BC team in 2017.

twitter   instagram   envelope