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Sarah Paulson Is Nurse Ratched In 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest' Prequel


Ryan Murphy’s carte blanche at Netflix has spawned another aggressively campy, elaborately costumed drama with his forever muse Sarah Paulson at its center. 

Paulson, the “American Horror Story” mainstay, is checking back into the asylum, but this time she’s in charge as the iconic “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” villain, Nurse Ratched.

The streaming service on Wednesday released the first look of the eight-episode prequel series, simply titled “Ratched,” which follows a young Mildred Ratched in her early, pre-lobotomizing days as she takes her first job at a Northern California psychiatric hospital. The character from Ken Kesey’s 1962 novel was, of course, immortalized in the 1975 film starring Jack Nicholson by Louise Fletcher, who won an Academy Award for her terrifying portrayal.

“Ratched,” which Netflix is releasing in full on Sept. 18, is an “imagining of how this monster was created,” said Murphy, who exclusively told Vanity Fair that the series picks up a decade and a half before the Miloš Forman-directed drama based on the book of the same name begins. 

“I feel like Nurse Ratched is sort of a shorthand for barbarism. She became almost like a catchphrase for any sort of institutional abuse of power,” Murphy said of the series, which has already been picked up for a second season. “What was interesting was trying to create an emotional character from a reputation that’s very cold … trying to figure out every little detail about her childhood, her relationships, her sexuality. Because when people think of Ratched, they think of her as shutoff and cruel and uncaring.”

Sarah Paulson in



Sarah Paulson in “Ratched.”

Murphy has long been circling the project, which arose from a spec script by newcomer Evan Romansky. “Ratched” will be the prolific creator’s latest series with Netflix, following “Hollywood” and “The Politician,” as part of his $300 million deal with the streaming giant.

Tackling the character proved to be an exercise in empathy for Paulson, who said she “identified very deeply with her loneliness.”

“I think ultimately at the end of the day, that is sort of what drives Mildred,” said Paulson “A pursuit of survival and of finding some sense of home. Even though the methods that she chooses to achieve that internal security are somewhat questionable, I would argue that she’s doing them with a potentially selfish need, but a survival need nevertheless.”

And it wouldn’t be a Ryan Murphy production without a stacked-and-then-some cast, which includes Cynthia Nixon, Judy Davis, Sharon Stone (plus her pet monkey!), Finn Wittrock, Sophie Okonedo, Vincent D’Onofrio and Charlie Carver.

The first season will see Ratched venture to the dark side as she pays witness to “new and unsettling experiments” on the human mind, according to the Netflix description.

“Mildred presents herself as the perfect image of what a dedicated nurse should be, but the wheels are always turning and as she begins to infiltrate the mental health care system and those within it, Mildred’s stylish exterior belies a growing darkness that has long been smoldering within, revealing that true monsters are made, not born,” the description says.

Take a look at photos from “Ratched” below. 

Cynthia Nixon in



Cynthia Nixon in “Ratched.”

Sarah Paulson and Cynthia Nixon in



Sarah Paulson and Cynthia Nixon in “Ratched.”

Sharon Stone (and her monkey!) in



Sharon Stone (and her monkey!) in “Ratched.”

Sophie Okonedo and Jon Jon Briones in



Sophie Okonedo and Jon Jon Briones in “Ratched.”

Finn Wittrock in



Finn Wittrock in “Ratched.” 



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