'Ratched' Preview: Sarah Paulson Says the 'Stakes Are Exceedingly High' (Exclusive)

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“The stakes are exceedingly high,” Sarah Paulson tells ET about Ratched, Netflix’s ambitious and stylish new series about the origins of one of cinema’s most iconic and villainous characters, Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, created by Evan Romansky and executive produced by Ryan Murphy. Ahead of its Sept. 18 debut, the final trailer for the series shows the actress putting her own stamp on the character during a time in her life that was previously unexplored.   

What makes the series interesting, Paulson says, is that it’ll force audiences to confront what they already know about Mildred Ratched. “Hopefully the show will do some of that, which will disabuse a few people of their notions of her and how and why she came to be the way she came to be.” 

In this case, audiences will learn that Ratched is a woman who, as a child, was ripped from her parents and taught that hope was a fleeting ideal, before growing up to present herself as the perfect image of what a dedicated nurse should be.

“How different I would be if someone had [shown me mercy],” Ratched (Paulson) says in the trailer, which goes on to show the expansive world of characters that surround her at the Northern California psychiatric hospital where new and unsettling treatments are being performed on patients.   

Some of those characters are played by an A-list ensemble of female stars, including Cynthia Nixon as Gwendolyn Briggs, Judy Davis as Nurse Betsy Bucket, Sharon Stone as Lenore Osgood, Amanda Plummer as Louise and Sophie Okonedo as Charlotte Wells.

As the cast was coming together, Paulson recalls feeling intimidated after Murphy asked her if she was excited to work with “all these wonderful women” that she reveres both as performers and human beings.

“They say don’t work with your heroes. It was not the case here," the actress says. “This was a very fertile, wonderful place to work, and it was because of what everybody was bringing to the table. It was a really humbling, really ‘pinch me’ kind of moment on a daily basis. It really was.”

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Nixon, who’s new to Murphy’s world, agrees. “If you know anything about him, you know that the actors are going to be stellar and varied and amazing,” she says of her female co-stars. “I mean, there are no better actresses in the world.”

Rounding out the cast for season 1 are Jon Jon Briones as Dr. Richard Hanover, Finn Wittrock as Edmund Tolleson, Charlie Carver as Huck, Alice Englert as Dolly, Corey Stoll as Charles Wainwright, Brandon Flynn as Henry Osgood, Annie Starke as Lily Cartwright and Vincent D’Onofrio as Gov. George Wilburn.

Ratched premieres Friday, Sept. 18 on Netflix. 


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