Ryan Murphy‘s world just expanded. The producer’s first Netflix series, Ratched, dropped on the streaming giant on Friday, September 18, introducing the world to an entirely new Nurse Ratched — a character featured in the 1975 drama One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
The thrilling drama is dark, twisted and at times, very funny, following the life of Sarah Paulson‘s Ratched, a nurse who cons her way into on a job at a mental hospital. It doesn’t take long for her dark past to be revealed.
The actress, 45, who has worked with Murphy for years on American Horror Story and American Crime Story, actually didn’t get approached for the role at first.
“My agent called and said, ‘Is Ryan not talking to you about Ratched?’ I was like, ‘No!’ I called him and he said, ‘I wasn’t sure if it was something you wanted to do. You spent all this time on American Horror Story playing a different character every season. I don’t know if you’re going to want to play the same character season after season,” the Emmy winner told Vogue. “And I was like, ‘I might! You could just have asked me.’ And then I thought, ‘Why would I want to face-plant in front of the whole world by taking on a character that was made famous by Louise Fletcher, who gives an Oscar-winning performance?’ It might be the craziest thing I’ve ever thought about doing and that made it too intriguing to pass up. I’m a glutton for punishment.”
Cynthia Nixon, whose character falls in love with Paulson’s devilish nurse, felt the exact opposite. “I’d been hearing about the project for a while and that there were a number of characters that I might be right for. Then, Ryan approached me about playing Gwendolyn,” the 54-year-old said. “She is so ahead of her time. She’s a queer woman and someone who wants not just to be behind the scenes in politics, but also to eventually be the candidate herself. That’s a tall order in this period.”
Despite her fears, the Glass star dove in and rewatched the film to start. Despite viewing Ratched as “heinous” the first time around, it was different upon rewatching.
“I was looking for a way to get inside her head and I said, ‘This woman is a victim of a patriarchal infrastructure at this hospital.’ The question is would we have hated the character so much if a man was playing it?” she recalled. “We come up against our own expectations that a woman who is a nurse should be maternal and soft. If not, she’s a villain.”
For more on Ratched, scroll through the gallery below.