Paulson and her costars Cynthia Nixon and Sophie Okonedo chat with The Awardist.

By Jolie Lash
June 03, 2021 at 08:47 PM EDT
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You don't need to be a seasoned critic to have a refined critical take. That was the case in Ratched actress Cynthia Nixon's family when she screened the Ryan Murphy drama for her 17-year-old.

"Before it was even on the air, we showed it to my son, who was 17 at the time," Nixon recently said in an interview for EW's Awardist series alongside her costars Sarah Paulson and Sophie Okonedo. "And he said two things, which I then heard from a lot of people subsequently, which were, as soon as you finish one episode, you're just really anxious to just see what happens next. But also, he talked a lot about how it's a film noir, but it's a film noir shot in Technicolor, and then [that] actually it makes it sort of creepier and spookier."

Nixon said her son's words made her reflect on Murphy's vision, and how his take on post-World War II America, often thought of as a "golden time," was full of sinister undercurrents including racism and branding people communists.

RATCHED
Sarah Paulson in 'Ratched'
| Credit: SAEED ADYANI/NETFLIX

Ratched, which debuted on Netflix back in September, stars Paulson as the titular character, Mildred Ratched, who goes on to become the villain in One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. The 1975 role of Nurse Ratched won Louise Fletcher a Best Actress Oscar, and to inform Paulson's version of the character, she revisited Fletcher's performance, despite an initial hesitancy not to do so.

"I felt worried that there'd be self-inflicted pressure to recreate, emulate something that was so very special," Paulson said.

But she did watch, and pointed to the nurse's future as a way for her to reverse-engineer her past. She also focused on the eyes.

"I felt that she was so alive and yet revealed so little that not only was it a lesson in stillness and the performance, and how doing all that can be so powerful, especially when it's infused with so much internal life," Paulson said.

Okonedo, who played Charlotte, a character with dissociative identity disorder, had a memorable scene in which different parts of herself come through. She credited her theater background for being able to shoot it without cutting.

"I think intensely about the words, and I learn it very well," Okonedo said. "I'm used to sort of being able to go for a long time. Both Cynthia and Sarah are theater actors too, so they get it, so when they go, 'You can do 10 minutes of the script without stopping?' you're like, 'Yeah. [I'm used to going] three hours.' "

Watch the video above for more from Nixon, Paulson, and Okonedo.

Check out more from EW's The Awardist, featuring exclusive interviews, analysis, and our podcast diving into all the highlights from the year's best films.

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