Ryan Murphy's next project is only days away from debuting. The new Netflix series Ratched premieres on September 18, and draws from the pool of actor that have become staples of the Murphy Universe. That said, for Sarah Paulson (who leads the series) and Cynthia, there was a specific reason for their casting, as revealed in a new interview.
“It was very important to me and I know to Ryan, he was very invested in Cynthia and I doing this together and having two queer women playing two queer women,” Paulson told GLAAD's Anthony Ramos in a new interview, noting the power of “just even a snapshot image” of the two queer actors was “something that was very, very important to him.” Murphy is also carrying that same energy over to his film adaptation of Boys In the Band, which has cast all gay men in the gay roles.
Paulson appears in the titular role of Mildred Ratched for the streamer which is a prequel inspired by the cult 1962 novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey. The novel was later made into a classic movie in 1975 starring Jack Nicholson as Randle McMurphy and directed by Milos Forman. Louis Fletcher won an Oscar for her performance as Nurse Ratched in the film.
Paulson’s co-star Nixon, who plays the role of Gwendolyn Briggs, was just as effusive in her praise of Murphy, noting the importance of his ability to take “different historical periods in which there were people of color and there were queer people” who were erased from the narrative, and then reinsert queer people back into their rightful and historically accurate place. This was done most clearly with Hollywood but is a tool Murphy employs elsewhere as well.
“We’re not in the movies of the ‘40s and ‘50s, you know. I mean, I think of Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca,” Nixon said, referring to the antagonist of the Daphne du Maurier’s 1938 novel.
“I really can barely think of another lesbian character,” Nixon continued, noting that “gay men” were “more plentiful” in the movies of that era but were “barely there” and then only for purposes “comic relief.”
In Ratched, the two are entertwined in a love story. "[Sarah Paulson] and [Cynthia Nixon] are simply luminescent when they share a scene," Murphy wrote to Twitter, sharing a montage of the pair's on-screen relationship. "Get ready for the romance you deserve."
Both Paulson and Nixon agree Murphy’s decision was important and impactful.
“Anytime you can go back and look at our history to inform where we are today and sort of see where we’re still making the same mistakes is a learning opportunity,” Paulson observed.
Nixon concurred with her co-star.
“To have Ryan go back and look at this period and reinsert us into the history that we’ve been erased from and really talk honestly and shine a spotlight on all the many trials and tribulations and obstacles and persecutions that we underwent is really, really important and really overdue.”