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Ratched Review 2020 Tv Show Series Season Cast Crew Online
Creators: Evan Romansky, Ryan Murphy
Stars: Sarah Paulson, Alfred Rubin Thompson, Judy Davis
Nurse Ratched, the chilling mental hospital caregiver who has Jack Nicholson’s character lobotomized in 1975’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, ranks right below Darth Vader, Hannibal Lecter, Norman Bates, and the Wicked Witch of the West on AFI’s list of greatest movie villains. But despite the character’s lasting impression—thanks to Louise Fletcher’s hauntingly removed portrayal, which earned her an Academy Award—little is truly known about the antagonist invented by Cuckoo’s Nest author Ken Kesey. So when Ryan Murphy stumbled upon a spec script by Evan Romansky imagining her origin story, the prolific TV creator felt it was time to give this iconic antagonist a closer look.
Murphy and Romansky’s Netflix series Ratched, which stars and is produced by Murphy’s frequent muse Sarah Paulson, traces the nurse’s history, about a decade and a half before the events depicted in the Milos Forman–directed Cuckoo’s Nest adaptation. Vanity Fair can exclusively announce that the series—which Murphy describes as “an imagining of how this monster was created”—will premiere on September 18.
In a conversation with Vanity Fair, Murphy said, “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. 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.”
Murphy assembled a small writers room to reverse-engineer the character’s history—jumping off from the belief “that abusers are people who have been abused.” Ratched’s eye-catching first season opens in 1947 and introduces Mildred as a nurse seeking employment at a Northern California psychiatric hospital where disturbing experiments on the human mind are conducted. Other characters include Dr. Hanover, a pioneering physician subjecting his patients to these controversial treatments (Jon Jon Briones); the no-nonsense Nurse Bucket (Judy Davis); mass murderer Edmund Tolleson (Finn Wittrock); eclectic hospital staff members Dolly (Alice Englert) and Huck (Charlie Carver); eccentric heiress Lenore Osgood (Sharon Stone); private investigator Charles Wainwright (Corey Stoll); motel manager Louise (Amanda Plummer); leering politician Governor George Wilburn (Vincent D’Onofrio); and his campaign manager, Gwendolyn Briggs (Cynthia Nixon).
Murphy knew that his frequent collaborator Paulson—“a very good connect-the-dots actor” when it comes to excavating a character’s psyche—was perfect for the marquee role. But he warned the Emmy winner that she would have to do “some real Walter White type shit”—meaning that, like the Breaking Bad villain, she’d have to commit herself to a dark psychological place, depraved onscreen acts, and, as the series’ title star and producer, no days off. Paulson told Murphy that she was equally committed to and terrified of the opportunity.
“I was kind of scared of it too,” said Murphy. “It felt very daunting to take on one of these great mythological characters.”
Though Paulson had hated Ratched “very, very deeply” when she first saw Fletcher’s performance in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, her understanding of the character’s traumatic upbringing helped her find profound sympathy for the nurse.
“I 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. Sort of an animal need that blinds her to the inappropriateness of some her actions.”
Paulson said it was a thrill to give texture and depth to one of film’s most mysterious villains.
“A lot of us are on the planet trying to figure out how to survive our childhoods, our environments, our circumstances. And to have an opportunity to do a deeper dive into this invented character that has become so pulsating with life for so many people, to figure out why she is so cold…so removed…,” Paulson trailed off. “By the time you get to the end of the first season, you will not wonder how and why Mildred became the way she did. You may question her actions, you may have judgment about it—but you will understand it. It will make sense to you.”
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