Golden Globes nominee profile: Sarah Paulson (‘Ratched’) follows in Louise Fletcher’s awards footsteps as notorious nurse

One would be hard pressed to name a more prolific TV partnership than that of Sarah Paulson and Ryan Murphy. Beginning with a guest appearance on “Nip/Tuck” in 2004, Paulson has acted in six of Murphy’s projects, most notably as 11 different characters across eight seasons of “American Horror Story.” Their latest collaboration, “Ratched,” premiered on Netflix last September and reportedly attracted 48 million viewers in its first four weeks. It has now brought Paulson her fourth Golden Globe bid and a chance at a second win.

At the Globes, Paulson faces off against Olivia Colman (“The Crown”), Jodie Comer (“Killing Eve”), Emma Corrin (“The Crown”) and Laura Linney (“Ozark”) in the race for Best TV Drama Actress. Colman and Comer competed against each other for the same award last year, and Colman ultimately prevailed. She has a total of three Globe wins to her name, while Linney has two, and Comer and Corrin are aiming for their first victory.

In “Ratched,” Paulson adapts aspects of Louise Fletcher’s Golden Globe and Oscar-winning performance in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and makes the role of Nurse Mildred Ratched her own. The series tells the iconic villain’s origin story, set 16 years before the events depicted in the original film, and traces the causes of her memorably monstrous behavior. Through her distinctive portrayal, Paulson reveals that Ratched was always cold and calculating but was once capable of compassion and compromise.

The show is up for a total of three Golden Globes this year, including Best Drama Series and Best TV Supporting Actress (Cynthia Nixon). It is directly competing against two other Netflix series (“The Crown” and “Ozark”) for the top honor. Although its awards prospects were uncertain when it was released, it has proven its mettle by becoming one of this year’s top six most-nominated programs and contributing to Netflix’s massive TV nomination total of 20.

Paulson’s portrayal of Marcia Clark in Murphy’s “The People v. O.J. Simpson” brought her her first Globe win in 2017. She triumphed in the Best TV Movie/Miniseries Actress category for that performance after losing the Best TV Supporting Actress races in 2007 (“Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip”) and 2013 (“Game Change”). She now celebrates a new milestone in her career: her first nomination for a lead role in a continuing series. Will she win for this one too?

This article is a part of Gold Derby’s “Golden Globes nominee profile” series spotlighting the 2021 contenders in film and TV.

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