Cynthia Nixon interview: ‘Ratched’
Cynthia Nixon had many reasons to be excited for her first part in a Ryan Murphy series, the Netflix horror drama “Ratched.” The actress had just run for governor in New York and wondered what was next when Murphy called her up to play Gwendolyn Briggs, a press secretary in the late 1940s who falls in love with Mildred Ratched, played by Sarah Paulson. “Show business and politics have so much in common,” says Nixon in an exclusive new interview for Gold Derby. “[Gwendolyn] is a kind of person I run into a lot in my show business life.” Watch the video interview above.
To prepare for the part of Gwendolyn, Nixon studied the life of journalist Lorena Hickok, who was believed to have an intimate relationship with Eleanor Roosevelt. “She was a queer woman at a similar time period who had a very full romantic life but also was very successful professionally and how she balanced those two things,” explains Nixon. She and the costume designers collaborated on trying to recreate the kind of leisurewear that Hickok would dress in, based on photographs taken at the time.
Fans have latched onto the relationship between Gwendolyn and Mildred, which develops over the course of the first season. The relationship is turbulent, with Mildred just now starting to explore her sexuality at a time when homophobia was rampant. There is also a moment in the middle of the season when Gwendolyn gets shot, but thankfully, it is not fatal. Nixon credits the writers for choosing not to kill her off, at a time when lesbian characters on TV are frequently killed in brutal ways. “We have so [few] chances to see queer love stories and particularly lesbian love stories onscreen, much less played by two queer actresses,” Nixon points out. “Let’s not break people’s hearts, or at least not yet.”
Nixon will be back for the second season of “Ratched” but that’s not all she has on her plate. She will also star in HBO’s period drama “The Gilded Age” and will be reprising her Emmy-winning role as Miranda Hobbs in the upcoming “Sex and the City” revival. Considering how “incredibly white” the original “Sex and the City” was, Nixon is eager to tell a more diverse story this time around. “The world is very different and I think we’ll be able to both show that and also show how the three original women and the other original characters that are coming back are trying to catch up with that and are either succeeding or not.”