Why Netflix's Ratched Still Had A Lot Of Story To Tell Despite One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, According To Sarah Paulson

Netflix's Ratched trailer screenshot of Sarah Paulson 2020

Though Ratched is out this weekend, we avoided plot specific spoilers in this story, so you should be all set even if you haven't fully binged the addictive new series on Netflix yet!

As is the tendency for Ryan Murphy projects, Netflix’s Ratched has been blowing up on the subscription streamer this weekend. The new project stars Sarah Paulson as Nurse Ratched, a character that many people know from the 1970s flick One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. However, Ryan Murphy regular and Ratched star Sarah Paulson recently revealed why it’s no big deal -- and maybe even an advantage -- this new series is focused on a character that is already known from the big screen venture.

Speaking as part of the press for Netflix’s Ratched, Sarah Paulson was specifically asked by THR about bringing the iconic character to the small screen for a prequel story. She noted there’s so much more we don’t really know about Nurse Ratched, mentioning that instead of just “diving deeper” the show “takes the dive period.” She said:

First of all it just takes the dive period. A deeper dive, because there’s so little known about Mildred Ratched from the film. So, everything was sort of open for interpretation and everything was on the table. Because it’s Ryan [Murphy], he sort of went to some very extreme places. I was very grateful for that because it meant I had a lot of room to move around. Where I didn’t have to adhere to one locked way of playing her.

Honestly, if you want to get really specific, Nurse Ratched is a character that was made famous in Ken Kesey’s book One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, which inspired the 1975 film and the play with the same name. That version of the character from the book and the movie is very well-known, but also little understood. By taking Nurse Ratched to the first part of her career in the 1940s, the show was able to spin what we already knew on its head a little. That seems to be what Sarah Paulson is saying appealed to her about the project as well.

Sarah Paulson also noted that the prequel component to Nurse Ratched’s story had its advantages. Though she “had a lot of room to move” ultimately, Sarah Paulson did know how Nurse Ratched’s story ends. Instead of being an issue, it was more of just a tool Paulson could use to get into the character’s history and motivations.

It was very interesting to have an endgame in site of knowing where she ends up. Sort of rewinding at warped speed to a time when she was really in her developmental stage as a person.

Ratched just dropped this weekend as part of Ryan Murphy’s big overall deal with Netflix and its period setting ties in nicely with his other series Hollywood on the subscription streamer. The eight-episode series has already shot up to the #1 slot on the subscription streamer and will likely remain there for a while, but we’ll be sure to keep you updated either way. For now, take a look at what all Netflix has coming up before the end of the year.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Reality TV fan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. Theme park junkie. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.