Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-03-03



TELEVISION Actors talk about tackling 'Ratched' roles, working with Ryan Murphy
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times

This article shared 2481 times since Wed Sep 16, 2020
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

It takes the winning combination of gay producer Ryan Murphy and lesbian actress Sarah Paulson to bring the fictional story of Ratched to life in unexpected ways. The new drama series on Netflix already has a built-in fan base, thanks to nurse Mildred Ratched from the unforgettable novel and film One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

Nurse Ratched is known for being a cold, complicated and controlling character in past portrayals. Ratched takes these traits to a whole new level and begins streaming on Netflix on Friday, Sept. 18.

Creator Evan Romansky returns Ratched back to her roots as a young nurse working in a psychiatric hospital in 1947. Jon Jon Briones portrays Dr. Richard Hanover, who runs the mental institution along with sidekick nurse Betsy Bucket, played by Judy Davis.

For queer audiences there is plenty to chew on over the course of season one. There are conversion therapy horrors to be seen and several patients wrestling with their sexuality during a very closeted time period in America.

Out cast member Cynthia Nixon displays many different dimensions to her character, Gwendolyn Briggs, on the series. Nixon spoke about Briggs on a Zoom call with Windy City Times and other reporters before Ratched's debut. Nixon said of Briggs, "She is very different from the people I am usually asked to play. Gwendolyn is so wholehearted and pure. She's up against the odds. She's a queer woman in 1947 and trying to make a life for herself in politics. She moves ahead without fear and wants Mildred to walk in the light."

When asked about the LGBT storylines, Nixon stated, "One of the overarching themes of Ratched is, not only the brutal treatment of people who were deemed ill, but what fell under the umbrella of mental illness. Being queer was front and center. We have so many examples of it in the story. One of the saddest parts of the show is played by Jon Jon's real son, who is forced to undergo a lobotomy because he could possibly be gay."

Paulson added, "There are many elements to this story that are queer-centric, but for Mildred there's a consequence of discovering that part of herself. It is not a story about a woman who is struggling with that identity. It is a story about a woman that wants to absolve herself from the guilt of abandoning the most important person in her life at a very young age.

"The only place where happiness lives is in her relationship with Gwendolyn. I love that element of this story. Within this show is the queer component of love. It is the first time that Mildred can feel seen and explore these parts of her. You see that all the confidence she has just goes away when she is with Mildred. She doesn't know how to access that part of herself. There is a great joy in playing that as a member of the LGBT community."

Some may call Ratched a comeback vehicle for actress Sharon Stone, although her pet monkey almost steals the show. She said that she has admired the women Ryan Murphy had worked with in the past, such as Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates, influencing her to accept the part of the quirky Lenore Osgood, "There were so many vague areas about my character and we got to explore why she is the person she is. What is her backstory and how did she get here? I had a monkey on my back both literally and metaphorically!"

British actress Sophie Okonedo plays the unbalanced woman Charlotte Wells. She confessed on the conference call when asked about preparing for her part, "I didn't do much research on mental illness, everything was in the script. I played each personality as a separate character. I didn't worry about Charlotte being underneath."

Many may recognize actor Finn Wittrock as Edmund Tolleson after he played several roles in the American Horror Story series and the Murphy film The Normal Heart. He explained on the phone that episode two with Briones was his most challenging scene to play: "I approached my character as someone who had never grown up. He was traumatized by the violence inflicted on him during his childhood. I never thought of him as a sociopath. He has a moral compass—but a warped one."

Briones explained that even though he had previously appeared in two series helmed by Murphy, The Assassination of Giani Versace: American Crime Story and American Horror Story: Apocalypse, he had never worked directly with Murphy in the past. He admitted he was at first intimidated by Murphy, describing the producer as someone who is sometimes hard to gage if he's joking or serious, "The first time he looked at me, I was in my costume and wig for approval. He has a genius and a vision for his whole world of storytelling, which is exciting."

Wittrock concurred, saying, "I feel Ryan was even more meticulous this time. He was into the nuances of how it looked and felt. He was hands on in that way. He is generally fun on the set, although there are some people that cower in fear of him. Even when it is a sad, crazy and bloody scene, he brings a party atmosphere to it."

Paulson agreed that this time working with Murphy was different from past projects, "I had never played a titular character before or been an executive producer before. This was possible now because of him. That was why I was terrified to do it. I didn't have a ton of experience. He told me to step into my power, which made me want to take a hot shower and run screaming into the street! I wasn't sure if I was capable or ready. It was a myriad of things to contend with, but he has always been my greatest champion. There are challenges, but any relationship will have those. He gave me some power, but not all of it, which was healthy. If he had let me do what I want, that wouldn't have gone great for anybody!"

Paulson went on to say that as an executive producer she received the early edits first and Murphy would make adjustments afterward, "It was an interesting experience to think beyond my own narrow view of my performance and think about the show as a whole."

Nixon described working with Murphy as "mind-blowing." She remembered that Pose costumes were paraded out for approval when Murphy was on set and seeing storyboards for a new series. She recalled, "Ryan showed me a documentary he had been working on called A Secret Love about two women who were a couple for decades. You think that you know what Ryan Murphy does, then you see a new project that is not just a new chapter for him, but a whole other book!"

Stone told the group that Murphy took her out to lunch to offer her the role in Ratched, although she had some concerns, "I was excited, but you never know how big the cliff is that you are going to have to jump off of when Ryan Murphy offers you a part. I have seen his other shows, but I am not really used to working in television. I usually went to work with a director, a script and a plan. I go to work these days and don't have scripts or the same director. One day I am on episode six, then the next day on episode one with two different directors and not able to read the entire work."

Stone complimented Sarah Paulson as an executive producer: "In my generation, if I wanted to suggest something I would get a real talking to. My ideas would be shut down. When I started working, it was me and 300 men, even my dresser was a man. The experience of working on Ryan's show was very different. This time I had actresses and females in the crew. I had an opportunity to finally be in the company of fine, subtle, intimate, layered and tender women that were empowered. The men's roles even had a respect and emotional intelligence that was just a different thing than in the past."

Ratched is wound tight with unpredictable twists and turns while limiting the series to two seasons with a total of 18 episodes planned. Murphy directed the first and second episodes, setting the tone for the overall first season; he then relinquishes control for other directors to take over as the series progresses.

All the cast members on the conference call stated they are looking forward to getting back to work and completing season two. Roadblocks in the way of filming the followup season of Ratched include the hectic schedule of Ryan Murphy and the pandemic. Paulson said, "I believe I am working soon, just not on Ratched yet. I want us all to be together, including the crew. I love collaborating with all of these people that are just as invested as I am. I don't know how we can access that with shields, masks and gloves. We have a lot to consider."

Paulson told the group that she picked the project to explore the "porous parts" of Mildred Ratched, "In the original movie, she's calcified and there's a hardness. I remember thinking she was a villain and evil. When I rewatched One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest before shooting this series, I thought of her as a victim of a patriarchal infrastructure that is in this hospital. Possibly she didn't have a choice to access her heart in her work or bring her femininity to her job. Maybe she is not a villain, but had no recourse. If I were going to play it, she would have to be adhering to some rule that she believed was most right and limited to her era.

"I was interested in who the woman was in the movie that turns a key and goes into her house. Who is that woman at the door? There was no backstory and that is an enormous freedom. We can give context and depth to things that weren't there before. It was interesting to confront my prejudice of the character from the outset. I wanted to get in her head without being like, "She is so crazy!"

This article shared 2481 times since Wed Sep 16, 2020
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Showbiz: Black gay director, Oscars, soccer couple, Demi Lovato 2021-02-21
- Paris Barclay, the Emmy-winning TV director and former president of the Directors Guild of America (DGA), will receive the guild's Honorary Life Member Award at the 73rd Annual DGA Awards on April 10, TheWrap reported. Barclay ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Tian Richards, August Wilson, $88M celebrity home, sports items 2021-02-07
- Tian Richards has been cast in the title role of the Nancy Drew spinoff, Tom Swift, at The CW, Variety reported. Richards will make his first appearance as the character in an upcoming episode of Nancy ...

Gay News

Wizard World Chicago moved from June to August 2021-02-05
- Wizard Brands, Inc. announced that its scheduled 2021 live event in Chicago has been postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions and in continued accordance with federal, state and local guidelines. Instead of the original dates of June ...

Gay News

SAG nominations announced; Boseman gets four nods 2021-02-04
- Nominations for the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards were announced Feb. 4. On the film side, Deadline noted that the late Chadwick Boseman made SAG Awards nomination history by receiving four nominations: for his lead role ...

Gay News

Donald Trump resigns from SAG-AFTRA; group tersely responds 2021-02-04
- Former U.S. President Donald Trump resigned from SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) after the organization's national board recently voted overwhelmingly to find probable cause of ...

Gay News

Golden Globe nods announced; LGBTQ shows, characters and actors included 2021-02-03
- Nominations for the 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards—which honor the best in television and film—were announced Feb. 3. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler will return as hosts of the event for a fourth time. The Golden ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Tunde Johnson,' John Waters, Jane Lynch, Billie Eilish 2021-01-31
- Wolfe Releasing has slated the film The Obituary of Tunde Johnson for a theatrical and digital release on Feb. 26, a press release noted. The film—written by Stanley Kalu; directed by Ali LeRoi; and starring Steven ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Batwoman,' Village People, Neil Patrick Harris, Mariah Carey 2021-01-24
- SPOILER ALERT: Season two of Batwoman (featuring the lesbian superheroine) began by introducing Ryan Wilder, the new lead character on The CW show played by Javicia Leslie—and explained how first-season ...

Gay News

Broadcasting legend Larry King dies at 87 2021-01-23
- Broadcasting icon Larry King has died at age 87, reported. King died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Ora Media, the studio and network he co-founded, tweeted. No cause of death was given, but ...

Gay News

Report: Here are the highest grossing LGBTQ+ actors on Netflix 2021-01-13
--From a press release - Highest grossing LGBTQ+ actors on Netflix - Kristen Stewart comes in first, with a net worth of 70 million dollars - Bisexual women are the top earning members of the LGBTQ+ community - The TV industry ...

Gay News

Billy Masters 2021-01-11
- "Harry Styles is looking REALLY good. I'm into the fishnets. And we have very similar tastes. I think sharing a closet, sharing a life together, it just makes sense."—Miley Cyrus. I'd rather see Harry with Miley's ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Tales' star dies, 'Wonder Woman 1984,' holiday songs, 'Drag Race' 2021-01-05
- Marcus D'Amico—the original Michael "Mouse" Tolliver from the miniseries Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City—died at age 55, Queerty noted. In 1992, he also originated the role of Louis in the National Theatre's London run of ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Drag Race,' year-end honors, 'Guardians,' Taylor Swift 2020-12-21
- VH1 unveiled a game-changing twist from the upcoming season of the Emmy-winning RuPaul's Drag Race, premiering Friday, Jan. 1, at 8 p.m. ET/PT, a press release noted. For the first time in Drag Race "herstory," queens ...

Gay News

'Pose' star headlining virtual talent benefit Dec. 16 2020-12-16
- Dominique Jackson—an activist and co-star of the FX series Pose—is headlining the #REFUGEE RAINBOW EXTRAVAGANZA Talent Show "Still Here, Still Queer" on Wed., Dec. 16, 5-6 p.m. CT. ORAM (Organization for Refugee, Asylum and Migration) is ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Trans acting challenge, NYE parties, Charlize Theron, Diana Ross 2020-12-14
- Michael D. Cohen, with support from Nickelodeon, is launching the Trans Youth Acting Challenge, according to a press release. Trans and non-binary kids can submit audition self-tapes online (preferably through their parents), and the top 12 ...


Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.