It’s difficult to imagine anything that would intimidate Sarah Paulson. She’s an actress who seems to choose roles for their audacity, and she inhabits her characters fearlessly– whether she’s playing Marcia Clark in American Crime Story, a brutal salve owner in Twelve Years a Slave, or conjoined twins in American Horror Story. Yet when Paulson arrived on set for The Post, Steven Spielberg’s film about the late Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham (Meryl Streep) and the legal battle around the Pentagon Papers, Paulson admits that she began “totally freaking out.”
“These are arguably the most respected filmmakers and actors of their generation,” Paulson says. “That made it a very extraordinary place to be. It was a pinch-me moment.”
Paulson is having a lot of those moments lately. Following her Emmy-winning performance as Clark in 2016, accolades and offers have been cascading in. Over the coming year, in addition to The Post, she will appear in the all-female spy comedy Ocean’s Eight, the Netflix series Ratched (as Nurse Ratched, of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest fame), and M. Night Shyamalan’s upcoming thriller Glass. She also recently signed on to the movie adaptation of Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch.
“It’s head-spinning,” she says. “But part of me is scared. I’ve got a window, as a woman of 43. Right now it’s cracked this big”—she holds her hands inches apart—“and I’m trying to keep it open with both hands, as wide as possible, for as long as possible.”
In this February 2018 Town & Country cover story, Paulson talks with Blume about the view from the top, why character likeability is irrelevant, and how she will never bow to convention – in any aspect of her life.