No one loves their boss all the time. That’s true whether you’re trapped in a clone of Office Space, or you’re an Emmy-winning actor. And while giving an interview on The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast, Ratched star Sarah Paulson opened up about her least favorite season of American Horror Story in a rare moment splitting with her long-time collaborator, Ryan Murphy. And yeah, that season was Season 6, Roanoke.
American Horror Story: Roanoke was an odd installment of the horror anthology series. Paulson played actress Audrey Tindall on a TV special about haunted houses. As the “real” Shelby Miller (Lily Rabe) told the story of her haunting and encounters with the missing Roanoke colony, Paulson’s Audrey would reenact Shelby’s stories in a way that mocked the true crime genre. According to Paulson, that season left her feeling “underwhelmed.”
“I just don’t care about this season at all,” Paulson said on the podcast. “I know people will get mad at me for saying it, but for me, this was post having played Marcia [Clark in The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story], and it was what I went to do right after finishing Marcia.”
For reference, Paulson’s role in The People v. O.J. Simpson won her a Critic’s Choice Award, a Golden Globe, an Emmy, and a Screen Actors Guild Award. Paulson’s performance not only challenged what she was capable of as an actor. It encouraged American society at large to reevaluate how Marcia Clark was treated during this monumental trial. American Horror Story: Roanoke wasn’t met with nearly as much acclaim.
“I was so underwhelmed by the whole experience because I felt like I had entered into a new place inside of myself in terms of what I thought possible, in terms of what I might be willing to see if I can do,” Paulson said. “I felt really kind of trapped by my responsibility and my contractual obligation to do American Horror Story. As much as it’s my home and I’ve loved it always, it was the first time I felt like I wish I could have gone to Ryan and said, ‘Please let me sit this one out. You know, let me out.’”
The actor eventually did take a time out from the series. Paulson returned to star in Season 7, Cult, as well as Season 8, Apocalypse. In the latter season she briefly played Ms. Venable, a villain that today feels quite similar to Paulson’s take on Nurse Ratched. But the actor left during Season 9, 1984. Paulson will be returning to the series for Season 10’s Double Feature, but at the moment little is known about her role or how expansive it will be.
Before the internet turns Paulson’s frustrations into a battle between her and Ryan Murphy, let’s get some things straight. Sarah Paulson is currently the star of Murphy’s Ratched, one of the two projects that’s launched her onto the awards circuit this year, the other being Run. She is slated to play Linda Tripp in Murphy’s highly anticipated Impeachment: American Crime Story. Even the project Paulson cited as expanding her acting horizons has a Ryan Murphy connection. The People v. O.J. Simpson was executive produced by both the super producer and AHS’ Brad Falchuk.
This isn’t a major Hollywood throw down. This is one employee who was once frustrated with her longtime boss, collaborator, and friend five years ago. That’s something we can certainly all understand.
Where to stream American Horror Story: Roanoke