Sarah Paulson will star in the Netflix series Ratched, a prequel to One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Set in a psychiatric hospital in Oregon, Ken Kesey's 1962 novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest tells the story of Randell P. McMurphy -- a man who fakes mental illness after being arrested because he would rather be in a hospital than on a prison work farm. McMurphy tries his hardest to shake things up at the hospital, only to meet with constant resistance from the cruel Nurse Ratched.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest was adapted into a film in 1975. It starred Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, Danny DeVito, Christopher Lloyd, and Brad Dourif. Much like the book which came before it, the movie is almost universally praised. It was the second movie ever to win all five top Academy Awards -- Best Picture, Best Actor for Nicholson, Best Actress for Fletcher, Best Director for Milos Forman, and Best Screenplay.
And now TVLine is reporting that Netflix is making a prequel series about Nurse Ratched -- to be played by Sarah Paulson. Ratched is being produced by Michael Douglas -- who also produced the film version -- and by Paulson's frequent collaborator, Ryan Murphy.
While Paulson has been appearing in film and television since the 1990s, her career really took off after Murphy cast her in American Horror Story. After appearing in a few episodes during that season, Paulson was one of the main characters in the second season -- American Horror Story: Asylum -- and has continued to be one of the major players in the anthology series. She's also worked with Murphy on some of his other anthologies, playing Geraldine Page in Feud: Bette and Joan and Marcia Clarke in The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. She will also appear in Katrina: American Crime Story as Dr. Anna Pou.
Paulson certainly has big shoes to fill. Fletcher's Oscar-winning performance in the film is a standout, no easy task in a movie full of amazing performances. While Ratched is considered the film's villain, Fletcher played her in a very calm and understated way. A woman using her position of authority over a group of sick and damaged men to control every aspect of their lives, even when it was not medically necessary to do so.
Ratched -- which already has a two season order, totaling 18 episodes - will tell the story of how Nurse Ratched became the manipulative and controlling villain in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Aside from producing, Murphy will direct the first episode, which is being written by Evan Romansky.