'Ratched' First Look: Sarah Paulson Digs Into The Origins Of The 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest' Villain In Ryan Murphy's Netflix Series

What makes a monster? That's what Ryan Murphy and Sarah Paulson are seeking to find out with the upcoming Netflix series Ratched. Murphy's prequel to One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest stars Paulson as a younger Nurse Ratched, chronicling how she came to be one of cinema's most notorious villains. The series has been long in the making, with the Emmy Award-winning showrunner spending a year securing the rights to the character before the project finally got going in 2017. The series is set to finally premiere this September, and Netflix has released the first images from Ratched to drum up interest. See the Ratched first look images below.

Ratched First Look

Ratched looks like many other Ryan Murphy period dramadies: glossy, brightly colored, and full of glamorous stars, including Sharon Stone as a fabulous eccentric heiress named Lenore Osgood. In keeping with the character of Nurse Ratched, Paulson looks quite buttoned up in comparison, but her portrayal looks much more demure than Louise Fletcher's cruel and calculating portrayal in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, for which she won an Academy Award. That's part of Murphy's approach to the character, which he hopes will flesh out Nurse Ratched beyond being a "sort of a shorthand for barbarism."

"She became almost like a catchphrase for any sort of institutional abuse of power," Murphy told Vanity Fair, which debuted the images. "What was interesting was trying to create an emotional character from a reputation that's very cold...trying to figure out every little detail about her childhood, her relationships, her sexuality. Because when people think of Ratched, they think of her as shutoff and cruel and uncaring."

While Paulson had hated Ratched "very, very deeply" when she first saw One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, the actress said that playing the role of the younger nurse made her sympathize with the character, adding that she "identified very deeply with her loneliness." Paulson added:

"A lot of us are on the planet trying to figure out how to survive our childhoods, our environments, our circumstances. And to have an opportunity to do a deeper dive into this invented character that has become so pulsating with life for so many people, to figure out why she is so cold...so removed... By the time you get to the end of the first season, you will not wonder how and why Mildred became the way she did. You may question her actions, you may have judgment about it—but you will understand it. It will make sense to you."

The series takes the character that originated in Ken Kesey's 1962 novel, which was later adapted into a play and an Oscar-winning 1975 movie starring Jack Nicholson, and follows her as a young nurse seeking employment in 1946 "at a Northern California psychiatric hospital where disturbing experiments on the human mind are conducted," Vanity Fair describes.

Other characters include Dr. Hanover, a physician conducting these controversial experiments (Jon Jon Briones); the strict Nurse Bucket (Judy Davis); mass murderer Edmund Tolleson (Finn Wittrock); hospital staff members Dolly (Alice Englert) and Huck (Charlie Carver); private investigator Charles Wainwright (Corey Stoll); motel manager Louise (Amanda Plummer); sleazy politician Governor George Wilburn (Vincent D'Onofrio); and his campaign manager, Gwendolyn Briggs (Cynthia Nixon).

Ratched premieres on Netflix on September 18, 2020.