Recently, The Hollywood Reported gathered some of the most talented TV actresses. Keri Russell from The Americans, Claire Danes from Homeland, Vera Farmiga from Bates Motel, Jessica Pare from Mad Men, Julianna Margulies from The Good Wife and last but not the least, Sarah Paulson from American Horror Story.
Sarah Paulson and the rest of the lovely ladies answered some questions regarding their shows a variety of other topics. But for now, let’s concentrate on what the AHS actress has to say about frustrating roles, her role in 12 Years a Slave, and the most difficult phase in her career.
On her most challenging role on American Horror Story:
“I would say in season two, it was twofold: One, when I had to simulate performing an abortion on myself, and two, playing a 75-year-old woman. That was very hard. And it was very important to me to kind of hold on to who the character of Lana Winters was as an older person, not just go into a kind of caricature. Also, I had the crazy makeup on that was terrifying, and I sent the photograph to my mother, and I was like: ‘I guess you’ll never see this. This is me at 75!'”
On playing the role of Mistress Epps in 12 Years a Slave:
“I think I found a way for me to be able to stand there and do it that was just about who the woman was inside. Her actions are deplorable, but she’s doing it because she feels she’s being usurped by another woman in her home. She’s a small, tiny creature inside who just is panicked. Also, I don’t think she was capable of having a deeper thought or a self-reflective kind of way of functioning, and she was taught to be racist. She was in love with this man who was clearly smitten with another. I never saw it from an outside perspective of, ‘How do you find a way into playing someone so cruel?’ Someone asked, ‘Aren’t you worried that people are going to ask you to play villains now?’ That never occurred to me … but yeah, bring it on!”
On the hardest phase of her career:
“It was after [NBC’s] Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip [was canceled]. Everyone on the show thought it was going to be this thing, and it didn’t become anything. I didn’t work for two years, and then I moved back to New York … It was not only my expectations I was dealing with; I was dealing with everybody else’s expectations about something that was disappointing for them, too.
It’s an act of faith to have that kind of patience and also a certain willingness to believe that you have something to offer. But if it doesn’t, what does it mean? Where will you go? And what will you do? And will you find a home?
So I went back to New York and did some plays that nobody saw, and that was fine. Then some casting director came to see a play, and then I did a movie called Martha Marcy May Marlene, which kind of put things back on track.”