And she's doing it again in her latest project, Ratched. The 45-year-old actress stars as notoriously cruel Nurse Ratched in the long-awaited prequel to the Oscar-winning 1975 film One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, which debuts on Netflix on September 18.
"It's both a blessing and a curse," Sarah says of bringing the well-known villain (who was originally played by Hollywood veteran Louise Fletcher) back to life. "Louise gives one of the most masterful performances in cinematic history. Some people will be looking for her, but they’re not going to find her," she adds with a chuckle. "I just hope they're not too disappointed!"
Here, Sarah talks more about the show AHS’ upcoming 10th season and stepping behind the camera.
What did you think when you first read the script for Ratched?
SP: I thought it was incredibly interesting — and incredibly intimidating.
How cool is it to be part of the origin story of such an iconic character?
It gave me an opportunity to have a real spine of the character built in, at least in terms of knowing where I was going with it. So much of it's an imagined idea of what Mildred's life might have been like before she found her way to that psychiatric hospital.
Have you heard from any of the actors from the original movie, like Jack Nicholson?
I haven't, and I didn't reach out to them. But Michael Douglas who produced the 1975 film is a producer on the show.
You also serve as an executive producer. How did that come about?
I was a producer prior to selling the series. But on the first day of shooting Ryan came to me and said, "Your producer credit isn't high enough. I'd like you to be an EP as of today." I was like, "Oh, OK. I've never done that before, but I’m going to try my best!" He let me see early cuts and took some of my notes and was very generous with me.
How do you feel about watching yourself on screen?
I find it utterly horrifying. But I had to watch in a kind of clinical, detached way for things like story and our overarching goal.
Will you star in American Horror Stories, the spinoff of American Horror Story?
I don't know if I'm going to be in it, but I do think I'll be directing — not all of them, but some.
And what about season 10 of AHS and the upcoming American Crime Story: Impeachment, about Bill Clinton?
It depends on the state of the world. We were less than two weeks away from starting Impeachment when everything shut down. I heard rumors of October, then 2021. Just rumors though, no facts!