You Can Thank Jessica Lange For Sarah Paulson's TV Career

If there's one actress who's just about everywhere these days, it's Sarah Paulson. The actress, who scored an Emmy for her portrayal of prosecutor Marcia Clark on the first season of Ryan Murphy's American Crime Story anthology series, The People v. O.J. Simpson, is currently screaming her head off on American Horror Story: Cult. Her portrayal of the phobia-riddled Ally marks her seventh time on the series. Now, Paulson has revealed how she was cast on American Horror Story in the first place — and it has a lot to do with Jessica Lange.
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One might assume that it was Paulson's friendship with TV creator Murphy that led to her role on AHS — after all, the actress did appear in one episode of his plastic surgery series Nip/Tuck in 2004. However, she revealed to Adweek that while she did know Murphy, she lost touch with him after appearing on his FX series. Instead, it was her relationship with Jessica Lange, who she knew from starring with in the Broadway play The Glass Menagerie in 2005, that led to her breakout TV role.
Photo: Photographed in Rarities at Lotte New York Palace by Sasha Maslov for Adweek
According to her interview in Adweek, Paulson attended a party with Lange, who was filming the first season of American Horror Story in Los Angeles. That's where the two had a very important conversation with Murphy.
"It was the first time I had seen Ryan in many years. Jessica threw her arm around me, looked at Ryan and said, 'Can’t you find something for Sarah to do on the show? It would be so great. I just like having her around.'"
That led to Paulson's role as Billie Dean Howard on American Horror Story: Murder House, a part she would later reprise in Hotel. However, that was long after Murphy took the actress to dinner and basically crowned Paulson as his new muse.
"I was like, 'Based on what?'" Paulson revealed to Adweek. "I didn’t know why he was motivated to do that, but he did. Then I played Lana Winters [in American Horror Story: Asylum] and the rest is history."
Today, Paulson — who also appeared in movies like Carol and 12 Years A Slave following her initial stint on AHS — has multiple shows in the works with Murphy. That includes Ratched, a Netflix series about the cruel nurse from One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, and the third season of American Crime Story, in which she'll play a doctor forced to make life-or-death decisions during Hurricane Katrina.
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Basically, Paulson is making peak TV — and like Lange, we like having her around, too.
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