In Ryan Murphy’s new Netflix series, Sarah Paulson plays Nurse Mildred Ratched, a dour figure audiences first met via Ken Kesey’s novel One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. In that book and the subsequent film adaptation, Ratched was older and more vindictive, but also a bit one note. Audiences didn’t get to know where her sadism came from, or how she came to the nursing profession.
That’s what Ratched aims to change, offering a glimpse at the titular character’s twisted origin story. It leaves audiences feeling a touch sympathetic for Mildred Ratched, even if she doesn’t always do the right thing. And with a stellar cast of supporting characters—including an amazing Judy Davis—the show also gives viewers other morally dubious storylines to really sink their drama-hungry teeth into.
The A.V. Club talked to Paulson and Davis about Ratched, and about that quest for backstory. Davis, as you’ll see in the clip above, actually worked out a rich backstory for her Nurse Bucket, even if we never see it on screen. We also talk about Nurse Ratched’s love for bologna, which she calls “the perfect food,” and whether Paulson shares that opinion.