[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for Ratched, Season 1, Episode 6, “Got No Strings.”]
You want a perfect example of Sarah Paulson taking the material she’s given to the next level? Take a look at Episode 6 of Ratched, “Got No Strings.” That’s the episode of the show that sees Mildred and Gwendolyn (Cynthia Nixon) hit the road to see a puppet show. While Gwen is sitting there watching a delightful, kid-friendly performance, Mildred is seeing the horrors of her youth play out right before her eyes. After that, Paulson is tasked with conveying that same story again, but directly to Gwen at a restaurant.
I imagine it’s never easy delivering an exposition heavy monologue, but how about the challenge of having to deliver one right after the audience got that information in an earlier scene? What’s the key to adding to the material and keeping the audience engaged? Paulson discussed just that in a paired interview with Nixon and Sharon Stone. She began by admitted she actually questioned the necessity of that scene herself while on set:
“This was something we discussed on the day, where I was like, ‘Do we need this scene? Because we just saw it. We just saw the whole thing!’ So the solution became about me basically talking to camera, as if it were Cynthia.”
After the team came to that conclusion, the flow from the puppet show to the restaurant really came into focus:
“I think it was an opportunity to understand what Ratched’s pain was. What you saw during the actual puppet show was a response to the horror of it and, yes, she’s emotional and all that, but there’s that middle beat that happens in the car when we’re driving and Gwendolyn says, ‘Pull over. Who are you?’ It’s that beat that actually informs, and it’s actually an opportunity for Mildred to put up or shut up, basically. For [her] to basically say, ‘I’m going to tell you now.’ Because Gwendolyn doesn’t know what we’ve just [seen]. The audience knows. Gwendolyn doesn’t have the information, so it’s actually an act of intimacy that Ratched is sharing with Gwendolyn that is the first real allowance for that, and I think that’s why it matters.”
If you’d like to hear more about this sequence from Nixon’s perspective and about the close bond Stone wound up establishing with Pablo the monkey’s wrangling team, check out the full interview at the top of this article.
Sarah Paulson, Cynthia Nixon and Sharon Stone:
- Nixon breaks down what it was like filming the puppet show scene.
- Paulson discusses the scene that follows in the restaurant.
- Stone talks about working with the one and only, Pablo the monkey.