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Netflix drops trailer for Ryan Murphy's Nurse 'Ratched' origin story

Sarah Paulson plays the eponymous character, who rose to infamy after appearing in the Academy Award-winning film "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."
Image: Sarah Paulson and Cynthia Nixon
Sarah Paulson and Cynthia Nixon play Mildred Ratched and Gwendolyn Briggs in Netflix's "Ratched."Saeed Adyani / Netflix

Netflix released a trailer Tuesday for its forthcoming series "Ratched," giving viewers a first look at Sarah Paulson's version of the iconic nurse, who was introduced in Ken Kesey's 1962 novel "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," and then was featured in the 1975 Academy Award-winning film of the same name.

"You know the legend, but do you know how it all began?" Paulson tweeted Tuesday, alongside the trailer for the 18-episode series.

"Ratched," created by Evan Romansky and executive produced by Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan, is a prequel to "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," where Nurse Ratched oversees patients at an Oregon psychiatric hospital. The Milos Forman-directed film starred Jack Nicholson as a newly admitted patient.

The Netflix series tells the origin story of Nurse Ratched, beginning with her arrival in California shortly after World War II. The series follows her as she evolves from a powerless nurse to a merciless villain who abuses her station by exercising total control over patients.

During one scene in the trailer, viewers can see Ratched's wheels turning when another nurse steals her peach.

"What are you going to do about it?" Nurse Betsy Bucket, played by Judy Davis, asks her.

When Ratched doesn't respond, Bucket asks whether she can hear.

"I'm just thinking about all the things I'm going to do about it," Ratched responds.

"Ratched" also stars Cynthia Nixon as Gwendolyn Briggs, Sharon Stone as Lenore Osgood, Jon Jon Briones as Dr. Richard Hanover, and Finn Wittrock as Edmund Tolleson, among others.

Paulson and Murphy — perhaps best known for co-creating the hit shows "Glee" and "American Horror Story" — have worked together on multiple occasions, with Paulson garnering six Emmy nominations for various Murphy-backed projects, including for her performance as Marcia Clark in “American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson."

"Ratched" has big shoes to fill, considering its film predecessor is considered by many to be one of the best movies of all time. "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" dominated the 1976 Academy Awards ceremony, and to this day remains one of only three films in Oscar history — along with "It Happened One Night" and "Silence of the Lambs" — to win the "Big Five" awards: best picture, director, screenplay, actor (Nicholson) and actress (Louise Fletcher, who played Nurse Ratched). Fletcher also went on to win the BAFTA Award and Golden Globe Award for her performance in the film.

Fletcher, who spoke with Vanity Fair in a 2018 interview about "Ratched," said that she had to avoid becoming too friendly with her co-stars in the movie so that she could maintain the integrity of the role. She said she made up a cover story about dealing with "threatening phone calls" so she could move to a different living situation because the cast was staying at the same motel while filming.

“I thought, I can’t do this. I can’t be in this motel and be with these guys. It’s too much fun!” Fletcher said, adding that she was nervous to broach the subject with producers. "I didn’t have faith that if I went to them and said, ‘Living with these guys is going to kill my performance, so you’ve got to move me somewhere where I can be on my own’ ... So I said I got threatening phone calls. I made up a story.”

"Ratched" will premiere on Netflix Sept. 18.

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