Sarah Paulson is part of Ryan Murphy’s posse. For the past four years, Paulson has starred in the Murphy-created American Horror Story. In the original series Paulson played medium Billie Dean Howard. In the follow-up, Asylum it was gay writer Lana Winters. In Coven she played witch Cordelia Fox and, most memorably, conjoined twins Bette and Dot Tattler in last year’s Freak Show.
Now Paulson is filming two Murphy shows at once. In American Horror Story: Hotel she plays Hypodermic Sally alongside Lady Gaga. Paulson is also portraying prosecutor Marcia Clark in American Crime Story: The People v O.J. Simpson.
How would you describe Hypodermic Sally? My character this year is quite dark. I think she’s sexy. She’s a drug addict, and not that drug addicts are sexy, but this girl happens to be quite sexy. She’s got a thing. I don’t think it’s like anything I’ve done on this show. Sally lives at the hotel Cortez. She hates (hotel manager) Iris (played by Kathy Bates) in a rather ancient way for reasons that are revealed quickly. I have kind of a budding something with Wes Bentley’s character, Detective John Lowe.
It looks like Hypodermic Sally would be fun to play. Is she? It is very exciting. I played a very nasty woman in 12 Years a Slave (plantation owner Edwin Epps’ wife Mary opposite Michael Fassbender) so I had some practice, but not on this show. I’ve always played some version of the hero or the victim — the person that comes out on top like poor put-upon Delia who ends up winning the whole thing. The same thing with Lana and the twins too get their final justice by killing that dandy. What are the touchstones you used to create the character? I watched a lot of Sid and Nancy and I watched that movie Rush with Jennifer Jason Leigh and Jason Patric. Sid and Nancy especially because of Chloe Webb … I’m not saying I’m playing a character like that but she’s more like that than any other character inspiration.
You’re also filming American Crime Story. What are your memories of the O.J. Simpson case? I was in New York. I remember just where I was when the Bronco chase happened (on June 17, 1994). I watched the trial on TV. I never dreamt that I would be playing this kind of woman.
Did you talk to Marcia Clarke to help you prepare? I’m about to do that — because I wanted to wait. I was too afraid to do it at the beginning. I wanted to get a little bit of purchase on the thing before I rushed off.
AMERICAN HORROR STORY: HOTEL, ELEVEN, MONDAY, 9.30PM. AMERICAN CRIME STORY WILL SCREEN IN 2016
Sarah Paulson has had practice playing nasty women.