From older roles in What Women Want to her recent turns in American Horror Story, Glass, and The People v. O.J. Simpson, Sarah Paulson can do it all. Horror, comedy, and drama are all in a day’s work for Paulson, who has become one of the most revered actresses of her generation.
For many critics, Paulson’s versatility means she’s worth her weight in gold. On AHS alone, she’s played everyone from a drug addict to conjoined twins. Oh, and she’s also extremely funny on social media.
Put on your wig and get into the zone for your big scene: here are 24 witty facts about Sarah Paulson.
Sarah Paulson Facts
1. If a Problem Comes Along
Paulson recently went viral due to an Instagram exchange with Michelle Pfeiffer. Pfeiffer, the original Catwoman, found the whip from 1992’s Batman Returns. Paulson then asked if she could have it, and Pfeiffer teased that Paulson might be able to borrow it. The actress’ exchange continued with Paulson asking Pfeiffer to make another Catwoman movie.
Pfeiffer’s dreamy response took the internet by storm. She wrote, “only if you are my sister cat.” Simple and perfect, the exchange has led to lots of fan-fiction by Paulson and Pfeiffer shippers. On another level, that sounds like an awesome movie premise. Make it happen, Hollywood!
2. Nothing But a Number
Paulson may not have A-list name recognition, but she can still start a scandal. The tabloids often write about her long-term relationship with 76-year-old playwright and actress, Holland Taylor. While Paulson understands that the duo’s 32-year age gap might cause some to stare, she really doesn’t care too much about what other people think.
The happy couple started to date all the way back in 2015 and, if their sweet exchanges on Twitter are to be believed, they’re very in love. As Paulson wrote, “If someone wants to spend any time thinking I’m strange for loving the most spectacular person on the planet, then that’s their problem.” Touché, haters.
3. Dream Come True
Paulson views Jessica Lange as her acting idol, and had a Frances (1982) film poster hanging on her bedroom wall for a while. Imagine her excitement when she actually got to star alongside her idol in multiple seasons of American Horror Story and Broadway’s The Glass Menagerie. In a lovely case of dreams coming true, Lange is now the person that Paulson has worked with most in her career. As Paulson says, the Broadway team-up was “the most exquisite” experience of her life.
Paulson made her directorial debut with episode six of American Horror Story: Apocalypse. The actress hoped to direct AHS “for many years” and creator Ryan Murphy finally have her a chance…with the longest episode of the season. In contrast to most episodes (which are 28 to 40 scenes), Paulson was in charge of 72. She embraced the challenge though, knowing that if she paused to overanalyze, fear and nerves would cripple her.
5. Goodbye Cruel World
Although directing was initially daunting, Paulson found great joy in working with Jessica Lange. In particular, her proudest moment as a director was directing Lange’s death scene (spoilers, sorry). The scene took three or four hours to shoot, and Paulson experimented with different lens sizes and film speeds. While Paulson takes some credit for the scene, at the end of the day, the magic was all from “Jessica Mother F***ing Lange.”
6. Across the Board
Aside from directing, Paulson also holds the distinction of being the only actress to star in every season of American Horror Story. In fact, she is so highly involved with the series that the creator Ryan Murphy actually regards her as his muse.
7. Slow Build
Paulson’s first roles, after leaving a performing arts high school, included small prats in Law & Order and Hallmark movies. As she racked up credits on the TV screen, Paulson gradually made a name for herself. Her first big screen role was in Down With Love, opposite major stars like Ewan McGregor and Renee Zellweger. Sadly for Paulson, this was not her breakthrough role. The film was a box office bomb, leading her to retreat back to the small screen.
8. Miss Congeniality
Paulson initially wanted to model her career off of Julia Roberts’ celebrated filmography. Fair enough! After all, Roberts was the biggest female box office star of the 1990s. What young actress wouldn’t want to have her kind of career? But later on Paulson changed her mind. She realized that big box office returns wasn’t the only kind of success. Really great projects can be smaller-budget flicks or TV shows. How right she was…
9. Upwards Trajectory
Paulson’s first Golden Globe nomination came from the 2006 show, Studio 60 on Sunset Strip with Matthew Perry. But sadly, yet again, the vehicle that should have been her big break didn’t end up working out. The show was cancelled after just one season. However, everything happens for a reason. When Studio 60 ended, Paulson joined her idol Jessica Lange on a Broadway play. Lange was so impressed with Paulson that she personally recommended her for a role on American Horror Story.
Paulson is known for her serious roles, but the actress also has some amusing party tricks. Her main one is an eerily good dolphin impression, which she performed on talk shows like Ellen Degeneres and The Late Night Show with Jimmy Fallon. Paulson also flaunted the goods on shows like Studio 60 and Cupid. Everyone has that one weird talent…
11. Sweaty Palms
Paulson faced murderers and ghosts on our TV screens, but in real life, she’s terrified of flying. She typically likes to speak to the pilots before her flights and will ask them how long they’ve been flying (most will joke that it’s their first day). Ever prepared, she will follow up with questions about the pilot’s sobriety.
However, the actress couldn’t go through her usual routine on one very special trip. In 2017, Paulson travelled to Las Vegas to see Cher perform a concert. If she was travelling anywhere else for anyone else, she may not have gotten on the plane, never mind completed the flight. So consider this a teachable moment: Cher can help you conquer your fears.
12. Rough Day
Ellen Degeneres thought that since Paulson stars in one of the scariest TV shows of all time, the actress must like (or at least be used to) being scared. During Paulson’s appearance on the show, the comedienne spooked the actress three times. Paulson, though good-natured about the pranks, was so nervous that she actually finished the interview while hiding underneath the table on Ellen’s stage.
13. Another One
Aside from a fear of flying, Paulson also has trypophobia, or the fear of irregular, densely packed patterns of bumps or holes. It is not officially recognized as a phobia but a quick Google search shows Paulson is not alone. For non-typophobes, this basically means that Paulson has an aversion to sponges, due to their porous look.
14. The Last Supper
Since she has played a prosecutor and several ghosts, it makes sense that Paulson’s fans want to know what her death row meal would be. She answered: Filet Mignon, well done fries and a pint of cookies and crème ice cream.
15. Lesson Learned
When she was just 25 years old, Paulson’s life changed forever. Her doctor revealed that the young actress had melanoma, a kind of skin cancer. Fortunately, Paulson recognized the growth before it became dangerous. She had it surgically removed without any recurrences as of yet. Now she avoids the sun and wears SPF 45 sunscreen throughout the year.
16. Thanks, But No Thanks
Paulson’s closest celebrity look-a-like is The Crown’s Claire Foy, at least according to some fans. Paulson recalls a Foy fan tapping her on the shoulder at the airport, in order to give her a napkin with the message, “Hi, Ms. Foy, I think you’re the greatest actress.” Paulson let the fan know she was mistaken, but was flattered by the note. Foy is eleven years younger than Paulson.
17. Not a Bad Year
Paulson is the only actress to win all five major acting awards in the same year. Her role as prosecutor Marcia Clark in The People v O.J. Simpson won her an Emmy, a Golden Globe, A Screen Actors Guild award, a Critics’ Choice award and Television Critics Association award in 2017. Considering that Clark is most famous for losing the biggest case of her career, this is kind of ironic, right?
18. South to North
Paulson was born in Tampa, Florida and lived in South Tampa. But tragedy struck when Paulson was only five years old. Her parents divorced and little Paulson moved to Maine and then New York City with her mother. After stays in Queens and Clemency Park, the family eventually settled in Brooklyn, with Paulson spending summers in Florida with her father.
19. Office Romance
Publications like The National Enquirer started running rumors about Jessica Lange and Sarah Paulson in August 2012. The tabloids alleged that the co-stars were in love and having a torrid affair. Apparently, they started dating after a vulnerable Lange ended her marriage with Sam Shepard in 2010 and sought comfort from her friend. Lange denied the rumours and one of her spokesmen also said the story is fabricated.
Paulson took part in an 18-minute video dedicated to the Pulse nightclub shooting victims. The Human Rights Campaign teamed up with American Horror Story creator Ryan Murphy to create a video where celebrities share stories about each of the 18 victims. Paulson joined Cuba Gooding Jr., Jane Fonda, Lady Gaga, and others in the heartbreaking tribute.
Paulson’s long sting with American Horror Story sometimes leads her career to be almost synonymous with the show. For some actors, being tied to one show is undesirable (no actor wants to be type-cast), but Paulson doesn’t resent the link. She likes the “sense of family” on set and feels comfort in seeing the same cameraman, makeup and wardrobe people around her.
22. Sliding into the DMs
Paulson and her partner, Holland Taylor, met in person at a dinner party. At the time Paulson was dating actress Cherry Jones, who was 18 years her senior. However, she already knew that Taylor was “the most exquisitely beautiful woman.” They ran into each other a handful of times prior to dating but only started seeing each other after Taylor pulled a cheeky move.
Despite being the older part of the pair, Taylor slid into Paulson’s direct messages on Twitter. Who says seniors can’t handle new technology? Paulson also threw in a Rocky reference when discussing her partner’s age, “If she dies, she dies.” Dark, but funny.
23. Loud and Proud
Paulson admits that people in her circle (she doesn’t give names) advised her not to reveal her relationship with Taylor. There were worries that it would negatively impact her career, but she ignored potential nay-sayers and made her relationship public in her 2017 Emmy acceptance speech. It doesn’t look like Paulson’s career is taking a hit just yet, with four projects slated for the next two years, including a lead role in a TV show.
24. Get Ratched
Paulson will work with Ryan Murphy again on Ratched, an origin story for Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’ Nest. The prequel will show Ratched’s “murderous” rise through the mental health system, tying in with Paulson’s philosophy of ignoring whether her characters are likeable. For her, she is interested in what makes a character human.