En español | Two-time AARP cover subject Sharon Stone plays a millionaire with a pet monkey perched on her back in Ryan Murphy's new series Ratched, the origin story of the Big Nurse character in Ken Kesey's classic One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. It stars Sarah Paulson as the younger version of the villainous health professional that Louise Fletcher won an Oscar for playing in the 1975 film, which was set in the 1950s — Ratched is set in 1947. Stone explains the story's significance for women, for older actors and for her personally.
How did you come to be involved with Ratched?
Ryan Murphy said that he had written this part for me. I took that pretty seriously, because he had written great parts for great women in the past. For older women like myself [and Jessica Lange], I feel like he continues to write such great work.
Tell us about your character, eccentric heiress Lenore Osgood.
My character's nuts! She is extremely wealthy, she's twice widowed, and she has a son. Her perverse ways become increasingly extreme. She also has a capuchin monkey as her pet and companion. It's a Ryan Murphy show.
What do you find most profound about Ratched?
My grandmother and grandfather were quite wealthy, but then they lost their wealth and my grandmother went to work in an asylum. My dad was given away when he was really little, and that's where he went to visit his mother. I thought a lot about what it must have been like for him to go see his mom working in an asylum. In that period, as we saw in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, people got put in an asylum for a variety of reasons, and a lot of reasons didn't have anything to do with mental illness. My dad made a friend who was put in there because he had a cleft palate. My dad, as an adolescent boy, worked and got the money so that he could get the operation for his friend to get him out of there. They became best friends for life. I saw really clearly what could happen, what needed to change and how it could be changed. That movie and those circumstances were something close to my heart.
What was it like having Pablo the monkey as a scene partner?
I just wish that I could go with Jane Goodall — who I've become acquaintances with — into the wild and learn more, because the experience that I had with this monkey made me much more present as an actor. The monkey would react to everything that I was saying. I would tell the monkey, “Don't do that. Here's what the scene is about.” We had one scene where the monkey was supposed to be not too bad, but I'd tell him that he could be as bad as he wanted to be. “Just be a stinker!” We had the greatest time. This monkey has the best comedic timing. He was in Pirates of the Caribbean and quite a few other things.
And how was it to work with your eminent human costars — including Cynthia Nixon, Amanda Plummer, Sophie Okonedo, Corey Stoll, Vincent D'Onofrio and Judy Davis?
So many of the brave steps that I've taken in my own career were based on things that Judy Davis did. When I was going to do Basic Instinct, I watched Impromptu about a thousand times. I kept thinking that if she could play George Sand, if she could lay under that piano where Hugh Grant was Chopin, if she could play these kinds of parts, if she could be so brave — I could be brave, too. For such an incredibly reserved and shy woman, she is such an extraordinarily brave actress. She really inspires me.
What were women up against in 1947?
We had Rosie the Riveter working in the factories while the men went away to war. When the men came back, were they then given all those rights that they actually earned? No. Until these things become written laws, they're not going to become the foundation that we stand on. They're still written in sand.
What was it like to work with Sarah Paulson, who produced Ratched?
She's so on time for an era where women are actually allowed to do something. In my era, we were given a lot of false things in our contract, approvals of this person, approvals of your directors, approvals of this or that, but they weren't real. It was what they call a vanity deal. You didn't have anything. Sarah is a young woman coming into the full flesh of her stardom, and Ryan is the kind of producer who is actually respecting her deal. We've become great friends.
What are you excited for viewers to experience with Ratched?
If you're into architecture, cars, costumes, sets, jewelry, great actors, then this is your show!
Sharon Stone's Playlist
This playlist was made from my own music library, collected over many years, from the time I used to do this on cassettes until today. Thanks for listening.
I wanted to make a COVID-19 playlist, with a couple of love songs and a couple of “f-u” songs, since that is how we are all feeling.
LTZGOCRZY/2020SUMMER is made with love. Hope it gives you some fun and some happy memories and the knowledge that I am with you, heart and soul!