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.