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The Real Reason Sharon Stone Took Her Role In Ratched

Ken Kesey's 1962 novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and its subsequent 1975 film adaptation helped spark the widespread intrigue society has on abnormal psychology and how mental health patients have been (and still are) treated poorly. While pop culture has significantly referenced the novel and film over the years, no one has dared to significantly touch the classic story — until now. 

To win over fans of the original and amass viewers of a new generation, the latest iteration of the iconic One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest characters had to be done with care — both honoring the source material and taking the story in a new direction. The upcoming Ryan Murphy Netflix series Ratched, led by Sarah Paulson in the title role, does just that. Instead of trying to rewrite the original, the series takes the plot in a modern direction that both new and returning fans can enjoy and learn from. 

Just as in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, on Ratched, supporting characters shine as brightly as the headliners, offering up a rich tapestry of drama and neurosis. Basic Instinct actress Sharon Stone steps out of her usual film roles for the series to take on the character Lenore Osgood — the rich single mother with a pet monkey who has as many family secrets as she does diamonds.

Looper recently participated in a press conference interview with the Ratched cast, during which Stone revealed exactly why Lenore appealed to her and what most excited her about taking on the role.

A role fit for a queen

When asked if she could speak to why she wanted to portray Lenore on Ratched, Stone answered simply, "It's a series of things. A lot of things happen." She then elaborated, "When I heard that Ryan wanted to meet with me and that he had a part for me, [it was really exciting] because he's so brilliant — and because I thought that other women that I had admired, like Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates, had done these incredibly interesting [kinds] of guest pieces in these other shows that were so interesting to me." 

Being primarily a movie actress, Stone wasn't used to taking on TV guest spots, but of course, she nailed the role anyway. Her performance as Lenore certainly lives up to the quality of the Murphy staples Stone mentioned; Lange and Bates have offered astounding turns on several seasons of American Horror Storyand Stone is just as captivating on Ratched. Part of what makes Lenore so intriguing — to viewers and to Stone herself — is her complexity and eccentricity.

"As I started to look at the character, I liked that there were so many vagaries about her and that we had to figure out. First of all, why is she this kind of person? How the hell did she get there, to begin with? And what kind of backstory leads a person to be this thing?" Stone questioned. "And so [in] building this character, [it's really] interesting because you have to find out what it is [Lenore's] covering up, and then what she's covered it with, and then what were those failures that made the character so insecure?"

No more monkey business

While the series is, at its core, an antihero medical drama, pieces of a "whodunnit" mystery unfold at every turn. There's a significant amount of sleuthing done by both the characters and viewers that lead to many twists and turns along the way. The actors had to navigate that rollercoaster just as much as the audience. As Stone explained, "[There was] this enormous failure that caused this internal schism and that caused her to, ultimately, have a monkey on her back, both literally and metaphorically."

Stone's kooky character is never without her monkey, who often joyrides on her shoulder or trails in the background dressed to the nines in bejeweled gowns. Stone remarked on Lenore's pet, "What is the metaphorical monkey on the back, and what is the intimacy? What is the intimate relationship with the metaphorical monkey on the back? I thought all of this was really interesting." 

However, according to Stone, the monkey served little more than a garnish for Lenore — a lavish decoration for her equally lavish character. But that's what makes the choice so perfect for Lenore: It's entirely unnecessary, but as a status of wealth and grandeur, she just had to have it. The monkey, being a symbol of her status, means more to her than the people in her life.

Stone noted, "I thought [at one point], we could erase the monkey at the end and that it would all be the same. The character would be the same character, even if we took the monkey out because it all ultimately meant the same thing for the character." She continued, "And so it was just a really different process and a different type of character than I'd ever approached before. And I thought that that was going to be – and it was – very challenging and really interesting."

The nurses have prepared their stations (and needles), and are ready for new patients now. Ratched is currently streaming on Netflix.