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Sarah Paulson on being a real-life superhero

Sarah Paulson attends the CFDA Fashion awards in Brooklyn, New York, U.S., June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Sarah Paulson on being a real-life superhero

Sarah Paulson on being a real-life superhero

Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actress, Sarah Paulson, stars alongside Bruce Willis and James McAvoy in M. Night Shyamalan’s superhero thriller, ‘Glass’. She sits down with MiNDFOOD to talk culture, acting, and what it means to be a real-life superhero.

Sarah Paulson’s began pursuing an acting career after she graduated high school in New York City. After performing in multiple theatre productions, television and minor film roles, she landed her first Golden Globe nomination for the NBC series, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Although she was critically recognised, it wasn’t until her starring role in FX’s American Horror Story that Paulson became a Hollywood sensation. 

Do you feel like this movie is a reflection on society?

I think more and more in our society and culture, people are feeling more confident to let their true self be seen. And we are seeing a lot of really positive results, certainly in our community of stories being told that weren’t being told even five years ago. I think it’s an interesting conversation to have, to question what it means to unleash your own personal power and what would happen if you let it out? Would it turn you into a megalomaniac? Would it turn you into a person who was trying to save the world? Who knows? Or could you just try to put your shoes on every morning and just call it a day?

M. Night is probably most famous for ‘Sixth Sense’? Were you a fan of that movie?

I remember coming to see Sixth Sense, and people filing out of the theater are just totally abuzz and alive, and so I’ve always been a M. Night Shyamalan fan.

Can you talk about your relationship with Ryan Murphy (creator of ‘American Horror Story’)?

I know that my career has absolutely benefited enormously from my relationship with Ryan. All I can say is that I got really lucky because I still to this day don’t understand how he went from giving me three episodes of American Horror Story to giving me the lead in the second season. I don’t know where the jump went

What does acting mean to you?

I think I used to think that the prize at the end of the day was the result, how it was held in the view of those who watched it. And then, what I’ve come to realise is that what matters more is how I feel experientially having made it. What I don’t want to have happen is for my experience to be ruined by whatever people write about it or decide about it, or what they take away from it because the only thing that can belong to me about it is what I had while I was doing it. And it will be reduced if I poison it by letting other thoughts, including my own.

Is that why you don’t watch your own work?

There’s only so much control an actor has, so I thought the only way to free it up for myself and to not connect it to the result, is if I stopped watching. Because then I’m going to pick it apart and ruin something that might have been very beautiful to have been a part of and reduce it to, “Oh, critically they didn’t like it.” Or, “Oh, they thought I was bad.” I just thought, “Let me hold on to the thing that’s mine.”

How do you feel now that you’re famous and successful? Does it make acting easier?

Almost every single job I do, I have some kind of deep-seated feeling that I’m not going to be able to pull it off, and sometimes it works out that I did all right.

What’s your relationship to fashion? Especially on the red carpet?

You have both things happening in your brain where you think, “Who do I want to serve? My own personal assessment of something? Or do I want to fall in line with a more homogenised version of fashion and things?” And then I think, “Well I haven’t really done that in my work life so why would I do that in my apparel life?”

Who is your stylist?

Oh, my stylist is Karla Welch. And I think she’s extraordinary

Did you always like superhero movies?

I didn’t really understand it. And it wasn’t until I saw Unbreakable, that I really started being fascinated with the depth of the stories and how many parallels there are to our own lives.

What’s heroism to you?

I think just showing up every day and being able to smile at someone is a small act of heroism. And I think, acts of heroism and good deeds can sometimes be just enough to make a person a superhero.

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