Will this finally be Sarah Paulson’s year? The American Horror Story veteran nabbed two Emmy nominations this year – one for American Horror Story: Hotel and another for her show-stopping performance in The People V OJ Simpson: American Crime Story.
Paulson has never won an Emmy. She’s been nominated four times prior to this year, three times for various seasons of Horror Story and another for HBO’s Game Change.
Year after year, critics have questioned how Paulson has not yet walked away with a golden statue (especially after playing conjoined twins Bette and Dot on American Horror Story: Freak Show), and with her performance as Marcia Clark in People V OJ, many are saying 2016 is the year Paulson will win her much-deserved Emmy – and, she could walk away with two.
“Now I know what Allison Janney feels like!” Paulson quipped to Variety on a phone call, shortly after the nominations were announced. “Allison is a good friend of mine and I always marveled at what that must be like, and now that’s me!” With the spotlight on her, Paulson admits that she does feel some pressure – and she would like to win – but she’s focusing on what she already won: Her experiences on both shows.
“I feel a little bit of pressure. I don’t want to let anybody down,” she said. “I appreciate that people feel that passionately about wanting a victorious night for me, but I personally have to sit in the place of if I give it that much weight, it will take away everything I learned about being a woman, a human, my experience with the other actors – and am I going to let an award take that away? No. So the experience has to be paramount and the other stuff has to be the gravy. But don’t get me wrong, I like gravy!” Paulson’s double Emmy nominations are reflective of the double life she lived, while shooting both AHS and People V OJ Simpson simultaneously.
“I was playing them both at the same time. It was a very bizarre time and a very blurry time when I think back about it,” Paulson recalled of playing both Marcia Clark and Hypodermic Sally. “I would go to work as Marcia, the next day I would go to Horror Story and play Sally, then I would go to Crime Story in the morning and they would de-Sally me,” she explained of going from one set where she was playing the famed attorney to another where she was playing a whacked-out junkie.
“The most surprising thing for me is I thought I was going to have a very very hard time in terms of splitting myself off. The only way I was able to approach it was to not overthink it. I had to leave my brain at the door. I needed my brain in a very, very specific way as Marcia, and I needed to bring my full self to that. Sally, I went more animal instinct – I just didn’t think. I just did. It’s been a great lesson for me in the work I’ve done since because it’s very freeing to check my over-obsessive thinking and way of working and just trying to trust myself.
“Something about playing Marcia sort of opened up in me as an actor, and as a person, opened a window of trust in myself. I didn’t have the mental time or energy to overthink it because I was so taxed from doing the Marcia stuff. Sally was all impulse.”
Though Paulson said The People V OJ Simpson taught her how to open up and become more trustworthy in herself, she actually still hasn’t been able to bring herself to watch the series. So, will she ever? “I will watch it, I think, when all of this is all over – when it’s no longer the year of OJ,” Paulson says.
“There was something about playing Marcia that was so so close to my heart that I just don’t want to sully it by being self critical. I’m really hard on myself and I’m having a nice time enjoying the lovely things people are saying to me about it and I just want that to be my reality. It’s a little act of self care that I’m doing for myself.” – Reuters/Elizabeth Wagmeister