Sarah Catharine Paulson (born December 17, 1974) is an American film, stage, and television actress. She began acting on stage, and in the 1990s starred in American Gothic (1995–96), and Jack & Jill (1999–2001). She later appeared in comedy films such as What Women Want (2000) and Down with Love (2003), and had dramatic roles in Path to War (2002) and The Notorious Bettie Page (2005). From 2006 to 2007, Paulson played the role of Harriet Hayes in the NBC comedy drama series Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, for which she received a Golden Globe Award nomination. In 2008, she starred as Ellen Dolan in the superhero noir film The Spirit.
Paulson appeared in the Broadway plays The Glass Menagerie (2005) and Collected Stories (2010). She also starred in a number of made-for-television movies and independent films, and had a leading role on the ABC comedy series Cupid in 2009. She later starred in the independent drama Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011), and received Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for her performance as Nicolle Wallace in the HBO movie Game Change (2012).
In 2011, Paulson began starring in the FX anthology series American Horror Story, playing different characters in each of the show’s five seasons. For her performance in the second season, she won the Critics’ Choice Television Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Movie/Miniseries and was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in 2013. Also in 2013, Paulson starred as Mary Epps in the Oscar-winning historical drama 12 Years a Slave, for which she received critical acclaim. She was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie for the third season of American Horror Story in 2014. In 2015, Paulson won a second Critics’ Choice Television Award and received a nomination for Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for the fourth season of American Horror Story. She also starred as Abby Gerhard in the 2015 drama film Carol. In 2016, Paulson portrayed prosecutor Marcia Clark in American Crime Story: The People v. O. J. Simpson, the companion spin-off series to American Horror Story.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Career
- 3 Personal life
- 4 Filmography
- 5 Awards and nominations
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Paulson was born on December 17, 1974 in Tampa, Florida, to Catharine Gordon (née Dolcater) and Douglas Lyle Paulson II. She lived in South Tampa until she was 5, when her parents divorced. She then spent time in Maine, before moving to New York City at the age of 5 with her mother. She lived in Queens and Gramercy Park, before settling in Park Slope, Brooklyn. She spent her summers in Florida visiting her father. Paulson attended Manhattan’s High School of Performing Arts and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
Paulson began working as an actress right out of high school. She appeared in the Horton Foote play, Talking Pictures, at the Signature Theatre, and an episode of Law & Order in 1994. Paulson did Friends at Last (1995), a Hallmark movie of the week opposite Kathleen Turner. She then went to North Carolina to appear on the short-lived cult television series American Gothic. Paulson then played Elisa Cronkite on The WB comedy-drama series Jack & Jill (1999).
Paulson had a minor role in the HBO series Deadwood and was a focal character in an episode of the critically acclaimed FX series Nip/Tuck. She appeared on the short-lived NBC series Leap of Faith as the main character. In 2004, she had a supporting role in the ABC series The D.A., but that show also ended after a few episodes. Paulson starred in a revival of The Glass Menagerie on Broadway and has appeared Off-Broadway in Killer Joe, and Colder Than Here. Paulson’s movie credits include Down with Love, What Women Want, The Other Sister, Levitation, and Serenity.
In the 2006-07 television season, Paulson co-starred in NBC’s Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip playing Harriet Hayes, one of the stars of the show-within-a-show. To date, this is her most notable role, earning her a nomination for Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film. In December 2008, Paulson appeared in the screen adaptation of Will Eisner’s comic book The Spirit, playing an updated version of the character Ellen Dolan.
On August 25, 2008, ABC ordered her pilot Cupid to series. It was a remake of the 1998 series starring Jeremy Piven and Paula Marshall. In the new version, Paulson starred opposite Bobby Cannavale. It debuted in late March 2009 on ABC but was canceled on May 19, 2009, after only six episodes had aired. In February 2010, Paulson portrayed the circa 1982 mother of main character Meredith Grey, on the hit ABC primetime drama Grey’s Anatomy. She played Nicolle Wallace in the HBO film Game Change (2012), based on events of the 2008 U.S. presidential election campaign. In 2011, Paulson guest starred in three episodes of the FX anthology series American Horror Story, playing a medium, Billie Dean Howard. Paulson returned for season two, American Horror Story: Asylum, in which she played a new character, Lana Winters, a writer who is committed to an asylum for being gay. She appeared in the third season of the series, titled American Horror Story: Coven as Cordelia Foxx, a witch who runs an academy for other young witches. She has also appeared in the fourth season of the show, titled American Horror Story: Freak Show, portraying conjoined twin sisters Bette and Dot Tattler. She also returned for the fifth season of American Horror Story, subtitled Hotel, portraying the role of Hypodermic Sally. She starred in the 2012 film Mud, the 2013 film 12 Years a Slave and the 2015 film Carol.
Paulson has also had a successful theatre career. In 2005, she starred as Laura Wingfield in a revival of Tennessee Williams’ play The Glass Menagerie alongside Jessica Lange, Josh Lucas, and Christian Slater. In 2010, Paulson starred in Donald Margulies’s Collected Stories alongside Linda Lavin. Paulson starred in a revival of Lanford Wilson’s Talley’s Folly alongside Danny Burstein in 2013.
Ryan Murphy announced in 2014 that Paulson was a member of the cast of his upcoming true crime anthology series, American Crime Story. She is portrayed prosecutor Marcia Clark in The People v. O.J. Simpson. The 10 part FX mini-series debuted on February 2, 2016.
Paulson started dating actress Cherry Jones in 2004. The couple declared their love for each other in 2007, during an interview with Velvetpark at Women’s Event 10 for the LGBT Center of NYC. They broke up in 2009. In an interview with Broadway.com in 2013 during the revival of Talley’s Folly, Paulson stated that she only dated men before her relationship with Jones, and that she has not been in a relationship since their breakup, but, referring to her sexuality, she said “the situation is fluid for me.” In December 2015, it was reported that Paulson and actress Holland Taylor were in a relationship.
Awards and nominations
- List of actors who have played comic book characters
- List of actors who have played multiple roles in the same television series