The Cast of Ratched on Netflix Brings Together a Who’s Who of Ryan Murphy Superstars

The Cast of Ratched on Netflix Brings Together a Who’s Who of Ryan Murphy Superstars
Once you’re in with Ryan Murphy, you’re in. Over the years, the multihyphenate writer, producer, and showrunner has cultivated a talented squad of go-to actors to populate his dizzying array of television projects, with performers like Sarah Paulson and Jessica Lange even reaching a vaunted status as go-to muses. It’s not unlike a return to the traveling theater companies of centuries past, with a familiar crew of performers rotating seamlessly through various projects and roles. Sure, it makes casting a bit of a foregone conclusion, but it’s a testament to these performers’ capabilities that they can masterfully handle anything Murphy throws at them.

Murphy’s latest project in his megawatt $300 million Netflix deal is Ratched, a prequel to Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest envisioning just how the infamous Nurse Ratched came to be so sadistic. In many ways, it’s familiar territory for Murphy–gory, campy, and visually sumptuous–but it’s also a murderer’s row of stalwarts from the Ryan Murphy Cinematic Universe, with none other than his go-to muse anchoring the cast as the fearsome nurse herself. If you’re just diving into Ratched, or if you’re a newbie to the Ryan Murphy Cinematic Universe, here’s a guide to who’s who on Netflix’s hit drama.

Sarah Paulson (Mildred Ratched)

Paulson is the undisputed queen of the Ryan Murphy Cinematic Universe, starring in Nip / Tuck, American Horror Story, Feud, and The People Vs. OJ: American Crime Story. As her star rose through television, she branched out into movies, appearing in popular films like Ocean’s 8, The Post, Carol, and 12 Years in Slave. In Ratched, catch her as Mildred Ratched herself, the infamous “Angel of Mercy” who masterfully manipulates her way into a job at a Northern California mental institution.

Finn Wittrock (Edmund Tolleson)

A multi-season regular on Murphy’s American Horror Story, Wittrock has since parlayed his television success into a film career, appearing in projects like If Beale Street Could Talk and The Big Short. In Ratched, he portrays Edmund Tolleson, a mentally disturbed serial killer with a secret connection to Nurse Ratched.

Cynthia Nixon (Gwendolyn Briggs)

If you’re a New Yorker, you may know Nixon as a former gubernatorial candidate; if not, you likely know her best as Sex and the City’s infamous Miranda Hobbs. Post-SATC, Nixon blended activism with acting, appearing on shows like Hannibal, House, and The Big C. In Ratched, she appears as Gwendolyn Briggs, the right-hand woman to the governor of California and a growing confidante to Ratched.

Jon Jon Briones (Dr. Richard Hanover)

Broadway veteran Briones is a familiar face to fans of American Horror Story and The Assassination of Gianni Versace. In Ratched, he plays Dr. Richard Hanover, the brilliant head of the mental institution, whose control over his hospital appears to be slipping.

Judy Davis (Betsy Bucket)

An Academy Award nominee and a Golden Globe winner, Davis is a Hollywood veteran who entered the Murphy-verse through 2017’s Feud. In Ratched, she plays Betsy Bucket, the hospital’s scheming head nurse who finds herself at odds with Nurse Ratched.

Charlie Carver (Huck Finnegan)

If you didn’t recognize Carver under the elaborate prosthesis it took to create Huck Finnegan, don’t sweat it. You likely know him best from shows like Teen Wolf and The Leftovers. Ratched is his first role in the Murphy-verse, though he’ll appear again soon in Netflix’s upcoming The Boys in the Band, produced by Murphy. In Ratched, Carver stars as Huck Finnigan, a kind-hearted orderly who has been disfigured by service in World War II.

Sharon Stone (Lenore Osgood)

Sharon Stone needs no introduction, yet if you’re a Murphy-verse neophyte, you might be surprised to learn that Ratched is her first collaboration with Murphy. Stone makes a feast of her part in Ratched, where she plays Lenore Osgood, a staggeringly wealthy heiress hell-bent on getting revenge against Dr. Hanover.

Alice Englert (Dolly)

An up-and-comer with credits on Top of the Lake and Them That Follow under her belt, Englert is making her debut in the Murphy-verse with Ratched. Catch her as Dolly, a doe-eyed junior nurse who’s not as innocent as she seems.

Assistant Editor
Adrienne Westenfeld is a writer and editor at Esquire, where she covers books and culture.

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