Sarah Paulson

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Sarah Paulson
Sarah Paulson SDCC 2014.jpg
Paulson at the 2014 Comic-Con International
Born Sarah Catharine Paulson
(1974-12-17) December 17, 1974 (age 39)
Tampa, Florida, U.S.
Alma mater AADA, New York City, New York
Occupation Actress
Years active 1994–present
Partner(s) Cherry Jones (2004–09)[1]

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 was nominated for a Golden Globe Award.[2] In 2008, she starred as Ellen Dolan in the superhero noir film The Spirit.

Paulson appeared in a Broadway plays The Glass Menagerie in 2005, and Collected Stories in 2010.[3][4] She also starred in the 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).[2]

In 2011, Paulson began starring in the FX anthology series American Horror Story. 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.[2] Also in 2013, Paulson starred as Mary Epps in the Oscar-winning historical drama 12 Years a Slave. 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.

Early life[edit]

Paulson was born in Tampa, Florida, the daughter of Catharine Gordon (née Dolcater) and Douglas Lyle Paulson II.[5] She lived in South Tampa until she was 5, when her parents divorced.[6] She spent time in Maine before moving to New York City at the age of five with her mother. She lived in Queens and Gramercy Park, before settling in Park Slope, Brooklyn. She spent her summers in Florida to visit her father.[6] Paulson attended Manhattan's High School of Performing Arts[7][8] and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.[6]


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.[7] Paulson then played Elisa Cronkite on The WB comedy-drama series Jack & Jill (1999).[9]

Paulson at the premiere of 12 Years a Slave at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival

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.

Paulson leaving the Toronto International Film Festival screening of Martha Marcy May Marlene

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 6 episodes aired. In February 2010, Paulson portrayed the circa 1982 mother of main character Meredith Grey, on the hit ABC primetime drama Grey's Anatomy.[10] She plays 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 3 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 completely new character, Lana Winters, a writer who is committed to an asylum for being a lesbian. 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. Paulson also co-starred in the 2012 film Mud and the 2013 film 12 Years a Slave.

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.

Personal life[edit]

She dated actress Cherry Jones, the couple declaring their love for each other in 2007, during an interview with Velvetpark at Women's Event 10 for the LGBT Center of NYC.[11] They broke up in 2009.[12] In an interview with 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 her breakup with Jones, but that she is open to relationships with women and men going forward.[13]

Paulson has a lisp.[14] She has a tattoo on her left wrist - an 'A' and an 'M' in reference to her two pet dogs that died. She also has tattoos of stars on the back of her neck, a star tattoo on the top of her right foot, and a Chinese symbol tattooed on her left ankle.



Year Title Role Notes
1995 Friends at Last Diana (age 21) Television film
1996 Shaughnessy Unknown Television film
1997 Levitation Acey
1998 Long Way Home, TheThe Long Way Home Leanne Bossert Television film
1999 Other Sister, TheThe Other Sister Heather Tate
1999 Held Up Mary
2000 What Women Want Annie
2002 Bug Eilleen
2002 Path to War Luci Baines Johnson Television film
2003 Down with Love Vikki Hiller
2005 Swimmers Merrill
2005 Serenity Dr. Caron
2005 Notorious Bettie Page, TheThe Notorious Bettie Page Bunny Yeager
2006 Diggers Julie
2006 Griffin & Phoenix Peri
2006 Christmas Wedding, AA Christmas Wedding Emily Television film
2008 Spirit, TheThe Spirit Ellen Dolan
2009 Whose Dog is it Anyway? Emma Short film
2010 After-School Special Woman Short film
2010 November Christmas Beth Marks Television film
2011 New Year's Eve Grace Schwab
2011 Martha Marcy May Marlene Lucy
2012 Stars in Shorts Woman
2012 Fairhaven Kate
2012 Game Change Nicolle Wallace Television film
2012 The Time Being Sarah
2012 Mud Mary Lee
2013 12 Years a Slave Mistress Mary Epps
2015 Carol Abby Gerhard Post-production
2015 The Runner Kate Haber Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
1994 Law & Order Maggie Conner Episode: "Family Values"
1995–96 American Gothic Merlyn Temple 18 episodes
1997 Cracker: Mind Over Murder Janice 2 episodes
1998 Real Life Lucy Episode: "Unaired Pilot"
1999–2001 Jack & Jill Elisa Cronkite 31 episodes
2000 Metropolis Audrey Unsold TV pilot
2001 Touched by an Angel Zoe Episode: "Manhunt"
2002 Leap of Faith Faith Wardwell 6 episodes
2004 The D.A. Chief Dep. Dist. Attrny. Lisa Patterson 2 episodes
2004 Nip/Tuck Agatha Ripp Episode: "Agatha Ripp"
2005 Deadwood Miss Isringhausen 9 episodes
2006–07 Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip Harriet Hayes 22 episodes
2008 Pretty/Handsome Corky Fromme Unsold TV pilot
2007–11 Desperate Housewives Lydia 2 episodes
2009 Cupid Claire McCrae 7 episodes
2010 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Anne Gillette Episode: "Shadow"
2010 Grey's Anatomy Young Ellis Grey Episode: "The Time Warp"
2010 The Sopranos One Off - Mental Doctor Episode: "The Sopranos "
2011–present American Horror Story Billie Dean Howard 3 episodes (Murder House)
Lana Winters 13 episodes (Asylum)
Cordelia Foxx 13 episodes (Coven)
Bette and Dot Tattler 2 episodes (Freak Show)


Year Title Role Notes
1994 Talking Pictures Vesta Jackson
1998–99 Killer Joe Dottie Smith
2005 Colder Than Here Harriet
2005 The Glass Menagerie Laura Wingfield
2008 Crimes of the Heart Meg Magrath
2009 Still Life Carrie Ann
2010 Collected Stories Lisa Morrison
2013 Talley's Folly Sally Talley

Awards and nominations[edit]


  1. ^ Warn, Sarah (June 7, 2005). "Sarah Paulson in the Spotlight". Retrieved 2007-11-18. 
  2. ^ a b c "Sarah Paulson Biography". Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  3. ^ Brantley, Ben (March 23, 2005). "A 'Menagerie' Full of Stars, Silhouettes and Weird Sounds". The New York Times. Retrieved February 7, 2014. 
  4. ^ Isherwood, Charles (April 29, 2010). "A Literary Life Can Turn Lonely When the Cheering Stops". The New York Times. Retrieved February 7, 2014. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b c Persaud, Babita (March 28, 2002). "A big leap from Tampa". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved February 6, 2014. 
  7. ^ a b "A Conversation with Actor: Sarah Paulson". Broadway World. February 4, 2013. Retrieved December 14, 2013. 
  8. ^ Yant, Monica (January 3, 1996). "'Gothic' door to stardom opens Series: CONNECTIONS". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 13 January 2014. 
  9. ^ "Sarah Paulson | Movies and Biography - Yahoo Movies". Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  10. ^ Ausiello, Michael (January 20, 2010). "Exclusive: 'Grey's Anatomy' recasts Richard and Ellis!". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 13 January 2014. 
  11. ^ "Cherry Jones & Sarah Paulson, interview Velvetpark". Bing. Retrieved 13 January 2014. 
  12. ^ "Cherry Jones & Sarah Paulson Call It Quits With ‘Happiest Break-Up’". 2009-09-09. Retrieved 2009-10-13. 
  13. ^ "Talley’s Folly Star Sarah Paulson on Not Starring in Annie, Not Playing Kristin Chenoweth and Not 'Boffing' Jessica Lange". Key Brand Entertainment. Retrieved 13 January 2014. 
  14. ^ Lawrence, Vanessa (February 2013). "Five Minutes With Sarah Paulson". W Magazine. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 

External links[edit]