Storylines never cease to surprise Sarah Paulson

Sarah Paulson is the undisputed queen of creator Ryan Murphy's growing television empire, starring in every season of his American Horror Story anthology series since it debuted in 2011.

She also scooped up the Best Actress in a Miniseries Emmy and Golden Globe for her moving portrayal of prosecutor Marcia Clark in The People V. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, the acclaimed biopic Murphy directed last year.

But even as his go-to leading lady, Paulson is not privy to all of Murphy's thoughts on how the different seasons of his horror anthology - which share some actors but have unrelated storylines, locations and time periods - might all connect together.

Asked if he has taken her into his confidence, the actress quips: "He's definitely done that - it just hasn't been about the show."

Paulson, 42, was speaking at a gathering of television critics in Los Angeles last month, but because of Murphy's secretiveness about the new season, American Horror Story: Cult, is unable to divulge many details.

"Sometimes we get this directive, which is 'You must say nothing (about the show). And then (Murphy) comes out here and spills the entire thing. So if he were here, I would feel much easier about (discussing) it," she says nervously.

She also has her own private theories about what the series' overarching themes might be, but is not allowed to share them.

As for the popularity of the anthology - whose different seasons have explored stories such as a haunted house in Los Angeles, a mental institution in Massachusetts, a coven of witches in New Orleans and a freak show in Florida - the changing locales may have something to do with it, she speculates.

"It certainly has made it possible for the amount of stories we can tell and the scope of what we can do. There are plenty of creepy places across the United States," she says.

"But I don't know what the magic bullet is about why people love watching this show. I'm so happy to be a part of it, but I don't know what that ineffable thing is that makes it still here seven years later while other things are laying by the wayside."

The star, who scored Emmy nominations for the American Horror Story seasons Coven (2014) and Freak Show (2015), reveals that the storylines never cease to surprise her.

Sometimes she is told in advance how the narrative will unfold, but "there have been times I've been told exactly what it's going to be, then I get the script and it's, like, 'This is not what you said at all.'"

This is partly because Murphy and the other writers often change course when they stumble across a better idea, says Paulson, who is dating Two And A Half Men (2003-2015) actress Holland Taylor, 74.

"I think what happens is they get in that room and start pitching things, and things either work and take on a life of their own more than the things they thought were going to, or they start watching what people are doing (acting on the show).

"But in terms of me all of a sudden being surprised by a big giant left turn or a U-turn, at this point, nothing surprises me here. Not a damn thing."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 06, 2017, with the headline 'Storylines never cease to surprise Sarah Paulson'. Print Edition | Subscribe