Sarah Paulson is proving once again just how versatile of an actress she is. The American Horror Story darling has been cast in director Danny Strong’s upcoming J.D. Salinger biopic, Rebel in the Rye, according to Entertainment Weekly. Paulson will play Salinger’s “fiercely loyal agent,” Dorothy Olding, who was the iconic author’s earliest supporter and was by his side throughout his career.
Sarah Paulson is the latest big name attached to the highly anticipated movie, which stars Nicholas Hoult (Mad Max: Fury Road) as the notoriously private writer. In addition to Paulson and Hoult, Hope Davis, Victor Garber, Zoey Deutch, and Brian d’Arcy James will star in the film. In another major casting coup, Kevin Spacey will play Salinger’s mentor, Whit Burnett. Burnett, a Columbia University professor, was the editor of Story magazine and heavily influenced the young writer’s career.
Olding died in 1997, so Paulson won’t be able to study her the way she recently studied Marcia Clark. Sarah played the O.J. Simpson prosecutor in the FX series American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson, and in an interview with the New York Times, Paulson said she studied Clark’s mannerisms so much that she recognized her by her walk and her hands before she could see her face when they met in person.
Sarah told NPR that she studied Clark in every way possible to prepare for the high-profile role on the FX biopic and that she wanted to meet Clark in person so they could be in the same moment together.
“I read, watched and listened to any and everything I could get my hands on. The more I read about her, the more I knew about her, the more I just wanted to get it right. That was my primary concern, was just to get it right — and by right I mean just for it to be authentic and truthful.”
“I don’t even know that I wanted to know anything specific, I just wanted to breathe the same air that she was breathing, in the same moment,” Sarah said of her meeting with the famed prosecutor. “I had so immersed myself in all things, Marcia Rachel Clark, that the idea that I could be sitting across from her… I just kind of wanted to hug her. I wanted to look her in the eye and tell her that she didn’t have to be fearful of the take that was going to be presented about her, given all that I knew she had endured.”
sarah paulson as marcia clark appreciation tweet pic.twitter.com/ln5rdeFJUM— flokita (@dearoliver) April 26, 2016
Sarah Paulson is best known for her work on the FX anthology American Horror Story, but her recent roles have shown fans a different side of her. (Not that AHS hasn’t shown more than one side of her; she did play conjoined twins in the Freak Show season, after all.) But no matter what the role, it’s clear that Sarah Paulson does her homework when she prepares to play a real-life person.
As for what to expect with Sarah’s latest role as Dorothy Olding, the literary agent’s obituary described her as “the Unsinkable Molly Brown, but with class.” In addition to Salinger, Olding represented Ira Levin (Rosemary’s Baby), Agatha Christie, Pearl S. Buck, and many more famous writers.
Sarah Paulson’s upcoming J.D. Salinger film will follow the life of the legendary author from his troubled youth to his time fighting in WWII to the birth of his most famous literary work, The Catcher in the Rye.
Take a look at the video below to see Sarah Paulson talking about playing Marcia Clark on American Crime Story.
[Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images]