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Her co-star in The Roundabout Theatre Company’s revival of “Talley’s Folly” is Danny Burstein, a Tony nominee who has found in Paulson a kindred spirit. Both arrive 90 minutes before each show and run the first 20 pages together.

“I hit the jackpot. She is a tremendous colleague who is there for you 100 percent of the time,” he says. “She’s also brilliant and loving and constantly questioning things, which is exactly what you want.”

While the stage has often beckoned for Paulson _ her first professional stage gig was in an off-Broadway production of Horton Foote’s “Talking Pictures” in 1994 _ it’s not always comfortable.

“It’s something that really terrifies me, actually. I’m really scared out there. I get more comfortable as I go along but then sometimes on a random night I’ll just get completely petrified and I can’t feel my feet or my hands,” she says.

“I will text Amanda and be like, `Remind me again why this is a good idea? Who decided that this was a good idea to get up in front of people and perform? This is ridiculous. Put me back in a box in a black room with a camera and a microphone where everyone can edit it and make it look great.’”

Soon enough, she’ll be there, filming Season 3 of “American Horror Story,” details of which she can’t reveal. But she does acknowledge that she’ll be reunited with one of her childhood idols, Jessica Lange.

It was Lange who inspired Paulson to be an actress. At 15, she came across the film “Frances” playing on a TV and watched a scene in which Lange displayed, in turns, longing, hatred, fear and love.

“Nobody can do 15 things at once better than Jessica Lange and I was like, `What is that? If that is acting, that is what I want to do,’” Paulson says. “It was, to me, the most extraordinary thing I’d ever seen.”

Upcoming projects for Paulson include Steve McQueen’s film “Twelve Years a Slave,” where Paulson plays a nasty slave owner’s wife opposite Michael Fassbender, and Jeff Nichols’ film “Mud,” starring alongside Reese Witherspoon and Matthew McConaughey.

Her career is on boil right now but Paulson still has a regret or two. One has to do with a tattoo she had done a few years ago on her lower back. It’s of Thumper, the Disney rabbit.

Why? She had admired a friend’s tiny tattoo of Kermit the Frog’s head and tried to copy the impulse. She ended up with Thumper, and it’s in a pale blue that’s hard to remove.

“The quintessential thing about me is that my eyes are bigger than my stomach _ about everything,” she says, laughing. “So I’m stuck with this goddamn Thumper who looks like he’s stoned. He’s giggling with his foot in the air like he just smoked a giant joint. It’s so not me. I’m such an idiot.”



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