"My life choices are, um, unconventional."
That's what Sarah Paulson told The Edit in 2017, and the 49-year-old wasn't referring to the various roles she's has taken on for FX's American Horror Story, which include a witch, conjoined twin sisters and a heroin junkie.
No, the Golden Globe and Emmy winner was alluding to her relationship with Holland Taylor, which has earned Paulson her share of headlines over the years. Why? Because of their age difference, which is 32 years, both women publicly acknowledging their awareness of people's fascination with their romance.
"I'm with a much older person, and people find that totally fascinating and odd," Paulson said, "and to me, it's the least interesting thing about me."
Among the most, perhaps, is the talent that's earned her some eight Emmy nods and one Golden Globe nomination. And though she lost out to The Crown's Emma Corrin when she was last nominated in 2021, she did walk away with another title from her partner of more than eight years.
That's the kind of connection Paulson spent years looking for.
She'd certainly found special bonds in her work life, talking to Julianne Moore during their 2014 Interview magazine chat about the insular American Horror Story group. "I love it, to have the same crew. I'm not married. I don't have children. My 17-year-old dog died. I'm kind of on my own. So I really like having the same camera guy for four years," she noted. "I love looking around and seeing the hair and makeup people who have been there from the beginning. I like that sense of family in my workplace, having the same pair of eyes to look into."
By the following year, Paulson was no longer on her own; she was in love. But it was a slow and steady roll-out of her new romance as her career was on the fast track after becoming Ryan Murphy's muse.
In November 2015, Taylor announced that she was in a relationship with a woman, saying it was the "most wonderful and extraordinary thing" that happened to her life. Later, she admitted to be being "blindsided" by the amount of attention the interview received. "I'm from an older generation and for me it's quite surprising how people talk about personal things of any kind in the press," Taylor InStyle. "It's not natural to me."
While it wasn't natural, it eventually felt right for Taylor. "That doesn't mean it's not good, it's just taken some adjusting," the Two and a Half Men alum said of the attention. "And Sarah, of course, is from a different generation, she's very much of today. It was hard for me at first to go through that membrane of being a private person. But it's been good for me to do it in such a lovely way."
And though reports began to surface that the Emmy Award-winning star was dating Paulson, the Ocean's 8 actress didn't confirm their romance until March 2016, and she did it in a grand way, talking about their relationship for the first time in a New York Times profile. And in a refreshing twist when it comes to celebrity interviews, Paulson didn't hold anything back when it came to her love life.
"If my life choices had to be predicated based on what was expected of me from a community on either side, that's going to make me feel really straitjacketed, and I don't want to feel that," Paulson said. "What I can say absolutely is that I am in love, and that person happens to be Holland Taylor."
And with that confident declaration, a new Hollywood power couple had officially emerged, with the Internet immediately falling in love with the pair. One sample headline from Buzzfeed? "Just A Reminder That Sarah Paulson And Holland Taylor Are More In Love Than You'll Ever Be."
And it's hard to argue with that, especially given their "meet-cute," which went down almost two decades ago, kicking off their rom-com worthy origin story.
While Paulson and Taylor began dating in 2015, they actually met 10 years prior at a dinner party. At the time, Paulson was dating actress Cherry Jones, 18 years her senior, but she admitted to the Times that she thought Taylor was "probably the most exquisitely beautiful woman I'd ever seen."
Paulson gave the CliffNotes of how their romance came to be: They bumped into each other years later. Communication and flirtation via Twitter and DMs began. They eventually went on date. The rest is history.
During the in-depth profile with the newspaper, Paulson opened up about choosing to date older women: "There's a poignancy to being with someone older. I think there's a greater appreciation of time and what you have together and what's important, and it can make the little things seem very small."
"It puts a kind of sharp light mixed with a sort of diffused light on something," she continued. "I can't say it any other way than there's a poignancy to it, and a heightened sense of time and the value of time."
Before going public with their romance, Taylor subtly hinted at her mystery woman's age difference, saying that it was sure to "shock a lot of people," admitting it even "startles me…but as they say, 'If she dies, she dies.'"
In 2016, Paulson once again declared her love for Taylor in a loud and public way on TV's biggest night of the year, telling her "I love you" during her acceptance speech after winning her first Emmy for her portrayal of Marcia Clark (her date for the event) in The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.
Taylor's response on Twitter as she watched (and live-tweeted) from home? "There it is."
But in a 2017 interview with The Edit, Paulson admitted to initially questioning whether or not to acknowledge Taylor in her acceptance speech.
"It occurred to me, should I not do that? And then I thought, why would I not?" Paulson said. "The fact I'm having this thought is wrong. But I had a moment of societal concern; wondering if, maybe, people who didn't know that about me would be like, wait, what? But then, you know, I did it anyway."
While they've publicly confirmed their romance and often attend events together, including the 2018 Emmy Awards, Paulson is hesitant to talk about her relationship, even revealing to The Edit in 2017 that she was told by some to keep their romance secret, saying they were afraid it was going to have a negative impact on her career. (And to those people we say: LOL, have you seen Paulson's TV and movie success?)
Though Paulson said "it never occurred to me at all" to worry that being with Taylor could have a negative effect on her career, when she does talk about it, it's on her terms. "I do not want to be defined by who I share my bed, my home, my soul with," she told Town & Country in January 2018. "My choices in life have been unconventional, and that's my business."
But then Paulson went on to say she felt it was worth "normalizing" their relationship by speaking about it and not hiding from the cameras.
"I do want to live responsibly and truthfully without hiding. It's complicated, because there is a lot of hate in this world, and a lot of good can come from quote-unquote normalizing something for people who don't see it as normal," she said. "Our relationship represents a certain amount of hope and risk. Maybe there's something brave in it. Maybe it encourages others to make brave choices. What else can I say? We love each other."
"I didn't choose to fall in love with the person I fell in love with," Paulson told the magazine. "But I think why it's interesting to people is that on paper, it's unconventional. For a person who might find themselves in a situation that they fear will be misperceived or judged, maybe they could see me living my life in a way that is authentic to me—just trying to be as real as possible. If that inspires anybody else, that can't be a bad thing."
And if someone does have a problem with their romance, Paulson has a message for them. "If someone wants to spend any time thinking I'm strange for loving the most spectacular person on the planet, then that's their problem," she told Modern Luxury. "I'm doing just fine."
And for Paulson, age is nothing but a number, even when it comes to getting older herself. "Every once in a while, I'll go, 'Wow. That's seven years shy of 50. That's the big five-oh," she said in 2018, reflecting on turning 43 at the time. "But then I go, 'Stop running seven years down the road. You have no idea what your life will look like and where you'll be.' And that's just what makes life so sweet. You cross your fingers, take a deep breath and jump. And that's really all you can do."
As for whether or not motherhood will play a role in their future, Paulson is admittedly conflicted given her work schedule. (Though she revealed in an interview with The Sunday Times that she had frozen her eggs "just in case.")
"I don't want to be torn," she told Town & Country. "I don't want to look at my child and say, ‘You're the most extraordinary thing that ever happened to me, but also the death knell.' It was hard for my mother to be everywhere, to come to the school play and make a living. I've always known what I wanted out of my professional life, and I didn't want to turn around and go, 'If I had only made the choice to just dedicate this time in my life to me.' It's selfish, but I think the word selfish gets a bad rap."
And no, armchair therapist, don't bother theorizing that her relationship with Taylor has anything to do with mommy issues. "People look at me and Holland and say, 'Mommy issues,' but I parent her as much as she parents me, so that's not it," Paulson said during an interview with The Sunday Times.
She continued, "I think a lot of people have a stunted way of looking at older people, it's a way of distancing themselves from something that they think will not happen to them...I have the good fortune of being with someone who is older and wiser than I am."
But that doesn't mean they don't have their arguments. When Paulson FaceTimed during Taylor's InStyle interview, the Mr. Mercedes star wasn't amused by a certain item of clothing she saw on-screen. The magazine recounted, "'That's my sweatshirt she's wearing,' she says, with a studied comedic pause. 'Bitch.'"
And last year, Paulson provided the ultimate Instagram tribute on Taylor's birthday:
Can you say relationship goals?
(This story was originally published on Monday, Jan. 14, 2019 at 9 a.m. PT.)