Older men dating much younger women is pretty much the norm in the world of showbiz. See the 33-year age gap between Billy Joel and Alexis Roderick, for example. But older women dating much younger women? Well, that’s pretty rare. It’s why all eyes have been on Holland Taylor and Sarah Paulson ever since they first got together in 2015.
A notable 32 years separate the two actors, both of whom have become staples of Ryan Murphy’s ever-expanding universe thanks to roles in American Horror Story, Hollywood, and Ratched. But after going public with their relationship, Taylor and Paulson have done their best to prove that old adage: age ain’t nothing but a number.
Indeed, the glamorous couple has been more than happy to discuss the ins and outs of their May to December romance over the years and how it’s not the big deal that the tabloids claim it to be. Here’s a look at some of their most intriguing insights.
Sarah Paulson believes the age gap is a plus
A year after news of her relationship with Holland Taylor became public knowledge, Sarah Paulson hit the promotional trail for American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson. But, inevitably, her compelling and future Emmy-winning performance as prosecution lawyer Marcia Clark wasn’t the only focus.
In a 2016 chat with The New York Times, Paulson was asked about the 32 years that separate her and her partner Taylor. And she insisted that the age difference was far more of a help than a hindrance: “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.”
The star of the FX true crime drama also explained that her childhood experiences have helped to make the generation gap a non-issue: “I had a complicated home life, and my teachers, predominantly my theater teachers and my English teachers, were very dedicated to taking care of me in a particular way. And in doing so, I think I developed a very easy rapport with people older than myself.”
They first met ten years before getting together
It’s fair to say that sparks didn’t exactly fly when Holland Taylor first met Sarah Paulson a good ten years before they became romantically involved. The pair were introduced to each other at a dinner party back in 2005, as the former told People — via Daily Mail: “I already knew a lot about her because I’d seen her in a bunch of things. She was one of those up-and-coming stars who was a real head-turner. Her talent was just very striking, and she was so fabulous-looking. Then I was seated next to her.”
But far from being overjoyed about being seated next to a “real head-turner,” Taylor admitted in the 2020 chat that she groaned inside: “I remember thinking, ‘Here is this irritating girl, this irritating cooly-cool girl. A young star who’s such a big deal, who’s just going to start spouting off everything she knows about everything, like all young people do.'”
Of course, there was also another stumbling block on their long path to romance: Paulson was already dating someone else. The Ratched star was in the early stages of a five-year relationship with two-time Tony Award-winning actor Cherry Jones.
They reconnected on Twitter
After an uneventful first meeting at a dinner party, Sarah Paulson and Holland Taylor’s paths didn’t cross until nearly a decade later when they worked on a public service announcement. The pair had both been invited to fellow actor Martha Plimpton’s home to contribute to a charity organization the Raising Hope star had aligned herself with.
Appearing alongside her American Horror Story co-star Billy Eichner on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen in 2019, Paulson explained what happened next: “We sort of breezed by one another and started following each other on Twitter.” After the quick-witted Eichner chimed in with, “Holland Taylor slid into your DMs?,” the actor replied, “She actually did.”
However, according to Taylor, it was Paulson who was doing all the DM-sliding. Speaking to People in 2017, the Emmy Award winner recalled her first online interaction with her future partner: “She [saw] me in a tweet and thought I was blue about something and she said, ‘How are you? What’s happening?’ We got together shortly after that.” Taylor also admitted that social media isn’t exactly her forte, adding, “She’s very responsive to that very modern thing. I’m a different generation so I’m just sort of getting the hang of it.”
Sarah Paulson was warned about going public with the pair's romance
It wasn’t just the general public that initially seemed surprised about Sarah Paulson and Holland Taylor’s romance. According to the Game Change star, some people in her own inner circle were left stunned when they first heard the news, too. In a 2017 interview with The Edit, the actor revealed that she was even warned not to go public with the relationship over fears that it would harm her career.
Paulson claims that such thoughts had previously never entered her mind, but as a result of the furor, doubts started to creep in. And by the time she picked up an Emmy Award for her performance in American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson, the star was wondering whether to thank the love of her life. She told the magazine, “It occurred to me, ‘should I not do that?’ And then I thought, ‘why would I not?'”
Yes, Paulson ended up throwing caution to the wind and telling the whole world that she loved Taylor during her acceptance speech. And to hammer home the point even further, according to W, she later told a journalist, “I want to shout from the rooftops all the time about how much I love that person, so if I can do it in front of millions of people, why not?”
Sarah Paulson refutes claims she has mommy issues
Following her parents’ divorce, a five-year-old Sarah Paulson moved from South Tampa to Maine and then New York with her sister and mother Catherine, who subsequently got a job waitressing while also taking writing classes. Although the actor once hinted that she spent a lot of time apart from her mom as a youngster, she’s also insisted that her relationship with Holland Taylor isn’t intended to be a substitute.
In a 2018 interview with The Times, Paulson did acknowledge that she has always looked “for some kind of grounding force.” However, she refutes claims that she sees her partner since 2015 as a surrogate parent: “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.”
The Ocean’s 8 star went on to argue that the perception of those in their later years needs to change: “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.”
Sarah Paulson hopes their relationship can inspire others
Although Sarah Paulson has admitted she can’t understand everyone’s fascination with her and Holland Taylor’s romance; she acknowledges that there is an upside to all the interest. In 2018 the Bird Box star told Elle that she hopes anyone else in a relationship deemed to be unconventional can take comfort from her own.
Paulson said: “I didn’t choose to fall in love with the person I fell in love with. 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.”
The Emmy winner told Town & Country that same year she’s always been the kind of person to go against the norm: “My choices in life have been unconventional, and that’s my business. But 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. Our relationship represents a certain amount of hope and risk.” Paulson then wondered aloud whether her choices were brave and if so, she hopes others can follow in her footsteps.
Holland Taylor is surprised that Sarah Paulson is still with her
Holland Taylor and Sarah Paulson may have been together since 2015. But it seems as though the former still can’t quite believe that she’s in a relationship with such a “real head-turner.” Speaking at the Television Critics Association’s winter press conference in 2020, the former Bosom Buddies star told Us Weekly, “It’s kind of a mystery given the age difference.”
Taylor went on to add, “I’m surprised by Sarah. I mean, that we love each other and respond to each other this way is not the surprise, but that she would make a commitment like this and that she would share her life with me is a constant surprise every day really.”
The Emmy winner also spoke of Paulson’s courage in how she’s handled the 32 years that separate them. “A big age span is a challenge to any relationship. And she’s just very brave. She’s very brave and she is very truthful and she’s going to live her truth. And so I basically am following her lead and I’m blessed. I’m blessed to have the life I have right now, which no one could’ve predicted in 1,000 years. But she’s obviously at the center of my life.”
They're happy to spend time apart
Absence makes the heart grow fonder, as they say. And Sarah Paulson and Holland Taylor certainly appear to prove that there’s truth to the old proverb. Indeed, the pair aren’t one of those couples who need to spend their every waking moment together, that’s for sure, as the former told The Guardian in 2020.
Promoting her starring role in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest prequel Ratched, the actor explained that she and her partner of five years are still very much independent people: “We spend more time together than apart, but we do have several nights a week where we’re talking to each other like [through a screen] and we get to do what we want, when we want.”
Paulson revealed that she and Taylor both have their own separate houses and that since the coronavirus outbreak, they decided they should take advantage of this situation: “Really, the change happened during the pandemic, which was: we have an opportunity to protect our relationship by spending some time apart, and I think we should do that.” The Ryan Murphy regular then joked about what happens when she and Taylor reunite: “All of a sudden, we were like, ‘Hey! You’re here! What are you doing here? Get outta here!’ It’s been good.”
They're not afraid of public displays of affection
Ever since Sarah Paulson declared her love for Holland Taylor in front of millions at the 2016 Emmy Awards, Hollywood’s most high-profile same-sex age-gap couple haven’t stopped indulging in public displays of affection. The pair always make sure to link arms whenever they hit the red carpet together, and Paulson, in particular, can’t stop gushing about her partner on social media.
For example, to celebrate Taylor’s 78th birthday in 2021, the Glass star took to Instagram to post a black and white photo of her beau captioned, “All roads lead me to this face, those eyes, that soul. You are, quite simply — everything to me. Here’s looking at you, kid. Today. Tomorrow. Always. If you don’t like this picture, you are an idiot, so don’t get mad when you see it. I even made it black and white since you prefer it. So shhhhhh. It’s a perfect picture of a perfect person HAPPY BIRTHDAY DARLING.”
As reported by BuzzFeed, Paulson continued to shower her girlfriend of five years on her Instagram Stories, writing “Can’t stop, won’t stop,” on just one of many affectionate photos of the pair. But Taylor isn’t immune to the odd bit of online fangirling, either. In 2016, just a year into their relationship, she tweeted, “Way over in Manhattan, eagerly awaiting the Emmy red carpet, can’t wait for @MsSarahPaulson under ANY circumstances, but, my GOD, HER DRESS!”
Holland Taylor finds the press intrusion more difficult to handle
Before getting together with Sarah Paulson, Holland Taylor was notoriously private about her love life. She only officially came out at the age of 72 during a 2015 interview on the Death, Sex and Money podcast when asked about the likelihood of her ever marrying. The Legally Blonde star replied that she was in a relationship with a woman, but in keeping with her discreet nature, she didn’t reveal who.
Of course, we all now know that the mysterious woman was Sarah Paulson, a much younger actor who appears to be far more comfortable getting candid about her romantic relationships. And in 2017, Taylor admitted that she took some time to get used to receiving press attention for her personal life instead of her career.
In fact, the Emmy winner told InStyle that she was “blindsided” by the response to her relationship with the Blue Jay star: “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. It’s not natural to me. That doesn’t mean it’s not good, it’s just taken some adjusting. And Sarah, of course, is from a different generation, she’s very much of today.” Thankfully, Taylor appears to have adjusted, adding, “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.”
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