The Carol actor stars in Impeachment: American Crime Story as Linda Tripp, one of the most notorious figures in the Lewinsky/Bill Clinton scandal. Tripp, a close friend of Lewinsky’s, secretly recorded the young intern’s boasts about an affair with the president, which Tripp then handed over to investigators.
To play Tripp, Paulson donned prosthetic teeth and nose and a fat suit. Due to the extent of the make-up and padding, however, Paulson’s casting has prompted a backlash, with the actor facing criticism for accepting a role that could have been played by an actor with a physique and appearance more similar to the actual Tripp.
Paulson addressed the controversy in a new interview, admitting that she wished she had thought more about accepting the role.
“It’s very hard for me to talk about this without feeling like I’m making excuses,” Paulson told The Los Angeles Times. “There’s a lot of controversy around actors and fat suits, and I think that controversy is a legitimate one. I think fatphobia is real. I think to pretend otherwise causes further harm.”
Paulson added that “suspension of belief” is part of the “magic” of film and television, and called playing Tripp “the challenge of a lifetime” and therefore impossible to resist.
“I think the thing I think about the most is that I regret not thinking about it more fully,” she continued. “And that is an important thing for me to think about and reflect on. I also know it’s a privileged place to be sitting and thinking about it and reflecting on it, having already gotten to do it, and having had an opportunity that someone else didn’t have. You can only learn what you learn when you learn it. Should I have known? Abso-f***ing-lutely. But I do now. And I wouldn’t make the same choice going forward.”
Impeachment stars Beanie Feldstein as Lewinsky and Clive Owen as President Clinton, with Edie Falco in a supporting role as Hillary Clinton.
Feldstein recently said that she “probably [would have done] the exact same thing” as Lewinsky if she were in her shoes in the late Nineties.
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Impeachment: American Crime Story will start airing in the US on 7 September on FX. A UK air date has yet to be confirmed, but the show’s first two seasons were broadcast on BBC Two shortly after airing in the US.