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Hillary Clinton explains why she opened up about husband's affair in new docuseries

Clinton spoke to Ellen DeGeneres about the "emotionally draining experience" of revisiting the Monica Lewinsky affair for a new Hulu documentary.
/ Source: TODAY

Hillary Clinton knew that agreeing to open up about everything in her life for a new four-part documentary meant that there was no avoiding the painful and public scandal involving former President Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.

The former secretary of state spoke on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" Thursday about why she decided to revisit the extramarital affair between Lewinsky and her husband for the upcoming docuseries "Hillary" on Hulu.

"It was a really emotionally draining experience to go through it again, but I have to say, once I saw the whole four hours of the documentary, I hope that our talking about this, my willingness to address all of this, really does help other people," she told DeGeneres. "People need to be thoughtful about the decisions they make in their own lives, and we should be kinder and more supportive to everybody who makes the best decisions that they think they can make."

President Clinton also speaks in the documentary, which will be released March 6, about his affair with a then-22-year-old Lewinsky, who was a White House intern at the time.

"Staying in my marriage was the gutsiest personal decision I ever made,'' she said. "So for me, revisiting that, talking about it, for my husband also to agree to be in the film and also to be asked, made it a bit difficult, there's no doubt about it.

"But you couldn't actually do a film about my life and not cover something that everybody knew about because you could read about it, and everybody had an opinion about (it)."

The affair led to Bill Clinton's impeachment by the House of Representatives in 1998, for which he was ultimately acquitted, and also earned Hillary a large amount of vitriol from women when she decided not to get a divorce.

"It's fascinating because as you go through the film, some of the women who have been my friends and who have supported me personally and every other way, they talked about how so many women would be really upset because I chose to stay with my husband,'' she said. "A lot of the women would say, 'I can't support her, I don't like her because she stayed with her husband.'

President Bill Clinton leaving the White House for Martha's
Hillary Clinton discusses the "gutsiest decision" she ever made in deciding to stay married to President Bill Clinton, seen here leaving the White House with her and their daughter, Chelsea. Getty Images

And they would say, 'OK, why is that?' And people would talk and pretty soon they would say that happened to my sister, that happened to my friend, and I always said everybody needs to make the best decision for you and your family."

Hillary also opened up about the double standard she often encountered.

"It was such a strange conversation because some of the very same people who would say, 'I could never support her,' would say literally in the next breath, 'but I love her husband, I love Bill Clinton.'''

The film by director Nanette Burstein was whittled down from 1,700 hours of behind-the-scenes footage from her 2016 presidential campaign, including 35 hours of interviews with Hillary herself.

"Once I agreed to cooperate, the director said, 'Well, we're gonna talk about everything,''' she said. "I said OK, but when it actually came time, it's hard."

The film also includes emotional moments, such as an interview with Betsy Ebeling, who was Hillary's best friend since sixth grade and was being treated for breast cancer at the time. Ebeling died at 72 in July after participating in the interview.

"For me, seeing my dear, dear friend in that documentary shortly before we lost her just made it so real,'' Hillary said.