Sarah Paulson’s newest role is one that has left her conflicted.
“It’s very hard for me to talk about this without feeling like I’m making excuses,” Paulson, 46, 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 fat phobia is real. I think to pretend otherwise causes further harm. And it is a very important conversation to be had.”
The series chronicles President Clinton's impeachment and relationship with intern Monica Lewinsky from various points of view, including Tripp's. She famously recorded phone calls with Lewinsky, as the then-22-year-old detailed her relationship with the president. Tripp became a polarizing figure and was parodied in pop culture.
Paulson, who also gained 30 pounds and spent hours in makeup for the role and serves as an executive producer of "Impeachable," says it’s not fair to reduce a performer’s ability to play a part to his or her appearance.
· Watch TODAY All Day! Get the best news, information and inspiration from TODAY, all day long.
· Sign up for the TODAY Newsletter!
“But that entire responsibility I don’t think falls on the actor for choosing to do something that is arguably — and I’m talking about from the inside out — the challenge of a lifetime,” she said. “I do think to imagine that the only thing any actor called upon to play this part would have to offer is their physical self is a real reduction of the offering the actor has to make.
“I would like to believe that there is something in my being that makes me right to play this part. And that the magic of hair and makeup departments and costumers and cinematographers that has been part of moviemaking, and suspension of belief, since the invention of cinema. Was I supposed to say no (to the part)? This is the question.”
Tripp is yet another polarizing figure Paulson has portrayed. She won an her Emmy Award for playing former prosecutor Marcia Clark in 2016’s "The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story."
Paulson says in hindsight, she wishes she had pondered the matter about Tripp more.
“I think the thing I think about the most is that I regret not thinking about it more fully,” she said. “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.”
“Impeachable: American Crime Story,” which also features Edie Falco as Hillary Clinton, Clive Owen as Bill Clinton and Beanie Feldstein as Lewinsky, premieres Sept. 7.