I hate everything about the promotion for American Crime Story: Impeachment. I hate that we’re supposed to humanize Linda Tripp or listen to her “true story.” I hate that Monica Lewinsky is a producer on the series. And I really loathe the casting, I’m sorry. Beanie Feldstein isn’t a great choice for Monica. Edie Falco is a poor choice for Hillary Clinton. And Sarah Paulson is an offensively bad choice for Tripp. I actually like Paulson a lot, and I definitely believe she’s a great actress. But no – I’m completely against the hiring of actors to play real people when the actors look absolutely nothing like the real people. Prosthetics and fat suits are not “acting.” If you want Jared Leto to play someone who looks like Paul Giamatti, just hire Giamatti. If you want a thin, beautiful actress to wear a fat suit to play Linda Tripp, you should have just cast the part differently. Paulson addresses that criticism in her interview with the LA Times:
She was surprised by reporters’ antipathy towards Linda Tripp: “I think in the initial moment, I thought: ‘Oh, my God, I took a really big swing and I missed.’ Not only may it not affect anybody’s assessment of her, it might make people double down. And that is something I never thought of. And I don’t know if that makes me foolish, or it just makes me a person who was so invested in trying to be a person. … I think Linda was certainly a victim of being caught up in a machine. Don’t get me wrong — she put the gas in the car, she put the keys in the ignition, and then she started driving, put her foot on the pedal. But then it’s like a runaway train — I know I just mixed my vehicle metaphors. I will never think that what she did was right. Far from it. But I do have a greater understanding as to the why.”
The early years of her career in the 1990s: “Back then, I wanted the unattainable: I wanted to be Julia Roberts. It was some fantasy. And because I was young enough, it didn’t really occur to me how it happens to one in a million. Then, slowly, it became about, ‘I just want to work to live.’”
Paulson wore padding & prosthetics to play Tripp instead of encouraging a plus-sized woman to be cast in the role: “It’s very hard for me to talk about this without feeling like I’m making excuses. 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. 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. 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.
She has regrets about taking this role: “I think the thing I think about the most is that I regret not thinking about it more fully. 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.”
Paulson makes it sound like this is some dumb decision she made a decade ago. They literally wrapped on Impeachment THIS YEAR. WTF? Oh, if only I had known then what I know now! Lady, it was like nine months ago. Paulson wanted to play Tripp because she knew it would be this big, juicy role and she couldn’t stand the thought of someone else playing it. And to be fair, it’s not entirely her fault at all. This is Ryan Murphy obsessively hiring his “muse” Paulson for every project. Instead of casting Paulson more reasonably – as Hillary Clinton, the role she honestly should have played – Murphy wanted his friend to do “fat drag” and win awards. And all of it is fatphobic. It pisses me off so much that overweight people are so unpalatable to Hollywood that producers and directors literally hire young, thin people to wear fat suits and ageing-prosthetics to play these roles just so no one will have to – gasp – interact or work alongside an overweight or old person.
Photos courtesy of FX.