Sarah Paulson Has “Regrets” About Wearing a Fat Suit in Impeachment: American Crime Story

Sarah Paulson wishes she’d made different choices while filming her latest series, Impeachment: American Crime Story.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, the Emmy Award–winning actress said that she has regrets about playing Linda Tripp, a controversial public figure who worked to expose the Clinton–Lewinsky scandal in 1998. Fat activists criticized Paulson’s use of synthetic padding to play Tripp (a role for which she also gained 30 pounds). Further, they called her casting a missed opportunity to have a plus-sized actor play the role.

“It’s very hard for me to talk about this without feeling like I’m making excuses,” Paulson told the publication. “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 Ratched star also spoke on the industry-wide responsibility for size-conscious casting, saying that she would like to believe she was the right person to play Tripp. “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.”

She continued, “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.”

Paulson also admitted that she regrets not considering the wider implications of her casting before accepting the role, saying, “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.”

In addition to the four-and-a-half-pound padded suit, the actor wore a prosthetic nose and teeth to become Tripp, telling the outlet that she spent three hours every morning in the makeup chair.

Impeachment: American Crime Story begins airing on FX on September 7.

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