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Sarah Paulson Has Some Regrets About Playing Linda Tripp

Sarah Paulson Linda Tripp

Photo Credit: Broadimage/Shutterstock

Sarah Paulson is speaking out about her decision to wear a fat suit in her upcoming portrayal of Linda Tripp in Impeachment: American Crime Story and shared that she “wouldn’t make the same choice going forward.”

The American Horror Story actress spoke with The Los Angeles Times in an interview published this weekend to talk about what it was like to portray Tripp and face the subsequent backlash to her casting.

Upon the announcement earlier this year that Paulson would be embodying Tripp, the civil servant who befriended and later betrayed Monica Lewinsky by revealing her affair with then-President Bill Clinton in the late ‘90s, many critics lambasted the show’s choice of selecting a conventionally thin actor to portray a larger person.

"It's very hard for me to talk about this without feeling like I'm making excuses," said Paulson in the interview with the 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.”

There were a plethora of criticisms in response to Paulson’s casting. Content creator Kristin Chirico tweeted that Tripp could have been played by a “fat actor” and that “this could have been their big breakout role.”

“This could have been their Golden Globe or their Emmy nod. This could have been their paid off student loans or their first house. Instead, it's Sarah Paulson in a fat suit,” she wrote, before adding: “I feel like so much has been said on why actors in fat suits are harmful on so MANY different levels but even at the very basic, surface level... this is one more fat person getting shut out.”

An op-ed in Refinery29 argues the case even further and unpacks why fat suits are so offensive, explaining that they are “dehumanizing to actual fat people who can’t just slip out of their fatness — and their very real lived experiences as fat people — at the end of the day.”

“[Fat people] cannot peel away the prejudice they face on a daily basis. Plus, when roles for fat characters go to thin or straight-sized actors, talented and dynamic fat actors, up-and-coming or otherwise, are left out, resulting in a loss of potential income and opportunities that only perpetuate the real-life systematic marginalization and oppression of fat people,” reads the piece titled Dear Hollywood, Can You Please Just Hire Actual Fat People to Play Fat Characters?

Of that backlash, Paulson argued that she doesn’t think the “entire responsibility” falls on the actor for choosing to take on “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 emphasized.

The actress continued on to say she regrets “not thinking about it more fully” and that she’ll continue to “reflect on” the situation going forward.

“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,” she said.

Impeachment: American Crime Story premieres on September 7 at 10 p.m. on FX.

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