PEOPLE Explains: Everything We Know about the New Monica Lewinsky-Linda Tripp Movie
The two story of the two women's volatile friendship is coming to the big screen.
Simply titled Linda and Monica, the film will explore their rollercoaster friendship, which came to an abrupt and public end when it thrust Lewinsky’s affair with then-President Clinton into the national spotlight.
The film’s script, which is reportedly based in part on actual conversations between Lewinsky and Tripp-Rousch, was included on the 2016 Black List, the annual rundown of Hollywood’s top screenplays that have yet to be produced. Amazon Studios bought the rights this June.
“They should check John Goodman’s availability,” Tripp-Rousch told Page Six sarcastically. (The portly actor played her on Saturday Night Live in the ’90s, when Tripp-Rousch’s appearance was often mocked in the media). “They might be surprised to see what I look like today. That hulking person no longer exists,” she told the outlet. “I’m happy now and not eating myself into oblivion to relieve stress.”
The two women first met while working together in public affairs at the Pentagon in the ’90s. Later, when a 22-year-old Lewinsky landed a job as a White House intern, she grew closer to the older Tripp-Rousch, who has previously worked there as an aide.
But when Lewinsky confided in her about her sexual relationship with Clinton, Tripp-Rousch secretly recorded the conversation. Claiming she was acting in Lewinsky and the country’s best interest, Tripp-Rousch leaked the tape to Kenneth Starr, the special prosecutor who was leading the Clinton Whitewater investigation.
The resulting scandal, complete with all its vulgar details, rocked the country, eventually leading to Clinton’s impeachment after he admitted to lying under oath about the nature of their relationship. The damage to the president in many ways overshadowed the severe impact the scandal had on the young Lewinsky’s career and family. She stayed out of the spotlight for years afterward, only emerging recently to advocate for anti-bullying campaigns.
Clinton was never forced to leave the White House, but the incident took a toll on his reputation, causing him to take a smaller role in his Vice President Al Gore’s presidential campaign. Gore lost the historically tight race to George Bush, leaving many to question whether the outcome would have been different if Clinton had been more active during the campaign.
Tripp-Rousch said she has no interest in seeing the film and expects to be made the villain. “It’s unlikely they’ll show Bill Clinton as a predator exploiting a willing young girl,” she told Page Six. “She consented. She instigated. But she was a kid.” Despite defending Lewinsky as a “lovely, intelligent girl,” Tripp-Rousch told the outlet she feels the former intern was “lacking a moral compass.”
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Lewinsky addressed the scandal in a 2014 piece she wrote for Vanity Fair, explaining that she regrets the affair and feels she was made a “scapegoat” for the president. “Sure, my boss took advantage of me,” she wrote, “but I will always remain firm on this point: It was a consensual relationship. Any ‘abuse’ came in the aftermath, when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position.”
She added, “I, myself, deeply regret what happened between me and President Clinton. Let me say it again: I. Myself. Deeply. Regret. What. Happened.”
After the scandal, Lewinsky leveraged her celebrity status to launch a variety of ventures, including a line of designer handbags, advertising a diet plan and working as a television personality. She later left the public eye to pursue a psychology degree in London, only returning in 2014 as a social activist against cyberbullying.
Tripp-Rousch, meanwhile, is now living on a farm in Middleburg, Virginia with her husband of 13 years, German architect Dieter Rousch. They have seven grandchildren between them and 16 horses.