O.J. Simpson Prosecutor Marcia Clark Speaks Out About American Crime Story: 'For Me, It's Reliving a Nightmare'
Marcia Clark is portrayed by Sarah Paulson the new FX series
“Every bit of it is awful and hard for me,” Clark, 62, said Wednesday on The View.
That being said, Clark thinks the miniseries itself is “amazing” TV.
“I can’t watch it the way most people do,” she said. “It’s a painful experience, and yet I have to tell you it’s a measure of how good it is that it hurts that much because that tells you they’re getting the big stuff so right.”
“Ryan Murphy had the vision and the guts to pull out the important issues and talk about them in a way that people – I don’t know whether they were afraid to or what but finally they did,” Clark said of the creator and show runner. “They really nailed the racial issue in the biggest way possible. And good, people will talk. That’s a good thing. And sexism, no one wanted to talk about it. The S word never happened and no one wanted to talk about it even when I did the lecture tour. Women would stand up to me and say, ‘I didn’t feel any sexism in the workplace.’ Good for you. And he did that, and I think that took guts and vision, and so it’s an amazing job.”
“I know it’s not me. I know it’s her. She’s phenomenal, phenomenal,” Clark said. “She’s always been. I’ve been a big fan of hers for a million years, so when I heard she was playing with me I was like, okay. It doesn’t get any better than that. And she’s amazing. What a beautiful, nuanced, subtle performance. She’s just phenomenal. Really, if nothing else, watch for her performance.”
Though as lawyer she has to “have a poker face” in court, Clark applauded Paulson for still being able to convey the emotions Clark was wrestling with at the time.
“She’s playing me on the inside beautifully, you know what I mean?” Clark said. “The pain and the frustration and the disbelief in what was going on, the circus that was going on where it felt like every wrong thing that could happen was happening. So I think they got those layers very, very well. Sarah really picked up on it just beautifully.”
The series even led to a meeting between Clark and Paulson, which Clark couldn’t help but rave about.
“I was actually a little afraid. You know they say, ‘Don’t meet your heroes because it can really be disappointing.’ She surpassed all expectations,” Clark said. “She’s the funniest, sweetest, nicest, most brilliant person. We closed the restaurant down. It was a wonderful experience. She’s phenomenal. It’s great to meet somebody who’s beautiful on the outside and the inside.” (The feeling, by the way, is mutual – Paulson recently told PEOPLE, “I have a tenacious spirit, and so does she. … The fight she’s fighting is something I can get behind.”)
Clark also talked about sitting down with Paulson after the show had mostly wrapped in an interview with Vulture, saying she even apologized to the actress for making her recreate the permed hairdo she had back then.
“I’m looking at Sarah and I’m going, What the hell was I thinking?” she said. “I mean, I know what I was thinking. I wanted wash-and-wear hair. I had two little boys in diapers, and I did not have time to mess with that stuff.”
On The View, Clark – who has since written four crime novels, and a fifth to be released in May – explained she started as a criminal defense lawyer (and is actually defending again now) “because of the victims.”
“I wanted to protect the victims. At that point in my life I thought that was more important to me and I want to do right by them, I want to take care of them, so I became a prosecutor,” she said.
Clark also discussed a clip from ESPN’s upcoming 30 for 30 special, O.J.: Made in America, in which members of Simpson’s inner circle discuss how they staged his home to appeal to a black jury by taking down pictures of his white friends and replacing them with pictures of African-Americans.
“I knew that that happened because I had walked through [Simpson’s home] on the day after the murders and saw what was on the walls,” Clark said. “When we went that day for the jury view, the lawyers walked through first and I saw that everything was changed, completely changed. I went outside and said to the judge: ‘I want a hearing right now.’ ”
“We had a hearing on the front lawn and I swore in the detectives to talk about the way it looked … and the jury should not be inside because it’s not the same scene,” Clark said. “And the judge overruled me, of course.”
“There’s a great line that they gave to [Ron’s dad] Fred Goldman’s character when he says, ‘My son’s murder is a footnote,’ ” Clark said. “I just paraphrased it badly. Watch it and you’ll see what I mean. It’s a heart-wrenching scene.”
“I felt the same way, it’s a heartbreaking thing. I want to remember this. I want everyone to remember,” she added. “Let’s not forget that two innocent people were murdered. Whatever you think of Simpson’s guilt, their killer was never brought to justice. That painful reality, we should not forget.”
American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson airs Tuesdays (10 p.m. ET) on FX.