Sarah Paulson will star as Linda Tripp
For the highly anticipated third installment, American Crime Story is unraveling the Bill Clinton–Monica Lewinsky affair — the late ’90s scandal that captivated the nation and led to the former president’s impeachment.
On Tuesday, FX announced the series — titled Impeachment: American Crime Story — will star Beanie Feldstein as a young Lewinsky and that Lewinsky, 46, herself has signed on as a producer.
Written by Sarah Burgess, the show will explore “the overlooked dimensions of women who found themselves caught up in the scandal and political war that cast a long shadow over the Clinton Presidency,” FX said in a press release.
Burgess will also executive produce the show alongside Ryan Murphy, Nina Jacobson, Brad Simpson, Brad Falchuck, Larry Karaszewski, Scott Alexander, Alexi Martin Woodall and Sarah Paulson.
In addition to her role as executive producer, Paulson, 44, is set to play, Linda Tripp — a former U.S. civil servant, whose secret tape recordings spurred the impeachment crisis and exposed Clinton’s relationship with Lewinsky.
Tripp was 24 years older than Lewinsky at the time of the affair and had become a close confidante of the former White House intern — then 22.
FX Networks and FOX Productions Chairman John Landgraf explained the franchise has “become a cultural touchstone, providing greater context for stories that deserve greater understanding like the O.J. Simpson trial and saga, and Andrew Cunanan’s tragic crime spree, which concluded with the assassination of Gianni Versace.”
“This franchise re-examines some of the most complicated, polarizing stories in recent history in a way that is relevant, nuanced and entertaining,” Landgraf added.
Lewinsky, who is now an anti-bullying activist, previously revisited the troubled time in her life for the 2018 A&E documentary series called The Clinton Affair.
She later explained in an essay for Vanity Fair that participating in the documentary forced her “to acknowledge to myself past behavior that I still regret and feel ashamed of.”
“There were many, many moments when I questioned not just the decision to participate, but my sanity itself. Despite all of the ways I tried to protect my mental health, it was still challenging,” Lewinsky wrote.
She says in the docuseries that during their first encounters she was overwhelmed by “the full Bill Clinton” effect (“It feels as if you’re the only person standing there,” she explains).
Her crush developed and during November 1995, at a staff birthday party during the government shut down, her crush turned into something more.
“I realized the top inch or two, oh my God, of my underwear was showing, my thong underwear, and I thought, ‘Well I’ll up the game.’” Lewinsky explains in the docuseries. “I knew [Bill] was walking out of a room and instead of pulling my trousers up as I would have done in any other instance, I didn’t. It was unnoticeable to anyone else in the room, but he noticed.”
Shortly after, Clinton beckoned her into an office and they talked about her schooling and other light-hearted topics.
“I don’t think that at that point in my life my heart had ever beat as fast,” she says. “I blurted out, ‘You know I have a crush on you?’ And he laughed and smiled and then asked if I wanted to go into the back office. And I did. It was dark and he eventually asked me if he could kiss me and I said yes.”
In the same Vanity Fair article, Lewinsky explains why she wants to apologize to Hillary Clinton again. But, in the 1990s, Lewinsky wasn’t deterred by Bill Clinton’s marital status.
“I don’t talk about this very often, and I still feel uncomfortable talking about it because I think it’s one of those things where it’s not as if it didn’t register with me that he was the president. Obviously, it did,” she says in the series. “I think it meant more to me that someone who other people desired, desired me. However wrong it was, however misguided, for who I was in that very moment at 22 years old, that was how it felt.”
The pair arranged meetings, but they made sure they looked accidental. Eventually, Lewinsky, who was by then working in legislative affairs, and Clinton were seeing each other “weekly,” Lewinsky explains. And it wasn’t all physical. In her opinion, it became a “relationship.” They would talk about their day and exchange gifts.
Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice for the Lewinsky affair in December 1998, but acquitted by the Senate in February 1999.
Impeachment: American Crime Story will premiere on September 27, 2020.