Sarah Paulson stars as the former U.S. civil servant for the upcoming series, Impeachment: American Crime Story

By Georgia Slater
November 17, 2020 11:09 AM
Sarah Paulson appears on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show”
Credit: Michael Rozman/Warner Bros.

Sarah Paulson is taking on one of her most challenging roles yet.

The actress joined Tuesday's episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show via Zoom where she discussed the complex experience of playing Linda Tripp for the upcoming series, Impeachment: American Crime Story.

Tripp was a former U.S. civil servant whose secret tape recordings of her conversations with Monica Lewinsky exposed Lewinsky’s infamous affair with former President Bill Clinton.

Paulson, who is also executive producing the highly anticipated series, admitted that getting into the character of Tripp was "more complicated than anything else [she's] ever done."

"Unlike when I played Marcia Clark — I’ve played real people before — there was a real opportunity to right a collective wrong in terms of how we thought about her and her purported failure in that trial. But with Linda, it’s a little more complicated," she told DeGeneres. 

"She behaves in ways that are a little bit more confusing," Paulson, 45, added.

Impeachment will cover the affair between Lewinsky and Clinton, the late '90s scandal that captivated the nation and ultimately led to the president’s impeachment. It will primarily follow the perspectives of Lewinsky, Tripp, and Paula Jones, who sued Clinton for sexual harassment.

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.

Pres. Bill Clinton wagging finger, emphatically denying having affair w. former White House intern Monica Lewinsky, during White House childcare event w. First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton at his side. (Photo by Diana Walker//The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images) Monica Lewinsky "Monica's Story" Book Signing - March 9, 1999 Monica Lewinsky (Photo by Tom Wargacki/WireImage)
Bill Clinton, Monica Lewinsky
| Credit: Diana Walker/Getty; Tom Wargacki/WireImage

Paulson noted that Lewinsky, who is also a producer on the series, is "sanctioning everything" and is "around a lot" to help with the show, which is based on Jeffrey Toobin’s book A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President.

"I think she's a wonderful person," the actress added.

Booksmart’s Beanie Feldstein will star as Lewinsky, with Clive Owen as Clinton and Annaleigh Ashford as Jones. American Horror Story alumnus Billy Eichner has been cast as journalist and Drudge Report founder, Matt Drudge.

Last week, Paulson shared the first look at her transformation into Tripp with a picture on Twitter.

“Linda. American Crime Story: Impeachment has begun,” Paulson captioned the photo.

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 previously said.

Burgess will also executive produce the show alongside Ryan Murphy, Nina Jacobson, Brad Simpson, Brad Falchuck, Larry Karaszewski, Scott Alexander, Alexi Martin Woodall, and Paulson.

A premiere date for Impeachment: American Crime Story has not yet been confirmed.