Sarah Paulson is facing backlash for wearing a fat suit to play a character in Impeachment: American Crime Story.
The actress acted as Linda Tripp, a controversial public figure who worked to expose the Clinton–Lewinsky scandal in 1998.
Although it is yet to start airing, those advocating against fat discrimination quickly criticised Paulson for wearing a fat suit in the show – especially as they felt it was a missed opportunity for a plus-sized person to play the role.
“It’s very hard for me to talk about this without feeling like I’m making excuses,” Paulson said in a recent interview.
“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.”
The American Horror Story star explained that the industry needs to be more size-conscious during casting, but that she likes to think she was still the right person to play the character.
Paulson added: “But that entire responsibility I don’t think falls on the actor for choosing to do something that is arguably—and I’m talking about from the inside out—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? This is the question.”
— Sarah Paulson (@MsSarahPaulson) November 13, 2020
In addition to roughly 4.5 pounds of padding she wore, Paulson gained 30 pounds and had a prosthetic nose and fake teeth to play Tripp.
Production of the show started in late 2020 following delays due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with Paulson already confident she has learned her lesson.
“You can only learn what you learn when you learn it,” she explained. “Should I have known? Abso-fucking-lutely. But I do now. And I wouldn’t make the same choice going forward.”
Impeachment: American Crime Story begins airing on FX on 7 September.
— American Crime Story FX (@ACSFX) August 31, 2021