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Sarah Paulson addresses criticism over portrayal of Linda Tripp in ‘fat suit’ in ‘Impeachment’

By Marianne Garvey, CNN

Sarah Paulson says she has regrets about wearing padding to portray Linda Tripp in “Impeachment: American Crime Story.”

The actress told The Los Angeles Times that she wonders if she should have said no to the part after facing backlash for the padding.

“It’s very hard for me to talk about this without feeling like I’m making excuses,” Paulson told the publication. “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,” Paulson continued. “And it is a very important conversation to be had.”

Paulson, who also gained 30 pounds for the role and serves as an executive producer on “Impeachment,” said that playing Tripp was the “challenge of a lifetime,” and that she’d like to believe she was right for the part.

“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,” Paulson added. “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 [to the part]? This is the question.”

Paulson is unrecognizable in prosthetics as Tripp, whose secret recordings of her phone calls with Monica Lewinsky (played by Beanie Feldstein in the limited series) publicly exposed the former intern’s relationship with then President Bill Clinton (played by Clive Owen).

Tripp died in 2020 of pancreatic cancer.

Of taking the role, Paulson added, “I think the thing I think about the most is that I regret not thinking about it more fully.”

“You can only learn what you learn when you learn it,” she said. “Should I have known? Abso-f—ing-lutely. But I do now. And I wouldn’t make the same choice going forward.”

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