Sarah Paulson wore a fat suit to play Linda Tripp in the new season of American Crime Story, which centers on the Monica Lewinsky–Bill Clinton scandal. And in a new interview with the Los Angeles Times, she opened up about the controversial decision.
“It’s very hard for me to talk about this without feeling like I’m making excuses,” Paulson told the newspaper. “There’s a lot of controversy around actors and fat suits, and I think that controversy is a legitimate one. I think fatphobia is real. I think to pretend otherwise causes further harm.”
Many fans have taken to social media to express the fatphobic implications that come with Paulson wearing a fat suit to play Tripp. “I like Sarah Paulson, but [fat] suits are dehumanizing,” one person tweeted. “Hire fat actors.”
Paulson said the issue of fatphobia and fat suits in Hollywood is “a very important conversation to be had. 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,” she 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 said she “wouldn’t make the same choice” to wear a fat suit going forward. “I think the thing I think about the most is that I regret not thinking about it more fully,” she said.
“And that is an important thing for me to think about and reflect on. I also know it’s a privileged place to be sitting and thinking about it and reflecting on it, having already gotten to do it, and having had an opportunity that someone else didn’t have. You can only learn what you learn when you learn it. Should I have known? Abso-f*cking-lutely. But I do now.”