After years of being a punchline and her story being out of her control, Monica Lewinsky is getting a chance to share the details of her relationship with Bill Clinton and the fallout in her own way. The scandal is the subject of the new limited series, Impeachment: American Crime Story, which premieres Sept. 7 on FX. Lewinsky will be portrayed by Beanie Feldstein in the latest series from Ryan Murphy, and Lewinsky has an active role as a producer. Rather than focusing on the former president, the show will tell the story through the lens of three women at the center of the impeachment: Lewinsky, Linda Tripp (Sarah Paulson), and Paula Jones (Annaleigh Ashford).
But, while she’s been a part of the process in making the show, Lewinsky said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that she didn’t want the writers and other producers to go easy on her or leave things out to try to protect her. In fact, it was Lewinsky who requested that a scene be kept in that depicts a provocative moment between herself and Clinton (Clive Owen). Read on to find out what moment she felt had to be in the series and why.
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Lewinsky requested that a scene involving her undergarments be left in.
Sarah Burgess, the head writer and an executive producer of Impeachment, told The Hollywood Reporter that she did not script a moment in which Lewinsky flashes her thong at Clinton in order to avoid “retraumatizing Monica.” In real life, the incident was documented in the infamous Starr report. But, Lewinsky asked that the scene be included.
“Listen, I would’ve loved to have been really selfish and said, ‘That’s great that you guys think we don’t have to show that, fantastic,’ but I’m incredibly experienced in understanding how people see this story,” Lewinsky told THR. “So, ultimately, I felt two things: One was that I shouldn’t get a pass because I’m a producer; and two, that it was unfair to the team and to the project because it would leave everybody vulnerable.” THR noted that Lewinsky felt she would have been blamed for the scene being left out whether or not she was a producer for the show.
She knew that the more open she was about this part of her life, the better.
“If I feel comfortable with people, I have no problem talking about anything,” Lewinsky told The Hollywood Reporter about getting to know the show’s writers, “and I also knew that the deeper I dug, the more valuable it was.” In addition to sharing more from her story, the 48-year-old gave notes about the way Clinton or Tripp spoke, for example.
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Still, the process was very difficult for her emotionally.
While Lewinsky was involved throughout the process and bonded closely with Feldstein, she only visited the actual set once, during scenes that didn’t involve Feldstein, in order to protect herself. Lewinsky also shared that she hired a therapist to be with her as she worked on her notes for the production.
“There’ve been some really, really difficult periods in this process for me, so I’ve been creating a patchwork of support in a different way than I’ve had before,” she told the publication. “I have somebody who’s a therapist—not my traditional therapist, who’s a trauma psychiatrist, but someone who’s both a friend and one of my helpers—and I pay her and she sits on Zoom while I work on my notes so I’m not alone. Because it’s hard. It’s really hard.”
She was relieved that the focus wouldn’t be on the sexual relationship.
Lewinsky may have requested that the thong scene be included, but that doesn’t mean she wanted the series to be preoccupied with the sexual aspect of the story, as had been the case when it played out in the media in the ’90s. In her interview, Lewinsky talked about a meeting she had with the show’s producers when the process of making the show was just beginning. She really connected with their plan when it came to not making Impeachment feel salacious.
“There was a moment in that dinner where they said that what they had been thinking was that they really didn’t ever want to show any of the sex, and that it would come later in the season,” she explained. “It was such a sign of, ‘Oh, I’m with the right people.’ This story has been told through a sexual lens. I mean, sure, I was aware of those aspects, but that’s not what it was to me at that time.”
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