With the final round of Emmy Awards voting underway, TV academy members filed into Fox’s Zanuck Theater this week to catch a special showing of FX’s Best Limited Series contender “The People v. O.J. Simpson.” After the sixth episode (“Marcia, Marcia, Marcia”) was screened, there was a Q&A moderated by writer/director Ryan Murphy with recent TCA Award winner Sarah Paulson and the woman she plays, prosecutor Marcia Clark. Listen to the audio recording above.
In the episode, which scored an Emmy nomination for writer D.V. DeVinentis, we see Marcia Clark (Paulson) battle not only against the defense, but her ex-husband over her children and against the world over her appearance. The hour is not only one of the most acclaimed of the series but is also seen as the stand-out episode for Paulson.
During the Q&A, Murphy said he had no doubt that Paulson needed to play Clark and would have refused to do the project if she hadn’t been cast. “There were many actresses in town who had read and were interested in this part,” recalls Murphy. “But I raised my hand and I said, ‘You know, I just have to say one thing and that is that if Sarah Paulson doesn’t play this part, I really don’t want to do the show.’”
Paulson, who is a double Emmy nominee this year for “O.J.” as Best Movie/Mini Actress and for “American Horror Story: Hotel” as Best Movie/Mini Supporting Actress, says that juggling the two projects would have been more difficult if not for one key factor. “I think the good news was that I was playing someone who was very tired. I let myself be tired. I didn’t do the thing I normally do which was to try to find a way to rally. And because I was also playing a heroin addict who was a ghost, I felt that I could just let it go.”
What Paulson couldn’t let go of was filming the not guilty verdict, which she says was the most difficult scene for her to shoot. “The hardest were the closing arguments for sure,” she notes. “There were so many things to have in my mind about the way Marcia was behaving physically, not to mention to carrying what I imagine she must have been holding emotionally, not to mention the reams of pages of dialogue I had to learn and keep all those other things in my mind at the same time. And not to mention the very weird fantasy I had that if we pitched it the right way, maybe the verdict would be different.”
Real life “trial of the century” prosecutor Clark, now an acclaimed writer, producer and novelist said it was difficult for her to watch the FX series, which she at first resisted. “It was hard. It was really hard,” admits Clark. “Everything was really well done and you got inside everything. It was really amazing to see that and for me to watch Sarah get the emotions I was feeling it was like, ‘How did she know that? How did she get that? She didn’t talk to me.’ It was kind of amazing.”
On whether she still believes Simpson is guilty, she declares, “For a prosecutor, it’s not like a defense attorney, I can’t even go into court unless I believe not just beyond a reasonable doubt but beyond all past plausible doubt that he’s guilty. Because if I have any doubt at all, I’m not going to be there.”
To hear the rest of the Q&A be sure to listen to our exclusive audio recording above.
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