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Sarah Paulson is an Emmy favorite, thanks to her portrayal of maligned prosecutor Marcia Clark in FX’s The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. And while the actress and the basis for her alter ego, now 62 and a writer, have both spoken about the friendship that came out of the portrayal, they have never appeared together in public until Monday night.
“I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the light you’ve shown on sexism,” Clark told Paulson and producer Ryan Murphy, who moderated a conversation at 20th Century Fox’s Zanuck Theatre between the two women. “I think you’ve done a great thing for this world.”
This was her response when she was asked about her reaction to the overwhelming media response that the series has been her “redemption.” Evidence of that redemption was apparent after the Screen Actors Guild Awards screening on the Fox lot. The episode that aired, the aptly titled “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia,” exhaustively recounts how cruel most Americans were about the woman who tried (and ultimately failed) to convict Simpson for the murders of Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman. Perhaps as an apology for any role they played in that, the packed crowd greeted Clark with a raucous applause.
“My overwhelming feeling about [the reaction] was that I hope this is good for all women,” she said. “I hope it’s raising consciousness in a general way about women who are strong and go out and do a quote-unquote man’s job.”
Paulson, who fiercely defended Clark in both her portrayal and her substantial press for the limited series, has an obvious rapport with the former prosecutor. And though the event was in her honor, for awards consideration, the actress seemed fine with the discussion being about Clark.
“Marcia, let’s talk about the hair,” said Murphy, as the conversation earnestly and jokingly turned to the scrutiny over Clark’s appearance during the trial.
“I still don’t understand that,” she said of the commentary. “It really was wash-and-wear hair. I was constantly running between work and home, like a rubber band. I have straight hair, and if I don’t blow it out … it’s not good.”
Clark insisted that she kept her nose down at the time and had no awareness of the cameras during the trial. And though she called it “misery,” she seemed to speak about the verdict with less anger than Paulson. Her regrets, she said, were about the women who never spoke out on her behalf. Clark said that she’d like to think she would have behaved differently if she saw it happen to someone else.
There was quite a bit of levity. The two shared their favorite curse word (Paulson’s is “motherf—er” and Clark’s is “c—”) and, at one point, Clark turned to Paulson and declared, “I really like talking to me.”
When Murphy asked Clark if she had reconciled the verdict, one she says she has no doubt was wrong, she appeared resigned to history. “I don’t think I’m ever going to heal completely from the injustice of it, from the unfairness,” she offered. “But I have come to understand it more deeply.”
The People v. OJ. Simpson is nominated for 22 Emmys, more than any other series in 2016 — save perennial leader Game of Thrones.
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