If you haven’t heard, Monica Lewinsky is a producer on Impeachment: American Crime Story. And no topic is off limits.
As noted by The New York Times, the infamous former intern’s goal is to reframe her story and potentially “boost her burgeoning Hollywood career” in the process. But so far, that’s been easier said than done.
While Lewinsky was thrilled to work with Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Nina Jacobson, and Sarah Burgess on the project, reliving such a painful part of her past was difficult.
Some parts were way more “heartbreaking” than others, she says.
For years, Lewinsky turned down countless million-dollar deals to tell her story, prioritizing her privacy and wanting to move on. Plus, she’d gotten enough negative media attention for one lifetime. So what changed her mind this time?
Per Variety, Impeachment revisits President Clinton’s public humiliation through the lens of the various women whose lives were torn apart in the process. And Lewinsky believes it’s an important conversation to have right now.
While this FX series posed some unique challenges, it presented her with the opportunity to take control of the narrative more than ever before. And she says the timing was finally right.
In an interview with Variety, Lewinsky explained her decision to take on the project as both producer and subject.
“I don’t make decisions to work on things that are connected to my past lightly. I’m very aware that they impact people, and that it brings up a difficult time for all of us. So I put a lot of thought into it and it just seemed from the times we were living in, it would happen eventually,” she said.
According to Lewinsky, Episode 5 was the worst–and great acting was partially to blame. She admits she was “extremely triggered” by Sarah Paulson’s believable performance as Linda Tripp. “I just thought, ‘I’m feeling how I’m feeling, but as a producer, I know this is great, because there is so much emotional truth,’” she said.
At the time of the highly publicized scandal, Linda Tripp had been Monica’s confidante. When Lewinsky shared what happened with the president, she wound up feeling incredibly betrayed.
The fifth episode rehashes Tripp’s betrayal. Lewinsky says that even though “it’s history,” remembering what it felt like to be completely in the dark back then was “heartbreaking” and “harrowing” to see. “I just started sobbing at the end of the episode,” she revealed.
Monica Lewinsky says reliving every experience took her back in the most painful ways, but the end of the series might’ve been the worst. “I mean, I tear up in a few places, but the end really took me back.” But she believes what matters more is the message within Impeachment, and there’s no time like the present to talk about it.
Lewinsky says that the social justice conversations going on make the story of what she went through timely. Along with reframing her story, she hopes to do some real good in the world, especially for women and victims of bullying. But she admits the biggest struggle was doing what was “right for the show” when it affected her personally.
Also, some of what Lewinsky calls her most famously embarrassing moments in American history were removed from the script and she was relieved. But she took a step back and added back in incidents she admittedly hates for the sake of the audience and the truth.
“I didn’t think I should get a pass,” she says.