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Creating a Political Antihero in Sarah Paulson’s Linda Tripp – The Hollywood Reporter

Sarah Paulson earned her eighth Emmy nomination this season for her role as Linda Tripp on FX’s . Impeachment: America’s Crime Storyoffers a nuanced and compelling portrait of the public servant involved in the Clinton-Lewinsky affair that made her a household name after she passed on recorded phone calls between herself and Monica Lewinsky (played by Beanie Feldstein in the limited series) to independent consultant Kenneth Starr – conversations in which the latter revealed her affair with President Bill Clinton while she was an intern at the House White.

For host Sarah Burgess, who was also nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for an Anthology or Limited Series, Tripp is not the villain of the series, despite the infamous betrayal her friend and former Pentagon colleague Lewinsky.

“It wasn’t that she wasn’t responsible for her actions, it was Linda’s frustration at the time, in the late ’90s, that she loved the movie about all things,” Burgess said. this. While at times throughout the series, Tripp is portrayed as a sullen government employee who has a notion of a higher purpose – and has an extreme disdain for Clinton, whom she considered partly responsible for his own unhappy career trajectory – the character in Impeachment A far cry from the nosy, attention-seeking busy person she was created for.

Instead, Tripp is a woman with a passionate, patriotic crusade: revealing the truth about a leader she despises, who she considers harmful to the country, in addition to using her power to take advantage of the then 24-year-old girl. Lewinsky. Tripp doesn’t consider herself a villain, especially in the first moments when she surreptitiously recorded private phone calls between herself and Lewinsky. From her perspective, Lewinsky needed protection from a predator – and, like Impeachment shows, the destruction of her friendship was an event that deeply affected Tripp.

“I don’t believe Linda is like a psycho who will forget this as soon as it happens,” Burgess said.

Her nominated episode, “Man Handled,” depicts the moment Tripp realized the gravity of her actions – not only their effect on the president’s legacy, but their influence on the president’s legacy. with the young and innocent Lewinsky. The episode shows Lewinsky being ambushed and detained by the independent attorney’s office after Tripp’s tape reveals that Lewinsky perjured himself in an affidavit in the Paula Jones case denying an affair. The night before, Tripp met with Jones’ attorney, and she began to realize that her grand vision of patriotic duty was heavily influenced by her betrayal of Lewinsky.

“Linda, at the beginning of the show, was someone who wanted to feel important and included in everything,” says Burgess. “When she was actually in a very important meeting with these attorneys, [one might think] she should love it. But actually, she is suffering. This is what she has been aiming for all this time. She has deep anger and resentment towards this president, and she has a chance to help them get him. But the person she is thinking about and attached to is Monica. “

That sense of regret, says Burgess, contrasts with the glee that “Republican goblins” like Ann Coulter (played by Cobie Smulders) express about Clinton’s impending demise. “They don’t have skins in the game,” says Burgess. But for Tripp, the moment that made the almost tragic turning point would cement her own legacy in American history. “This is the beginning of Linda living in the aftermath of going against the climate,” adds Burgess, “where she will have to explain herself for the rest of her life and tell her story.” .

This story first appeared in an independent August issue of The Hollywood Reporter.

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