Monica Lewinsky is past the point of needing an apology from former President Bill Clinton.
However, “he should want to apologize in the same way I want to apologize any chance I get to people my actions have hurt,” she said Tuesday, hours before “Impeachment: American Crime Story,” a limited TV series about the sex scandal that nearly ended Clinton’s presidency, is set to premiere on FX.
Lewinsky, who co-produced the 10-episode third season of Ryan Murphy’s anthology franchise, said seeing the scandal that altered her life play out on screen was challenging.
“I’m nervous for people to see some of the worst moments of my life and a lot of behavior that I regret,” she said in an exclusive interview on NBC’s “TODAY” show.
“I’ve really worn two hats in this project,” Lewinsky said, adding she’s “proud” of her work on the show, but as the star subject, she realizes many scenes — real moments she lived — are “cringeworthy.”
“I do not recommend watching your early 20s be dramatized on TV, especially in this instance where the truth really was stranger than fiction,” she added.
On Jan. 17, 1998, a 24-year-old Lewinsky was thrust into the public eye fast and hard. Her co-worker, Linda Tripp, had secretly recorded her confessing to a relationship with then-President Bill Clinton. On that day, a Drudge Report headline that read “Newsweek Kills Story on White House Intern” changed Lewinsky’s life forever.
Humiliated and belittled, Lewinsky mostly laid low, until 2015, when she gave a TED Talk called “The Price of Shame,” partially recounting what the scandal fallout looked like for her. The talk went viral.
“I’ve been incredibly lucky the last six or seven years to really be able to reclaim my narrative,” Lewinsky said Tuesday.
“A lot of people know about this story,” she said. But they may be “surprised” by some of the details when they watch “American Crime Story.”
“Even I learned things,” Lewinsky said.
Lewinsky gave notes on the script, but didn’t have veto power. She said she made sure to include parts that might not feature her in the best light with the goal of making sure the series, while a dramatization, had “an enormous amount of emotional truth.”
“I shouldn’t get a pass,” Lewinsky said. “Truth and context were really missing at the beginning of 1998.”
She later added “humanity” to that list.
“I hope that those are all things that we brought to the show,” Lewinsky said.
And what if such a scandal played out in 2021? Would things really be all that different?
“I might have had a little bit of support,” Lewinsky said because of “conversations about power differentials” and social media allowing more people to be heard.
But “I don’t know that it would be as different as people want it to be,” she said.
Beanie Feldstein plays Lewinsky in “Impeachment: American Crime Story,” while Sarah Paulson portrays Tripp. Clive Owen plays Clinton.