‘Clipped’ Star Ed O’Neill Isn’t Worried About Donald Sterling’s Reaction to FX Show

In 2014, scandal rocked the National Basketball Association and the Clippers after the team’s then-owner Donald Sterling was caught on tape making racist remarks — a scandal that would later lead to his lifetime ban from the league.

Now, FX is bringing that scandal to the small screen with “Clipped,” a new limited series starring Ed O’Neill as Sterling himself. The “Modern Family” star told TheWrap he’s not concerned about the 90-year-old’s potential reaction to his portrayal in the series one bit.

“The last time I was worried about a real person, I was worried about doing ‘The French Connection’, and that Gene Hackman would have to watch it because he already did it. So I worried about that… But no, I never worried about Mr. Sterling,” he explained. “You don’t have time to think about that kind of thing. In this business, we usually go scene to scene. If it’s well written, it’s like designed to fly, you don’t have to flap your arms when the plane is taking off, it’ll take off hopefully. I was just concerned with trying to make it as real as possible.”

O’Neill said he was drawn to the project’s script and cast, which includes Cleopatra Coleman as Sterling’s personal assistant and mistress V. Stiviano, Jacki Weaver as his wife and business partner Shelly Sterling, and Laurence Fishburne as Clippers coach Doc Rivers.

“I had lunch with [creator] Gina [Welch] and we talked about the project and I had already read the script,” he said. “Of course I liked the script a lot and I liked the cast that was being assembled. That’s really all I need.”

Coleman was likewise drawn to the script, as well as the opportunity to peel back the layers of Stiviano and discover her humanity.

“I can’t say that getting into V.’s headspace was particularly difficult. Sometimes there are characters that you just can’t relate to at all. And like on paper, we are very different people,” she told TheWrap. “But there were elements to her that I related to like she valued herself, despite her environment saying otherwise, that’s something that I understand. I really just saw her as a survivor and an outsider and I just went from there.”

She argues that Stiviano is “complicated,” “completely unapologetic” and “the type of character that a lot of actors would want to play.”

“Gina did such a beautiful job in the script of describing her,” Coleman added. “The first time we see her, she says, ‘V. has this otherworldly charisma that pretty much everyone in the room ignores.’ Just that one line gave so much context about how I was to play her, how other people were to react to me in that moment.”

New episodes of “Clipped” premiere Tuesdays on Hulu.

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