Impeachment star Beanie Feldstein wanted to ‘redeem’ Monica Lewinsky

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Actress Beanie Feldstein said she wanted to “redeem” Monica Lewinsky while playing her in a TV drama about the White House intern’s affair with Bill Clinton.

The scandal that almost brought down a president in the 1990s will be told in Impeachment: American Crime Story.

British actor Clive Owen plays Clinton, Sopranos star Edie Falco his wife Hillary and Sarah Paulson plays Linda Tripp, the disillusioned civil servant who betrayed her friend Lewinsky to uncover the affair.

Monica Lewinsky
Monica Lewinsky was pilloried for years after news broke of her affair with Bill Clinton (Ian West/PA)

Lewinsky was 22 when she and the then-49-year-old president embarked on an illicit romance, and she was pilloried for years after the scandal broke.

Now 48, she later wrote about the devastating impact the public shaming had on her life.

Feldstein, 28, said “it was deeply important to me to unravel that and redeem” Lewinsky, who was heavily involved in the series and served as a producer.

The women met in person once, days before the pandemic brought the world to a halt, but have since developed a close friendship.

Speaking at a virtual Television Critics Association (TCA) panel, Feldstein said: “She was incredibly giving and I made it very clear to her when we started filming that I saw myself as her bodyguard.

“I was like, ‘I’m putting my body in for you, I’m going to protect you, I have your back, I know your heart and that’s my job’.

“And with that we had a complete trust in one another and it became more of a friendship than it was a, ‘Monica, what were you feeling in this moment?’

“I asked her about nail polish, I asked her about little detail things that are really fun to fill in and make things feel very specific and fully painted. But as far as specific emotional beats, I think she knew I really had her back.”

During one emotionally draining episode, which took 23 days to film, Feldstein said she had to remind herself why she was doing the show.

She said: “Every time it got hard, I would just say to myself, ‘this is for Monica, so you have to dig deeper and do it again’.”

Impeachment: American Crime Story, from TV super producer Ryan Murphy, tells the story of the scandal through the eyes of three of the women involved – Lewinsky, Tripp and Annaleigh Ashford’s Paula Jones, a former civil servant who sued Clinton, 75, for sexual harassment.

Paulson and Ashford also appeared at the TCA panel.

Executive producer Brad Simpson said there is a generational divide over how Lewinsky is viewed and he hopes the series will challenge the public’s perception of her.

He said: “We had an event in New York and there were 17-year-olds there and they lined up to meet Monica Lewinsky because she represents something very different to them.

“The things she speaks out about, her platform, she was the first person who was publicly shamed by the internet, so I do think there is a generational divide.”

Former US president Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton was almost ousted from the White House over his affair with Monica Lewinsky (Brian Lawless/PA)

He added: “There’s going to be some people whose minds we obviously can’t change, this is America, but I am hoping when people look at the show they come into it and they understand what it’s like to walk in people’s shoes.”

Clinton was impeached in 1998 over the affair, after being accused of lying to the American public.

The Senate acquitted him and he saw out his second term in office.

Previous American Crime Story series have focused on the criminal trial and acquittal of OJ Simpson over the death of his wife Nicole Brown, and the assassination of fashion designer Gianni Versace.

Impeachment: American Crime Story is set to premiere on September 7 in the US. A UK release date is yet to be announced.

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