Ryan Murphy's American Crime Story anthology returns to television for the first time in over three years, this time with its sights set on one of the most notorious legal proceedings of modern history: the case that led to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. Viewers shouldn't expect a thorough deconstruction of the Whitewater case that led to the Paula Jones deposition, nor the maneuverings of Kenneth Starr's independent counsel investigation, nor the myriad and byzantine arms of what Hillary Clinton called the "vast right-wing conspiracy" against her husband. What will be the focus is what the American people focused on at the time: the story of Monica Lewinsky and how her affair with the president was brought to light by the treachery of one Linda Tripp and became a national scandal. The story features a cast of prominent political and media figures, many still very much in the public eye, who are set be played by a typically starry Ryan Murphy ensemble. But who will be playing whom?
Taking the lead role of Monica Lewinsky, the young White House intern who caught the inappropriate eye of the leader of the free world, is Beanie Feldstein, who joins the Ryan Murphy traveling players for the first time with this project. A star of stage and screen, Feldstein is probably best known for her roles in the comedies Lady Bird (where she played Saoirse Ronan's best friend) and Booksmart (for which she received a Golden Globe nomination). Other credits include Neighbors 2, the TV version of What We Do in the Shadows, and a memorable 2020 episode of Grey's Anatomy.
The great MVP of the Ryan Murphy televisual universe, Sarah Paulson can currently also be seen in the new season of Ryan's American Horror Story. She won an Emmy Award for the first season of American Crime Story, playing district attorney Marcia Clark in The People vs. O.J. Simpson. Other recent roles in political dramas include playing Tom Hanks's wife in Steven Spielberg's The Post and the composite character of Alice, an ally of Phyllis Schlaffly's in Mrs. America. In Impeachment, she plays Linda Tripp, who met and befriended Monica Lewinsky when they were both working at the Pentagon and who secretly recorded phone conversations where Lewinsky discussed her sexual relationship with President Clinton. She was a central figure in the Clinton scandal, as there likely wouldn't have been a scandal to speak of without her.
Oscar-nominated actor Clive Owen is probably best known for his roles in films like Children of Men, Closer, Sin City, and the Cinemax drama The Knick. In Impeachment, he dons a gray wig and a thick Arkansas accent to portray Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the United States, who was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives for his actions and perjuries related to several incidents of alleged sexual harassment and extramarital affairs. His bald-faced denial of having sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky is one of the most-remembered media moments of the whole affair.
Edie Falco is an acclaimed American actress who won three Emmy awards for her performance as Carmela Soprano on The Sopranos, and another for her title role in the Showtime series Nurse Jackie. She also earned raves for her performance in the streaming series Horace & Pete, and is set to appear in the upcoming Avatar sequels, should they ever arrive. She plays Hillary Clinton, the then-First Lady of the United States, who was humiliated by the Lewinsky scandal, especially after having innitially dismissed the allegations against her husband as "part of a vast right-wing conspiracy."
The great Annaleigh Ashford is in the midst of her transformation from a magnetic stage actress to a magnetic screen actress. She got her start playing Galinda in the touring company of Wicked before making her Broadway debut in Legally Blonde: The Musical. Her big break came in the 2013 Broadway musical Kinky Boots, for which she was nominated for a Tony Award (she'd win the Tony in 2015 for her performance in the play You Can't Take It With You). Ashford subsequently began getting cast on TV, in the Showtime series Masters of Sex and American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace, before her current lead role in the CBS sitcom B Positive. She plays Paula Jones in Impeachment, the former Arkansas state employee whose lawsuit against Bill Clinton for sexual harassment set the stage for the scandal.
Three-time Emmy Award winner Margo Martindale plays book editor Lucianne Goldberg in Impeachment. Goldberg's claim to infamy in this sordid affair is that she was the one who advised Linda Tripp to record her conversations with Monica Lewinsky. It's the latest role for Martindale, the consummate character actress in American film and television (she even played herself as "Character Actress Margo Martindale" on Bojack Horseman). Besides her Emmy-winning roles as a Kentucky drug kingpin on Justified and a KGB handler on The Americans, she memorably played Hilary Swank's mother in Million Dollar Baby, Democratic strategist Ruth Eastman on The Good Wife/The Good Fight, and Bella Abzug on Mrs. America.
Comedian and actor Billy Eichner is no stranger to the the Ryan Murphy universe, having appeared in projects like the "Cult" and "Apocalypse" seasons of American Horror Story, but he's probably best known for his role as Craig Middlebrooks on Parks and Recreation and for running up to New Yorkers with a mic in his hand in his comedy series Billy on the Street. He plays D.C. gossip peddler Matt Drudge in Impeachment, whose online dirt sheet was the first to run the Lewinsky story back in 1998.
Kathleen Willey was a White House staffer who accused President Bill Clinton of sexually assaulting her in the Oval Office. She's being played by Elizabeth Reaser, who's probably best known for playing Esme Cullen in the Twilight movies. She also played one of the titular Stone children in The Family Stone, starred in the Netflix series The Haunting of Hill House, and had a guest-starring arc on Grey's Anatomy as a patient who falls in love with Dr. Alex Karev.
Judith Light is an Emmy- and Tony-winning actress making her second appearance in an American Crime Story series, having been Emmy-nominated for her role as Marilyn Miglin in The Assassination of Gianni Versace. Known for her roles on Who's the Boss?, Ugly Betty, and Transparent, in Impeachment, she plays Susan Carpenter-McMillain, who served as Paula Jones's legal representation and spokeswoman during the Clinton lawsuit.
Ann Coulter first made a name for herself as a national pundit via the columns she wrote against the President while she was working on Paula Jones's legal team.She's played by Cobie Smulders, best known for her roles as Robin Sherbatsky on How I Met Your Mother and as Agent Maria Hill in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Susan Webber-Wright was the federal judge who presided over the Paula Jones lawsuit against Bill Clinton. She's played by legendary actress Kathlee Turner, best known for her roles in movies like Romancing the Stone, Body Heat, Peggy Sue Got Married, and Serial Mom. She also played Charles Bing, Chandler's drag-queen father on Friends, and Roz on the third season of The Kominsky Method, opposite her frequent co-star Michael Douglas.
Kenneth Starr was the independent counsel who was initially tasked with heading up the investigation into Bill and Hillary Clinton's Whitewater real-estate investments, an investigation that eventually grew and morphed into sexual harassment and perjury investigations involving Paula Jones and, eventually, Monica Lewinsky. It was Starr's published report that relayed much of the information about the Lewinsky affair to the American public. He's be played by Dan Bakkedahl, best known for playing the short-tempered and foul-mouthed Congressman Roger Furlong on Veep. He's also appeared in TV shows like Life in Pieces and The Goldbergs and movies like The Heat.
Joseph Mazello will forever be known for playing dinosaur-loving grandson Tim in the legendary blockbuster Jurassic Park. In more recent years, he played one of the co-founders of Facebook in The Social Network and one of the members of Queen in Bohemian Rhapsody. In Impeachment, he plays Paul Begala, the chief strategist on Bill Clinton's winning 1992 presidential campaign who later served as a special counselor to the president.
Academy Award-winning actress Mira Sorvino's best-known movie roles include Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion, Mimic, and Mighty Aphrodite. Most recently she had a supporting role in Ryan Murphy's Netflix miniseries Hollywood. In Impeachment, Sorvino plays Monica Lewinsky's mother, Marcia Lewis.
Impeachment: American Crime Story premieres September 7th on FX, with new episodes airing Tuesdays at 10:00 PM through November 9th.
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Joe Reid is the Managing Editor at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.
TOPICS: Impeachment: American Crime Story, Annaleigh Ashford, Beanie Feldstein, Billy Eichner, Clive Owen, Cobie Smulders, Dan Bakkedahl, Edie Falco, Elizabeth Reaser, Joseph Mazzello, Judith Light, Kathleen Turner, Margo Martindale, Mira Sorvino, Ryan Murphy, Sarah Paulson