For fans of Sarah Paulson, we’re living in a wonderful time. Between American Horror Story and People v. OJ Simpson, as well as a dip into the gossip realm with her relationship with Holland Taylor, it’s all Paulson all the time. Which is great for us, because her interviews tend to be goldmines of commendable, take-no-shit pullquotes that will make you mentally applaud and/or laugh out loud. Case in point: this THR roundtable with great TV actresses.
First of all, Paulson revealed her secret for getting romantic lead roles, and it’s more than a little heave-worthy. Paulson, a natural brunette, says she’s “never been asked to play the [romantic] leading lady without having to be a blonde.”
I’ve never been asked to play the [romantic] leading lady without having to be a blonde.
I don’t mind it, I like the blond — but to be told that in order to be considered a romantic lady opposite some hunky guy, I need to have long blond hair that looked very L.A. Real Housewives? It does do something to your brain. You go, “Gosh, so the way I came into the world is not as appealing as it would be if I were altered in some way?” That’s a funny message to extend to a person. And that’s the other thing: I did it. I put the extensions in, I blonded it up.
Blech. And this fixation on appearance is a recurring theme. While playing Marcia Clark in American Crime Story, she clearly developed an affinity for the real woman, and strong opinions about the way she was viewed, to the point that you DO NOT talk shit on Clark when Paulson is around. Clark is someone who the public has loved to shit on for decades now, both for her work on the Simpson case as well as her appearance, and Paulson isn’t having it. Talking about Jeffrey Toobin, who wrote the book that was the source material for the show, she said:
We were shooting something in the courtroom, and he was very lovely and supportive, but he made a comment about Marcia not being the greatest attorney.
And he said something similar to Sterling K. Brown, who plays Chris Darden, and we both were like, “Motherf—er, get out of my face.” We have to play this thing, first of all, and I don’t agree with that assessment of her at all. It made me very angry, but a lot of the stuff about Marcia Clark makes me very angry. And I was guilty of it myself. I was 19 when the whole thing happened, and I was decidedly self-interested, wanting to be an actress, and I was not focused on the case in the way that some people were and certainly not on changing my opinion or whatever the narrative about Marcia Clark was. I was letting myself believe what was being told to me by the media. I didn’t question it. So now when I look back at it, I just wonder why people weren’t rallying around her and why she didn’t have a support system from other women saying, “Why are we talking about how short her skirt is and her bad hair?” She told me a story about how some of the court reporters would run after her with some concealer and say, “Just please put a little on.” And she was like, “I do not care about that. There is a man I believe to be guilty, I would like to see justice done.”
For a lot of people (I don’t want to presume ‘everyone,’ but it’s everyone, right?), the Marcia Clark narrative was the best thing about that show. I think anyone who mocked that perm in the ’90s felt guilty about it after watching Sarah Paulson take on this role.