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Monica Lewinsky gave her blessing for Ryan Murphy's Impeachment: American Crime Story, and although she serves as a producer on the show, the author admits she's anxious ahead of the upcoming premiere.
"I have anxiety about the process being week to week," Lewinsky told The Hollywood Reporter. "That was very challenging for me with the scripts — to understand the arc of this story. There was an enormous amount of trust that I've had to have with the scripts and the actors and the show, and there've been many places where I was scared and doubted and then I understood once I saw it onscreen or I saw later episodes. But I'm nervous about being misunderstood again."
Lewinsky continues, "I'm also just nervous because this story is connected to many layers of people in power, and the scaffolding and the structures that are around power and protect power can sometimes be very overwhelming if you’re on the wrong side of it, and I’ve experienced that over the years."
Lewinsky went to dinner with writer Sarah Burgess and the producers early on in the process, and there was one part of the team's vision that resonated with her.
"There was a moment in that dinner where they said that what they had been thinking was that they really didn't ever want to show any of the sex, and that it would come later in the season. It was such a sign of, 'Oh, I'm with the right people,'" she said. "This story has been told through a sexual lens. I mean, sure, I was aware of those aspects, but that's not what it was to me at that time."
Lewinsky says it was "incredibly surreal" to read each draft of the script and feels "very lucky" to be in actress Beanie Feldstein's hands. However, the speaker notes it was "challenging" to put on the producer hat at times.
"There are many moments where I'm transported to a memory from the show. But also, there's the kind of bizarreness that when we relive a memory in our head, we don't see ourselves. So, I found in watching it that there were moments where I was just thinking, like, 'Oh God, don't talk to her. Don't smile at him. Don't wear the beret — just don't wear the beret,'" she laughs.
It was also surreal for Lewinsky to see the chemistry between Feldstein and Clive Owen, who plays former president Bill Clinton.
"There are aspects of Bill that I think Clive has captured that people haven't seen before, and it's like, 'Oh, as a producer, I should be able to speak to something like that.' But as a person who lived some of this, it's very surreal," she continues. "Also, I think something that's been hard for people to understand, and I hope we're able to capture this in episode 10, is just because I was not on the news every night for 20 years in the same way that I was in 1998, doesn’t mean this story had ended. This has a very, very long tail."
After Lewinsky participated in the 2018 documentary, The Clinton Affair, she took time offline to heal. Throughout the process of producing the FX limited series, she created "a patchwork of support in a different way than I've had before."
"There've been some really, really difficult periods in this process for me," she admits. "I have somebody who's a therapist — not my traditional therapist, who's a trauma psychiatrist, but someone who's both a friend and one of my helpers — and I pay her and she sits on Zoom while I work on my notes so I'm not alone. Because it's hard. It's really hard."
Lewinsky continues, "The first time that there was all this attention on this story, in 1998, I wasn't prepared in any way. And now there’s going to be a lot of attention on this story again, but I’m in a very different place in my life. I just turned 48, I've now been a public person for half my f**king life. So … we'll see.
Season 3 of American Crime Story premieres on Sept. 7.