In the recent episode of The People v O.J. Simpson, the audience sees the amount of sexism that prosecutor Marcia Clark deals with during a day in the trial of the century. From comments about her appearance to feeling pressured to get a makeover to look more appealing, actress Sarah Paulson paints a painful portrait of a woman who was constantly undermined in a professional field in which she excelled.
The real Marcia Clark sat down with Vulture ahead of the episode to reveal what Ryan Murphy got right and what was a dramatization for television. Of the actress who gets to portray her for the masses, Clark said that their meeting couldn’t have gone better.
“You never know whether you’re going to be disappointed. With her, it was the exact opposite. She was wonderful: brilliant, funny, insightful, empathetic. She’s a wonderfully amazing combination of phenomenally talented and a terrific person. So in this case I was delighted that my hopes were not only fulfilled, but surpassed.”
In the episode titled “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia,” we see Clark at the salon after she has to endure disparaging remarks about her appearance. Focus groups see her as a cold and cruel, while the media tears her appearance apart once the trial is underway. When she comes back feeling great, after her makeover, a person calls out that she looks like Rick James.
What’s shocking is Judge Lance Ito is quoted as addressing her as “Ms. Clark, I think” when Marcia appeared in the courtroom with her new cropped perm. Of the exchange, the real-life Clark says that they got it right as far as the exchange went. The way it played on screen, Clark was in tears and feeling defeated, which the real Clark said wasn’t her reaction to the exchange.
“That was the day I blew my hair out straight. It was silly. I was like Whatever, dude. Let me call the next witness. That was not so upsetting to me. I didn’t care. If the jury wasn’t there, I didn’t care what he said. It was when they were in the room that things got hairy. That’s when it was upsetting.”
Another sexist remark we see is star defense attorney Johnnie Cochran make a quip about not having babysitting problems when Clark can’t stay past a certain time because she needs to be with her son. At the time, she was also going through a tumultuous divorce, which was also covered in the episode, but something that Marcia herself refuses to talk about.
Of Cochran’s remark on screen, Clark said she didn’t know if he made a specific remark about not having “child-care issues.”
“I’ve blocked out so much of that time in my life because it was so painful. It was unbearable. And I can’t remember. Could it have happened? Oh, yes. It certainly could’ve happened. And if Johnnie had smarted off at me, I certainly would have had a retort. So all I can say is, it’s probably true.”
Throughout the episode, we see Marcia lean on lawyer Chris Darden, who understands the nature of being an outcast. Although he isn’t treated in any way other than a professional lawyer by Judge Ito, Darden sympathizes with Clark. It was rumored during the trial that the two were sleeping with each other, which she never confirms or denies.
In the scene, they share a dance together, which takes place at the end of the day in Clark’s office. While Marcia said she never danced with Darden, she said that Murphy got the nature of their friendship right.
“If you’re gonna be in the middle of a war like that, you have to have a good trench mate, and he really was. I’d drag up from court every day, miserable.”
She continued, “It’s a great moment because they’re delivering the essence of our relationship, and that’s nice. It’s an essential truth even if it’s not a literal truth.”
Tell us! What did you think of the Marcia-centric episode?
[Image via FX]