‘American Crime Story’ Star Sarah Paulson Says Playing Marcia Clark ‘Scared The Sh– Out Of Me’

On American Crime Story, Sarah Paulson has taken on the task of potraying a figure of historical significance in the person of Marcia Clark. While Paulson has previously taken risks on the characters she’s played for Ryan Murphy on American Horror Story, Sarah says this is different because Clark is a living, real person. Perhaps even more intimidating is the fact that Marcia is still fresh in the memories of the millions of Americans who tuned in to the real life trial of O.J. Simpson.

American Crime Story Star Sarah Paulson Was Terrified Of Playing Marcia Clark

Paulson recalls that, as Ryan Murphy was preparing American Crime Story for production, he called her up, insisting that she take on the role of Marcia Clark. Instinctively, Sarah says she was absolutely terrified. The actress, most notably known for her roles on American Horror Story, says her fear was founded on the possibility of failure. She explained that creating a fictional character is something else entirely, because the actor can own that character, make her out to be anything the actress chooses; but, a non-fiction recreation is quite different. People have expectations, especially when it comes to a figure as polarizing as Marcia Clark was during the O.J. Simpson trial.

“I thought ‘Oof, if I don’t do this right or well or if I f*** this up there is going to be no place to hide,’” recalls Paulson.

Sarah Paulson also recalls feeling challenged by the role for the same reasons she was tempted to flee from it. She knew that turning down the American Crime Story role would have been something she would have regretted for the rest of her life.

“But at the same time, the very thing that scared the sh– out of me also made me think that if I don’t do this, you are the greatest p—y that ever lived, and if you don’t do it you can’t call yourself an actress, because the scarier it is the more you should jump right in.”

Sarah Paulson Gives Greater Insight Into The Real Marcia Clark

Was there anything that could have prepared them? #acsfx

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The American Crime Story actress has walked a mile in Marcia Clark’s shoes, so, when she says the former O.J. Simpson prosecutor was judged too harshly, audiences should perhaps listen. Sarah says the media and the public was far too critical of Clark, condemning her for everything from her demeanor to her hairstyle.

Paulson makes a point when she asks why Marcia’s haircut was so newsworthy. The actress admits that maybe Clark’s hairstyle did leave much to be desired; but, she asks, why was it discussed so much when the O.J. Simpson trial brought much more pertinent issues to the forefront?

The actress seems to have come to view Marcia as a personal hero, particularly after having stepped into her life, during this relatively brief moment in history. For Sarah, Marcia’s aggressive attitude, as seen through the media’s eyes, or her unpopular hairstyle are all far less important than her desire to do her job.

Paulson describes Clark as “a woman who has an enormous amount of integrity, who was trying to have justice served for these two victims.”

The American Crime Story actress adds that the issue is a prime example of American sexism. She says a male with a poorly chosen wardrobe or an ugly haircut wouldn’t have been criticized nearly as much, if at all. Paulson says even the media would only have focused on his ability to prosecute Simpson.

Sarah also compliments Clark for her legal skills, commending the attorney for not playing into the defense’s tactics of trying the case on television. The actress admits that was also her downfall, however, because the media’s influence on that trial led to how it was decided in the end.

The next episode of American Crime Story airs on Tuesday, March 15 on FX.

[Photo by Monica Schipper/ Getty Images]