Sarah Paulson may have won the Emmy Award, but Marcia Clark was the big winner at the television industry’s 68th annual gala. Paulson, who won her first-ever Emmy for her role as the O.J. Simpson prosecutor, thanked Clark during her acceptance speech — and then she publicly apologized to her.
During her speech, Sarah Paulson admitted that, like millions of other people, she rushed to judgment about Clark during the headline-making 1995 murder trial.
“The responsibility of playing a real person is an enormous one,” Paulson said.
“You want to get it right not for you but for them. I, along with the rest of the world, had been superficial in my judgment, and I’m glad that I’m able to stand here in front of everyone today and say, ‘I’m sorry.'”
Sarah Paulson was able to apologize to Clark, who was once a pop culture joke, in person. Sarah brought Marcia to the Emmy Awards as her guest. Not only that, but, according to the Los Angeles Times, Paulson brought Clark with her to the winners circle to have her trophy engraved and even had the former prosecutor’s name etched onto her Emmy alongside hers.
Clark said it was an amazing night and she was glad she could share it with Sarah Paulson.
According to Vanity Fair, Paulson said when she took on the role as the famous former prosecutor for Ryan Murphy’s anthology series The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, her goal was to not inflict undue pain on her.
“Playing a real person while they are still living is a big responsibility,” Paulson said.
“She is the mother to two children who were very young when the trial was going on, and were not really privy to a lot of what she was put through. I just kept thinking, I hope this doesn’t hurt Marcia any further. I hope the things that we are doing don’t inflict any more pain.”
Sarah later told reporters she brought Clark as her date so that she could publicly apologize to her for judging her — and for failing her — 20 years ago as they trial played out in the headlines.
“It was a roll the dice when I asked her to come with me because I thought they could very easily not call my name and then she’d be there,” Sarah said. “We would go have a chicken breast and have a cocktail and go home. ”
“But it turned out this way and I was able to stand up in front of everyone and say something that I think the world should say to her. Because I do think there was a collective failing by women for Marcia during the time of the trial. Given what I know now and what we all know now, I think an apology was in order… I do feel like there was a collective failing of women during the trial.”
Sarah Paulson’s Emmy win was a long time coming, and it couldn’t have come for a better role. Paulson showed viewers the personal side of the working single mom, who was mocked for her hair and fashion choices while working as the lead prosecutor in the trial of the century.
Sarah’s previous Emmy nods were for her roles in Game Change, and then Murphy’s American Horror Story anthologies.
Marcia Clark has come full circle, but she was originally overcome with dread when she heard about FX’s plans to resurrect the O. J. trial for a TV miniseries. She told New York magazine that it was a dinner meeting with Paulson that changed her tune. Over dinner and drinks, Sarah told Marcia that she planned to offer a fresh and feminist take on Clark and that the show would address the sexist treatment she endured both in the courtroom and in the media.
Clark admitted that seeing Sarah Paulson play her onscreen “was a little out of body,” but she praised the actress for taking on the challenge.
“She delivered the feelings on the inside so beautifully, with so much nuance,” Clark said of Paulson. “You get the feeling of futility … in the courtroom, in the media, the constant uphill battle.”
Take a look at the video below to see Sarah Paulson talking about her Emmy win.
[Featured Image by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]