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Actress Feels Guilty for Wearing a Fat Suit in Order to Play Someone Much Heavier Than She Is

Axelle/Bauer-Griffin. Getty Images.

This is actress Sarah Paulson. She's been in several things you may recognize her from. She was the title character in the series "Nurse Ratched," which had a short run because the viewing public surprisingly didn't want to watch a "Cruella"-like origin story about a cold-blooded sadist who torments mental patients. She was also in "12 Years a Slave." And remember her most as the psychiatrist in the pretty decent M. Night Shyamalan film "Glass." 

But she's probably best known from playing prosecutor Marcia Clark in the OJ Simpson season of "An American Crime Story." And now she's back in the upcoming season of the same series, "Impeachment," which is all about the Bill Clinton sex scandal. With Clive Owens as Clinton, Edie Falco as Hillary, and Beanie Feldstein as Monica Lewinsky. 

Paulson plays Linda Tripp, who, if you're too young to remember and your parents were never much for talking about the President of the United States getting his bone honked on in the Oval Office, was Lewinsky's work friend who recommended she save the blue dress with the Presidential Jizz on it, just in case someone tries to ruin her life by calling her a crazy stalker who's making up stories about giving blowies to the leader of the free world. Or something. It was a long time ago. What I do remember is that Tripp was generally portrayed as a combination Frienemy, a moralist, a buttinski who should've kept her nose out of everyone else's business and the worst sort of person to confide in. 

She also looked like this:

The Washington Post. Getty Images.

So you can see that, since Paulson is, subjectively speaking, about 4.5 points higher on the attractiveness scale than 1990s Linda Tripp, she was going to need help from the Makeup and Wardrobe departments in order to pull this off. Not Margot Robbie-as-Tonya Harding levels of cutting edge special effects. But help. Which she got. And this being 2021, she feels really, really, super duper bad about it:

Source - Sarah Paulson admitted regret in a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times regarding her decision to wear a fat suit for her role as Linda Tripp in “Impeachment: American Crime Story.” …

While Paulson’s once planned to gain weight for the role and forgo a fat suit, she changed course ahead of production and wore a fat suit.

“It’s very hard for me to talk about this without feeling like I’m making excuses,” Paulson told the Times. “There’s a lot of controversy around actors and fat suits, and I think that controversy is a legitimate one. I think fat phobia is real. I think to pretend otherwise causes further harm. And it is a very important conversation to be had.”

“But that entire responsibility I don’t think falls on the actor for choosing to do something that is arguably — and I’m talking about from the inside out — the challenge of a lifetime,” Paulson continued. “I do think to imagine that the only thing any actor called upon to play this part would have to offer is their physical self is a real reduction of the offering the actor has to make. …. And that the magic of hair and makeup departments and costumers and cinematographers that has been part of moviemaking, and suspension of belief, since the invention of cinema. Was I supposed to say no [to the part]? This is the question.”

Paulson added that she “regrets” not thinking more about the harm of wearing a fat suit prior to making the decision. “I also know it’s a privileged place to be sitting and thinking about it and reflecting on it, having already gotten to do it, and having had an opportunity that someone else didn’t have,” the actress told the Times. “…And I wouldn’t make the same choice going forward.”

I had to go back and re-read that paragraph about responsibility and offering her physical self the reduction of the offering just to make sure that the costume department put pads under her clothes and didn't go murder someone riding a handifat scooter to the Little Caesar's counter at a WalMart, skin their hide and slip Sarah Paulson inside it like Buffalo Bill. But nope. We've got it right. 

So an actress feels guilty for letting the showrunners make her look like the person she's portraying. Because the alternative is … what? She should've put on the pounds herself? Because gorging yourself on a 5,000 a day diet like Christian Bale playing Dick Cheney will somehow make balding, morbidly obese warmongers feel better about themselves? 

Where does that line get drawn? Should Eddie Murphy have gained the weight of seven different characters to star in "The Nutty Professor"? What about Chris Hemsworth in the final "Avengers" movie? He wore a fat suit. Was that a hate crime against everyone who lets himself go after getting PTSD from seeing his entire civilization destroyed? Sasha Baron Cohen has appropriated Kazakhstan's culture. Was he more wrong for using a fat suit to prank Mike Pence? 

Stupid me, I thought that acting meant trying to look, sound and … you know, act … like someone else. But if that involves using makeup artistry to match that person's level of attractiveness, it's wrong, now? And does that go both ways? Like in the first act of the first "Captain America" movie when they used CGI to make Chris Evans look like a weakling, was that to be taken as a slur against all scrawny little soy boys? Should he have been required to shed 120 pounds of solid muscle mass? Or do we stop the makeup and costumes altogether and just have people dress at themselves so we can just imagine them as the person they're playing?

My guess is the answer is all the above is "no." We've just created a society where even wealthy Hollywood stars are compelling themselves to feel terrible about doing their jobs the way they're supposed to. Actors are the strangest fucking people on the planet.