Sarah Paulson is all the buzz these days: She has successfully transformed into former prosecutor Marcia Clark in the hit FX series "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story," but despite the rave reviews her performance is getting, she admits she felt apprehensive about taking on the role.
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"Marcia Clark is a real person walking around the planet with two grown children who were too young to know what it was she was going through during the time of the trial," Paulson told ABC News. "And the responsibility of presenting that to them in a true and authentic way was something definitely I thought about."
She continued: "But chiefly I just wanted to get it right for Marcia. I just felt she had been so misperceived and misunderstood ... by women, by men."
Paulson, 41, told Peter Travers that she studied every aspect of Clark in order to make the most of the role. She was working on the seventh episode of the series when they finally met.
“Meeting her was sort of a surreal out of body experience. I had done so much research,” Paulson recalled. “I could identify her before I could even see her face. She was coming through a revolving door and the sun was sort of blocking her, I couldn’t really see her face. But I could tell by the way she was moving that it was Marcia.”
The two ended up hitting it off. “We closed the restaurant down. We had a good deal of tequila, and the lights were being turned off and they were shoving us out the door,” Paulson said.
While taking on the role of a living, breathing person has its many challenges, Paulson fans know to expect nothing but the best from the actress. After all, they saw her pull off the role of conjoined twins on the FX cult favorite “American Horror Story.”
But when producer Ryan Murphy, who also produces "The People v. O.J. Simpson," approached Paulson about playing a character with two heads, she says she initially hesitated.
“I think I said, 'Ryan, Ryan, how will we do that?'” Paulson said. “And he said, 'Oh lady, don’t you worry, we’ll figure it out. But that’s what you’re doing. Do your thing that you do and start reading up.'”
Paulson spent time at home preparing for that role. “It was very, very challenging for my wee little brain,” joked Paulson. “It was not easy. I had to keep thinking, 'I’m right-handed but I’m playing this one who is left-handed.' And try running lines with yourself at night. I’m going, 'Oh, oh, that’s me again speaking only with a different want and a different need.'”
So Paulson asked the producers if she could have a faux head/body piece to use for practice sessions.
“I can’t imagine what people thought, walking by my house in New Orleans with it strapped to my body. It was not as secure as the other,” said Paulson. “It had no hair and it was bald. So it was just sort of flapping around and I would practice talking to it. And I could switch sides and put it on the other when I had to play the other because I needed to practice orienting my body in a particular way.”
Paulson added that it’s taking on the unknown that brings her the most excitement.
“The abject terror I feel right before I start a job, I like the feeling, the excitement of 'I don’t know how I’m going to do this,'” she said. “I felt that very acutely with the twins. I felt that very strongly with Marcia and for entirely different reasons.”