It’s been two years since the criminally underrated American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace aired on FX and we’re still waiting on that sure-to-be-controversial followup, American Crime Story: Impeachment. When Collider’s Steve Weintraub sat down with creator Ryan Murphy to discuss his new Netflix limited series Hollywood, we also got the latest update on Impeachment, which will cover the aftermath of President Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky.
The season is already fully-cast and ready to go—production on the Murphy-directed first episode was supposed to start last week—with Beanie Feldstein (Booksmart) starring as Monica Lewinsky across from Clive Owen‘s Bill Clinton. In addition, Lewinsky herself is on board as executive producer, with Murphy comparing her on-screen arc to the redemption offered to Marcia Clark in the show’s fantastic first season, The People vs. O.J. Simpson. (Sarah Paulson played Clark in that season; in Impeachment, Paulson plays Linda Tripp, who recordings of conversations with Lewinsky revealed the scandal.)
“I’m very, very excited to have Monica Lewinsky’s version of what happened be put out there in the world, and I think that she’s earned the right to be able to tell her story, how she wants to tell it. And I think her version of what happened and the facts will be very startling to people, and I think it’s important. I love and care for her as a person.
It’s very similar to what happened when we did OJ with Marcia Clark. You forget how vilified and misunderstood Marcia Clark was, and I feel the same way about Monica. That she’s not been treated fairly, and that she is a cultural figure who literally deserves her day in court and in this show she will get it.”
Murphy also explained why American Crime Story: Katrina—which would have covered the U.S. government’s handling of the deadly Hurricane Katrina catastrophe in 2005—never materialized.
“We tried developing that. It was just too vast and expensive. I ultimately just couldn’t figure out how to crack it to be honest. I don’t think we’re going to be doing that. We have many, many, many different Crime Stories in the works, but it’s a very hard show. It always takes two years to write. And we never do it, we never move forward unless we’re absolutely sure that the scripts are great.”
Katrina falling through might have been a blessing in disguise, as the lessons learned basically led straight to Impeachment, which Murphy ensures us has “fantastic” writing.
“In the case of Impeachment, the scripts are fantastic. Slow and steady wins the race with that one. We’re in no rush to make them. We just want them to be good…The writing is hard on those shows because you have to be writing about something, I think, very American and profound. The show has a very strong beating social heart. You got to get it right. It has to be about something. It can’t just be an exploitation about something. So figuring out the writing and how to do that, and then the casting of it always takes forever. It took me a year to cast Versace. It took me a year and a half to cast this. It’s just very time-consuming. It takes a lot of time and we spend a lot of time doing it. I like doing a show where it’s like, ‘Okay, well, we’ll do it when it’s ready.’ That’s our sort of how we look at it.
Be on the look-out for the rest of our interview with Murphy throughout the week. For more on Hollywood—which hits Netflix on May 1—here is the first trailer and here’s Steve’s interview with Murphy where he talks about why he wanted to make the series, diversity and championing minority voices.