In the first two seasons of FX’s American Crime Story, Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski, Ryan Murphy, and the rest of the creative team tackled the huge American tragedies of O. J. Simpson and Gianni Versace. For season three, they’re going straight to the top. Impeachment: American Crime Story will center on the nation-rocking sex scandal between President Bill Clinton and intern Monica Lewinsky. And as reported by Variety, they just found their Clinton: Clive Owen.
Owen joins the previously announced Beanie Feldstein as Lewinsky, American Crime Story vet Sarah Paulson as Linda Tripp, and Annaleigh Ashford as Paula Jones. Hillary Clinton will play a small role in the season, but producers are still in the middle of casting her. Sarah Burgess will serve as head writer on the season, based on A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President, a nonfiction book by Jeffrey Toobin.
I’m not going to lie: The decision to cast Owen as Clinton is… surprising. Owen is what I would call “one of the most British actors alive.” He’s best known for his roles that alternate between sophistication and brute, terrifying force — and when he does try for an American accent (Sin City, Gemini Man), you can just hear that English accent slipping in the corners and crevasses. He’s definitely not the intuitive choice to play the All-American charmingly Southern twang of Bill Clinton. But then again, American Crime Story has a history of surprising casting against type to incredible results, especially in the O. J. Simpson season (Travolta? Schwimmer? Nathan Friggin’ Lane? Forget about it). And we don’t know the take Burgess and her creative team has on the former President — perhaps they want their Clinton to have some of Owen’s brusque anger. I love American Crime Story in general, and I’ll be approaching Owen’s performance in this next season with a dose of cautious optimism.
For more on American Crime Story, here’s FX chairman John Landgraf‘s comments on the political timeliness of the new season. Plus, check out our analysis of the second season, and our praise of Sarah Paulson in the first season.