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The first photos of Sarah Paulson on-set of "Impeachment: American Crime Story" have surfaced online, sparking a major debate about representation and inclusivity in Hollywood.
The 46-year-old actress is set to star as Linda Tripp, a former White House employee, in the upcoming third season of the FX series. The latest instalment of the drama chronicles the impeachment trial of former U.S. President Bill Clinton and his relationship with Monica Lewinsky.
In the first photos of Paulson in character, some say she appears to be wearing a fat suit, which has left some questioning if the casting directors could have just hired "a fat actor" instead.
"Look, I love Sarah Paulson as much as the next girl, but putting skinny actresses in fat suits is dehumanizing," one person tweeted. "Hire a fat actor, ‘cause now you’re showing a bunch of people that they’re still not hireable for a role that’s supposed to represent them."
"Maybe they should hire actresses who fit the physicality of the person they're playing, instead of hiring all skinny actors and putting them in fatphobic fatsuits/padding? It's disgusting," another chimed in.
"This could have been a fat actor. This could have been their big breakout role," wrote YouTube star Kristin Chirico. This could have been their Golden Globe or their Emmy nod. This could have been their paid-off student loans or their first house. Instead, it's Sarah Paulson in a fat suit."
Despite the backlash, the show's creator and producer, Ryan Murphy, seemingly defended the casting choice at Thursday's premiere of FX's "Pose." Murphy said that Paulson had gained weight to take on the role.
"Sarah, particularly, really had been dedicated to that role and she wanted to do it naturally and she gained weight to play Linda Tripp," Murphy said in an interview with Entertainment Tonight. "And then, you know, you put the wig on her and it’s sort of an amazing thing she’s doing physically."
Murphy compared Paulson's dramatic transformation to Oscar-winning actor Christian Bale, who reportedly gained 40 pounds to play former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney in the 2018 film "Vice."
"It’s very transformative. It reminds me a lot of what Christian Bale did a couple years ago — that sort of dedication,” Murphy continued. “We talked a lot about how she has to keep it up for many many months until it's done shooting, so it’s hard.”
Paulson joins actor Clive Owen as the former president, Edie Falco as Hillary Clinton and "Booksmart" star Beanie Feldstein as Lewinsky. The highly-anticipated series even includes Monica Lewinsky as producer, something Murphy said was vital to the show's storytelling.
"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," Murphy said in an interview with Collider. "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."