When Monique Lewinsky Arriving at the Pentagon City Mall on Jan. 16, 1998 to meet Linda Tripp for lunch, the 24-year-old had no idea she was about to be trapped in a traumatic, nearly 12-hour ordeal that would instantly change the course of his life.
After Tripp’s arrival, longtime government aid was quickly followed by FBI agents, and Lewinsky immediately knew that the confidante she had told about her affair with the president Bill clinton had turned against her. It wasn’t until Lewinsky followed Tripp and the agents upstairs to a room at the nearby Ritz-Carlton hotel, that she realized the depth of Tripps’ betrayal. Tripp hadn’t just leaked the details of the case, she had recorded around 20 hours of phone conversations with the White House intern.
This betrayal, and the extraordinary hours that followed when FBI agents pressured Lewinsky to cooperate in their investigation of Clinton, are at the center of Tuesday’s episode of Impeachment: American Crime Story, Man manipulated. The episode, which was written by the executive producer Sarah burgess and led by Ryan murphy, is a star for the actor Feldstein beanie, who plays Lewinsky. Like Lewinsky, she rushes through an emotional roller coaster of rage, humiliation, fear and calm.
In an interview with Vanity Show, Feldstein says she was not aware of the details of Operation Prom Night until she did some research before the episode.
It was disgusting to understand that a 24-year-old girl in sportswear was in a room with eight to twelve gunmen and asked to turn on the president and [his personal secretary] Betty currie and [personal adviser] Vernon Jordan, says Feldstein. And watch that girl hold on and not be [intimidated] by these scary men, who are literally armed, and ask her mother to come protect her and not do what they want [was] a remarkable act. And one of the bravest things I have ever described. It was an episode that changed my life as an actor because it pushed me to places I didn’t think I could go. But it was all for the most important purpose of helping people finally understand Monica’s pain and what she had to go through.
The episode was shot over 23 days for comparison purposes, film Feldsteins 2019 Booksmart was filmed in about 25 days and was an emotional marathon for Feldstein. It was, for me as an actor, by far the most touching place I have ever had to visit, but I had to feel that pain for the audience to feel the pain.
Burgess had a lot of resources to cut down while writing the episode, including Andrew Mortons 1999 Lewinsky biography, Ken gormleys The death of American virtue, the Starr report and the Slow combustion Podcast. The most useful resource for scripting the episode, however, may come from the FBI itself in the form of a document the agency used to commemorate the controversial interview.
In this case, the FBI basically wrote my plan for me, Burgess says. In addition, the Office of Independent Counsel was subsequently investigation for his behavior that day because it’s not legal, if someone asks their lawyer, to refuse this. Mike Emmick [the agent played by Colin Hanks on Impeachment] in particular was investigated. Because even at the time, there was a controversy around thisKen starr was pressed by Democrats in Congress on this because a prosecutor can’t just hold someone in a room against their will. Of course, they used ambiguous language to make it look like they weren’t doing it. While I was working on this it was very obvious how overwhelming this was for Monica. (Investigation concluded that Emmick exercised poor judgment, but prosecutors did not show professional misconduct.)
What fascinated Burgess was how Lewinsky, so young and in an unfathomable situation, was able to switch between fear, rage, and calculating jokes. At one point, Lewinsky refused to cooperate until his mother came to New York by trainwhich meant she and the agents had hours to fill. Surreal, the unlikely group hit the mall while walking through a Case and barrel and sit down for a meal.
I was struck by the fact that his mind was running on two tracks, Burgess says. We see her being friendly and kind of teasing [the agents] and be warm with them. And then we see her running to a pay phone. I think Monica was very smart and there was a certain strategy to it. As a young lady sometimes your only option is to just be nice, but it’s very clear to me that Monica has shown incredible strength. She could have immediately turned against Bill Clinton, Betty Currie and Vernon Jordan. She was tested, but she behaved as I think most of us would like, i.e. you keep your feet on the ground and you don’t bend down because of the fear .
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