Sarah Paulson’s Decade and Her Best Television Performance

There is no doubt that Sarah Paulson shone brightly in the last ten years of her outstanding acting career. An extraordinary actress is best known for her versatile roles in Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s anthology, “American Horror Story.” She brought to life the most complex and most influential characters on television, such as Cordelia Foxx – the Supreme witch, or Lana Winters – a journalist who aspires to write an article on Briarcliff Manor, an insane asylum.

Paulson also appeared alongside Cate Blanchett in Todd Haynes’ “Carol,” where she played Blanchett’s best friend and former lover – Abby Gerhard. Since 2010, the actress appeared in many films, some of the titles are “12 Years a Slave”, “Rebel in the Rye,” “Blue Jay,” “Bird Box,” etc. What does she say about the roles she portrays? I’m not interested in a character’s goodness. I’m interested in what makes them human.

Copyright 2015 FX Networks. All rights reserved.11
Copyright 2015, FX Networks. All Rights Reserved

That is why it had been especially crucial for her to offer the chief justice to Marcia Clark, whom she portrayed in another anthology – “The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story.” Paulson admitted that she studied the lawyer to the very best degree; the actress even wore Clark’s perfume. Her goal was to know her the best. The great effort didn’t go to waste as her performance was highly praised and rewarded. It was 2016 that turned out to be Sarah Paulson’s gold star year. The actress received three Golden Globe Award nominations and seven (sic!) Primetime Emmy Award nominations – she won in both categories that year.

There is no doubt that Sarah Paulson shone brightly in the last ten years of her outstanding acting career. An extraordinary actress is best known for her versatile roles in Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s anthology, “American Horror Story.”

Once again, it was nothing extraordinary about that. If you haven’t seen Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark, please, do yourself a favour and watch it now. The particular episode that receives the most attention and reveals Paulson’s wide range of outstanding acting skills is “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia.” In the middle of the season, the trial of OJ Simpson and the fight between two sides quickly escalates. Still, Marcia has to face the worse enemy – the media. Instead of focusing on her wisdom as a lawyer, the people pay attention to everything else but. Tabloids regularly discuss the woman’s’ outfits, hair, makeup, divorce, and everything that revolves around that.

“Still, Marcia has to face the worse enemy – the media. Instead of focusing on her wisdom as a lawyer, the people pay attention to everything else but.”

They even went as far as harvesting old photos of the lawyer and smearing it all over the news. To ascertain inequality, one also has got to take a look at how portrayed are the others involved within the case – men. Nobody judges or discusses the personal life of Johnnie Cochran (Courtney B. Vance), a lawyer working in defence of OJ Simpson. The situation, too, worsens in the courtroom. Even the aforementioned defence lawyer deprecates Clark. But, the woman stands up to herself and speaks up: Your Honor. I am offended by Mr. Cochran’s remarks as a woman and as a mother. Mr Cochran may not know what it’s like to work a 70-hour workweek and also take care of a family, but I do. And many other people do, too. To belittle my childcare issues in your courtroom is unconscionable and totally out of line.

The creators dedicate the episode to the lawyer and a woman in question; they shine a light on the person that Marcia Clark entirely was. A mother and a wife, yes, but first and foremost – an excellent lawyer. The variety of emotions and the complexity of the character Sarah Paulson presented to the audience, especially in said episode, is beyond phenomenal.

The actress so fervently displays the character’s moment of distress in the courtroom full of men in suits. Marcia walks to the room; her freshly cut hair in the centre of attention: Good morning, Ms Clark. I think – the judge comments, which makes the opposite side chuckle. The expression on the woman’s face says it all: she wants to cry, but she cannot let them see her this way. Hence, Marcia bites her lip and tries to stop the tears from escaping her eyes. She sharply inhales and takes a sip from the cup.

In the next scene, the audience observes that the tabloids are full of words on her new hair. During the interview with Vanity Fair, Paulson admitted that she didn’t care about the case as much as she should have back in 1995: I was letting myself believe what was being told to me by the media. I didn’t question it. So now when I look back at it, I just wonder why people weren’t rallying around her and why she didn’t have a support system from other women saying, ‘Why are we talking about how short her skirt is and her bad hair?’”

2016 FX Networks
Copyright 2015, FX Networks. All Rights Reserved.

Many years later, she had a chance to portray the lawyer and gave this critical role every ounce of her soul. The groundbreaking portrayal of media’s injustice towards Marcia Clark remains a reminder of the cruel, harmful side of the fourth estate. With Sarah Paulson and all cast of “American Crime Story,” bringing past to the new generation, it’s essential to step back and think; did the situation portrayed in “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” really change in the contemporary pop culture?

The end of the decade is near; it’s worth to catch up on this television series and experience the most excellent television performance of Sarah Paulson as well as other films with her in the cast (“Carol” is an absolute must-watch). You won’t be disappointed.

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