Beanie Feldstein has opened up about playing Monica Lewinsky and portraying her affair with Bill Clinton in FX’s Impeachment: American Crime Story, saying that while she felt out of her ‘comfort place’ as a queer woman, she ‘would probably do the exact same thing’ in her shoes.
In a new cover story for W Magazine, the actress detailed the similarities she shares with Lewinsky, who had a sexual relationship with then-President Clinton as a 22-year-old unpaid White House intern.
News of the affair rocked the nation in the late ’90s and led to the president’s impeachment, turning Lewinsky into tabloid fodder for decades.
‘I felt gutted by some of the things that Monica went through,’ Feldstein, 28, told W. ‘My task is to be Monica’s bodyguard—to put my body in front of hers. It’s my job to portray her pain, because I feel so much for her.’
Scroll down for video
Strike a pose: Beanie Feldstein graces one of the four covers of W Magazine’s upcoming Pop & Fall Fashion Issue
Looking glamorous: The 28-year-old actress wore a large bow in her hair and a strapless dress during the 1960s-inspired shoot
Candid: In W’s new cover story, Feldstein opened up about taking on the role of Monica Lewinsky
Feldstein, who has been in a relationship with film producer Bonnie Chance Roberts since 2018, felt connected to Lewinsky in a number of ways.
‘We’re both Jewish girls from L.A. who listen to show tunes on the treadmill!’ she explained.
‘But still, I never felt less in my comfort place than when I was playing Monica. Obviously, I’m queer, so I don’t know if I’d flirt with the president, but who knows?
‘When Clinton shined his light on you, there was no better feeling in the world,’ she added. ‘It wouldn’t matter if you were male, female, nonbinary, queer. When that man put his spotlight on you, the world fell away.
‘And if I was 22 and the most powerful person in the world focused his high beams on me, I would probably do the exact same thing as Monica.’
Getting into character: Feldstein plays Lewinsky in the upcoming FX series Impeachment: American Crime Story (pictured)
Scandal: Lewinsky had a sexual relationship with then-President Clinton as a 22-year-old unpaid White House intern, and the affair led to his impeachment in 1998
Honest: Feldstein (pictured with her partner Bonnie Chance Roberts) said she felt out of her ‘comfort place’ playing Lewinsky as a queer woman
In a video interview with W Magazine, Feldstein recalled the moment Ryan Murphy called her while she was staying at her partner’s apartment in London.
‘I’m getting a call from an L.A. number that I don’t know. I answer it, and it’s Ryan Murphy,’ she said, admitting that she had a physical reaction to being asked to play Lewinsky.
‘I actually had to grip the oven because I knelt to the floor,’ she explained. ‘My knees truly buckled. And then he said, “Oh, and Sarah Paulson is playing Linda Tripp.” And then I fell butt to the floor.’
Both Feldstein and Lewinsky are producers on the upcoming series, which was made with the former intern’s input and approval.
In her shoes: ‘If I was 22 and the most powerful person in the world focused his high beams on me, I would probably do the exact same thing as Monica,’ Feldstein said of the affair
Role of a lifetime: Feldstein said she ‘felt gutted’ by the harassment that Lewinsky has faced over the years, explaining that it is her job ‘to portray her pain’
Meant to be: Feldstein noted that she has a number of similarities to Lewinsky, saying they are both Jewish girls from L.A. who listen to show tunes on the treadmill
‘Monica and I are cut from the same cloth in so many ways,’ said Feldstein, who met Lewinsky only once — right before the coronavirus pandemic was in full swing.
‘It was actually March 12, 2020, so looking back, thank God neither of us had COVID,’ she joked, ‘because that would have been quite the story of me giving it to her or her giving it to me.’
Looking back, Feldstein said she had wanted to play Lewinsky long before Murphy had called her to do the show.
‘I had always been very fascinated with Monica,’ she shared. ‘I was actually asked once if I could play anyone real who would it be and without even thinking I was just like, “I think I should play Monica Lewinksy.”‘
Incredible moment: The actress recalled the moment Ryan Murphy called and asked her to play the White House intern in the show, saying her ‘knees truly buckled’
Working together: Both Feldstein and Lewinsky are producers on the upcoming series, which was made with the former intern’s input and approval
Rising star: Shortly after Feldstein’s interview with W Magazine, it was announced that she was cast as Fanny Brice in a Broadway revival of the musical
The actress said she got into character by listening to the anti-bullying advocate’s favorite show tunes.
‘Rent’s not personally my number one…but as Monica I listen to a lot of Rent,’ she explained, noting in the interview that playing Lewinsky was ’emotionally draining.’
‘Monica’s fame wasn’t positive,’ she said. ‘When you’re hurting, none of that fancy stuff like photo shoots or invitations to parties matters.
‘From my own life experience, you can be on Broadway or at an awards show, but there’s always pain beneath the surface. That nuance is very hard to see from the outside.’
Shortly after Feldstein’s interview with W Magazine, it was announced that she was cast as Fanny Brice in a Broadway revival of the musical.
Process: In a video interview with W Magazine, Felstein shared that she listened to Lewinsky’s favorite showtunes, including ‘a lot of Rent,’ to get into character
Meeting of the minds: Feldstein met Lewinsky (pictured at the 2020 Vanity Fair Oscar Party) once on March 12, 2020, right before the COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing
The show originally starred Barbra Streisand, who made her film debut reprising her Broadway role in the 1968 film adaptation.
The casting seems to be another instance of fate for Feldstein, whose mother dressed her up as Streisand in Funny Girl when she was just three years old.
‘My mother was a costume designer, and I was finally the girl she’d been hoping for. My outfits were insane; I was like her little doll,’ she recalled.
Feldstein, who is the youngest of three children, has two older brothers, Oscar-nominated actor Jonah Hill, 37, and Jordan Feldstein, who managed the band Maroon Five before he died in 2017 at age 40.
‘My first celebrity crush was Barbra,’ she said. ‘My mom made me a leopard coat and hat, and I did a full photo shoot in my driveway. Actually, Jonah skateboarded through and knocked me down, so there are tons of pictures of me crying in my Funny Girl costume.’