Last year, uber producer and screenwriter Ryan Murphy bumped into a familiar face, Monica Lewinsky, at a Hollywood party.
They got talking, and he left her with a comment that stuck: “Nobody should tell your story but you, and it’s kind of gross if they do.”
On Tuesday (US time), US network FX announced Lewinsky will be at the heart of the much-anticipated third season of Murphy’s American Crime Story – and will also produce it.
The instalment will cover the scandal of Lewinsky’s 1990s relationship with then-US President Bill Clinton, and the political and personal drama that nearly sank the Clinton White House.
Lewinsky will be played by Beanie Feldstein (Booksmart), with American Crime Story leading lady Sarah Paulson as Monica’s confidante turned rat Linda Tripp and Annaleigh Ashford (Masters of Sex) as Paula Jones, who also claimed to have had an affair with Mr Clinton.
According to reports, Bill and Hillary Clinton have not been cast yet.
It has been two years since news first broke that Murphy was planning to adapt Jeffrey Toobin’s 2000 book A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President.
The project was reportedly put on the back burner because Murphy felt it couldn’t go ahead without Lewinsky on board.
Then he met her at the party.
“If you want to produce it with me, I would love that, but you should be the producer, and you should make all the goddamn money,” Murphy told Lewinsky, he recounted to The Hollywood Reporter in 2018.
After running a personal essay last year from Lewinsky explaining why she took part in documentary series The Clinton Affair, Vanity Fair also scored an exclusive email from her about the latest project.
“I was hesitant, and truthfully more than a little scared to sign on,” she said, labelling as “evergreen” the narrative of the story that has so far defined her life.
But after a “lengthy” dinner meeting with Murphy, they clicked and she got “how dedicated he is to giving a voice to the marginalised in all of his brilliant work,” she said.
“People have been co-opting and telling my part in this story for decades.
“In fact, it wasn’t until the past few years that I’ve been able to fully reclaim my narrative; almost 20 years later.”
Lewinsky, 46, was in her twenties and a White House intern when she had an affair with Mr Clinton.
Both were later called before a grand jury, with Lewinsky saying she and the president had nine sexual encounters in the Oval Office between November 1995 and March 1997.
Mr Clinton was impeached and Lewinsky’s notoriety saw her become a pop culture cause celebre and handbag designer who is now an activist.
To her, the current politically divisive impeachment discussion around Donald Trump makes the decades-old Clinton trial as relevant as it was then.
The American Crime Story franchise, which has covered the OJ Simpson saga and Andrew Cunanan’s crime spree that killed Gianni Versace, “has become a cultural touchstone,” FX CEO John Landgraf said in announcing the new season.
“Impeachment: American Crime Story will likewise explore the overlooked dimensions of the women who found themselves caught up in the scandal and political war that cast a long shadow over the Clinton presidency.”
News of the third season’s subject and Lewinsky’s involvement divided social media users:
Production on Impeachment: American Crime Story is due to start in February, and the series is scheduled to premiere in September 2020.