(Warning: This post contains spoilers for the premiere of “Impeachment: American Crime Story.”)
“It takes a dramatic turn” is all the information that the “Impeachment: American Crime Story” audience gets from Paula Jones (Annaleigh Ashford) to describe her drawing of President Bill Clinton’s (Clive Owen) penis, which she sketched in front of her attorneys as evidence to support her sexual harassment claim against the then-president, before they take the steps to pursue a lawsuit against Clinton.
This drawing, which Jones does in front of her husband, Steve Jones (Taran Killam), makes the men tilt their heads due to its “distinctive shape,” as Ashford put it. While we viewers don’t get to see this allegedly unique member drawn by Jones on-screen, Ashford says she didn’t just put some scribbles down, but truly drew a penis on a piece of paper while shooting that scene directed by series creator Ryan Murphy.
“In real life, she, Paula Jones, in all of these court documents, claims that Bill Clinton’s penis had a distinctive shape at the bottom,” Ashford told TheWrap. “And it’s documented. That’s another thing, all of this stuff, you can just go read it in court documents. And it was sort of a selling point for her lawyers that she was authentic.”
She continued: “And so on the day, Ryan thought that that was an important detail to add because it was so important to the case. And the first time that I drew the penis, we were rehearsing it, and the first time, I laughed like a schoolgirl. It was like I was in seventh grade again and I also, like, couldn’t figure out how to draw d—. And so I drew it and then like, laughed a lot. Full laughed out loud, looked at Taran Killam, laughed, ruined the take. I made all the camera men laugh, everybody in the room laughed. I was like, ‘I’m sorry for real. I feel like I’m in seventh grade and I’m drawing a penis on the wall.’ It was so funny.”
Because “that is what happened in real life,” Ashford said it was important for the “Impeachment” team that “it wasn’t a funny moment for us. It was really earnest because Paula Jones drew that penis in earnest to prove that her experience was authentic, which is also heartbreaking.”
So in order to take this process very seriously, Ashford actually researched the specifics of drawing male genitals.
“I’m going to tell you a secret. We did the first take and then we had touchups and I secretly Googled on my phone ‘how to draw a penis’ so that I would draw it a little bit better. Because I just was like all of a sudden in my head about my artistic abilities, like, just want to do a good job drawing this penis.”
“I did draw a penis, but it wasn’t very good,” Ashford said. “I think it’s better for the audience’s imagination to see that penis in their mind, on many levels.”
“Impeachment: American Crime Story” airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on FX.