“I didn’t know what to expect with the series,” Marcia Clark says of the FX network’s critically acclaimed and highly-rated 10-episode miniseries, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. “For me, it’s not entertainment. It’s very tough, it’s very painful. It’s a nightmare that wouldn’t end for 15 months.” Clark was interviewed by Slate to discuss the second-guessing of her handling of the case that has been going on among armchair lawyers since the series debuted earlier this month.
Now 20 years after the criminal case ended, Clark looks back and says she was accustomed to trying high-profile cases — but simply wasn’t ready for the intense national media coverage that came with the murder trial of O.J. Simpson, an American football hero and TV star. ” I didn’t understand why people cared about my hair or my makeup or my clothing. It just was like … I’m a prosecutor. I’m not a model. I’m not an actress,” she laughed. “But somehow, we all got kind of turned into soap opera figures.”
One of the central criticisms of her handling of the case is that she miscalculated what type of trial it was. It’s a theme that’s already come up several times in the series, and Jeffrey Toobin, the legal expert who wrote the book on which the TV series is based, has theorized that the jury didn’t buy her contention that the case was about domestic violence. In the wake of the murders of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman, Simpson became the the face of domestic violence. But, as Toobin and others have argued, in the Simpson case, race trumped gender, a point that Slate’s Jeremy Stahl pressed her on.
“I think it’s true that the jury was not impressed by the domestic violence evidence,” Clark, who in the past has been critical of Toobin’s book, says in the interview. “Nevertheless, it’s the motive. And we have to present the case we had. We can’t present the case we wish we had.”
The interview touches on a number of aspects of the case and Clark laments that “everybody forgot about Ron and Nicole” amid all of the media hoopla surrounding the trial of the century. She also says she is still mystified by the verdict after all these years, referring to the jurors’ decision as “a payback verdict for Rodney King.”
Watch the full interview at Slate.