Today, in potential accent-based high crimes and misdemeanors: Clive Owen has been cast as Arkansas-born former president Bill Clinton in FX’s upcoming American Crime Story installment, Impeachment. The British actor—who recently popped up in Will Smith’s Gemini Man, after two seasons of doing the very grossest sorts of surgeries on Cinemax’s The Knick—has signed on to play Slick William himself in the network’s exploration of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, with Beanie Feldstein playing the former White House intern, who’s also producing on the show.
Ryan Murphy and company’s season-length exploration of whether eatin’ is, in fact, cheatin’ has been in development for a few years now, using Jeffrey Toobin’s book A Vast Conspiracy as its source material. (Toobin also wrote the book that served as the basis for The People Vs. O.J. Simpson, by the way.) Murphy mainstay Sarah Paulson will also appear on the series, playing Lewinsky’s call-recording confidante, Linda Tripp.
The casting on American Crime Story has always walked a thin line between impeccable and stunt; years later, it’s still nigh-impossible to parse whether John Travolta’s Robert Shapiro was good, for instance, or merely amusing to watch. For his part, Owen is a perfectly fine actor—his recent dips in stuff like Valerian notwithstanding—but it’s still a little baffling to imagine him attempting to embody Clinton’s particular blend of good ol’ boy charm and political savvy. Quick reminder: Here’s what he sounded like doing what we think is supposed to be an American accent in Spike Lee’s Inside Man:
Still, though, this is a series that has never really let us down, and its source material—which has been more frequently re-examined in recent years, especially in light of the extraordinarily unfair treatment Lewinsky received from pretty much everybody at the time—is just as fascinating and relevant as ever. Impeachment is set to debut in September of next year, although FX has suggested it might shift it around a bit to distance the series from whatever horrible shit might be going down with the actual American electorate as the 2020 election looms.