What The People V. O.J. Simpson Got Wrong (& Right) About Marcia Clark

Photo: Heidi Gutman/Getty.
There's been no shortage of dramatization in the runaway hit The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. But — according to former Simpson prosecutor Marcia Clark — the series has mostly been right on the money. "They get the big stuff right," Clark told Vulture in March. "And God, what more can you ask than that, seriously?"

Fair point. It probably helps that the lawyer and crime novelist was so deeply flattered by Sarah Paulson's portrayal of her in the series: Clark has called Paulson a "genius." But when it comes to Clark's personal character and her real-life role in the iconic case, how does the fiction stack up to the facts?

Fact: Clark didn't really know who Simpson was prior to receiving the police call about the murders. Clark said that it took a little longer for the character to figure it out the show, but she really didn't recognize his name initially. "I wasn't a sports fan," she explained to Vulture.

Fact: Marcia Clark was in the midst of an ugly divorce and custody battle during the trial.
Clark doesn't talk about it — "It's better for the kids," she says — but that was really happening, and very much impacting her day-to-day life.

Fiction: She was confident about calling Mark Fuhrman to the stand.
In a phrase: no way. "I found out that he had something in his history," Clark explained to Vulture, "and then he became the lightning rod for all of the defense claims. The problem with that trial was everybody was coming at us from all sides, all day and all night, trying to get into the case."

Fiction: Clark and Darden spent a lot of time debating calling Furhman as a witness.
Clark thinks this whole plot line was lifted from Jeffrey Toobin's book — but says it's wrong. "He made that up," she said, adding that Toobin — who wrote The Run of His Life, on which the ACS drama was based — "doesn't know a thing about trial work."

"The question never was: Should we put Fuhrman on the stand? The question became, who is gonna put him on the stand?" she added.

Fact: Judge Ito really did make comments about Clark's hairstyle.
Clark seems to distinctly remember the day that the judge pretended he couldn't recognize her with different hair. "That was the day I blew my hair out straight," she recalled. "It was silly. I was like, 'Whatever, dude. Let me call the next witness.'"

Fiction: She got a makeover after being lambasted by the media for her looks.
"That was a media creation. In the very beginning of the case, before opening statements, our press person said, 'You need to get a haircut. You look kind of messy.' And I did. I was kind of scraggly. So I got my hair cut. That was it."

And as for the perm-to-straight situation? Just the result of a morning when she felt like blowdrying. "Thus began the media parade about the makeover," Clark recalled, adding that a friend gave her a concealer pencil. "That was my makeover. How could I have had a makeover and still looked that bad?"

Fact: She did wind up receiving a little bit of styling help.
Gil Garcetti slipped Clark donated suits, more than she ever could have afforded on her own. "The suits were a quality I could never even have dreamed of, let alone buy."

Fiction: She sometimes reached the very brink of tears in court.
Clearly, unequivocally, Clark said "no" to this question.

Fact: Clark wanted Bill Hodgman to work with her on the case.
She says that she begged Hodgman to join her team. "Please do this with me. Please be my partner," she remembers asking. He apparently told her he'd have to think about it and talk to his wife before answering.

Fiction: Clark was confident that they could win the case from the very beginning.
"That is so not true," she told Vulture back in February. She knew that Mark Fuhrman and the racism theory posed a major problem, and affirms that the prosecution fully understood what they were up against. "So were we confident? Oh my God, no! No. Because we saw what was happening."

Want to watch the whole series again? FX will be streaming it from start to finish starting Saturday, April 9, at 2 p.m. EST.
Advertisement