Join or Sign In

Sign in to customize your TV listings

Continue with Facebook Continue with email

By joining TV Guide, you agree to our Terms of Use and acknowledge the data practices in our Privacy Policy.

Ed O'Neill Almost Didn't Say Yes to Playing Donald Sterling in FX's Clipped: 'I Was Afraid of the Show'

'I didn't jump right away at it because I thought, I don't know about this one'

Kat Moon
Jacki Weaver, Ed O'Neill, Cleopatra Coleman, Clipped

Jacki Weaver, Ed O'Neill, Cleopatra Coleman, Clipped


When Ed O'Neill first read the script for FX's Clipped, he was immediately drawn to it. The story's blend of comedy, trauma, shock, and rage stood out to him. "You can't ask for too much more if you're an actor," he told TV Guide at the 2024 Disney Upfront. That said, the actor was initially hesitant to play the role of Donald Sterling — the infamous former owner of the Los Angeles Clippers. 

The series, based on the ESPN 30 for 30 podcast The Sterling Affairs, recounts the scandal of Sterling's privately recorded racist comments being made public. "I didn't jump right away at it because I thought, 'I don't know about this one,'" O'Neill recalled. "Because of the climate and the times, you sometimes wonder, I don't know how this is going to be accepted."

Spring Guide 2024

Click through for the latest on spring TV

O'Neill shared about his meeting with Gina Welch, who wrote the script. The two had set up a lunch after the actor said he enjoyed the writing and wanted to talk about it. "And I was driving to the restaurant writing my speech for how I was not going to do it," O'Neill said. He remembered coming up with different reasons for declining the role: "A lot of them had nothing to do with the show — I'm tired, I want to travel, some bullsh-- thing like that," he said. "But the real reason was I was afraid of the show."

Per FX's official logline, Clipped — which premieres June 4 on Hulu — "charts the collision between a dysfunctional basketball organization and even less-functional marriage" and is an "Obama-era story of racial reckoning delivered via meme." The series also stars Laurence Fishburne as coach Doc Rivers; Jacki Weaver as Donald Sterling's wife, Shelly Sterling; and Cleopatra Coleman as his mistress, V. Stiviano. 

Despite his concerns, when O'Neill sat down with Welch, his instincts took over. "We were just talking about this and that, and finally she said something like, 'Well I hope you decide...' And I said, 'Oh, yeah, I'm doing it,'" he recalled. "And then I thought, 'What did I just say?'" O'Neill couldn't exactly pinpoint his thoughts in that moment. "But that happens sometimes, maybe it's subconscious or something, I don't know," he said. "Another part of yourself speaks up."

Now that O'Neill has filmed the show, he said the fears about how it will be received have "pretty much" gone away. "You always have that stuff, whatever you do," the actor explained. "But you can't let that stop you, you know? And I'm glad I did it."

FX's Clipped premieres Tuesday, June 4 on Hulu.