In an exclusive, wide-ranging interview about the O.J. Simpson trial and the current FX miniseries, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, prosecutor Christopher Darden spoke to ET’s Nischelle Turner and addressed the renewed speculation about his relationship with lead attorney Marcia Clark.
During his first sit-down since the start of the series, Darden also discussed the intense media scrutiny surrounding the trial, the lingering impact of the Simpson trial on his career, and why he hasn’t seen a single minute of the TV show.
“I lived it, you know -- I was there,” Darden told ET at his home in Chatsworth, California, on Monday. “This is really someone else’s creation, and I am not part of that creation... They did not bother to consult me or ask me about it. I don't think I have any responsibility in terms of watching.”
One of the central storylines on the FX miniseries focuses on Darden, portrayed by Sterling K. Brown, and Clark, played by Sarah Paulson, as the two struggle to convince a jury that Simpson killed his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman. The show bolsters their professional relationship with a personal flirtation, but in interviews with ET, both lawyers have remained coy about their real-life relationship.
“People wanted there to be something more there, because it was just a terrible, terrible crime,” Darden said.
Earlier this month, Clark told ET, "Chris and I were trench mates. He kept me from just utter depression so many days."
Darden's 1996 memoir about the trial, In Contempt, implied that the duo's relationship possibly ran deeper.
"She and I were two passionate people thrown together in a trial that left us exhausted and lonely," Darden wrote at the time. "She was willing to take off her jewelry and go to jail with me over a ridiculous contempt ruling. I was willing to be at her side during her child custody deposition."
"We sat up listening to hip-hop and R&B. We danced a few times and drank a few bottles of wine," he continued. "In my mind, that is a relationship."
Darden, 59, claims that he has “never really dated anyone” and doesn’t “recall” ever kissing Clark. He admitted, however, to concern for her and their other colleagues.
“I felt like her protector, and I felt like the protector of all of my staff and the whole prosecution team,” Darden said on Monday. “In a way, they were my responsibility... That was my crew.”
And even though Darden isn’t watching The People v. O.J. Simpson, he apparently did catch Clark’s appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show earlier this month, when she said Darden was an important shoulder to lean on as she navigated the televised trial during her own divorce and custody battle. "Sometimes it would really get to me," she said. "And he would be there to say, 'It's all right, it's going to be okay. If we just keep putting on the evidence, they'll get it. They'll get it.'"
Darden said DeGeneres is another ACS viewer who doesn’t understand that the romantic subtext between him and Clark on-screen is just an undercurrent that's being portrayed by the actors on the show.
“I know Ellen DeGeneres said she could tell that I was in love with her,” Darden told ET. “I saw that and I was like, ‘Does Ellen understand that Sterling is acting like he is in love with her and not me?’”
In one of the most talked-about scenes in the series, Darden and Clark take a trip to Oakland together to celebrate a friend’s birthday, another event Darden told ET he had a hard time recalling.
“What did Marcia say?” he countered. “There were a few good times back then… If we went there together, we probably went with security… Maybe a birthday was just one of the reasons. It was probably more official."
Even Darden's own wife, entertainment executive Marcia Carter, recently asked him about the pair’s romantic history.
“Not eight days ago, we were sitting in bed and she turned to me and said, 'Did you date Marcia Clark?’” he recalled with a laugh. “I said, 'Are you really asking me about some woman I met 22 years ago? Years before I even met you? Are you really asking me that question?’”
When ET asked Darden about his feelings for his former co-prosecutor, he said, “I felt that Marcia Clark was a great lawyer." Though he said they haven't spoken "in years," Darden said he would still consider her his friend. “She was my friend 20 years ago...There’s nothing not to like about her. She’s a strong woman, intelligent woman, and what’s better than that?”
With only a week remaining in the show's 10-episode run, Darden said it was unlikely he would tune in to ACS.
“I can do without it,” he told ET. “Maybe in three years I can go back and read Twitter and not be offended. You know? Or angry. But you spend 20 years trying to get past something like that. You spend 20 years trying to move on with your life, and then it all catches up with you.”
Keep checking back to ETonline.com for more from Darden, and watch his interview on ET on Tuesday.