Hillary Clinton defends her 'real' marriage to Bill: 'I'm glad he stuck it out, too'

Hillary Clinton is back in the headlines at the start of this election year, but not because she's vying for the 2020 Democratic nomination. The former First Lady has kicked off a promotional tour for her upcoming documentary Hillary, which will debut at the Sundance Film Festival later this month. Clinton, 72, talked with the Hollywood Reporter about the four-part Hulu series in which she addresses old wounds — both political and personal.

"Once I decided that the film would be about more than a behind-the-scenes look at the campaign, I had to accept the fact it was going to be about my life," Clinton explained.

Of course, that would have to include her marriage to Bill Clinton and his affair as president with Monica Lewinsky. When filmmaker Nanette Burstein joined the project in 2018, she wanted to explore how Clinton had become one of the country's most admired and vilified people. That meant looking at all intimate aspects of Clinton's life.

"That was a major part of my life, which obviously played out in public. Look, I'm not going to sugarcoat it. It's painful, but it's also revelatory because we've always loved each other and had each other's backs," Clinton continued. "Have we had ups and downs like every married couple I know? Absolutely. And maybe this film helps people think about that, that love and relationships and marriage are often colored in grays and beiges. We all suffer ups and downs in our lives."

Related: Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton through the years

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Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton through the years
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Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton through the years
FILE WASHINGTON, DC - JAN 6, 1994: President Bill Clinton is escorted by Hillary to a waiting helicopter. The president was leaving for Arkansas after learning of the death of his mother. (Photo by Margaret Thomas/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) and US President barack Obama (R) are greeted by Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi (C) at her residence in Yangon on November 19, 2012 . Obama arrived in Myanmar for a historic visit aimed at encouraging a string of dramatic political reforms in the former pariah state. AFP PHOTO / Nicolas ASFOURI (Photo credit should read NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images)
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) looks on as US President Barack Obama (2nd L) speaks during a bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda (2nd R) on the sidelines of the East Asian Summit at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh on November 20, 2012. During the two-day East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh, Obama was scheduled to hold talks with the leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) along with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Japan's Yoshihiko Noda. AFP PHOTO / Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton board Air Force One at the airport in Yangon on November 19, 2012. Huge crowds greeted Barack Obama in Myanmar on the first visit by a serving US president to the former pariah state to encourage a string of startling political reforms. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama(2nd-L), First Lady Michelle Obama(L) along with former president Bill Clinton(3rd-L) and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton(4th-L) take part in a wreath-laying ceremony in honour of the late 35th president of the US John F. Kennedy at Kennedy's gravesite in Arlington National Cemetery on November 20, 2013 in Arlington, Virginia. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - JULY 06: Copies of the German translation of the book 'Hard Choices' ('Entscheidungen' in German) by Hillary Rodham Clinton, former United States Secretary of State, U.S. Senator, and First Lady of the United States, stand on display at the Staatsoper in the Schiller Theater on July 6, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - JULY 06: Hillary Rodham Clinton, former United States Secretary of State, U.S. Senator, and First Lady of the United States, speaks during the presentation of the German translation of her book 'Hard Choices' ('Entscheidungen' in German) at the Staatsoper in the Schiller Theater on July 6, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - JUNE 20: Hillary Rodham Clinton appears on stage during 'A Conversation With Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton' at the Long Center on June 20, 2014 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - JULY 06: Hillary Rodham Clinton, former United States Secretary of State, U.S. Senator, and First Lady of the United States (R), speaks next to Christoph Amend, editor in chief of Zeit Magazin, during the presentation of the German translation of her book 'Hard Choices' ('Entscheidungen' in German) at the Staatsoper in the Schiller Theater on July 6, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)
EAST HAMPTON, NY - AUGUST 16: Hillary Rodham Clinton signs copies of her book 'Hard Choices' at BookHampton on August 16, 2014 in East Hampton, New York. (Photo by Sonia Moskowitz/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - JULY 23: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a during a round table event to launch the 'Talking is Teaching: Talk Read Sing' campaign at the Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute on July 23, 2014 in Oakland, California. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched the 'Talking is Teaching; Talk Read Sing' campaign in partnership withToo Small to Fail and the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Foundation that encourages parents and caregivers to close the word gap by talking, singing and reading to children every day from the birth. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 06: Former president of United States (US) Bill Clinton (R) and his wife, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L), leave St. Ignatius Loyola Church after the funeral of former three-term governor Mario Cuomo on January 6, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Selcuk Acar/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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Apparently, one of the elements of Clinton's marriage that Burnstein wanted to explore was whether her relationship with Bill is real or more of an arrangement. According to THR, Burnstein determined it was a love story.

"I hope it does [show that] because it's real and it's been around for a long time now — nearly 50 years, for heaven's sake," Clinton remarked. "I would love for that to be conveyed because I'd love to have the reality of my life story better aligned with the press and the public understanding of it. That would be a big step forward."

At one point in Hillary, Bill says to camera, "I was so grateful that she thought we still had enough to stick it out. God knows the burden she's paid for that." Clinton was asked what her reaction was when hearing that.

"First, I'm grateful that he understood that this was a really terrible time. I said [recently] in connection with a book that Chelsea and I wrote, The Book of Gutsy Women, when asked what was my gutsiest decision, I said, 'Well, personally, staying in my marriage,'" she recalled. "And that kind of sums it up. But I also think in every marriage there's not just one side."

Clinton laughed, "So, I could say the same for him, that I'm not always the easiest person to live with. I'm glad he stuck it out, too."

In Hillary, Clinton's campaign media consultant declares, "Women who judged Hillary for staying with Bill Clinton would have voted for Bill Clinton all over again if they had the chance. And kept saying so … And yet they took it out on Hillary."

Clinton told THR she was very aware of the judgment — from women in particular — that came her way for deciding to stay with Bill, but that she didn’t understand it.

"I wish I understood it, I really do. And look, I lived through that, where women were judging me and then a little conversation would lead to the fact that they had a similar issue or their sister did or their friend did, and there was so much anxiety and even fear wrapped up in it," Clinton explained. "But it was also true that, as we saw in survey after survey, he could, if he ran today, get re-elected. What is it about this double standard, both double standard in public and double standard in private? I think the movie does a good job of raising that issue. Trying to answer it conclusively is impossible, but at least we should be asking ourselves that question."

Clinton was also asked if the way she looks upon her husband's relationship with Lewinsky has changed in the #MeToo era.

"No," she replied. "I do think the culture has changed, and mostly for the good, but I also think you still have to look at every situation on its own facts and merits to make a decision."

Hillary premieres in its entirety March 6 on Hulu.

Hillary Clinton talks about her sexuality in Howard Stern interview:

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