Julianne Moore and Natalie Portman defend May December following Vili Fualaau criticism

8 January 2024, 17:46

Natalie Portman Is Julianne Moore & Charles Melton's Biggest Fan | Netflix's May December

By Sam Prance

The character of Joe in May December, who is played by Charles Melton, was loosely inspired by Vili Fualaau.

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Julianne Moore and Natalie Portman have responded after Vili Fualaau criticised May December for exploiting his life story.

Last week (Jan 4), Vili Fualaau slammed May December for being made without his input. The movie is fictional. However, it is loosely inspired by the true story of Mary Kay Letourneau and Vili Fualaau. In 1997, Mary Kay Letourneau was convicted with raping 12-year-old Vili Fualaau. She was then sentenced to prison while pregnant with his child. Letourneau later married Fualaau in May 2005.

In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Fualaau said: "I am still alive and well. If they had reached out to me, we could have worked together on a masterpiece. Instead, they chose to do a ripoff of my original story. I’m offended by the entire project and the lack of respect given to me - who lived through a real story and is still living it."

Now, Julianne Moore and Natalie Portman, who play two of the lead characters in May December, have defended the film.

READ MORE: Is May December based on a true story? The disturbing real life inspiration revealed

Julianne Moore and Natalie Portman defend May December following Vili Fualaau criticism
Julianne Moore and Natalie Portman defend May December following Vili Fualaau criticism. Picture: Netflix, Ron Wurzer/Getty Images

Talking to ET, Moore said she was "sorry" Fualaau was hurt by the film. She explained: "[Director] Todd [Haynes] was always very clear when we were working on this movie that this was an original story, this was a story about these characters. So that's how we looked at it, too. This was our document, we created these characters from the page and together."

Meanwhile, Portman said: "I’m so sorry to hear that. It's not based on them. Obviously their story influenced the culture that we all grew up in and influenced the idea. But it's fictional characters that are really brought to life by Julianne Moore and Charles Melton so beautifully. It's its own story, it's not meant to be a biopic."

Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore on the red carpet for Netflix's May December
Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore on the red carpet for Netflix's May December. Picture: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

The film follows Elizabeth (Natalie Portman), a fictional actress, who is tasked with playing Gracie, a fictional woman inspired by Mary Kay Letourneau. Gracie (Julianne Moore) had an illegal sexual relationship with a 13-year-old named Joe (played as an adult by Charles Melton), who she went on to marry once she was released from prison.

In one scene, Moore and Melton perform dialogue that's taken directly from a 7News interview with Letourneau and Fualaau.

As it stands, Melton is yet to address Fualaau's criticism. We'll update you if he does.

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