May December slammed by Vili Fualaau for exploiting his real life story
5 January 2024, 16:36
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"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."
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Vili Fualaau has called out the team behind May December for exploiting his story and making the movie without consulting him.
As soon as it was released last year, Todd Haynes' May December was met with widespread critical acclaim. Starring Julianne Moore, Natalie Portman and Charles Melton, the film follows an actress who is tasked with playing Gracie, a woman who had an illegal sexual relationship with, Joe, a child. Gracie then married Joe once she was released from prison.
May December is fictional. However, it was loosely inspired by the true story of Mary Kay Letourneau. In 1997, Mary Kay Letourneau was convicted with raping 12-year-old Vili Fualaau. Mary was pregnant with Vili's child and, just like the characters in May December, Letourneau and Fualaau went on to get married in real life.
Now, Fualaau has revealed that he's seen May December and he's criticised the film and the people involved in creating it.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter about the film, Fualaau said: "I’m 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."
He added: "I love movies, good movies. And I admire ones that capture the essence and complications of real-life events. You know, movies that allow you to see or realise something new every time you watch them. Those kinds of writers and directors — someone who can do that — would be perfect to work with."
He ended by saying: "My story is not nearly as simple as this movie [portrays]."
At the LA premiere of May December, the film's writer Samy Burch insisted that Letourneau and Fualaau's story was only a "jumping-off point" for the film. Julianne also told TODAY: "This is not the story of Mary Kay Letourneau. I think Sammy Burch, our screenwriter, used it as inspiration, but I wasn’t playing her."
Nevertheless, there are many similarities between Gracie and Joe and Letourneau and Fualaau. A key scene in the movie uses dialogue taken directly from a 7News interview with the couple.
In real life, Letourneau and Fualaau got divorced in 2019 and Letourneau died of colorectal cancer at the age of 58 in 2020.
Fualaau is now 40 years old and, according to PEOPLE, recently had a third child in a new relationship.
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