Vili Fualaau may have inspired one of the characters in “May December“, but he probably won't support the film this awards season.
In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter Posted Thursday, Fualaau confirmed that he had seen the film, a fictionalized version of his real-life experiences in the 1990s and 2000s. But Fualaau said he was irritated that he had never been contacted by director Todd Haynes, the screenwriter Samy Burch or the actor Charles Melton, who depicted the character similar to Fualaau.
“I'm still alive and healthy,” he told THR. “If they had contacted me, we could have worked together on a masterpiece. Instead, they chose to make a rip-off of my original story.
He added: “I am offended by the whole project and the lack of respect towards me, who lived a true story and still lives it.”
Released in November, “May December” is loosely based on the case of a Seattle-area teacher. Mary Kay Letourneauwho in 1997 pleaded guilty to the second-degree child rape of Fualaau, a former student in his sixth-grade class.
The couple raised two children and married in 2005, shortly after Létourneau was released after seven years in prison. Both We're separated in 2017 but remained legally married until Létourneau's death in 2020 at age 58.
“May-December” changes many details of the case, including locations, occupations and names. The film follows Elizabeth Berry (played by Natalie Portman), a television actor who is about to play Gracie Atherton-Yoo (Julianne Moore) in a biopic. Unlike Letourneau, Gracie is not a teacher, but rather a former pet store owner living in relative isolation with her much younger husband, Joe Yoo (Melton), and their children after her release from prison.
Joe was reportedly a 13-year-old seventh grader when he and Grace began a sexual relationship, later marrying her attacker.
“May December” received widespread praise Since reviewswith Moore and Portman considered to lead this year's Oscars. Melton, best known for his portrayal of Reggie Mantle in “Riverdale,” was also distinguished for her performance, which received a Golden Globe nomination.
Despite the obvious parallels, the creative team behind “May December” said the film was never intended as an accurate look at Létourneau's case.
“It wasn't the same details — I certainly don't want anyone to assume that we're trying to say that all of these conversations happened behind closed doors,” Burch said. at the film's premiere in Los Angeles. “It was just a starting point and a way for me to make something like this have emotional meaning.”
Speaking at HuffPost in November, Haynes noted, “The script's stroke of genius is the way she (Burch) separates the story from the tabloid event of Gracie meeting Joe, which happened some twenty years ago.” It's really about this stranger who arrives in a well-fortified community, a neighborhood, a family that has erected so many obstacles to survive this kind of event.
In his interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Fualaau, now 40, said he wouldn't be opposed to his story being adapted for the big screen again in the future – albeit in a different creative team.
“I love movies, good movies,” he told the outlet. “I admire those who capture the essence and complications of real events. You know, movies that make you see or realize something new every time you watch them. Those kinds of writers and directors – someone who can do that – would be perfect to work with, because my story is not as simple as this movie (describes it).