HomeAsian AmericansMan whose life inspired 'May December' offended by the film

Man whose life inspired ‘May December’ offended by the film

May December is “loosely based” on the real-life story of Vili Fualaau, who was victimized by 34-year-old Mary Kay Letourneau when he was 12. Fualaau says the film’s creators never consulted him.

The film follows actor Elizabeth (Natalie Portman) who is researching a role for a movie about the relationship between a woman named Gracie (Julian Moore) and her son’s classmate Joe (Charles Melton). The relationship began when Gracie was 36 and Joe was just 13. The two eventually marry and have children after Gracie is released from prison.

Joe’s and Gracie’s stories are said to be loosely based on the Fualaau and Letourneau. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Letourneau first victimized Fualaau in 1996. She pleaded guilty to two counts of child rape and served seven years in prison, HuffPost reports.

Letourneau and Fualaau married shortly after her release and had two daughters together. They separated in 2017 but remained legally married until she passed away from cancer in 2020.

“I’m still alive and well,” Fualaau, now 40, told The Hollywood Reporter. “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.

May December is drawing criticism because of Fualaau’s revelation. Los Angeles Times culture columnist and critic Mary McNamara wrote that the decision not to involve Fualaau “feels uncomfortably as if the filmmakers were trying to have their cake and eat it too.”

“Yes, the people who inspire ‘based on real events’ films and series we love are often unhappy with the cinematic results. But, as with the renewed discomfort over ‘The Blind Side,’ Fualaau’s words feel more poignant, and important, than, say, Magic Johnson refusing to watch ‘Winning Time’ or Judi Dench protesting the inaccuracies of ‘The Crown,'” McNamara wrote in her column.

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