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Natalie Portman, Julianne Moore Respond to Vili Fualaau’s May December Complaint


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May December is about a method actress shadowing a controversial woman who’s been in a 23-year relationship with her husband since he was 13. The Todd Haynes film plot is similar to the Mary Kay Letourneau scandal of her controversial relationship with Vili Fualaau. After Fualaau criticized the Golden Globe-nominated movie, its two stars, Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore, had their own responses.

The Netflix drama follows actress Elizabeth Berry shadowing Gracie, a scandalized woman previously in an illegal relationship with a teen. After her prison sentence, the two married and raised three kids together. Vili Fualaau noticed the similarities between the film’s story and his own. When sharing his reaction towards May December, he expressed feeling “offended” by the film and wished to be notified to collaborate on a story he’s “still living.”

Julianne Moore, who played Gracie, explained to ET on the red carpet of the 81st Golden Globes May December’s intentions.

“Aww, I’m very sorry that he feels that way,” said Moore. “I mean, 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 together.”

Elizabeth Berry’s Natalie Portman, who was also present on the red carpet, felt the same way her co-star did.

“I’m so sorry to hear that,” said Portman. “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, and yeah, it’s its own story. It’s not meant to be a biopic.”

What Makes May December Similar to Vili Fualaau’s Story?

In 1996, Mary Kay Letourneau engaged in a sexual relationship with her sixth-grade student, 13-year-old Vili Fualaau. The police found the two in a parked car at a marina. Letourneau pled guilty to two counts of felony second-degree rape of a child. While waiting for sentencing, she gave birth to Fualaau’s child and completed three months in jail. After being caught with Fualaau again, she was imprisoned from 1998-2004 and gave birth to their second child while in jail. In 2005, she and Fualaau married and were together for 14 years until their separation in 2019.

In May December, we learn the character of Gracie began an affair with Joe while working at a pet shop when she was 36 and he was 13. While a married woman with three children, Gracie and Joe got caught in a sexual act in the store’s stockroom. During her prison sentence, she gave birth to their child. After 23 years, Joe and Gracie became a married couple with three kids.

While the two stories are very similar to each other, you wouldn’t be able to call this movie a biopic. The names and situations of the film’s characters are different than in the real-life story, and the film’s ending is ambiguous. As Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore said, the true story merely influenced May December with an original plot and characters.

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