“I didn’t want to make a series about the Golden State Killer,” said Liz Garbus . “I wanted to make a series about Michelle’s journey, her observations and articulations, the plight of the victims and the kind of 1970s-through-1980s attitudes toward rape.”
The director has adapted Michelle McNamara’s true-crime best seller about the Golden State Killer, “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark,' into an HBO series.
that debuts on June 28.The complex story of how the series came into being — full of twists and tragedies all its own — is less about yet another deranged male killer than about another subject of deep importance to Garbus: who gets to tell women’s stories and how.
“What intrigued me was Michelle’s voice as a writer,” said Garbus, who oversaw “I’ll Be Gone” and directed multiple episodes. “I didn’t want to make a series about the Golden State Killer. I wanted to make a series about Michelle’s journey, her observations and articulations, the plight of the victims and the kind of 1970s-through-1980s attitudes toward rape.”
ImageThe writer Michelle McNamara, as seen in “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark,” which was inspired by her book about the Golden State Killer. McNamara died almost two years before a suspect was caught.Credit...Robyn Van Swank/HBO“I’ll Be Gone” is very much of a piece for Garbus, 50, with its troubling sense of unfinished business. McNamara,
who died in 2016, had spent a half decade attempting to uncover the identity of the killer, a serial rapist and murderer who terrorized multiple Californian communities in the 1970s and ’80s, pouring her painstaking but fruitless efforts into a book published almost two years after her death. As HBO bought the rights and approached Garbus for the project, the elusive criminal appeared safely tucked away on the cold-case shelf.
Then came a plot twist in April 2018, just two months after McNamara’s book was published. “After that first day of filming, unexpected by any of us,,” said Nancy Abraham, the co-head of HBO’s documentary and family programming with Lisa Heller.That somebody was a former cop named Joseph James DeAngelo (as of mid-June he was
expected to plead guiltysoon), but Garbus did not let him hijack her series: She knew that her take on “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” was, and had to remain, about women. Garbus devotes time to survivors of DeAngelo’s assaults, but it’s McNamara, her presence both spectral and earthy, whom we really get to know — the book, after all, is subtitled
“One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer.”(HBO approached Garbus because “she has had such experience making multiple kinds of documentaries, and she would be a person with the dexterity to deal with the intertwining story lines,” Abraham said. “Lisa and I also thought she would probably relate to and have an affinity with Michelle McNamara.”)
McNamara’s voice is heard often in the series, pulled from various archives. But her words are also articulated by the actress Amy Ryan, who played a mother searching for her missing daughter in “Lost Girls.”ImageGarbus with the comedian Patton Oswalt, who was married to McNamara. “It was very, very hard to watch these episodes,” he said.
Credit...HBO“Mostly Liz and I talked about Michelle’s caffeinated energy,” Ryan said in a recent phone interview. “She’s really on the cusp of figuring this out, and this driving force is keeping her up late at night, going down these rabbit holes of investigation. I listened to a lot of existing recordings, her podcast. When you layer in the emotional side of it, I think the audience will forgive that it’s not exactly a dead-on impersonation.”
McNamara wrote about pursuing leads and digging into reams of police reports, but she also revealed quite a bit about herself. She did hold back, however, on the extent of her prescription-drugs use: Suddenly, the book abandons the first-person to inform readers that she died in her sleep, discovered in her bedroom by her husband, the comedian Patton Oswalt. She had an undiagnosed heart condition, and Adderall, Fentanyl and Xanax were found in her bloodstream.
The documentary fills in some of those blanks as it reveals more of the toll McNamara’s quest took on her mind and body.“It was very, very hard to watch these episodes,” Oswalt said on the phone. “I told Liz: ‘I don’t think I’ll be able to watch Episode 5. I just can’t deal with that level of grief again.’
“Michelle was amazing at adding the personal elements of her successes and failures trying to solve the case, and how it affected her physically and psychologically,” Oswalt continued. “If she was able to do it in the book, it was hard for me to shy away from it in a portrait of her. I wanted her courage, I guess.”
Garbus said that Oswalt “shared endlessly” with her and her team.“He wanted us to be able to get into Michelle’s head,” she added. “That is a huge responsibility. What do you include, what do you not include? How much of Michelle’s discussion about addiction do you show? This is not a cop-out because I don’t think there’s one answer.”
ImagePictured in the foreground, starting second from left: Oona Laurence, Lola Kirke and Thomasin McKenzie in the Netflix scripted feature “Lost Girls,” which Garbus directed.Credit...Jessica Kourkounis/NetflixGood documentarians must balance ethics with entertainment: They don’t want to sacrifice integrity, but they also need to keep viewers viewing. Amy Hobby, the executive director of the Tribeca Film Institute and a producer of “What Happened, Miss Simone?,” recalled that she and Garbus — who cited Janet Malcolm’s
‘The Journalist and the Murderer’as one of her favorite essays — often talked about how to deal with sensitive material.“She has a road map for that and is aware of the ethical decisions she’s making,” Hobby said. “It’s important to her.” Read more: The New York Times »
I read the book and this was obsession on a whole other level Yeah the first episode was boring af. One of the detectives who hunted the Golden State Killer for decades talked with me about the case and Michelle McNamara in 2018. It was a great book. Even if her 'suspects' or theories were not close. Her journey was the real story.
We must find the right time to act. NYT FAKE NEWS So why didn’t you make a series about Wayne Williams who killed 28 children instead then ? Of course you wanted to make a serie about the Golden State Killer or else you wouldn’t have done it. Ми ту рулит.
Liz Garbus on ‘Closure’ for Golden State Killer Survivors With ‘I’ll Be Gone in the Dark’A few days before “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” was set to premiere on HBO , the six-part docuseries based on Michelle McNamara’s book of the same name about the hunt for, survi…
An inside look at Golden State Killer suspect’s behaviorThe expected plea hearing for the man accused of being a prolific rapist and serial killer will be unlike any in memory. Joseph James DeAngelo Wow!
HBO's 'I'll Be Gone In The Dark' Brings The Golden State Killer To The Small ScreenThe Golden State Killer was caught 2 years ago. But Michelle McNamara — the true crime writer who coined that name — never saw it. She died in 2016, and her husband helped finish her book about the case. Now, HBO has adapted her book into a docu-series. Can I still watch 'The Wire'? I read her articles recently and admired her decency and diligence in helping to capture this depraved monster. I was very saddened when I heard she passed away before they caught him. She was the type of person everyone should admire and respect.
Great Outfits in Fashion History: Conchita Wurst's High Glam 2015 Golden Globes LookThat velvet is looking more lush than an alpine forest! Not a good look🤮
‘Golden Girls’ Episode With Blackface Scene Removed From HuluHulu has removed an episode of “The Golden Girls” containing a scene with characters in blackface. “Mixed Feelings,” episode 23 in season 3 of the sitcom, aired in 1988. In … **rolls eyes** So are they gonna remove Eddie Murphy and Dave Chappelle’s whiteface skits too. I had no idea golden girls was on Hulu
Hulu Removes 'Golden Girls' Episode With Blackface SceneHulu has removed an episode of 'The Golden Girls' that contained a scene with Betty White and Rue McClanahan in blackface. This ones silly. That episode is hilarious and I say that as a POC For the love of God it wasn't black face they were wearing mud màsks not trying to impersonate anyone in fact that episode is actually about people gathering together this is ridiculous I loved this show.