The plotline of May December continues to draw comparisons to the real-life story of Mary Kay Letourneau and Vili Fualaau, with one scene in particular causing viewers to revisit a joint interview the couple did in 2018.
May December takes place 20 years after a notorious tabloid romance gripped the nation — a married couple (Julianne Moore and Charles Melton) buckles under the pressure when an actress (Natalie Portman) arrives to their home to do research for a film about their past. The scandal is that Moore’s character, Gracie, had an affair with her pet shop coworker, Joe Yoo (Melton), when she was 36 and he was in seventh grade. When the movie begins, Joe is 36 and he and Gracie now have three kids, two of which are heading to college and one who is already away at school.
The film is loosely based around the story of Letourneau, who sexually assaulted her then-12-year-old student, Fualaau, in the ’90s. In 1997, Letourneau was sentenced to over seven years in prison for child rape, and she twice became pregnant with Fualaau’s children before he was 15, despite the courts ordering her to stay away from him. In 2015, Letourneau and Fualaau got married. They filed for legal separation two years later, but did not officially divorce until 2019. Letourneau died of stage 4 cancer in 2020. She was 58.
In one of the more heart-wrenching scenes in May December, Joe confronts Gracie about who was responsible for their relationship beginning. Getting worked up when Joe starts to doubt if he was ready to be intimate with her at such a young age, Gracie repeatedly asks, “Who was the boss? Who was in charge?”
The moment is now getting compared to a September 2018 interview Fualaau and Letourneau did with Channel Seven’s Sunday Night in Australia with host Matt Doran.
When Letourneau is asked why she still thinks her relationship with Fualaau was appropriate despite him only being 12 years old when it began, she turns and asks her husband, “Who was the boss? Who was the boss? Who was the boss back then? Who was the boss back then?”
When he doesn’t answer, she presses him again, insisting, “Who was? Just say…”
“This is ridiculous,” Fualaau finally responds. “This is getting weird.”
He then adds, “I was the pursuer.”
Since Letourneau’s death, Fualaau has stayed out of the public eye. In 2022, he welcomed a third child, and earlier this year the family announced that his and Letourneau’s daughter, Georgia, was pregnant.
ET recently spoke with Moore about using Letourneau and Fualaau’s story as inspiration for May December. “For me, it was interesting watching some of the documentary footage and reading about the case… there are certainly things that I drew from her [Letourneau], but the script itself was so strong and the character of Gracie was so finely drawn,” she explained.
Portman also shared with ET, “I think that Samy Burch, who wrote the script, her decision to start it 20 years after the tabloid events was an amazing decision. It allows you to see what happens after, and what happens to their lives and the stories they tell and what’s true and what’s not.”
May December is currently streaming on Netflix.
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