Interview with Director Patty Jenkins
In The Episode
Trevor Young 00:03
You're listening to Facing Evil, a production of iHeartRadio and Tenderfoot TV. The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are solely those of the individuals participating in the show and do not represent those of iHeartRadio or Tenderfoot. TV. This podcast contains subject matter which may not be suitable for everyone. Listener Discretion is Advised
Rasha Pecoraro 00:27
Hi everyone, welcome back to Facing Evil from Tenderfoot TV and iHeartRadio. We are your hosts. I'm Rasha Pecoraro.
Yvette Gentile 00:36
And I am Yvette Gentile and I cannot tell you guys how excited I am for this episode. We have someone that we love and adore. She is our ohana. She is a film maker extraordinaire. She is, like I like to say, the one and only Patty 'Badass' Jenkins
Patty Jenkins 01:08
I'm so excited to be here with you guys. So, so excited about the show and miss and love you guys. So I'm so happy to get to be on here.
Yvette Gentile 01:16
Aww, we miss you too, Patty.
Rasha Pecoraro 01:17
So for those of you who have been living under a rock and may not know the amazing, Patty Jenkins, let me just tell you a little bit about our beautiful guest. So Patty is an award winning filmmaker, producer, writer and director. And of course she burst onto the Hollywood scene after graduating from the AFI conservatory with 2003's Monster and it starred the phenomenal Charlize Theron as serial killer Aileen Wuornos. And that movie we're gonna dive more into today, of course, since we have Patty here, but after Monster, Patty quickly became one of the most prolific and sought after directors in all of Hollywood. And of course, a couple of our favorites that she's directed the Wonder Woman films, of course, and our absolute favorite, Patty directed the limited series for TNT. Based on our mama Fauna Hodel. I am the night and we are here today to talk with Patty about all the things but we'd especially love to dive into talking to Patty about her journey with Aileen Wuornos and her journey with our beautiful mother Fauna Hodel. So mahalo nui loa. Patty, thank you so much for being here with us today.
Patty Jenkins 02:44
Thank you for having me. And it's so great to see you guys. So I am so happy to be here.
Rasha Pecoraro 02:49
You too. You're so beautiful.
Patty Jenkins 02:51
Oh, thank you. So are you too!
Rasha Pecoraro 02:54
We should say real quick that we did a deep dive into Aileen Wuornos's case, the last episode, we're probably going to refer to a lot of those details today. So if you haven't yet please go back and listen to that episode. But first Patty, I have to say to you happy belated birthday, first of all.
Patty Jenkins 03:12
Rasha Pecoraro 03:14
My fellow Leo lioness.
Patty Jenkins 03:17
Rasha Pecoraro 03:19
What have you been up to lately?
Yvette Gentile 03:21
What are you allowed to talk about?
Patty Jenkins 03:22
All I am going to say is that I'm writing hardcore on multiple stages. I'm currently working on Wonder Woman 3 and working on Rogue Squadron which would go potentially afterwards. And so it's all just like hardcore development. But anytime you're writing something like Wonder Woman 3, you're also kind of doing pre-production at the same time.
Rasha Pecoraro 03:45
Patty Jenkins 03:45
Because you know, the second you hand these things in, it's like a house is on fire. So you're picking, I'm picking locations and all of the you know, like you're doing all of that kind of stuff at the same time. So a bunch of TV things, Charlize and I have a TV project, a limited series and a couple different things coming up.
Rasha Pecoraro 04:02
That's so exciting. I mean, you are a busy woman as we know.
Patty Jenkins 04:06
It's getting busy again, but it's interesting after the pandemic, I actually am craving it. Oh, and that's the other thing I just finished or I'm still doing it but producing Chris Pines movie Pool Man.
Yvette Gentile 04:18
Patty Jenkins 04:18
So we stayed on set all summer with Chris directing for the first time.
Yvette Gentile 04:22
That's so exciting.
Patty Jenkins 04:23
He's doing his director's cut, editing right now but that was a ton of what we did this summer was Chris directing...
Yvette Gentile 04:29
Patty Jenkins 04:29
Which was super fun. And he did a great job. I can't wait for people to see it.
Rasha Pecoraro 04:33
Yvette Gentile 04:34
And Ian like his best friend right?
Patty Jenkins 04:36
Yvette Gentile 04:36
Is one of his producers right?
Patty Jenkins 04:38
Yup. They wrote it together. It's an amazing script. I was shocked and blown away when I read it. Because even though I know how smart they are, I was like, I couldn't believe that they up and wrote something so incredibly good on their first scripts, like amazing, so I can't wait for people to see it, Pool Man. We can't wait to see it.
Yvette Gentile 04:55
Yeah we can't wait to see it.
Rasha Pecoraro 04:57
That's the whole reason Chris has his beautiful long hair right now, right?
Patty Jenkins 05:00
Yes. That's true.
Rasha Pecoraro 05:02
Another member of our ohana, beautiful soul inside and out Chris Pine.
Yvette Gentile 05:06
Totally. Alrighty, so before we talk about Eileen, I think we should tell everybody how you came into our lives. You know, Rasha and I both like to say that you were our mother's Wonder Woman, Patty. You were the one who finally brought her life dream to fruition. Can you tell our listeners like, how you met her mom and how I am the night came about?
Yeah, God, thank you for that she was such a wonderful part of my life too. So it's, it's so crazy that, that she's gone. Like, I just can't kind of believe it. It's so shocking. So your mother came into my life when a neighbor of mine met her at a party and said, you've got to meet this woman and hear her story. And so you hear that a lot in Hollywood. And you know..
Patty Jenkins 05:58
And and I just happen to Asa had just been born, I think so that was like to have enough downtime that I was like, okay, cool. You know, we'll have a coffee. However, when I sat down across from your mother as the story, and I won't even tell it, because everybody's probably knows it. But as she started to tell the story, I was stunned. I like just couldn't believe what I was hearing. It was the most incredible story. But also, I immediately clicked with your mother and her warmth, and everything about her. And so I can't remember what our first steps were at that moment, I couldn't quite make it into anything. And I was afraid of like how dark it was, I was like, Oh, George Odell is such dark energy. I don't even know if I want to bring this into my life, you know?
Rasha Pecoraro 05:58
Patty Jenkins 06:44
And I knew that it needed to be a limited series. And so I think we sort of talked about it and came around a couple of times. But the truth was that I didn't have time to do a limited series most of the time. And it was such a big project. But then I think as the years went by, people continued to be so interested in the story, your mother and I always stayed in touch about it. And I was worried as she was of somebody doing it wrong.
Rasha Pecoraro 07:12
Patty Jenkins 07:12
Not quite getting it or turning it into the wrong thing. I just remember this moment came where someone else was really about to option it. And I was making Wonder Woman one and I said, I think that's a good idea. I'll help you do it. Here's how you have to protect yourself, here's all these ways you need to protect yourself. I'm not available right now anyway. And she said to me, I don't want to do it that way. I want to do it with you. And I said, I know I want to do it, too. But I'm gonna be busy right now. And then I went to set the next day. And Stuart was telling Chris the story. And Chris was like, what? You have to do that? I was like, I know. But when could I do? I don't know. And I had talked to Sam, my husband, Sam Sheridan about writing it before. And he could never quite find the way in because the point of view of the story he didn't feel was his to tell.
Yvette Gentile 08:00
Rasha Pecoraro 08:00
Patty Jenkins 08:01
But as soon as we were kind of talking about it, Chris and I started talking about it, suddenly, it kind of clicked that there were all of these men in the story that needed to be represented somehow.
Rasha Pecoraro 08:11
Patty Jenkins 08:11
And that was something that Chris could play. And then it kind of gave it a Classic Detective angle, which opened up the right path for Sam to feel like, okay, I feel like that's a voice I can do and we can get the right people to bring in all of the various voices that we want to represent in the story. And so then the more we talked about it, the more we loved it. And then as soon as Wonder Woman came out, they really wanted Wonder Woman 1984. So I super didn't have time.
Yvette Gentile 08:36
Patty Jenkins 08:37
I loved everything about it so much that I was like we have to squeeze it in. So we squeezed in and I only got to direct the first two episodes, of course, but particularly with your mother, shockingly, passing away right before hand, which I still can only I don't understand why that could happen.
Rasha Pecoraro 08:55
Patty Jenkins 08:55
After all those years. I'm so happy she knew that we were the ones doing it and that it was in safe hands. But yeah, what a shock. And second time that's happened to me now, because the same thing happened on Monster.
Rasha Pecoraro 09:08
Yeah, we're gonna talk about that.
Yvette Gentile 09:11
Patty Jenkins 09:11
To have a guiding spirit who has just passed away as I'm about to start shooting twice, and both times very significant and your mother being incredibly significant, and I could feel her with us throughout the course of making the show, but was not something we ever expected. You know, and then we've gone on to all go through an incredible journey together in many ways, you know, making the show. We were always all kind of had a more familial Ohana vibe...
Yvette Gentile 09:41
Patty Jenkins 09:41
Than we would normally on something. And so it was an incredibly special thing.
Rasha Pecoraro 09:47
But that's why we're here now. Right? It's all full circle, because...
Patty Jenkins 09:50
Rasha Pecoraro 09:51
We were given this amazing gift that you and Sam and mom and Chris gave to us. And so yes, we're continuing to tell mom's story which we're going to tell her story for the rest of our lives and everything and anything that we do. But now we get to tell other stories and tell the world the stories that people may not want to hear, like from day one, I knew when we were doing Facing Evil, because we're in this true crime world now. And we have to find that light in the darkness. Right?
Patty Jenkins 10:21
Rasha Pecoraro 10:21
And I knew we had to do Aileen's story because I've always seen her as a victim herself. And, you know, I know we'll get more into it. But I would love to start at the beginning for about Aileen and talk to you about that, Patty, like, when did you first learn about the story of Aileen Wuornos, and this serial killer?
Patty Jenkins 10:43
So I knew about it all along, because I've always been a true crime buff. And when I was a kid, I hugely I had all the like, I've still got it on my shelf somewhere here. The murderers who's who. Thank God for the fact that True Crime has become what it is now.
Rasha Pecoraro 10:59
Patty Jenkins 10:59
Because for years. I was like the weirdo like obsessively reading true crime.
Rasha Pecoraro 11:04
Patty Jenkins 11:05
But it's interesting, because now I think that so many people are into true crime, people understand it a lot more, which is I was I was never dark.
Rasha Pecoraro 11:13
No, you're not a dark person.
Patty Jenkins 11:15
It's much more about having had tragic things happen to myself, it opens the door. And I lived in Thailand when I was little during the Vietnam War. I think once you've seen behind the curtain of what's possible in the world, you become incredibly curious about the understanding that all people are the same.
Rasha Pecoraro 11:30
Patty Jenkins 11:31
So every time you hear about people doing these incredibly dark, or awful things, I became incredibly curious about what was making that person do those things. And so that's why I obsessively read it is because I know that somewhere inside of me the same part of me that wants to be a filmmaker is curious about why people do the things they do and what lives are like. And so I know that if I just meditate on it enough and kind of feel it, I could actually get myself into a place where I could do the same thing. And so that I'm endlessly curious about so I actually was on a road trip in Florida in 1989.
Rasha Pecoraro 12:08
Patty Jenkins 12:09
And one thing that nobody ever talks about with her story is a friend and I were on the most dangerous road trip of all time retrospect. Like we were like 16, 17 years old, in a car that broke down every day on I-95...
Rasha Pecoraro 12:22
Patty Jenkins 12:23
I'm like, I don't know how we survived that trip at all...
Rasha Pecoraro 12:27
Patty Jenkins 12:27
Like, pure, we were sort of naive. And we were sort of just thought we were a lot tougher than we were. We thought we were very streetwise. But the thing that a lot of people don't remember is there was a male serial killer at that time, killing female prostitutes all through Florida. And that was the context that this these crimes started in. And so for some reason, that doesn't figure in to her story, it should...
Rasha Pecoraro 12:53
It should. Wow.
Patty Jenkins 12:54
She was turning tricks exactly where this guy was leaving dead bodies. So of course, she was heightened, certainly in what, in the context of the world she was working in. And so I was afraid of the male serial killer as we were driving around and aware of that, and then she got caught the next year. And I remember watching on the news and thinking about the fact that we were driving those very same roads. And really, it was when her story was on the news. And it was the moment in the courtroom where Tyra Moore, you know, had to give testimony, and Aileen nodded at her and forgave her for it with tears in her eyes. And I remember going, Whoa... What... It was like the end of a tragic opera. This love story between these two people.
Rasha Pecoraro 13:43
Patty Jenkins 13:43
And then immediately the way she was talked about by everyone was so incorrect to me.
Rasha Pecoraro 13:50
Patty Jenkins 13:51
They were like, well, she's the man hating lesbian, she loved it.
Rasha Pecoraro 13:53
Patty Jenkins 13:53
She had a blood thirst.
Rasha Pecoraro 13:54
Patty Jenkins 13:54
I was like, and you remember her eyes.
Rasha Pecoraro 13:57
Patty Jenkins 13:57
Like her eyes. I was like, does anybody know what a feral abused creature looks like? Like have you been to a dog pound? This is not someone who loves anything about this like this is a feral creature backed into a corner, but she loved her clearly.
Rasha Pecoraro 14:14
Patty Jenkins 14:14
So I just remember being so struck by their love story, the tragedy of the ending, the fact that that Aileen was looking at her and saying, I know you have to do what you have to do. And then the way people were talking about her and even the documentaries and things that were made about her, I felt like they were lacking a deeper dive. It was more about the phenomenon of who she was. And tried to kill herself. And so I continued to be bugged for all the years between when the story broke, and when I ended up making the movie. And so how the whole thing ended up starting was simply me meeting Brad Wyman and him saying he was making these serial killer movies and me saying to him, you should make a movie, about Aileen Wuornos. That's a very misunderstood story. And no one ever really has told it. And he said, You should make it, you won't get anything else.
Rasha Pecoraro 14:36
Patty Jenkins 14:36
And the fame and the story rather than saying like, it's an absolute miracle, this woman's alive at all. She had been in the hospital many times for rape for abuse for all of these things and had carried a gun for 20 years, and had never used it on anyone but herself. She used it to hold things up, but she'd only shot herself...
Rasha Pecoraro 14:56
Patty Jenkins 15:20
And so literally, that's how that's how it started. But it was one of those stories, and I have a few of them. There are a few of those stories out there that still bug me endlessly. Because I feel like they are so misunderstood. And I would love to do a you know, do them at one point, for that reason, like your mother's in a way where you're sort of like you're missing, you're missing the real human story beneath the story. If you only talk about George Hodel, or you only talk about the Black Dahlia, like it's way more than that. And so that was literally what was the genesis of Monster and then based on him saying you should do it, he introduced me to other people who who ended up not being the right people to make the film with. But I simultaneously wrote to Aileen Wuornos and she started writing me back
Rasha Pecoraro 16:07
Patty Jenkins 16:07
And it was not super cozy at first. You know, she was Eileen, she was who she was, didn't trust me didn't understand who I was... What I was trying to do. But as I began to work on the story, and I could tell that the people who were making these were making very, you know, just very quick, salacious things. And so I was okay with it if it was, if this was I was desperate to get my career started. If this was a fictional story, I would have done...
Rasha Pecoraro 16:17
Right. Right, but that's not what you were doing.
Patty Jenkins 16:36
I would have done a slasher movie or horror movie.
Rasha Pecoraro 16:38
Patty Jenkins 16:38
But the more I got involved in this, the more I fell in love with the depth of the story, and also said, I'm not doing this about real people this way. Like, I can't put my name on something. And granted, I still, still there a lot of people like all of the victims, families and things, who of course, it's probably unpleasant for them to have a movie made, I worked very hard to try to protect them by making it unclear who was who.
Rasha Pecoraro 17:02
Patty Jenkins 17:02
And I did a lot of work to do that. Because I said, I have compassion for these people. And it's not their fault, and they are the family victims. This is a story about what happens to another person that makes them into that person. So I tried very hard to leave them out of it.
Rasha Pecoraro 17:19
Patty Jenkins 17:20
But you know, but yes, I definitely was like, but I'm not going to do it if I don't think what I'm saying is the truth and I'm not being caring about it. And so I ended up writing it for no one saying you are what I think happened like, and I'm jumping a lot of steps, I'm jumping, all the talking to Aileen and all those things, but you can ask me any of those questions.
Rasha Pecoraro 17:44
You didn't say any of that in the making of Monster.
Patty Jenkins 17:47
Rasha Pecoraro 17:48
I mean, you did a little bit, but the heart of that came through your compassion.
Yvette Gentile 17:54
Yeah, the balance of that. Because you think about the families. You know, you think about the generational trauma, right. But the way that you told the story was so brilliant, that you were focused on Aileen and you were focused on really a love story, because it seemed like for the first time Aileen was being seen by Tyra, right. Like that was so powerful to me, but I do have this question for you.
Rasha Pecoraro 18:23
Yvette Gentile 18:24
So this was your first feature, you know, debut, which was a huge success. The question is, like, when you think about your first love, years later, there are lessons that you learn, like, you would never do this again, or you love this. What did this movie like, teach you? Like, in today's time, like, while you're doing, you know, Wonder Woman and Star Wars and all these other movies? What lesson did you learn back then that you take with you always?
Patty Jenkins 18:53
Something absolutely huge that has been definitive to my career is, because of the series of events that led to me writing Monster and making Monster it was two things. First of all, it was the first time I was ever totally honest, as an artist about what I would say. Whereas if I really thought it was gonna get made, or if I was being more calculating, I would have come up with something more commercial in a variety of ways. This was me revealing a dark side of myself, which is I can't imagine being her and doing these things.
Rasha Pecoraro 19:28
Patty Jenkins 19:28
And I can't imagine that is inside of me. You know, like, if I were in her circumstances, I can't imagine it. And so it was me knowing that I was on my own completely. I didn't know one other person who saw her story and felt the same way I did.
Rasha Pecoraro 19:43
Patty Jenkins 19:43
It's interesting to talk about this because I remember Charlize and I having these conversations constantly because she understood it completely too. And she would say what are people and I was like, I don't know. We can't do that.
Rasha Pecoraro 19:54
You can't think about it.
Patty Jenkins 19:55
We just have to be her. We just have to be her. We can't, because normally you're trying to be a good guy or a bad guy, or this thing or that thing, and we didn't have that here, we were playing a very electrically dimensional person who we felt all things for. So first of all, it taught me that the moment I was the most honest, was when I succeeded the most was huge. Because I was like, Whoa, that side of me is a value.
Rasha Pecoraro 19:56
Patty Jenkins 20:19
But the actual deep down inside of me is a value, my understanding of the world is a value. Moreso than the calculating side, which is just like everybody else, you know, that's number one. But number two was, I really, really believed in her and telling her story. Because it was interesting how challenged I was at moments after I made it by people saying, how could you tell a story about a woman like this? And I was like, first of all, we've been telling stories about men like this forever.
Rasha Pecoraro 20:19
Patty Jenkins 20:47
Rasha Pecoraro 20:48
Thank you Patty.
Patty Jenkins 20:48
Like what are you talking about? Like, think of every mob movie...
Rasha Pecoraro 20:51
Patty Jenkins 20:51
Gangster movie. Like, what are you talking about? You're shocked that I'm telling a story about someone who does bad things, who's a charismatic character? Like, that's so so bizarre, but even when it comes to women, Lady Macbeth, like, what do you think? Storytelling is looking at people who are who are capable of doing these things. But the bigger question is, I ran with a pretty wild crowd in my youth, and many of those people ended up doing some things, terrible things and going to prison. And so I've always had incredible compassion for oh my god, my sweet friend, who we didn't realize how rough of a life they were having really...
Rasha Pecoraro 21:29
Patty Jenkins 21:29
Ended up doing something really extreme and going to prison and growing up and watching that because I was in the punk scene. And the punk scene really did have a lot of riffraff from all over and you didn't quite understand the differences between people because you were all just in the hardcore scene.
Rasha Pecoraro 21:44
Patty Jenkins 21:44
But it did attract some really lost people who went on to have really rough lives. So anyway, for me to process I've known good people who turn into bad people. And in her case, the path was so bad, like you couldn't believe how bad it was.
Rasha Pecoraro 22:01
Patty Jenkins 22:01
That telling people who might not understand how a good person can be turned into a bad person, and then saying to them, like, Listen, I'm not the first person to do this. Like when somebody did ask me that, how could you How dare you tell a story about a woman like this, I was like you and I have nothing to talk about.
Rasha Pecoraro 22:17
Patty Jenkins 22:17
Because if you believe that people are born this way, then I don't know how you explain every young man and woman that goes to war and turns into a killer. But there's millions and billions of them. So I'm not sure how you deal with that. But we're no help to the mental health crisis that those people face when they come home, if you leave them on their own.
Rasha Pecoraro 22:39
Patty Jenkins 22:39
And so I just think the lesson was, it was more than a movie.
Rasha Pecoraro 22:43
Patty Jenkins 22:44
It was something that I believed in. And I didn't have any of the things in great part, because Charlize is an amazing person and a dear friend of mine. But really, we were not there about ourselves very quickly, we were dealing with such high stakes of human lives of the woman who had just been executed. I'll tell you the story more, but she had left 7000 letters to me.
Rasha Pecoraro 23:06
Patty Jenkins 23:08
I was the person that she had left this responsibility to. So it became so much bigger than me right away.
Rasha Pecoraro 23:13
Patty Jenkins 23:14
And the last thing I was thinking of was really me and my career. Even though of course, I understood that I wanted to get a movie made and stuff, but it just became so much bigger, and spiritually grounded in trying to do the right thing. That that has never left me. And so it made looking at movies, because it's so hard to make a movie and Monster was so hard to make. And not only was it so hard, it was so dark. It was like the darkness that descended upon me that I had to carry for those years, that year and a half was very dark.
Rasha Pecoraro 23:46
Patty Jenkins 23:46
Because you have to be that person a little bit.
Rasha Pecoraro 23:48
Patty Jenkins 23:49
Like you have to be them. You have to walk in her shoes. And it's very depressing, you know. And so it made looking at things that I got offered afterwards that were superficially silly, or even just for a lot of money. And it made it very clear to me, I said, I'm not going to make movies for money. I'm not. I'll make TV, I'll try other things. I'll make my money other ways. But movies have to be bigger than that. And even though that led me to not being able to get my movies made for a little while and things it also is exactly what led me to get into make Wonder Woman which I'd always wanted to make. And I have a very similar, ironically, similar relationship with Wonder Woman that I do with Monster which is it is so much bigger than me. It is a huge responsibility. Its potential in the world is bigger than all of us put together.
Rasha Pecoraro 24:39
Patty Jenkins 24:39
And therefore it's almost like a calling. You know, yes. It's a wonderful thing to put my filmmaking towards, but it's also so much bigger than that. And so, again, I have the fortunate thing of having Gao Godot, who's the most amazing partner who it's not about either of us.
Rasha Pecoraro 24:54
Patty Jenkins 24:54
We're not about like our this or our that we're both like we're here for the moment and this message is really a beautiful one, and how can we serve it best? You know? And so those are the two lessons that once you know a movie can be such a profound life experience, it's hard to forget it and go start doing bullshitty work, you know?
Rasha Pecoraro 25:14
Yeah. When you start up here, why are you going to go down here? Like,
Patty Jenkins 25:18
Yvette Gentile 25:19
No that was amazing. Yeah. I mean, you're such a universal being like, you can't just do just anything. You know.
Patty Jenkins 25:28
Oh same here yeah.
Rasha Pecoraro 25:29
You're such a deep rooted spirit. And that's why mom loved you. And that's why we love you.
Patty Jenkins 25:35
Thank you Such a beautiful thing to try for any of us in our careers to inspect something deeper than the self.
Rasha Pecoraro 25:42
Patty Jenkins 25:43
Particularly as you get older and grow up, you know, when you're not 15, you know?
Yvette Gentile 26:05
I'm gonna go back a little bit. And I want to talk a little bit about Charlize because, you know, the first time that I saw Monster, like, I forget who I was with, but I just said to myself, she's going to win an Academy Award. Even my husband Gino was like, that's not Charlize. Like, Gino that is Charlize? She was Aileen. She inhabited Aileen to the full extent.
Patty Jenkins 26:30
Rasha Pecoraro 26:31
When you were on set did you see that?
Patty Jenkins 26:35
Rasha Pecoraro 26:36
And then I have one more question this is going to be part two. I love the fact that you film in places where things have actually happened. So that energy is so present, do you do that intentionally to escalate you know, the performances?
Patty Jenkins 26:54
Definitely. It's one of the big reasons that I shoot on set in general, I think that just the way that human behavior is what made me a filmmaker, my interest in it, the subtlety. So when you think about literature, and film, literature is still considered more sophisticated by many, but it should not be so. It should not be so when you think about the fact that we as animals read so much information with all of our senses. And so it's really important to use all of those senses to help to tell the story. And so the subtleties of what you're seeing in another person are colossal. And so definitely shooting in location brings all of the realities of like, you're standing in a field, just the way Aileen was at this moment. And you can feel the humidity and the heat and the bugs and the this and the that and you're tired. And you know, every single layer of this is an added dimension of understanding the person whose shoes you're walking in. And so yeah, I definitely do all of that on purpose and believe in it a lot.
Rasha Pecoraro 27:58
Yvette Gentile 27:59
Did you think she was gonna win the Academy?
Patty Jenkins 28:01
I did. I actually. And that's a weird thing to say. Because that was running two realities. On the one hand, I wrote it. And while I was writing it, I wrote in don't stop believing I wrote all of these improbable things for a loser, struggling, nobody to imagine they could ever get, you know. And so I wrote all of these things. And on the one hand, I knew I could never get it. On the other hand, as soon as people started to want to be in it, there was something about Charlize, I just felt so sure she was the one. And I knew that if she was what I thought she was, and this could be what I thought it could be that we could go the distance. I could just feel that but I wasn't thinking about me, it was a way to get the movement.
Rasha Pecoraro 28:44
I know because you should have won an Oscar Patty.
Yvette Gentile 28:46
Rasha Pecoraro 28:46
Let me just say that right now.
Patty Jenkins 28:48
Thank you. Thank you. They were only giving it to big indie glamour films back then. And not little films. And then, you know, I never expected that, because that was like your first film give me somewhere to go to. I'm happy that I'm perfectly happy that I didn't that would have been a weird thing. But all I wanted was for her to get nominated. Because I was like, she's our one shot. But really, it was once we started shooting, and I could see how special and deep it was. And it wasn't about Yes, I knew she was beautiful. And people would be surprised. I wasn't surprised because I knew her. And I knew how deep it was. But I saw a profound performance happening in front of me and I knew how hard it was so much harder than anybody can realize. Like it's so hard for someone to do a performance like that so I absolutely as we were shooting was watching her and saying she could win the Oscar.
Rasha Pecoraro 29:39
Patty Jenkins 29:39
Like this is it this is super huge. And continue to believe it throughout even though nobody else really did. And so um, so it was like you're running both realities. Everybody's telling me that it's gonna go straight to video.
Rasha Pecoraro 29:52
Oh, gosh, no,
Patty Jenkins 29:53
Literally right up until then they sold the video side of it, which meant nobody would release the movie all the way up until like literally the movie came out.
Rasha Pecoraro 30:00
Patty Jenkins 30:00
It was supposed to go straight the video and not be a contender and all those things, but I always believed that it could go this other way.
Rasha Pecoraro 30:07
I know and I have to say too and I know you know, just watching Charlize like it wasn't only her that was up there winning that Oscar, I read something on Charlize's birthday, which Charlize and Yvette share the same birthday...
Patty Jenkins 30:21
Rasha Pecoraro 30:21
Yeah. August 7th, August 7th.
Patty Jenkins 30:24
That's so great!
Rasha Pecoraro 30:25
I think this will be really, you know, funny for our listeners to hear because I didn't know it until August 7th. But I was reading a beautiful post from Miss Rona Meyers.
Patty Jenkins 30:36
Rasha Pecoraro 30:36
Your costume designer extraordinaire, which I think I knew that she could do you work with a lot of the same amazing people but Rona...
Patty Jenkins 30:44
Rasha Pecoraro 30:45
Helped bring Aileen to life, the Charlize, with the costuming. And then of course, Tony G for the makeup.
Patty Jenkins 30:52
Rasha Pecoraro 30:52
And both of those amazing women were on I Am The Night.
Patty Jenkins 30:55
Rasha Pecoraro 30:55
And I'm like, it's always like full circle. And that's how your friendship with Steve Perry started right?
Patty Jenkins 31:00
Rasha Pecoraro 31:01
Who is also on the episode of I am the Night and is also an amazing human like Miss Patty Jenkins.
Yvette Gentile 31:07
He shared some amazing words of wisdom with me on I am the night that I will never forget. So he's, he's a lovely human being.
Patty Jenkins 31:16
He's an deeply wise person. He was a real guru to me back then I never expected it. But when he showed up on Monster and joined us, he really shepherded me through some of the loneliest times of making that film and is such a deep and profound and thoughtful artist who's really willing to walk away unless he's going to do work that he thinks that he really believes in and so he's been such a great friend to me for ever since for years and years.
Rasha Pecoraro 31:46
Patty you just described yourself.
Yvette Gentile 31:47
Rasha Pecoraro 31:48
You know that right?
Patty Jenkins 31:50
I should be so lucky.
Yvette Gentile 31:53
I was just gonna say like minded people attract like minded people. You know?
Patty Jenkins 31:57
Yeah, he's the greatest.
Rasha Pecoraro 31:59
My question for you. So you said, which I had no idea that it was that many 1000s of letters that Aileen gave to you.
Patty Jenkins 32:07
Rasha Pecoraro 32:07
So I know she was she was executed in October 2002. When did you actually start production on Monster?
Patty Jenkins 32:12
Rasha Pecoraro 32:14
Oh, my God. That's like, almost exactly like mom.
Patty Jenkins 32:17
The same. Yeah, I know, right?
Rasha Pecoraro 32:18
Patty Jenkins 32:18
It was exact. It was so crazy. So bizarre, we were about to go meet with her in prison.
Rasha Pecoraro 32:25
Oh so you were going to meet her. That was my next question.
Patty Jenkins 32:28
Yeah. So she and I were writing to each other for about seven or eight months, I think. Or maybe it was a little longer, but we were writing to each other. She never totally understood what I was trying to do. And never totally decided to consciously trust me because she was in a really bad mental place. At that time. She'd been in prison for 12 years, she had definitely become schizophrenic and lots of other things. And the most heartbreaking thing about writing to her was that she would oscillate back and forth between being totally guilty, like, I don't really deserve it, I should be executed for being totally innocent.
Rasha Pecoraro 32:45
Right. One or the other. Yeah.
Patty Jenkins 33:03
And I would write to her, I would write to her and say, Aileen, I'm trying to help you understand that they're both true.
Rasha Pecoraro 33:11
Patty Jenkins 33:11
And I want to tell a story about how they're both true. It's you did make a mistake. Mistakes, you went too far. Right?
Rasha Pecoraro 33:18
Patty Jenkins 33:18
And also, you were a victim, who was put into a place and yes, I believe Richard Mallory raped her and...
Rasha Pecoraro 33:24
Patty Jenkins 33:25
Was a serial rapist. And the first murder was self defense, like, and so they're both true. And that was the challenge was to try to tell a story where I didn't do one or the other. But she was someone with no access to mental health help at all.
Various Voices 33:41
Patty Jenkins 33:41
Was left in a cage by themselves, of course, they create a third reality. So I don't believe that she had schizophrenia when she went in there. But I believe that she did have some mental problems. But by 12 years later, she developed a third version of reality, which was that aliens had made her do it, all of these other things.
Rasha Pecoraro 33:59
Patty Jenkins 34:00
We had been writing to each other over all of this time, whatever the core of what I was saying, hopefully did get through or I believe that it did, because I was about to go down with Charlize and meet with her and then her execution was scheduled. And I said, Do you want me to intervene and do you want us to try to do anything? And she said, No. She wanted to be executed. She wanted out. And I totally respected that. And so we cancelled our meeting. And we said, you should use every one of your remaining visits to see someone that you want to see more than us will come if you need but, and Dawn Watkins, her best friend from Michigan was was down there spending a lot of time with her and I was in touch with Dawn. And so I was myself surprised when we called Dawn I'll always remember the day she was executed and how bizarre It was to be walking around that day. And then talking to Dawn and Dawn said, Aileen has decided to leave you all of her letters to read. I gave them back to Dawn, when I was done reading them.
Rasha Pecoraro 34:20
Aww. Oh you did?
Patty Jenkins 35:05
But the crazy thing was that exactly what I saw in Aileen was being held true there was when I was writing letters to her, she was saying I want $10 million. I want... I was saying no, you don't understand..
Rasha Pecoraro 35:20
Patty Jenkins 35:21
Your movies not even gonna cost a million dollars.
Rasha Pecoraro 35:23
Patty Jenkins 35:23
Like, it's not that kind of party.
Rasha Pecoraro 35:25
Right, right, right, right, right.
Patty Jenkins 35:26
But still she was such an optimistic person. It was such a bizarre thing that when that actually the shock of Aileen Wuornos's life was that she was alive at all.
Rasha Pecoraro 35:38
Patty Jenkins 35:39
And the way that she had made it through everything she made it through was by believing that somehow everything was going to work out, despite everything. And so it was this strange reality of Aileen, that she still hoped that maybe I would tell the story, maybe what I was saying was true, you know, that maybe there was a story that showed some compassion to her, even though we understood that she had gone and done these horrible things, you know, and so, um, that was an incredible trip. And Charlize and I sat down, we went to Michigan, and sat with Dawn Watkins, and, you know, read all of these incredible letters, which only supported everything that I had already thought. And a lot of the details trickled in and full of like, the most heartbreaking, heartbreaking details of her life and letters between her and Tyra and all of all of these things, which were really, you know, you can't you can't underestimate the details of those letters syncing it to our movie.
Yvette Gentile 36:58
You know, when I think about Aileen's story, like, like we've just talked about, I mean, there's abuse, there's generational trauma. I mean, that trauma and that energy, right, that she held on to because of all the things that she had been through, like it transcended into that violence, right, that rage inside of her.
Patty Jenkins 37:21
Yvette Gentile 37:24
What lesson did you hope that would come across through Monster, like the main thing that you you hoped, you know, the audiences would take with them?
Patty Jenkins 37:35
I think more than anything, that film is just about compassion. Because I can't moralize what she should have done differently.
Rasha Pecoraro 37:45
Patty Jenkins 37:45
you know, like, and so just in needing to have understanding of why the people do the things that they do is really, it's what it was for me. And it was the thing that I was the most probably focused on achieving with that film. That's why I named it Monster is because I wanted to say, you're right. You know, I want to say you're absolutely right. She's a monster.
Rasha Pecoraro 38:08
Patty Jenkins 38:08
Let's come on in. Let's see what a monster makes like...
Rasha Pecoraro 38:11
Patty Jenkins 38:12
what, how do you? How do you turn technically...
Yvette Gentile 38:14
How do you turn someone into a monster?
Patty Jenkins 38:15
Right, technically, you're totally correct. So let's go. Let's take a look at the story of the birth of a monster. And by the way, not every serial killer can you do this with for sure.
Yvette Gentile 38:24
Rasha Pecoraro 38:24
Patty Jenkins 38:27
There's a lot of people with pure psychological phenomenon that we can't totally get, our heads around. But Aileen was a perfect example. And many, many serial killers are also this, of a person that if you look at a series of events, you'll see a story that led them to this series of crimes.
Yvette Gentile 38:47
You know, as Rasha said, we were researching and looking at all your videos. And you know, you were asked a question about like, what would you do if you weren't doing this? And you said, a psychologist like,
Patty Jenkins 38:57
Yvette Gentile 38:58
Patty Jenkins 39:00
I do love it. Right? I'm so interested. So interested.
Rasha Pecoraro 39:04
But that's what makes you an amazing filmmaker, because you can look at the monster and have compassion for them. Because everyone has a story, right?
Patty Jenkins 39:13
Rasha Pecoraro 39:13
Like, that's why what we always loved about our mom, right? Like she could sit across from you. And yes, she's telling you her life story within the first five minutes meeting her. But she wants to know your story, where you came from what you're about, no matter who you are. And one last question, I'd love to to ask you. And we'll start to wrap it up. But we've never had a discussion about Aileen and about Monster.
Patty Jenkins 39:38
And it's an interesting time. It's 20 years this next year.
Rasha Pecoraro 39:41
Patty Jenkins 39:41
So it's shocking, but Charlize about it. I was like, wow, what do we do? It's been 20 years.
Rasha Pecoraro 39:47
That is something Patty.
Patty Jenkins 39:49
Yeah, we should have a screening or something.
Rasha Pecoraro 39:51
yes! We'll be there. We'll come! Yeah. But so other than us interviewing you and the 20 year anniversary coming up? Do you still think about Aileen?
Patty Jenkins 40:03
Totally, I really do. It's funny, um, it's hard to explain the feeling because she imprinted herself like I can feel her spirit like someone you know, really well, of course,
Rasha Pecoraro 40:18
Patty Jenkins 40:19
you know, and none of it was ever glorifying. I was never like, she didn't do it. And she didn't deserve it. it was all true.
Rasha Pecoraro 40:27
Patty Jenkins 40:27
Like, everything was all true. But I also loved her. And I also felt brokenhearted for her. And she also like morphed a little bit with Charlize. And so it became, when Charlize was onset Charlize was this other person when she was playing it. And that was also this interesting person that I miss being around, because it was Aileen brought to life. And that was a very dimensional person who broke my heart and did these horrible things, and also was funny, and outrageous and incredibly ballsy and brave, and all of these things. And sometimes I'll think about whether she's on the other side, and what that is like, Is she better now?
Rasha Pecoraro 41:10
Patty Jenkins 41:11
If there is such a thing, like, what is that experience like? But anyway, yeah, she still sticks with me. She always will. Of course,
Yvette Gentile 41:18
Of course, oh, my God, I cannot even begin to tell you how honored we are that you are our first guest. Like, I'm so just inside myself. And I, you know, I can think about that first conversation. I don't even know if you remember, but we had just finished Root of Evil, and Rasha and I were on the phone with you. And you said to us, you said you girls, you go and you take this thing around the world, and you do good. And that is what we are trying to do. You know, and I gotta read this to you because I keep this on my refrigerator. And this is my mom's writing. And it says I am available for more good than I've ever experienced or realized before. And that is why we do Facing Evil. So.
Patty Jenkins 42:06
I think that's so great.
Yvette Gentile 42:08
Thank you, Patty. It was all because of you and Sam.
Patty Jenkins 42:14
That's so awesome. Oh, that just makes me so happy. That just thrills me and your mom.
Yvette Gentile 42:18
Patty Jenkins 42:19
You know, it makes me so happy for you guys to be having that avenue to do this with I think that's awesome. I'm proud of you guys
Rasha Pecoraro 42:27
Awe we're proud of you! Thank you Patty! But before we let you go Miss Patty Jenkins. So with Facing Evil, we end every episode with a segment we like to call Imua and Imua in Hawaiian means to move onward and upward. But it's really more of a call to healing. So we would love for you to help us with the Imua of this episode, Patty. So what we'd like to ask you is what do you think is the Imua or the light in the darkness in the Aileen Wuornos story?
Patty Jenkins 43:04
Okay, so I'm a huge believer in story. Not just because I'm a filmmaker, but spiritually. Like I think there's something really profound about what story is to us, and how it influences us. And when I made Monster, I had been very allied with the darkness in my youth, I think I felt doomed to tragedy. After you know, where I lived when I was little, and then my father dying in a plane crash and then having these other friends that dark things happened to I felt like I would always be plagued with the darkness and around dark things. And what blew my mind about making Monster was when it succeeded the phenomenon, I could feel like that was a story that wanted to be told. And in telling it it turns darkness into light. And I found myself saying oh my god that actually happened like that, something so dark wanted to come out and incoming out turned itself into light. And that was something, that to me is the power of of story of what she did for the world for anyone that sees her story is if it allowed anyone to hear the story of her and her life and and it to turn darkness into light in that sort of way that to me is what the purpose of any of these stories are in the world. Not that it's worth people dying for it's not like it was meant to be or anything but but in telling it you're able to shift what it was into something else. And I felt that way very much about I am the Night. I felt very much that way. I was like he doesn't own the story anymore. It's not George's story anymore. We're telling the story. You know, we're taking it back and we're telling the story of a normal sad sack human who did horrible things, not a powerful scary man who told us what was possible in the world. We're taking it you know? So that to me is that to me is what it is what Aileen wanted.
Yvette Gentile 43:11
Yes. Onward and upward. Imua
Rasha Pecoraro 45:21
Imua! Imua. Well, that's our show for today. Again, we owe a huge mahalo nui loa a huge thank you to the great Patty Jenkins for joining us.
Yvette Gentile 45:37
And as always, we'd love to hear what you thought about today's amazing discussion and if there is a case that you would like us to cover. Find us on social media @facingevilpod or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and one request if you haven't already, please find us on iTunes and give us a review and a good rating, if you like what we do. Your support is always cherished. Until next time, aloha.
Trevor Young 46:11
Facing Evil is a production of iHeartRadio and Tenderfoot TV. The show is hosted by Rasha Pecoraro and Yvette Gentile. Matt Frederick and Alex Williams, are executive producers on behalf of iHeartRadio with producers Trevor Young and Jessie Funk. Donald Albright and Payne Lindsey are executive producers on behalf of TenderfootTV, alongside producer Tracy Kaplan. Our researcher is Claudia Dafrico. Original Music by Makeup and Vanity set. Find us on social media or email us at email@example.com For more podcasts from iHeart Radio or TenderfootTV, visit the iHeartRadio app, Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to your favorite shows.