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Natasha Gregson Wagner to be 11 once her mother, the Oscar-nominated gibbs Natalie Wood, drowned off Catalina Island. In the 39 year since, Gregson Wagner—an actress herself that has showed up in projects including High Fidelity and also Two Girls and also a Guy—has not just grappled through that trauma, but with the cyclical interest in Wood’s death—and the suspicion approximately her stepfather Robert Wagner, now 90, who was on board the 55-foot yacht Splendour the night hardwood drowned.
In a new documentary Natalie Wood: What stays Behind—premiering may 5 top top HBO—Gregson Wagner sit down through her stepfather, who greatly raised her, to interview him around that tragic night. The interview, filmed within her airy Los Angeles home, is just one segment in a stunning tribute come Wood’s abridged life—full of previously unseen home movies, family members photographs, movie highlights, and loving memories indigenous Gregson Wagner; she sister, Courtney; Gregson Wagner’s father and Wood’s second husband, Richard Gregson; Robert Redford; and Mia Farrow, among others. (Gregson Wagner has previously payment homage come her mom by developing a gardenia-based perfume dubbed Natalie, and also co-authoring a 2016 biographical coffee table book, Natalie Wood: reflect on a legend Life.)
It has constantly bothered Gregson Wagner the her mommy is remembered more for her fatality than for her accomplishments in life. In addition to Wood’s 3 Oscar nominations (for 1955’s Rebel there is no a Cause, 1961’s Splendor in the Grass, and 1963’s Love v the ideal Stranger), wood was a specialized mother to Gregson Wagner and Courtney, and an empowered star who leveraged her profile to handpick her roles and costars including Redford—the then-unknown she propelled to be cast in 1965’s Inside Daisy Clover. Natalie Wood: What remains Behind portrays wood as a spirited, loving parent that was maybe to conquer an overbearing mommy of her own and also the anxiety of boy stardom—with the assist of psychoanalysis, of i beg your pardon she was very early proponent—to forge a fulfilling career and family life.
Still, Gregson Wagner, who created the documentary, and also director Laurent Bouzereau knew that the movie would require to deal with Wood’s death head-on to assist audiences process it, hope once and for all. Understanding how crucial the conversation through Wagner would be come the project, Gregson Wagner and Bouzereau shooting that portion first. “If us didn’t get what us were hope we would certainly get,” Bouzereau called Vanity Fair, the project may not have happened. Gregson Wagner knows the suspicions have shadowed her stepfather end the past four decades: “I perform really hope that this
New details about the case and a rise in true-crime interest have actually rekindled fascinating in this unsolved Hollywood mystery, an especially in current years. In 2011, the Los Angeles county Sheriff’s department reopened that investigation into Wood’s death, ~ Splendour captain Dennis Davern asserted he had heard Wood and also Wagner arguing the night that Wood’s death. Later, the coroner readjusted Wood’s cause of death to “drowning and other undetermined factors.” brand-new witnesses led police to reclassify Wood’s fatality as “suspicious.” In 2018, Wagner was named a person of attention by the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department. And also Natalie’s own sister, Lana Wood—deemed a credible source by detectives—has invested years publicly sharing she doubts that Wood’s death was one accident and also demanding that Wagner, her brothers in-law, “tell the reality for once and also for all.”
In Natalie Wood: What continues to be Behind, Gregson Wagner asks she stepfather to describe what taken place the night Wood dropped off the boat. Wagner, in turn, recounts the final voyage he took through Wood, throughout Thanksgiving weekend 1981—with Dennis Davern and also Christopher Walken, Wood’s costar in the 1983 sci-fi movie Brainstorm. (Gregson Wagner called Vanity Fair the she inquiry both Walken and Lana timber to get involved in the documentary, but both declined. When Lana has been vocal about her sister’s death—even participating in the current podcast Fatal Voyage: The Mysterious death Of Natalie Wood—Walken has actually largely avoided commenting ~ above it. Once People brought up Wood’s death in a 1986 interview, the actor comment by snapping, “I don’t know what happened. She slipped and fell in the water. I was in bed then. It to be a terrible thing. Look, we’re in a conversation i won’t have. That a ——ing bore.”)
The film mirrors Wagner mental his last dinner through Wood and Walken, throughout which Wagner claims he took pleasure in “a few glasses of vino.” Wagner and also Wood had been having conversations about Wood’s job at the point—debating even if it is she should proceed acting, or action away native the display screen to spend much more time at home with she children. Speaking to his stepdaughter, Wagner recalls opening an additional bottle that wine, and Wood retiring to bed. Awake through Walken and also feeling “high” indigenous the alcohol, Wagner states that Walken then told him the he thought Wood, a excellent actor, essential to proceed acting. Wagner states he angrily called Walken to mind his own business, before “smashing a wine bottle.” Wagner claims that he and also Walken eventually resolved the argument. ~ Walken retired to bed, Wagner states that he and also Davern swept up the broken bottle on the floor. Climate Wagner go downstairs, discovered that timber was missing, and also notified the coast guard.
In the film, Wagner recalls authorities later on telling him the Wood’s body had been found.
“Everything simply went out from under me,” Wagner says, his voice faltering. “We were all stunned, everybody. The night’s gone v my psychic so many times. You deserve to imagine.”
An emotionally Wagner climate recalls how—before returning to the family’s Beverly Hills home—he met v his therapist to discuss how he need to tell Natasha and Courtney around their mom death. The stepfather and also daughter talk about the heartbreak, the destructive funeral, and the surreal months and years the followed, in i beg your pardon the family members struggled to put the piece of their lives ago together. Gregson Wagner and also her stepfather—who clearly have a close, love relationship—do not resolve some reports, favor the one stating that Wood’s body was uncovered with “fresh bruises” on her body, or Davern’s allegation the Wood and also Wagner to be fighting the night of she death. (At a different allude in the film, Brainstorm manager Douglas Trumbull addresses rumors that lumber was having actually an affair with Walken at the moment of she death—calling an work “impossible.” together evidence, he explains that the filmed a Brainstorm sex scene in between Wood and also Walken, and also that “there was almost no sex-related charisma in between them at all.”)
Speaking about the conversation she had actually with she stepfather, which was filmed end the food of 2 days, Gregson Wagner said, “I am really protective of mine stepdad and also I adore him. So ns didn’t desire him to feeling uncomfortable or unsafe. And also yet ns was questioning him come step exterior of his lull zone come talk around the night the
Asked even if it is she has had actually versions that this conversation through her stepfather about her mother’s fatality over the years, Gregson Wagner said, “We’ve had versions the it. I never questioned him. I knew the situations that had surrounded her death, due to the fact that he said me, and also I’m certain we checked out it here and also there, but it wasn’t together pointed as it to be for the documentary…. But I’m really glad we did it. It was definitely exhausting. He and I were both pretty wiped the end by the end of those two days—yet we were likewise kind the euphoric too, because we thought we had gone v something really an overwhelming together. When you take it something, and also you placed it right into the light, it no feel together hampering, and that’s what us were doing. We were just taking the truth and putting it into the light and it sort of empowered us I think in a way.”
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