Mary Kay Letourneau's Ex Shreds 'May December' Movie: 'I'm Offended'

"They chose to do a ripoff of my original story," said Vili Fualaau, who was the loose inspiration for actor Charles Melton's character in the film.
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Vili Fualaau might have been the inspiration for one of the characters in “May December,” but he probably won’t be rooting for the film this awards season.

In a Hollywood Reporter interview published Thursday, Fualaau confirmed that he’d seen the movie, a fictionalized take on his real-life experiences in the 1990s and 2000s. But Fualaau said that he was angered at having never been contacted by director Todd Haynes, screenwriter Samy Burch or actor Charles Melton, who portrays the Fualaau-like character.

“I’m still alive and well,” he told THR. “If they had reached out to me, we could have worked together on a masterpiece. Instead, they chose to do a ripoff of my original story.”

He added, “I’m offended by the entire project and the lack of respect given to me — who lived through a real story and is still living it.”

Vili Fualaau is pictured in 2006, during his marriage to convicted sex offender Mary Kay Letourneau.
Vili Fualaau is pictured in 2006, during his marriage to convicted sex offender Mary Kay Letourneau.
Ron Wurzer via Getty Images

Released in November, “May December” is loosely based on the case of Seattle-area teacher Mary Kay Letourneau, who in 1997 pleaded guilty to the second-degree child rape of Fualaau, a former student in her sixth-grade class.

The couple raised two children and were married in 2005, shortly after Letourneau was released from a seven-year stint in prison. The two split in 2017 but remained close until Letourneau’s death in 2020 at age 58.

“May December” changes many of the specifics of the case, including locations, professions and names. The film follows Elizabeth Berry (played by Natalie Portman), a television actor who is gearing up to portray Gracie Atherton-Yoo (Julianne Moore) in a biopic. Unlike Letourneau, Gracie isn’t a teacher, but rather a former pet shop owner living in relative seclusion with her much younger husband, Joe Yoo (Melton), and their children after getting out of prison.

Joe is said to have been a 13-year-old seventh grader when he and Grace begin a sexual relationship, later marrying his abuser.

“May December” has received widespread praise from critics, with Moore and Portman considered to be front-runners for this year’s Academy Awards. Melton, best known for his portrayal of Reggie Mantle on “Riverdale,” has also been singled out for his performance, which received a Golden Globe nomination.

Despite the obvious parallels, the creative team behind “May December” has said the movie was never intended as a faithful look at Letourneau’s case.

Julianne Moore, left, and Charles Melton in "May December."
Julianne Moore, left, and Charles Melton in "May December."
Courtesy of Netflix

“It wasn’t the same details — I certainly don’t want anyone to assume that we’re trying to say all these conversations happened behind closed doors,” Burch said at the film’s Los Angeles premiere. “This was just a jumping off point and a way that something like this made sense to me emotionally.”

Speaking to HuffPost in November, Haynes noted: “The stroke of genius in the script is how she [Burch] separates the story from the tabloid event of Gracie meeting Joe, which happened 20-some years in the past. It’s really about this outsider coming into a well-fortified community, a neighborhood, a family that’s built up so many barriers to survive that kind of an event.”

In his Hollywood Reporter chat, Fualaau, now 40, said that he wouldn’t be opposed to seeing his story adapted for the big screen again in the future ― albeit by a different creative team.

“I love movies — good movies,” he told the outlet. “I admire ones that capture the essence and complications of real-life events. You know, movies that allow you to see or realize something new every time you watch them. Those kinds of writers and directors — someone who can do that — would be perfect to work with, because my story is not nearly as simple as this movie [portrays].”

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