The filmmaker behind a new documentary about Anthony Bourdain has defended the decision not to interview the late chef’s girlfriend Asia Argento, saying it would have over complicated the film.
Morgan Neville spoke to many people close to Bourdain but not the Italian actress and activist the travel host had been dating for around a year at the time of his suicide in 2018.
Their relationship forms the basis of the last part of the documentary, which suggests that the celebrity chef had become ‘addicted’ to the Italian actress.
Neville said in an interview with Vulture that trying to figure out how to fit Argento into the film ‘made me feel like I was sinking into this rabbit hole of she said, they said, and it just was not the film I wanted to make.’
The filmmaker behind a new documentary about Anthony Bourdain (right) has defended the decision not to interview the late chef’s girlfriend Asia Argento (left), saying it would have overcomplicated the film
Morgan Neville (pictured) spoke to many people close to Bourdain for the film but not the Italian actress and activist whom he had been dating for around a year at the time of his death in 2018
‘She’s given interviews. I kind of know what she was going to say. And even as I was putting the story together, as I was trying to make the decision about how to handle it, when I started to put more of that story into the film, it instantly just made people want to ask ten more questions. It became this kind of narrative quicksand of “Oh, but then what about this? And how did this happen?”
‘It just became this thing that made me feel like I was sinking into this rabbit hole of she said, they said, and it just was not the film I wanted to make. I just want to know why he was who he was and felt like the balance of the film would have tipped over if I had put her in it,’ Neville said.
Argento, the daughter of famed Italian director Dario Argento, was one of the first actresses to come forward with allegations against disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein, who denied the claims.
In January, she accused filmmaker Rob Cohen of drugging and sexually assaulting her during the filming of the action movie xXx nearly two decades ago. Cohen, 71, has vehemently denied the claims.
Argento herself became the subject of a sexual assault allegation in August 2018 by fellow actor Jimmy Bennett.
Bennett claimed the incident happened in May 2013, when he was 17 years old, at a hotel in California.
Although she initially denied the allegation and claimed she had no sexual interactions with Bennett. She later admitted that they did have sex but claims she did not know how old he was at the time.
Bennett has disputed Argento’s version of events, and she later reportedly paid him $380,000 in ‘hush’ money from Bourdain.
Since shortly after Bourdain’s death, Argento has been painted by some as a negative figure in his life.
The new documentary notes that paparazzi photos emerged five days before Bourdain’s death of Argento embracing a male friend and strolling hand in hand in Rome.
The documentary does not blame Argento for Bourdain’s death but some reviewers have suggested the film comes ‘dangerously close to exploiting the scenario’.
Argento has not commented publicly on the film.
Neville said that he felt including Argento risked upsetting other people who were close to Bourdain (pictured in Roadrunner)
In an interview with IndieWire earlier this month, Neville said that he felt including the actress risked upsetting other people who were close to Bourdain.
‘I looked at everything she’d said in interviews after Tony died. I pretty much know what she’d say, which is that she loved him, and felt misrepresented by people. I also knew, honestly, that to interview her, you would incur a lot of bad blood from lots of people in Tony’s life. So there was a price to pay, too,’ Neville said.
Neville told The Wall Street Journal that the film was heavily vetted by his lawyers, including in Italy, and also by CNN’s legal team as CNN Films is an executive producer, in case Argento – or anyone else – objected to how they had been portrayed.
‘I went out of my way to make sure I put the quote in from [TV director] Michael Steed saying, ‘Tony killed Tony, you know, 60-year-old men don’t normally kill themselves because they broke up with somebody’.
‘I’m not saying she caused his suicide. Suicide is a private and I think selfish act.
‘I was merely trying to paint a picture, I think accurately, of the different factors in his life that were going on, and there were many of them. The impression of him really over the last year was him just being much more manic and much more depressive.’
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