Andrew Jarecki Addresses Lingering Ethical Concerns About ‘The Jinx’ and Explains Why He Wanted to Revisit Robert Durst’s Crimes

New York real estate scion Robert Durst has been at the forefront of Andrew Jarecki’s mind for close to 20 years. In 2005, the director began working on “All Good Things,” a narrative film inspired by Durst and the 1982 disappearance of his first wife. That was followed by Jarecki’s 2015 HBO bombshell six-part docuseries “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst,” which uncovered evidence of Durst’s connection to various murders and concluded with Durst’s shocking hot mic admission, “Killed them all, of course.” Durst was arrested the day before the final episode thanks to the docuseries. The timing of the arrest led to criticism that Jarecki, his producers and HBO had delayed sharing incriminating discoveries with law enforcement officials for the sake of the series and ratings. Jarecki denies this.

Jarecki could have easily said goodbye to Durst nine years ago. The helmer, previously Oscar nominated for “Capturing the Friedmans,” had helped put a murderer behind bars and garnered a Peabody and an Emmy for his investigative work. But in 2017 the Susan Berman trial began. Durst was accused of killing Berman, his good friend, in 2000.  When preliminary witness testimony began in the Berman case, Jarecki found himself once again pulled back into Durst’s orbit. People who refused to talk to the director for the first “Jinx” series were now testifying in the Berman trial. People including Durst’s friends Nick Chavez and Susan Giordano as well as Chris Lovell, a juror on a prior Durst murder case. After listening to testimony Jarecki texted executive producer Zac Stuart-Pontier and said, “Doesn’t this make you want to make more episodes?” Stuart-Pontier’s one word response was “Yes!”

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“The Jinx: Part Two,” which debuts April 21 on HBO, was officially in production.

Variety was given four of the second season’s six episodes. Instead of being a series solely about a sociopath multi-millionaire and the murders he tried to get away with, “The Jinx: Part 2” is about a court case, uncovered hidden materials, bizarre prison phone calls and the first installment of “The Jinx.” Prosecutors, defense attorneys, trial witnesses and Durst all reference the original “Jinx” and Jarecki. The second season also includes new subjects including Chavez, Giordano and Lovell as well as Los Angeles deputy district attorney John Lewin and Berman case trial judge Mark Windham.

Trial footage and recreations help tell the story of how Durst’s arrest led to his eventual 2021 conviction for the murder of Berman. (Durst died a year later in a California prison hospital facility.)

Variety spoke to Jarecki about why he wanted to make another docuseries about Durst, the criticism he faced in 2015 after the release of “The Jinx” and what happens in the last two episodes of “The Jinx: Part 2.”

Was there any part of you that wanted to make the second “Jinx” series to make it absolutely clear that you were right about Robert Durst?

No. It was because of the constellation of his helpers. What was fascinating and what drew me in when we heard from the preliminary witnesses is that it got into the territory that we had talked about when we were making part one, which was, how do you kill three people over 30 years and get away with it? It takes a village. Who are these people that helped him along the way? People that see themselves as very decent human beings and yet somehow are drawn into murder in some way. That’s what interested me.

After the first “Jinx” aired in 2015, Durst’s lawyer Dick DeGuerin publicly criticized you and the editing of the series, stating that it “was designed for good television but it wasn’t designed to get to the truth.” So, were you surprised that DeGuerin and Durst’s other defense attorney, David Chesnoff,  agreed to sit down with you for part two?

DeGuerin knew he was wrong. He’s a smart enough lawyer to know that he wanted to make it seem like we had given some limited amount of information to the Los Angeles district attorney, and then they had run out and arrested Bob. The reality was that we had given the district attorney 21 hours of our interviews with Bob, which was very damning, and seven minutes of everything he said in the bathroom, and the prosecutors would never have moved forward if they didn’t have all that. Dick knew throwing out the idea that this film is just a film, it’s not a trial, but somehow the prosecutors got drawn in by these filmmakers, was all nonsense. But it is not a bad argument if you are trying to defend your client. But why did he agree to be in part two? I think because the lawyers lost very badly on the defense side. There was a sense that the rats were deserting the ship, and that suddenly people wanted to distance themselves from Bob. I would say that Dick DeGuerin wanted to defend the work that he had done.

Did you interview DeGuerin after Durst died in 2022?


DeGuerin wasn’t the only one who criticized the series. Many outlets questioned your ethics as a documentary filmmaker due to Durst’s arrest in 2015 the day before the last episode of “The Jinx.” It seemed like a PR stunt. The timing was too good to be true. You cancelled interviews at the time. Nine years later, can you tell me if you did delay justice and let a suspected murderer remain free for the sake of the series and ratings?

No. We didn’t. People assumed, well, you found the evidence two years ago, how come he just got arrested? But you never heard that from the police. You only heard that from pundits. And the reason we didn’t contradict it at the time was because Lewin, the prosecutor said, “Don’t talk to the press. If you talk to the press and then you are a witness in the trial you are going to say something that’s going to give away something about our case.” The prosecutors didn’t want the defense to know the history of our relationship with the police … When we met with the police, I said to them, “Here’s the evidence that Bob killed these people. Here’s him reacting to this stuff. So how fast can you arrest him?” And Lewin said, “Usually, my cases take at least five years to prepare.” My mind was blown.

So you had no idea when they would arrest Durst?

The arrest wasn’t coordinated. But it wasn’t a coincidence because the prosecutor knew when the documentary was coming out and they knew that if they didn’t arrest him, and Bob saw Episode 6, he was going to run. There had never been a conversation between the prosecutor and HBO or between us and the prosecutor. So no. We didn’t know when he was going to get arrested.

You were also criticized for taking Durst on a walk near his brother Douglas’ house in the first season. Douglas was not only afraid of his brother but you also had a feeling Durst was a murderer. Can you explain why you went to Douglas’s house with Durst?

Bob was a free citizen. He knew how to get on the subway and go to his brother’s house. We didn’t take him anywhere. As a matter of fact, the day that we went to his brother’s house was the same day as the second interview in 2012. As a kind of a warmup, we said, “Let’s go walk around Times Square together.” He said that “There are a couple places I want to go.” He didn’t say to me, “By the way, on the day that you interview me, I’m going to go to my brother’s house.” I didn’t know where Doug lived. I couldn’t prevent him from going there. So really what I was doing was just documenting his trip and he went over there and he stood across the street and  wasn’t threatening to them at all. And then later Douglas, because he’s so afraid of Bob, told the FBI to keep him away from my house. But they never criticized us. We just followed Bob on the camera and Bob went to his brother’s house.

You did two interviews with Durst for the first “Jinx.” One in December 2010 in Los Angeles and the second in April 2012 in New York. You notified law enforcement officials after the 2012 interview when you had enough evidence to know Durst was more than likely a murderer. Why wait until after the second interview?

I had actually hired Marsha Clark (to consult). I said, “Listen, we have this evidence. We know that if we give this to the police, they are not going to arrest Bob tomorrow. They have to build an entire case and they want to do that in secret for a period of time. So what should we do now? If we show him the evidence, he’s going to react and that reaction might be really valuable to the prosecution,” which turned out to be the case. “But if we go to law enforcement first, we will never be able to do that, because then if we go back to Bob after having spoken to the police or having spoken to a prosecutor, then later his lawyers will say,” as they tried to, “that the filmmakers were agents of law enforcement and therefore when they went for that second interview they should have told Bob and read him his Miranda Rights.” So ultimately we knew that we were going to confront him with the evidence. We were going to get that on film, which we were then going to give to the police. And we did. And all that happened long before the series came out.

Did Lewin sit down with you for the second series in exchange for you handing over the evidence against Durst?

No. As a matter of fact, what he said to us in the very beginning was, “Obviously, I want you to give us the evidence and I’m just telling you that it will be a one way street. I will give you nothing and that will seem unfair. You will be infuriated by that because you are giving me the material for my case. So I’m just letting you know upfront you will get nothing from me.” And that was true. I think there was a feeling that if we were straight with them, which we intended to be, and they were straight with us, that eventually we would get to know each other pretty well, and then maybe they would start to feel comfortable participating in an interview or something like that.

What can we expect in the last two episodes of “The Jinx: Part 2”?

There’s a lot of Bob in those last two episodes. We go back into the history of his relationship with his second wife Debrah Lee Charatan. They met at a charity event, about six years after Bob’s first wife disappeared. It was interesting that Debrah didn’t have any hesitation about getting together with somebody who was fairly widely considered to have possibly killed his first wife.

Given that what led to your journey with Robert Durst journey was the fictional film “All Good Things,” would you ever consider turning anything from “The Jinx” docuseries into a narrative film?

I haven’t really been thinking about it. If I had the desire, it could be an opera. There are a lot of things that it could become, I just feel like I have to clear my head. I have other stuff that I want to do. 

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