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The Jinx director has ‘never regretted’ controversial edit of Robert Durst’s bathroom confession

‘The Jinx - Part Two’ director Andrew Jarecki tells The Independent he has no regrets over editing Robert Durst’s bathroom confession that eventually led to his murder conviction

Tom Murray
Monday 22 April 2024 14:24 BST
The Jinx Trailer

The Jinx director Andrew Jarecki was walking home from a restaurant one night in 2015 when he saw Robert Durst’s unmistakeable yellow Smart car parked outside his New York apartment building.

“I really freaked out,” Jarecki told The Independent. At the time, episode five of his bombshell documentary had just aired on HBO. The series investigated the three murder investigations facing multimillionaire real estate heir Durst and would eventually lead to the subject’s lifetime prison sentence.

Durst was first suspected of killing his wife, Kathleen Durst, after her mysterious disappearance in 1982; her body has never been found. In 2001, he was arrested for the murder of his neighbour Morris Black – only to be acquitted of all charges after claiming he acted in self-defence.

The Jinx’s penultimate episode revealed new evidence that connected Durst to the murder of his best friend Susan Berman in 2000.

“We learnt that when that episode came out, he was really upset. Someone said he was angry at me,” Jarecki said.

“At that point, I got a security detail,” the director revealed.

Robert Durst in ‘The Jinx - Part Two’ (HBO)

He explained that Durst had shown them his distinctive “canary yellow” Smart car during shooting. “I’ve never seen anyone other than Bob have one,” Jerecki said.

After waiting anxiously to see if Durst was waiting for him outside his apartment, Jarecki went over to the doorman to ask: “What’s up with the car?” The doorman apologised: “Oh, Mr Jarecki, I’m so sorry. I parked my car right in front of the door. I know I shouldn’t do that.”

“I just hugged him,” Jarecki said, “I was like, you’re good! You park there all you want!”

The Independent asked Jarecki if he regretted editing the audio recording that led to Durst’s conviction for murder in 2021. While wearing a microphone for The Jinx, Durst was caught unwittingly telling himself in the bathroom: “What did I do? Killed them all, of course.”

‘The Jinx - Part Two’ director Andrew Jarecki (Getty Images)

However, it was later revealed in court that Durst’s confession had been reordered for the television series – a detail that formed a pillar of the millionaire’s trial defence. The editing was also criticised by other filmmakers, who argued Durst’s comments were more “ambiguous” in the original transcript.

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“I have never regretted [the edit],” Jarecki said. “We knew from the beginning that the film was going to be completely different than the material we provided to the district attorney, and that the district attorney was never going to use the film as part of the prosecution.”

The director added that Durst’s 20 rambling remarks in the bathroom went on for seven minutes. “That would be like the worst ending of all time. A lot of it is Bob burping, peeing and washing his hands.”

He added: “For the defence, they had to say, well, this is a Hollywood movie, it’s not reality. But if you listen to what the judge said at the end of the trial, he said: ‘And then Mr Durst had a confession in the bathroom that he cannot and did not explain, and that proves his guilt in a third way.’ So what we gave is the material that got him convicted, and the rest was just noise that was coming out of the defence.”

In January 2022, Durst died aged 78 of a cardiac arrest after just four months in prison, having suffered a “litany of medical issues”.

The Jinx – Part Two looks at the aftermath of the documentary becoming a national news story in 2015, through to Durst’s trial and eventual conviction.

The series will air in the US on Sunday 21 April at 10 pm ET/PT, with new episodes debuting weekly on HBO and streaming on Max. UK viewers can watch weekly episodes exclusively on Sky Documentaries and NOW from Monday 22 April.

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