Saturday night HBO will debut their much-anticipated film adaptation of the cult 1975 Maysles brothers documentary Grey Gardens, which stars Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore as Jackie Kennedy’s once-wealthy (see: eccentric) elderly aunt and middle-aged cousin, Edith and Edie Bouvier Beale. And while the latest film has been wowing critics, there’s still one lingering question fans of the original may have: where is “The Marble Faun?”
“There is a nod to ‘The Marble Faun’ in the film, but it’s a non-speaking part,” director Michael Sucsy said at the Television Critics Press Tour in January.
Fans of the documentary may remember “The Marble Faun,” née Jerry Torre, as the one regular visitor received at Big and Little Edie’s crumbling, cat-filled East Hampton mansion. At the time, Torre was a teenage handyman who would occasionally stop by to deliver groceries and a taste of the outside world which the two had long lost touch with.
Unlike the original, the HBO film spans a period of 40 years, fluidly moving between the mother and daughter’s years of high-society splendor, and their eventual off-the-grid squalor.
Of attempting to incorporate “The Marble Faun” into a story which spans such a lengthy period of time, Sucsy said “when you’re looking at 40 years, things can become diluted, and it becomes difficult to introduce new characters. But we didn’t mean to diminish their relationships in any way.”
“There are a ton of people they knew who aren’t in this film,” he said, adding “Doris Francisco, for instance, wasn’t in the documentary, but fans know she would take care of Big Edie whenever Little Edie would go into the city.”
Sucsy said he had considered including a part for “The Marble Faun” in the film, but at the time he began researching and drafting a script, he believed Torre to be dead.
It was a March 2006 article in The New Yorker which proved Sucsy wrong. “I found out Jerry was alive and driving a taxi in New York City,” he said, “but at that point, we’d already locked down the picture.”
Fans of the original shouldn’t be disappointed by the exclusion of “The Marble Faun,” Sucsy said, confessing that his true intention in making this film was to “add value and backstory to the documentary,” and not to recreate it.
“I wasn’t ever trying to redo or outdo the documentary,” Suscy admit. “The documentary still exists and it’s perfect for what it is.”
Grey Gardens airs on HBO Saturday April 18 at 8 PM ET.