TCA 2015: Director of HBO's 'The Jinx' gets up close to Robert Durst

TCA 2015: Director of HBO's 'The Jinx' gets up close to Robert Durst
Robert Durst speaks out about his life in the new HBO documentary series, "The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst." (HBO)

They say you can tell a lot from a person's handshake. In the case of accused millionaire murderer Robert Durst, a locking of the hands can produce unshakable feelings.

Filmmaker Andrew Jarecki could have predicted as much.


His fiction-film debut was 2010's Ryan Gosling-led mystery crime drama "All Good Things," which is based on Durst's link to three deaths and disappearances over several decades--including the 1982 vanishing of his first wife, the 2000 killing of a female friend and the 2001 dismemberment of his onetime neighbor.

The latter case would be the sole one Durst was charged in.  A Texas jury ultimately acquitted Durst of murder charges in the death of his neighbor after he convinced them it was done in self-defense.

Jarecki had been unsuccessful in his attempts to reach Durst, the son of the late real estate mogul Seymour Durst, during the making of the film. But Durst would eventually get in touch with Jarecki a couple of weeks before the movie hit theaters. And Durst wanted to talk.

Their introduction would yield a six-part documentary series, "The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst," which will air on HBO beginning Feb. 8.

Jarecki, while promoting the project Thursday at the Television Critics Assn. press tour in Pasadena, spoke of Durst as someone who has a "remarkable kind of quality to him."

"Bob Durst knows where you're going with your questions about a dozen questions in advance," Jarecki told reporters. "He's uncannily bright."

He later added: "When you shake hands with him ... you can't shake the feeling that this was a guy who admitted to dismembering his neighbor. You can't not feel that when you're touching his hand."

Jarecki hopes, and expects, viewers to come away with their own opinions of the eccentric real estate heir--including whether he's guilty or innocent--upon watching the documentary series, which pulls from 25 hours of interviews with Durst.

"I think it's essential for people to see and experience this the way that I did," Jarecki told reporters. "I will tell you by the time you get to the end of the series, you're not going to be scratching your head. You're going to have a clear view."

"The Jinx" hits HBO at a time when the public's fascination with true crime thrillers is at peak levels, thanks in part to the genre of programming offered on networks such as Investigation Discovery (ID) and, of course, the recent popularity of murder mystery podcast "Serial."

"I have enjoyed 'Serial,'" said Jarecki, who noted the popularity of the genre in fiction-form (think "Breaking Bad") has spilled over into interest in true-life narratives . "I do think it's a phenomenon that is sort of here."

One person who likely won't be jumping on the bandwagon is Durst's younger brother, Douglas.

Douglas, who has mostly kept quiet, spoke with the New York Times recently about his opposition to the series, which he had declined to participate in. Douglas said it's "rooted in an untrustworthy source."

"Bob is incapable of telling the truth," Douglas Durst told the Times. "He is a true psychopath, beyond any emotions. That's why he does things, so he can experience the emotions that other people have vicariously. Because he has absolutely none of his own."


Jarecki acknowledged that Douglas "was always hostile" to the documentary series, as well as the original film.

"I'll be interested to see if they decide to sue us."

Twitter: @villarrealy