“I was living the worst nightmare imaginable,” Andy Ostroy said in the documentary he directed, Adrian. It references the foolish murder of his wife, Adrienne Shelly in 2006. By then, Shelly had established herself as an independent staple, a well-respected actor who was on the verge of making headway in his career as an author. If you’re having a hard time writing her name or haven’t heard of her at all, you’re not alone. Part of Ostroy’s goal in Adrian It is an audience fitting tribute to a life of an overlooked profession.
Shelley initially made a name for herself after performing in blockbuster films during the independent boom of the late ’80s/early ’90s (including her debut, 1989’s Hal Hartley). The absurd truthand follow-up Hartley in 1990 trust). When she was murdered, she concluded the movie she is best known for: Waitress, a lively, compassionate comedy released posthumously in 2007, which was eventually adapted into a long-running Broadway musical. Shelley wrote, directed, and starred in the film.
There is an early scene in Adrian, which is now airing on HBO, where Ostroy polls people outside the Brooks Atkinson Theater, where Waitress It ran from 2016 to 2020. Although Shelley’s name has been on screen, it’s clear that the public pretty much doesn’t know who she is. So the Ostrowy document is a reminder of the life that has been cut short. It features many of Shelly’s friends, family, colleagues, and tons of archival footage (picked up from “hours and hours and hours” of tapes that Shelly left behind). It’s not a true crime document, per se, but it takes viewers methodically until November 1, 2006, when Shelley was found hanging in the bathroom of her apartment. The police initially ruled her death a suicide, but because Ostroy pressed (why would someone so happy, with a two-year-old, who had just produced the creative achievement of her career, kill herself?), the cops re-examined them and eventually found a footprint in Her bathtub belonged to Diego Pelco, who worked on the building. Pelko eventually confessed to the crime and was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Ostroy eventually met Pelko in front of the camera to get the full story of his wife’s murder. This is in the document, as well as footage of Austroy discussing the life and death of Shelley with their daughter, Sophie, now 17. Adrian Imbued with life and loss – it gives and takes, like life itself. For years, Ostroy has been publicly dedicated to preserving Shelly’s legacy, having created Adrian Shelley Foundation For female filmmakers (it matters Chloe Chow, who won the Academy Award for Best Director this year for Bedouinof between it Grant recipients). Adrian It is only the last step in this quest. In a recent interview with Jezebel, Ostroy discussed making his movie, meeting up with his wife’s killer, and why he doesn’t believe in the concept of closure. Below is a revised and condensed version of our conversation.
Jazeel: How long has this documentary idea been brewing?
Andy Ostroy: It dates back nearly three and a half years, and four years ago. The real trigger was when Adrien’s mother took her to see the musical Waitress in Broadway. Before I even raised the curtain, I spoke to a few of the women sitting behind us and finally shared that Adrienne had something to do with this musical. And they were like, “Oh, that’s cool. Is she here tonight?” And that got me thinking, when I looked around the stage for over a thousand people, how many of those people know who Adrien is and the story of her life and death. That’s when I decided, because Adrian was a filmmaker and narrator, that if I were to tell this story, it seemed appropriate to honor and pay tribute to her through the film.
Early in the movie, she interviews people outside the theater where Waitress He plays, and one person after another does not know who Adrienne is. Preserving her legacy seems to have been key to you.
Film has always had three components: life, death, and beyond. In terms of what questions I seek to answer through this film, the three main questions were: Who was Adrian Shelley? What really happened the day she died? And how does her family navigate the unimaginable? So bringing her back to life for viewers, getting them to recognize her, fall in love with her, and then grieve her loss in a profound way is perhaps the inspiration and motivation to go back to her catalog and see what work they might be doing. I’ve never seen him before, that was the real motivator for me.
You framed Adrienne as the motivator here, not your own experience. Was this process easy for you? At the end of the film she says, “I struggle with the concept of closure. My life will always be about grief.” Did this process bring you close to closure, or is Adrienne’s death a permanent void in which you live?
I don’t believe in closure. I’m glad he’s working with others to feel that they made that place. There are theories and books on, you know, the five stages of grief… I personally don’t understand the concept of getting to stage five, getting past it, and then feeling like, ‘Okay, I’m done. That’s it! No more pain, no more grief, no More sadness. This didn’t work for me, and it still doesn’t work for me. The movie isn’t necessarily simplistic in the way most people think it is. It didn’t provide healing, but it did provide a great sense of satisfaction and satisfaction, knowing that the mission I set out to accomplish was the one I thought I accomplished, which is to humanize her, to show her as a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a colleague, and not just a murder victim. .
How was the process of reviewing the past through all the archival footage?
In the editing process for a little over a year, I’ve been watching, every day, tons of footage of Adrien, of me and Adrien, me and Adrien and our daughter, Adrienne and our daughter, and with friends and family. It was like getting that life back. It was painful and emotionally difficult at times. But I kind of liken it to people climbing Mount Everest. I mean, for me, making this movie was like climbing Mount Everest. You kind of know what it’s going to be like getting in. You know it can be a horrible thing. But then, you’ll know that when you get to that top, it’s going to be awesome and totally worth it. I would do it again because making sausage wasn’t a concern for me. It was sausage. Sausage is exactly what I set out to make. The movie is 100 percent of what I imagined in my head.
Was there any fun in spending so much time with Adrienne again in pictorial form?
It is very sweet and bitter. I’d say, “Oh my God. She’s so funny and adorable and cute. Oh, we had such a great time together… Oh damn, she’s dead.” It’d just be like up, down, up, down. It was just an emotional rollercoaster. The sad reality of that was inevitable.
Have you absorbed Adrienne’s filmmaking knowledge?
When you’re with someone, sometimes you don’t talk about the things you wish you had done after they were gone. Making films was what I did. We had a life together. We were a married couple. We had a child. These are the things that we enjoyed together and talked about. What I learned from her that helped me, you see her saying in the film: “You have to hold on to your guns. You have to not be afraid to ask what you need.”
Throughout the process, I wouldn’t say that Adrienne spoke to me, but I used her core in my head to instruct me: “What are you going to do Adrienne?” So she was with me the whole time. On the way to prison, I remember saying to myself, “This is the only time you’re not with me.” You’d be like, “I have no idea what I’m going to tell you here. This is outside my driver’s room.”
Looking back, are you happy with the way the conversation with Diego Pelco went?
I had two goals for that confrontation. One was to find out what happened that day because he lied in his confession. He lied in his sentencing, and I felt indecisive and unsettled. I always knew I would reach out to him one day, and it wasn’t until about 10 years after Adrian’s death that I was ready to do so. I needed to be in a certain void. And that was also when I started envisioning the movie. So it was like, well, it’s going to be part of the movie. And [the second goal was] to humanize it. I suppose in his head is a picture of her, very limited, very brief, of a woman who panicked and called the police. I wanted him to see a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, colleague. I wanted him to see that picture, and see that life for the rest of his life. And honestly, I wanted to chase him for the rest of his life. I want him to know the life he took. With those two goals in mind, I know I accomplished that, and I think that’s evident in the movie.
In court, I Saied to him“I will spend the rest of my days hating you with every ounce of my being for what you’ve done.” Did it turn out to be true? Do you still carry that hate?
It’s all incompatible, right? I’ve always heard that you need to forgive that You are can go ahead. If anyone looks at my life over the past fifteen years, no one can say, “This guy is stuck.” She spun gold from Adrien’s death in ways that turned her death into something positive. I have been able to direct what I need to do positively in this world and for myself and my family. At the same time, I have no problem saying that my feelings remain the same. I lost the love of my life. I lost my daughter’s mother. My daughter lost her mother. And so while I’m not walking around the street kicking trash cans, which is, I guess, what people imagine when they think someone is still angry, I don’t understand how those feelings can go away. What this guy did was awful. She almost destroyed a family, and that’s what it is, you know?
Towards the end of the film, Paul Rudd—Shelly’s friend and founding board member of the Adrienne Shelly Foundation—provides an explanation of Adrienne’s influence that contradicts your stated goal of making her name public. He says, basically, that’s for people who attend Waitress On Broadway Who Don’t Know Adrienne, her work stands on its own and that’s the best thing an artist can hope for. Was this an inspiration to you?
This was a huge turn on for me because I obviously got into it saying, ‘What the hell is this? Nobody knows Adrian.’ Then I sat down with him, and I realized from the artist’s perspective the importance of a stand-alone work, he says, that’s really the greatest thing you can achieve as an artist. When I kind of separate my personal attachment to the story and take a comprehensive look at things, it’s as if that music has been a hit for four years. I mean, wow, this is unbelievable. I created it. Without it, there is no such Broadway rectangle. As for me, I would say that [interview] It was probably the only real transcendent moment for me in the movie, where it changed the way I look at some things so deeply.