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Thursday February 22, 2024

Who is Mary Kay Letourneau? Woman behind inspiration for 'May December'

'May December', starring Natalie Portman, Julianne Moore premiered on Netflix earlier this month

December 05, 2023
May December stars Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore
May December stars Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore

May December has been making roar among critics and audience since its release on Netflix on Dec. 1.

The romance drama film stars the likes of Natalie Portman, Julianne Moore, and Charles Melton.

Portman plays the role of an actress known as Elizabeth, who travels to Georgia to research her upcoming role in a film, based on the love story of married couple Gracie Atherton-Yoo and Joe Yoo, played by Moore and Melton respectively.

Their story was of particular interest, owing to the troubling nature of their relationship; Gracie, then-36, began an illegal affair with Joe, who was only 13 at the time.

For the unversed, the unsettling relationship isn’t unprecedented; it is loosely based on true events in Washington state from the 1990s.

Is May December based on a true story?

While it has been marketed as a work of fiction, the Natalie Portman-starrer does take notes from the story of the late Mary Kay Letourneau, a 34-year-old elementary school teacher, who was arrested for engaging in an illegal relationship with a 13-year-old student, Vili Fualaau, in 1997.

The tryst was discovered by Letourneau’s husband, who later reported it to the law enforcement authorities. Letourneau was convicted on two counts of child rape in 1997.

She also welcomed two daughters, whom she shared with Fualaau while she was in prison.

After serving her time for seven years, Letourneau was released and the twosome ended up getting married in 2005.

The couple legally separated in 2017, as per the Washington Post, and their divorce was finalised two years later.

In 2020, the mother of six died from stage 4 colon cancer at age 58.