A true-crime tale inspires Richard Linklater's cheerful new black comedy
Linklater calls Bernie "my little ambiguous love letter" to East Texas, where he grew up. "It's a place you get out of if you feel at all different, like I did in moving to Austin," he says.
Returning homeward to shoot the film, he found locals "suspicious — they think they're going to be portrayed as hicks — but still very friendly and open. They all had opinions." He says the case illustrates "how arbitrary our justice system is," and that once the trial was moved Tiede was prosecuted "for his otherness — [the D.A. describing] him flying first class on vacations to jurors who've never been on a plane."
Wild rumors still swirl in Carthage, from alleged sex tapes (of Tiede and gentlemen friends) to Nugent family members' belief that Bernie "still has [stolen] millions stashed in Swiss bank accounts." Linklater scoffs at such unsubstantiated tales — after all, the truth on record is already quite satisfyingly strange enough. 2
BERNIE opens Fri/18 in Bay Area theaters.