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“Based on a True Story” Movie Subjects: Where Are They Now?

It’s a big week for murderers whose stories became movies — both Bernie Tiede (played by Jack Black in Richard Linklater’s Bernie) and Michael Alig (played by Macaulay Culkin in Party Monster) are now free men, reminding us that when films are based on true stories, the lives that inspired them continue after the credits roll. Here’s a look at what became of Tiede and Alig, and several other real people who became Hollywood fodder.

Jack Black in "Bernie"

Bernie Tiede (Bernie)

Of all the “where are they now”s we’ve come across, this is certainly the strangest — and the one most directly tied to Hollywood interpretation (and intervention). Beloved Texas funeral director Bernie Tiede befriended, and was eventually employed by, rich widow Marjorie Nugent. But when their relationship went sour, he shot and killed her, hiding her body and continuing to spend her money. His story caught the attention of Texas Monthly’s Skip Hollander, and Hollander’s account in turn caught the attention of Dazed and Confused director Richard Linklater, who adapted it into the 2011 film Bernie. And that film caught the attention of attorney Jodi Cole, who investigated the case further, discovered heretofore unmentioned indications of sexual abuse in Tiede’s childhood, and caused prosecutors to re-examine their case and recommend reducing Tiede’s life sentence to time served. And as part of his release, director Linklater has promised that he will provide accommodations to Tiede — whom he befriended while making the film — in his garage apartment in Austin. And truth is stranger than fiction, etc., etc.

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