Roman Polanski can make 1,000 more films as good as Chinatown and Rosemary’s Baby, but for many Americans, he remains the flamboyant Hollywood director who drugged and had sex with a 13-year-old girl and then fled the country before justice could be served. The facts, of course, are much more complicated than that, and director Marina Zenovich picked at the scabs of the decades-old scandal for her Emmy-winning 2008 documentary, Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired.
But though Zenovich had investigated why Polanski felt compelled to leave the country in 1978 before he could be shackled with a potentially harsh jail sentence, her high-profile documentary may have had an adverse impact on Polanski’s current situation. “It kind of fanned the flames,” says Zenovich. “This case just seems to set everyone off.”
Shortly after Zenovich accepted her Emmys in September of 2009, Polanski was arrested in Switzerland and the U.S. began extradition proceedings. He was imprisoned for 10 months before Swiss authorities released him and said it would not hand him over to the American legal system. Zenovich, who’d already been working on a short epilogue, chronicling Polanski’s legal team’s attempt to clear his name, saw her planned postscript turn into an “international thriller,” that ultimately became Roman Polanski: Odd Man Out.
In the new documentary, which becomes available On-Demand March 26 and will air on Showtime this fall, Zenovich visited Samantha Geimer, the now-grown woman who had that fateful counter with Polanski when she was 13, at her Hawaii home. “I was able to go and see her where she kind of escaped to,” says Zenovich. “My idea was that he was in exile in France [all these years], and she was in exile in Hawaii.”
Geimer’s mother, Susan Gailey, an actress herself who many blamed for the conditions that led to the 1977 incident, wasn’t part of the first documentary, but she agreed to speak on-camera for Odd Man Out. In an exclusive video clip, Gailey gets right to the heart of why the Polanski case remains such an infuriating and polarizing political obsession. “When Samantha called, she said, ‘Mom, Polanski was arrested,’ and now that I’m reminded, I said, ‘What did he do?’” says Gailey. “I don’t understand this. I mean, I don’t understand why this is back.”
Watch the exclusive clip and the movie’s trailer below.