Al Pacino’s portrayal of Phil Spector in the upcoming HBO biopic about the famed producer is “cheesy,” says Spector’s wife, but she thinks the film could help sway public opinion about her husband’s murder conviction. Rachelle Spector says her husband was convicted more for political reasons than any solid evidence tying him to the 2003 shooting of Lana Clarkson.
“They didn’t get O.J. Simpson, they didn’t get Michael Jackson and they didn’t get Robert Blake, so my husband is it,” Rachelle Spector tells Rolling Stone.
Pacino stars as Spector and Helen Mirren plays his defense attorney Linda Kenney Baden in Phil Spector, which will premiere on Sunday on HBO. The network calls the movie an “exploration of the client-attorney relationship” during Spector’s trials for the murder of Clarkson, who was found dead of a gunshot wound in the songwriter and producer’s house in Alhambra, California, in February 2003. After his first trial resulted in a hung jury in 2007, Spector was found guilty of second-degree murder in a second trial in 2009.
Now 73, Spector is serving a sentence of 19 years to life in a California prison while he and his wife, whom he married in 2006, pursue appeals. Last year, the Supreme Court declined to review the conviction.
Now Rachelle Spector thinks the HBO movie could work in their favor. “Regardless of how I feel about the cheesy portrayal of my husband and the gun-waving, the yelling and the crazy stuff, what they did get right was the forensic evidence that could set my husband free,” adds Rachelle Spector, who released the single “P.S. I Love You” as a tribute to her husband this week – coincidental timing, she says.
The forensic evidence in question involves what Rachelle Spector says are discrepancies in splatter patterns and gun powder residue from the shooting. They could suggest that Spector wasn’t involved in what he described then as an “accidental suicide,” even if he was there at the time. Phil Spector director David Mamet has expressed similar sentiments, telling Financial Times in 2011 that it’s possible that Spector is innocent.
“They should have never sent him away. Whether he did it or not, we’ll never know,” Mamet said, “but if he’d just been a regular citizen, they never would have indicted him.”
Rachelle Spector dismisses various long-standing accounts of Spector’s volatile behavior as “hearsay” that has been overblown over the years. She said the Spector she knows is witty and intelligent, not the raving nut that Pacino evokes in the movie. (She saw the film after sneaking into a premiere in Los Angeles, she says.)
“Al Pacino does not depict my husband accurately,” she says. “If they had wanted to do that, they would have actually met the man himself. They would have wanted to know his voice inflections, his mannerisms, even his thought process when he was working in the studio when he was working with those musicians, or what he was going through mentally or emotionally when the trials were happening. They had the opportunity to make an amazing film, what with the actors and the money involved.”
A group of Clarkson supporters aren’t happy with the film for different reasons: they say the movie does the late actress a disservice by implying that she killed herself because she was depressed over turning 40. Led by Clarkson’s former publicist Edward Lozzi, protestors picketed a screening of the movie last week. The group had initially tried to stop the movie from being made, and now are working to prevent Phil Spector from receiving any Emmys.