"The Jinx": Robert Durst's infamous "confession" did not happen the way viewers heard it

The burp-adjacent quote that the series presented as a bombshell is now under scrutiny as Durst faces trial

Published April 24, 2019 2:50PM (EDT)

Robert Durst          (HBO)
Robert Durst (HBO)

This article originally appeared on IndieWire.

The Jinx” was well on its way to becoming one of HBO’s most noteworthy programs even before its shocking finale. The six-episode documentary series, profiling eccentric real estate magnate Robert Durst, ended with an apparent off-camera admission of guilt, leading many viewers to assume that he’d admitted to the murders that he’s been accused of over the course of several decades.

Now, as Durst prepares to face a criminal trial on first-degree murder charges in a California court, his lawyers are attempting to cast doubt on the way the show presented its interviews. A transcript submitted by the defense team shows that Durst’s infamous quote — “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.” — was actually pieced together, separated by six sentences of additional context.

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The New York Times has an excerpt from that portion of the fateful interview, with the first part of the “confession” coming after Durst had said, “He was right. I was wrong. The burping. I’m having difficulty with the question.” The “he” that Durst refers to is presumably “The Jinx” director Andrew Jarecki, who had produced and directed “All Good Things,” a dramatized version of Durst’s life and alleged crimes in 2010. After a screening of the film, Durst reached out to Jarecki, which kickstarted what became the HBO project.

Three years elapsed from the time that Durst last sat for an in-person, on-camera interview with Jarecki to the March 2015 airing of the series finale. Durst was taken into custody the night before the last episode aired. On the basis of the editing decisions surrounding the now-notorious bathroom audio, Durst’s defense team is reportedly seeking to ensure that none of the evidence compiled by the team behind “The Jinx” can be deemed admissible in the upcoming proceedings.

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Since “The Jinx,” Jarecki has gone on to direct the Netflix series “Bumping Mics with Jeff Ross & Dave Attell.” Additional series producers Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-Pontier continued their documentary efforts and created the Gimlet series “Crimetown,” which has now produced two seasons covering the changing criminal cultures of both Providence, Rhode Island and Detroit.

IndieWire has reached out to HBO for comment about this development.

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By Steve Greene

Steve Greene is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. Across his decade-long tenure at IndieWire, Steve was a member of both the film and TV staffs. During and after his time there, he also covered festivals up and down the West Coast, from Vancouver to Palm Springs. He has also served on juries for SeriesFest, ShortFest, Fine Cut, and the IDA Documentary Awards.

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