I spoke with Wade Robson, James Safechuck, and filmmaker Dan Reed about how and why they made #LeavingNeverland, and how that process illuminated their feelings about Michael Jackson, and themselves. https://t.co/MARcQPPwvN— Adam B. Vary (@adambvary) March 3, 2019
- James on whether or not doing the documentary was healing for him: “I think Wade found it cathartic. I did not. It was not healing for me.”
- James on how his mom became a part of the documentary: Safechuck ruled out asking his mother, Stephanie, directly to participate, because he knew she would say yes to anything he asked. “She, at this point, would do anything for me,” he said. “So I tried to have it be as much of her decision as possible.” So he invited his mom over to his house while Reed was there, and let the filmmaker make his case on his own. “Dan has a way,” he said, laughing. “Once they built their own relationship, she was like, ‘OK, I get what he’s trying to do.’”
- Wade on his mixed feelings about his mom appearing in the documentary: “She was going to receive a certain amount of negative pushback and, you know, blame for what happened. Because I felt that towards her, as well, you know? My mother was really suspicious of Dan and this film. There’s a certain amount of, uh, denial in her life. I didn’t know to what degree she had processed everything that really has happened to me, and had happened to our family. So I didn’t know to what degree she’d be able to speak in a clear way about it all. But then I also had to realize, ‘You know what? Wherever she’s at, that’s the truth.’”
- Wade's mother has still not heard the details of his abuse and had Dan skip over the parts in the documentary because she can't handle it and said it would give her nightmares. Wade said this about it: “No. She, uh, she had Dan skip over the parts about the abuse. That’s a little challenging for me. It’s like, come on, mom, you’ve gotta face this whole thing.”
- In the documentary, Wade's mom, Joy Robson, spoke about how Wade told her he didn't want to want to testify in the 2005 trial and didn't want her to testify either because he wanted nothing to do with it. Joy asked him now as an adult when Wade was 21 if Michael ever abused him. Wade looked her in the eye and told her no. Joy told him that he should testify because Michael was his friend, Wade and Malcaulay Culkin were the only two people in the world who could save him, and Michael wouldn't survive in prison.
- Wade revealed his father who committed suicide in 2002 was also a survivor of child sexual abuse: “I’ve learned in the last few years that he was also sexually abused, as a kid,” he said. “I never knew that when he was alive.” Robson shifted again. He brought up the family’s first trip to Jackson’s Neverland Ranch when he says the abuse began. “I learned this within the last, you know, whatever, five or six years,” he said. “My mother told me that my father said to my mother when he got on the plane to go back to Australia, ‘Let’s not tell everyone that Wade was sleeping in the room with Michael. People wouldn’t understand.’” Safechuck’s already wide eyes went wider. “What to make of that?” he said. Robson shook his head. “I don’t know what to do with that.”
- Wade on the Jackson estate: “What the estate and the Jacksons are trying to do — with obviously no boundaries and no human limit in what they’ll do to protect the image [of] Michael Jackson, the cash cow — is maybe a slightly heightened example of what so many survivors go through. In so many survivors’ cases, they’re not believed. They’re discredited, they’re shamed, by the perpetrator or people surrounding the perpetrator. And they’re revictimized over and over again. This is what the estate and the Jacksons are doing. They’re doing it to me, they’re doing it to James, but more importantly, they’re doing it to all survivors by these actions that they’re taking. It’s a nasty attempt, clutching at straws, to discredit something that they know is true. They’ve been hiding it and paying people off and shaming victims and terrifying victims of Michael’s for years. The thing is, I’m not going anywhere, James is not going anywhere. No matter what happens, I will never be silent again.”
Full "After Neverland" Oprah special interview
Regarding that residual grief, Winfrey asked if Robson and Safechuck forgave themselves; Robson says that he has, while Safechuck said, “I still struggle.” They talked about their difficulties forgiving their mothers, both saying that they’re on the path to doing so.
Winfrey asked if they’ve forgiven Michael Jackson. Robson said, “Also on the path.” Safechuck said, “You know what’s strange? I felt guilt this weekend—like I let him down. It’s still there. That shadow’s still there.” (x)
CBS This Morning Interview with Gayle King
Wade on whether he would have came forward if Michael was still alive: "It's hard to speculate as to what would be the situation if Michael was still alive. I guess if I could speculate, if Michael was still alive and all the rest of the details of my life were the same — meaning I became a father, right? And I went through the same process that I did of this realization and going through the healing process, my belief is that we'd still be doing this. Of course, some details may be different."
James on whether he would have came forward if Michael was still alive: "I don't know. Would I have taken this to my grave? I certainly planned on doing that. I had no expectations of ever telling anyone. If he was still alive, maybe I would have taken it to my grave."
Safechuck: It’s still really hard for me. And I don’t think a day goes by where I don’t hear a song. You go out to have a drink with your friend, you’re trying to relax and let everything go, and he’ll come on. Every time. It’s hard. It gets easier, but it’s still hard.
Robson: In the beginning, I was extremely sensitive to it. I would be at a lunch or a dinner with my wife, my child, and something would come on, and it would take over my whole body and I would have to leave the place. It’s rarely that physically intense now, unless I’m in a place for children, a playground, an inside gym. In those types of situations, a Michael song will come on and it’s a place that is supposed to protect children. That’s really difficult.
Safechuck: You know what is a hard one for me: my kids love Weird Al [Yankovic] and they love [the “Bad” parody] “Fat.” They love it! And I’m like, God, do I take this away from my kids?
Robson: My son came home from school one day, a few years ago, and he said, check out this thing my friend taught me: and he did some version of the Moonwalk. It was extremely triggering to me but then, as a parent, I’m trying to stop myself, because I don’t want to put my issues on him. But Michael is everywhere. It’s challenging.