Anthony Bourdain Doc Director Defends Decision to Not Interview Asia Argento: 'People Can Disagree'
Matthew Eisman/Getty Anthony Bourdain and Asia Argento
A new documentary about beloved icon Anthony Bourdain is missing the voice of an important figure from his life before his unexpected death: his girlfriend Asia Argento.
Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain director Morgan Neville revealed why he decided against interviewing Argento, 45, for the film, which made its theatrical debut on Friday.
Bourdain and Argento were dating before his death on June 8, 2018. Argento faced backlash following the chef's death when images surfaced of her getting close to a journalist friend, which were taken before Bourdain died.
"We debated it for months," Neville told Vulture of possibly interviewing Argento. "I just felt like if I crack that door open, I really better be damn sure it's what I want. Because it would have been painful for a lot of people, honestly, if I had interviewed her. So I just said—and believe me, we talked and talked about it—is this really what I want?"
Neville said he thought about how he'd handle adding Argento's voice in the film, but that "it became this kind of narrative quicksand."
"It just became this thing that made me feel like I was sinking into this rabbit hole of she said, they said, and it just was not the film I wanted to make," Neville continued. "I just want to know why he was who he was and felt like the balance of the film would have tipped over if I had put her in it."
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"Again, we played with edits of trying to go deeper into the story and looking at everything she had said. And every time I even screened it for people in longer versions, all I got were people wanting to go down this rabbit hole of more and more about their relationship in the last year of his life," Neville added. "I felt like I'm trying to make a psychological portrait of a person's entire life. And I just didn't want to be capsized by it. So I made the call. People can disagree."
Courtesy of CNN/Focus Features Anthony Bourdain in the documentary 'Roadrunner'
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Months after Bourdain died, Argento tearfully opened up about the moment she found out her boyfriend had died and discussed intimate details of their relationship while chatting with DailyMailTV.
"People say I murdered him. They say I killed him," she said at the time. "People need to think that he killed himself for something like this? He had cheated on me too. It wasn't a problem for us. He was a man who traveled 265 days a year. When we saw each other we took really great pleasure in each other's company. But we are not children. We are grown-ups."
Neville also spoke about the decision to omit Argento from his film to Indiewire, saying, "We'd been editing for a long time and part of it is that once you start getting into revelations that came out after he died—that he was supporting lawsuits, things like that—once you start to crack the door open on that, it just becomes insanely complicated."
The Oscar-winning director said the filmmakers were "pretty deep" into filming and editing the movie when they decided against including Argento.
Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic Asia Argento and Anthony Bourdain
"There were so many things in their story that the moment you crack it open… believe me, early on in editing, I started getting into more of that, and when I'd show it to people, all I would get is 10 more questions," Neville said. "It just made the film spiral."
Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain earned $1.9 million in the U.S. in its opening weekend—the strongest opening for a documentary this year.
The beloved chef died by suicide in 2018, at age 61 while in France filming an episode of his hit CNN show, Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, with fellow chef Eric Ripert. Roadrunner touches on his mental health struggles after rising to fame following his 1999 New Yorker essay "Don't Eat Before Reading This."
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Before Bourdain was found dead by suicide in June, the chef supported Argento both creatively and personally. The pair collaborated on his hit CNN show Parts Unknown, having met on the set of an episode set in her native Rome in 2016.
"She's a really accomplished director and writer along with being a longtime actress and a real sponge for culture, music, literature," Bourdain told PEOPLE in 2017. "She's enormously helpful and inspiring."
In June, Argento shared a series of photographs and videos of the chef on Instagram, writing, "Celebrating the most incredible man I have ever met."
"Missing you every day. Cherishing each moment we shared in our life together," she continued. "I feel your presence and your strength."
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"You shine so bright within me," added Argento. "I love you my A. Happy birthday ❤️."
Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain is now playing in theaters. It will later be broadcast on CNN and stream on HBO Max.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.