- The director of “Leaving Neverland,” Dan Reed, opened up to Business Insider about the part of the movie that disturbs him the most.
- His four-hour, two-part HBO documentary focuses on two men who say Michael Jackson sexually abused them when they were boys.
- Jackson denied ever molesting children throughout his life and was acquitted of child-molestation charges in 2005.
“Leaving Neverland,” HBO’s four-hour, two-part documentary focusing on two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who say Michael Jackson sexually abused them when they were boys in the 1980s and 1990s, includes their extremely graphic descriptions of sexual encounters with Jackson. (Jackson denied molesting children during his life and was acquitted of child-molestation charges in 2005.)
Though the documentary’s director, Dan Reed, said it was hard to film the two talking about the sexual elements, what he found even more disturbing to lay out was what he called the “emotional manipulation” by Jackson. Robson and Safechuck said Jackson made them feel as if they were in a special relationship with him, only to be thrown aside later.
“He portrayed himself as this man who loved children and is a great benefactor of children, but he was the opposite,” Reed told Business Insider. “He was a man who hurt children and did dreadful things to them.”
Robson and Safechuck said Jackson would give them gifts and cash, talk on the phone with them (or in Robson’s case, fax), and pay travel expenses for them and their families to visit him, whether at his California home, Neverland Ranch, or on tour somewhere in the world.
“Michael did a wedding ceremony with James,” Reed said. “He felt he and Michael were going to be together forever. And Wade said he was ‘my dad, my lover, and my mentor.’ Jackson drew them into this fantasy that they were going to be a couple forever.”
But as we saw at the conclusion of part one of “Leaving Neverland” on Sunday, that was not the case. The movie showed that around the time of Jackson’s “Dangerous” album tour, two other kids became his favourites.
Robson and Safechuck said in the movie that they were suddenly shut out from the person who was their everything.
“You’re no longer special,” Safechuck said of how he felt after realising Jackson was focused on someone else.
Reed said that Jackson’s shutting out the boys was the toughest part of the movie for him to watch.
“To do that to a little child that you seduced, whose world you completely turned upside down – Jackson played God with these kids, and then he disappeared,” he said. “He left their lives in ruins, and that’s what I think we’re holding him to account for.”
Part 2 of “Leaving Neverland” airs on HBO on Monday. Both parts are now on HBO GO and HBO NOW.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.