Biopics can often be a source of contention because not everyone will agree on the way certain iconic figures are portrayed; recently, biographical projects like Genius: Aretha, House of Gucci, and the forthcoming Lucille Ball film have come under fire for not coming close enough to the full scope of the legends’ true stories. New Netflix limited series Halston is facing a similar controversy from the family of the late designer, who are claiming that Ryan Murphy’s show is little more than fiction.
Halston is the latest addition to the Ryan Murphy Cinematic Universe, and it will follow the meteoric rise and fall of famed American fashion designer Halston (real name Roy Halston Frowick). Ewan McGregor stars as the late fashion maverick, reportedly putting on such a convincing performance that even Halston’s good friend Tom Ford was impressed by the portrayal.
Unfortunately, the designer’s family doesn’t feel the same way. Just days before the series premieres on Netflix, Halston’s relatives are voicing their disapproval of the new project. To them, Halston doesn’t accurately reflect the life or legacy of the late fashionista because it’s so sensationalised.
Halston’s niece Lesley Frowick — who also happens to be in charge of his archives and has worked on previous documentaries about her uncle — blasted the series in a new statement. According to her statement, Netflix didn't even consult with the family at any point of production, leading to what she believes is an "inaccurate, fictionalised account.”
“The Halston Archives remains the only definitive and comprehensive source on the man and his legacy as the personally appointed custodian of his private papers and effects,” read Frowick's official statement.
Brook Drummond, who is also related to Halston, decried the project as a “Real Housewives” take on the designer’s life in a 7th May Facebook post. (Harsh.)
“His impact was immeasurable and I hope people remember him that way and hold him up instead of revelling in sensationalised fiction about his life,” she said.
This isn’t even the only controversy following Halston; McGregor’s casting was placed under fire after his name was attached to the lead role. Although Murphy claims that the Scottish actor was the “only choice” for Halston, it’s hard to believe that there was no one else who could embody Halston, a queer icon, with the same level of nuance and care. Casting McGregor, a Hollywood veteran and straight man, to bring this story to life rather than a different actor who actually identifies as gay feels...like the wrong choice — especially as conversations about queer representation continue within the television and film space.
Who knows? Murphy could very well have another hit on its hands once the show premieres on 14th May. But even if the show is a success with the streamer's users, it probably won't ever get the approval from the people who knew Halston the best.