Monster - Reel Face

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Monster (2003)
Starring Charlize Theron, Christina Ricci, Bruce Dern
based on the true story of Florida serial killer Aileen Wuornos
Reel Face: Real Face:
Charlize Theron Charlize Theron
August 7, 1975
Benoni, South Africa
Aileen Wuornos Aileen 'Lee' Carol Wuornos
February 29, 1956 as Aileen Carol Pittman
Birthplace: Rochester, Michigan, USA
Died: October 9, 2002 - execution by lethal injection

"I'm one who seriously hates human life and would kill again. So what's the point! Let's move on. I am asking here then for the Florida Supreme Court to step in and 'Do Something.'" - Aileen Wuornos (in a letter to the Florida Supreme Court pleading for execution, June 2001)

Questioning the Story:

Is Aileen Wuornos really considered to be the first female serial killer?
No. Although the media hyped Aileen Wuornos as the first female serial killer, in reality women have been murdering just as long as men. There methods are usually somewhat different, often preferring poison to a gun. This may be why Aileen was wrongly touted as 'the first female serial killer.' She killed her victims by way of a gun instead of the stereotypical devices that women serial killers have often used in the past.

Genene JonesFor example, in 1981 the pediatric department of the Bexar County Hospital in San Antonio, Texas watched as many as twenty-five infants die due to cardiac arrest or runaway bleeding. The hospital soon discovered that most of the deaths occurred while the infants were in the care of licensed vocational nurse Genene Jones (right). After as many as forty-two baby deaths ended up under investigation, the grand jury returned indictments against Jones. She was charged with murder after the discovery of excess drugs in one patient's body. A second trial found her guilty of administering an overdose of the blood thinning drug heparin to a different child. This 1984 trial decision caused hospitals across Texas to begin shredding records of her employment. Why did she do it? Possibly to be seen as the hero when she was able to save some of the children.

How many murders did Aileen Wuornos really commit?
Aileen admitted to killing seven men, including a missionary. She was only convicted of killing six men because the missionary's body was never found. In the film Monster, this missing seventh man is very similar to the last man that Aileen (Charlize Theron) murders.

Why did Aileen Wuornos commit the murders?
Aileen Wuornos - Elementary SchoolAbandoned by her teenage mother, Aileen was left in the care of her grandparents when she was just a toddler. Her father, whom she never met, hanged himself in a Kansas prison. He had been serving a life sentence for raping a 7-year-old girl. Aileen claimed to have been sexually abused by her grandfather and raped when she was 13. She had her first child when she was 14, a baby boy, which she put up for adoption. Her grandmother died soon after the baby's birth. Aileen subsequently dropped out of school, left home, and became a prostitute. In the years that followed, Aileen's grandfather committed suicide and her brother Keith died of cancer. By no means should her childhood be a justification for her actions, but it definitely could have left her with severe emotional scars. Murdering, which she claimed with her first victim was an act of self-defense, was also a way for her to make money to support herself and her girlfriend/friend Tyria Moore, who was 24 when they met at a gay bar in Daytona. (Lesbian Life)

Was Aileen Wuornos ever married?
Yes. Shortly after arriving in Florida, Aileen married an elderly man named Lewis Fell, who earned a substantial income from railroad stocks. Fell took out a restraining order on Aileen after she was arrested back home in Michigan for hurling a cue ball at a bartender's head. The marriage was subsequently annulled after Lewis Fell claimed that Aileen had squandered his money and would beat him with his cane whenever she wanted more cash.

Is there any evidence that Aileen's first murder was an act of self-defense?
Richard MalloryFor some time this remained uncertain. With nothing to support her claims, Aileen was convicted of killing Richard Mallory (right, click to enlarge) in January of 1992. In November of that year, Dateline NBC reporter Michele Gillens discovered that Richard Mallory had served 10 years for violent rape in another state. Aileen was never given a re-trial. (Lesbian Life)

While on death row was Aileen really legally adopted?
Yes. Although it's not shown in the film, while on death row Aileen was befriended and legally adopted by Arlene Pralle, who claimed to have received her orders to do so from God.

Did Aileen Wuornos really wish to be put to death?

Yes. Aileen wrote to Florida's seven Supreme Court Justices on two different occasions requesting that they cancel her pending appeals. Regarding her guilt and preference for the setting of an execution date, she stated, "While I say, fine and dandy, so be it, and if you'd like I'll be more than happy to take a polygraph, too, just so matters are that much more justified before proceeding."

What was the meaning behind Aileen's strange last words?
In all of my research, it seems that no one is really sure of the meaning behind Aileen Wuornos' last worlds where she said, "I'd just like to say I'm sailing with the Rock and I'll be back like Independence Day with Jesus, June 6, like the movie, big mothership and all. I'll be back." I don't want to speculate, so I'll leave it up to you to figure out a meaning.

How was Aileen Wuornos executed?
Aileen Wuornos was executed by lethal injection on October 9, 2002 at Florida State Prison.

How did Monster director Patty Jenkins obtain her material for the film?
Making her major motion picture filmmaking debut, director Patty Jenkins obtained a lot of her research material for the film by exchanging letters with the real Aileen Wuornos before Wuornos' 2002 execution. In a CNN interview Jenkins said that she also used, "Court documents ... lots of footage of her interviews, all of the transcripts and depositions from those trials. There have been a ton of books written about them. And talking to [Aileen]." -CNN

Is it true that actress and star Charlize Theron was the producer of the film Monster?
Yes. Charlize Theron was in fact the producer of the film Monster. In the CNN interview, director Patty Jenkins said the following about Theron's additional role on the set, "It was great. She really signed on as producer because I think that she knew, as did I, that there is a long hard road for a movie like this. And [the movie] can get pushed and pulled in all kinds of different directions. So instead of being this ... overlord as producer ... she really just put herself in a position where she could really defend what it was we wanted to do. And fight for it." -CNN

How concerned were the filmmakers with realistically depicting the true story?
Speaking about the realistic details of the film, director Patty Jenkins said, "
All those details in the film were meticulously worked on. I am really obsessive about those details and so is Charlize. I can't stand characters with contradictory information. And that's the reason why, hopefully, there's the level of reality there -- because we made that reality." -CNN

Is it true that the filmmakers actually shot in the same bar that the real Aileen Wuornos used to visit?
The Last ResortYes. Wanting to pay particular attention to the level of detail in the film, the filmmakers went to Port Orange, Florida to film at The Last Resort (right), a local bar there that the real Aileen Wuornos used to frequent regularly. The bar's owner, Al Bulling, said of Charlize Theron, "Every minute she was in this bar she was in character. Everything she did - from lighting cigarettes to laughing - was on target ...and how she acted, it was beyond excellent." Bulling wasted no time in marketing the bar's notorious visitor, selling T-shirts that declare The Last Resort as the "world famous home of ice cold beer and killer women." You can also buy bottles of Wuornos' favorite hot sauce that Bulling renamed "Crazed Killer Hot Sauce." The real Al Bulling is seen briefly in the film as a bartender who tells a drunk Theron-as-Wuornos that she can't run a tab for more beer. She begs "Al will give me credit," and he gives her another beer. On a side note, Bulling said that he can remember Wuornos asking for a ride home at times, but that she never propositioned anyone in the bar. After Aileen Wuornos' 1991 arrest made the news, three women showed up at the bar with photos to find out if their missing husbands had ever been seen in the bar with Aileen.

Have any other movies been made about Aileen Wuornos?
Jean SmartYes. In addition to Monster, there have been several films and television programs about Aileen Wuornos. Nick Broomfield directed two documentaries, Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer (1992) and Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer (2003). In 1992, the made-for-television movie Overkill: The Aileen Wuornos Story aired, starring Jean Smart (Bringing Down the House, 2003). Actress Jean Smart is pictured at right. Aileen Wuornos has also been featured on 60 Minutes, A&E, and Court TV.

With Aileen Wuornos so accurately portrayed by Charlize Theron, just how accurate was Christina Ricci's depiction of Wuornos' friend/lover?
Not very accurate, at least physically. To begin with, Wuornos' companion did not go by the name Selby. Her name was Tyria Moore and she was a strawberry-redhead. This lack of resemblance was likely intentional for legal reasons. Tyria Moore is still alive and could sue the filmmakers.

How did Charlize Theron physically transform herself for the role of Aileen Wuornos?
Actress Charlize Theron underwent quite a drastic transformation to play the part of serial killer Aileen Wuornos. Theron - who began her career as a model in her native South Africa before coming to the U.S. as a ballerina with the Joffrey Ballet - packed on between twenty-five and thirty pounds for the role. Makeup artist Tony G put on her makeup. This included two pairs of teeth, sculpted by Art Sakamoto, which she had to learn to speak with. Gelatin weighted down her eyelids, which caused them to sag, making her look tired. Other than her teeth, no prosthetics were used, just layers of paints.

Charlize Theron Transformation
click to enlarge
Courtesy of

Wuornos' Letters and other Documents:
Below you can read two letters written by Aileen Wuornos, both to the Florida Supreme Court requesting for the dismissal of her appeals. They express her wish that an execution date be set. Her cursive is a little hard to read here at times, but it's still legible. The third document is the death warrant issued by Florida Governor Jeb Bush, which accommodates Wuornos' preference for execution.

Letter to the Court (Filed 4-26-2001) [pdf]
Letter to the Court (Filed 6-11-2001) [pdf]
Death Warrant (Filed 9-05-2002) [pdf]

Link to Learn More:
Monster/ Kevin Lang's Review
Aileen Wuornos at
More Briefs and Documents from Aileen Wuornos' Case

Watch the Monster Movie Trailer:

Monster movie trailer

Message Board (Discuss the Film):