Unreleased Walken-Wagner Film Being Shopped; Director Thinks Natalie Wood's Death Was 'Accident'
The director of the only film to ever star Natalie Wood's Brainstorm co-star Christopher Walken and her husband, Robert Wagner, has gone on record with his belief that neither man was involved with her death in 1981. Tony Vitale also happens to be shopping the film, Life's a Beach, to distributors.
Walken and Wagner -- both of whom were on the yacht Splendour when the actress drowned off Southern California's Santa Catalina island 30 years ago -- don't share any scenes together in the romantic comedy, which the helmer says he planned purposely. He told Fishbowl LA, "We were sensitive to that going in."
Vitale says he's skeptical of any theory linking the actors to Wood's death, especially if it has to do with Dennis Davern, the boat captain who now says he lied to the original investigators about the case, "Having worked with both Wagner and Walken, and getting a sense of them, I do feel that whatever happened was an accident. I think this captain is trying to take advantage of an anniversary moment and is stirring up a lot of crap… Just looking for an angle."
Vitale believes the actress' death was "an unfortunate accident" that is a risk of boating. He said, "We shot this movie down on the [Turks and Caicos] island, and there was that sense of being around water again. Moving a lot people on and off boats, which happens in the movies, it’s very easy to see how someone can slip off a boat. Especially if they did have too much to drink, and the panic that ensues.
"From the accounts that I have read online, I believe it was an unfortunate accident."
The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department announced Nov. 17 that it had reopened the investigation into Wood's death after receiving additional information about her drowning.
A spokesperson for Wagner said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter that the Wagner family fully supports "the efforts of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department and trust they will evaluate whether any new information relating to the death of Natalie Wood Wagner is valid and that it comes from a credible source or sources other than those simply trying to profit from the 30-year anniversary of her tragic death."
Meanwhile, Walken hired Mathew Rosengart, a former federal prosecutor turned litigation specialist, to advise him in the inquiry.
Life's a Beach does not currently have a U.S. distributor, but Vitale says "Canadian rights were recently sold" for the picture and that he's hoping a worldwide deal "will be done by the end of the year."