Filmmaker Who Accused Husband of Poisoning Her Pens Autobiographical Novel
Galt Niederhoffer talks about her very public trip through “a deeply misogynist legal system” as well as how 'The Sixth Sense' and 'Gaslight' influenced her book 'Poison,' which has been optioned by Ben Silverman’s Propagate.
Galt Niederhoffer had a thriving film career with credits including 2010 films The Romantics (directing) and The Kids Are All Right (producing). But in 2015, she accused ex Jonathan Gordon (a former in-house counsel at Barry Diller’s IAC) of poisoning her. A nasty custody battle for their son ensued, with NYC tabloids covering every detail (and Michelle Williams testifying on Niederhoffer’s behalf). Now 41, the daughter of famed investor Victor Niederhoffer has published her fourth novel, Poison (St. Martin’s Press), optioned for TV by Ben Silverman’s Propagate Content. The plot echoes the Hollywood classic Gaslight. Or perhaps Niederhoffer’s own life: The protagonist believes her husband is poisoning her. The mom of three (she has two older kids with director Jim Strouse), who’s at work on a sequel, spoke exclusively to THR about the backstory.
How autobiographical is Poison?
All fiction is an inextricable tangle of observations and imagination. But I built the story using ambiguity — in this case ambiguity about the protagonist’s sanity and the husband’s crime — to power suspense. I thought a lot about The Sixth Sense and Gaslight. It was a challenge to involve and inculpate the reader in the act of doubting, second-guessing, even blaming the victim. I wanted the reader to finish the book understanding how this kind of thing could happen to anyone.
What does your real-life story say about women’s power in society?
I lost a lot of jobs and friends due to the public and sensationalized coverage of my case, as well as the false and defamatory claims of those involved. I was working with a hedge fund at the time, doing large indie financing deals, and my ex called them and trashed me. If this can happen to a privileged professional woman, you’d better believe it’s 10 times worse for women who lack resources to fight a deeply misogynist legal system
What’s next for you in terms of film producing/directing?
I’m developing a series based on Sam Lipsyte’s book The Ask. And I’m an executive producer on a film called The Seagull, based on the Chekhov play, directed by Michael Mayer
This story first appeared in the Dec. 18 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.