ROCCA: The trove of footage that Margaux shot, 43 hours? Had it ever been seen before? Who had it? Can you describe that?
KOPPLE: We went to Ketchum, Idaho, and our sound person, by the name of Alan Barker, said, "You know, I was here in 1983 and '84 and I was filming them. Margaux was doing a film." And I said, "Really? Can you give me the names of all the people who might have footage?" And he did. One or two led us to this place called the WPA in Minnesota that was holding all the material. And when we got in touch with them, they said, "Nobody has ever asked us for this. [We don't] know what we have." And I said, "We'll take it all to look at."
And so every day, a different FedEx package would come. And in it would be more and more of this footage. And for us it was like Christmas. I never told Mariel about it because I didn't want her and my relationship [with her] to be affected by it. She would talk about the kitchen where her mother sat and she put her legs up on the sink, and she didn't know that that was really true or it was memory. But she didn't totally remember it.
ROCCA: Oh, you didn't want Mariel know that you would have corroborating evidence or something that might refute it?
KOPPLE: Well, or -- no, it was just that I wasn't looking at it like that, or to know that her kitchen was yellow and robin's egg blue or something like that. And also to see so insightfully who her parents were at that time.
I had also gotten an audio track of Margaux taped maybe a year before she died -- somebody interviewing her for a book. So I had all these different elements to make this a much more complex story.
[Margaux] was out there. She talked about everything. I mean, in the film, she talked about being so lonely and nobody coming to see her. She had to have a hooker come and dance on the table and then stop and then put her arms around her just so she could feel love and to get her pain out there.
ROCCA: Well, she's sobbing, basically.
KOPPLE: Yeah. While she was sobbing. So she just told some of the most incredibly raw stories about her life unfolding. I mean, it just blew me away listening. And her voice sounded as if it was an old soul talking.
But what I wanted to say, too, about Mariel being filmed, at the very beginning when she came in, she looked at the film and got emotional 'cause she thought it was all going to be a film about her. And then suddenly she saw all of the material that I had about Margaux, and her whole face lit up. And she was moved, she was just mesmerized by all this material she didn't know existed. It would be the first time her daughters would ever see their grandparents. It just changed her whole world to look at it.
ROCCA: What were you seeing when you saw her look at it? Were you seeing joy? Were you seeing her mind just expand?
KOPPLE: I saw somebody who couldn't get enough of it. It wasn't joy, but it was, "I'm so happy that this is here. That just allowing me to look at my sister in a different way. This is allowing me to see my parents. This is bringing me back to all my childhood memories and seeing that they're correct, seeing that they're real, and I remembered them as they were."
ROCCA: As far as the press [was] concerned, so much of the conflict between Mariel and Margaux had to do with the movie "Lipstick," with one sister hoping that she'd become a star, and the other sister stealing her thunder, basically, and then becoming a star.
KOPPLE: Well, but it was more than that.
ROCCA: Of course, of course.
KOPPLE: It was more than just "Lipstick." But "Lipstick" didn't help it. And of course "Manhattan" helped it -- Mariel's fame and Margaux's crash. But it was also the love of their parents. Each time somebody was born, the next child got what love there was. And so, you know, Mariel being the last one, the parents were just tired and fed up. And she would tell me stories where she would go outside of her house and go under snow banks and just sit there for two or three hours to see if anybody would ever miss her. And they didn't.
ROCCA: What do you think of Margaux's work and the movie that she was making?