‘Unbelievable’: Kaitlyn Dever on the Letter from the Real Marie that Moved Her to Tears

     April 17, 2020

Unbelievable is an absolute must-watch on Netflix. It features A+ performances that scored Golden Globe nods for Kaitlyn Dever, Toni Collette and Merritt Wever. It also earned a Limited Series Television nomination from the PGA and a nomination in the Long Form Adapted category from the WGA. But, even more important than Unbelievable being one big showcase of award-worthy work is the true story that it’s telling. 

The crime drama is based on the T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong article, “An Unbelievable Story of Rape,” and stars Dever as Marie, a young woman who’s sexually assaulted, reports the incident to the police, and then finds the validity of her account being challenged. It’s a heartbreaking yet empowering tale, and it’s told with such respect and sensitivity. I’m a big believer that content like this can truly make a difference.


Image via Netflix

We recently had the pleasure of talking to Dever for an episode of Collider Connected where we covered a good deal of her work and, of course, that had to include Unbelievable. Here’s what she told us about the response to the show:

“It’s been so incredible to see all of the love that people have for the show. You can really see how much people are learning from it which was, I think, one of the many goals of making the show, is that people could see it and then learn from it, and learn how trauma really affects someone for the rest of their life. “

I had previously read that the team came to the conclusion that it wasn’t necessary for Dever to speak with the real Marie to prepare for the role, and Dever took a moment to explain that choice further:

“So at the beginning, I remember talking to Susannah [Grant] and Lisa [Cholodenko] about it. And it wasn’t that I didn’t want to because I actually asked about it, and I was honestly unsure. I didn’t know what the right thing to do was and I was already so – and I think I can speak for everyone when I say this – that everyone really felt so grateful that she was even allowing us to tell her story in such a big way that was gonna be put on a platform like Netflix. And so I remember talking to them early on and we all kind of came to this conclusion that we only wanted to do what she was comfortable with because, again, it was such a privilege that she was allowing us to tell her story so I only wanted to do what she wanted to do. And I really did want to respect her privacy because this is something that still is with her and she carries it with her every day.”


Image via Netflix

Turns out, that decision might have been for the best in more ways than one. Not only did the work Dever put in produce phenomenal results that paved the way to great acclaim and accolades, but perhaps more importantly, it made a big impression on Marie herself:

“But, it really brought me to tears when Susannah – I think we were doing press somewhere. I forget where we were. I can’t remember where we were – but she came up to me and she said, ‘I just sent you an e-mail. I just forwarded you an e-mail. You should really take a look at it.’ And it was an e-mail that Marie sent to Ken Armstrong. It really brought me to tears because she said that she watched the show and she loved it and it brought her a lot of closure, which is – it’s just really overwhelming because out of everything, that is literally all you could ever ask for in making something like this, you know? I don’t need anything else. It’s such an honor to hear that from her. It was really a lot for me. I can’t even begin to say how overwhelmed I was.”

The power of storytelling is real, and Unbelievable is of the best recent examples of using the medium to spark much-needed change and understanding. Be sure to watch the show on Netflix now and, for more from Dever, click here for her full episode of Collider Connected.