Patton Oswalt in the Golden State Killer series ‘Golden State I Will Kill Myself’

For decades, the identity of a rapist and murderer who terrorized California communities was an unsolved mystery. Now, the story of a woman who doggedly tracked her down but did not live to see her capture is a tragedy. HBO’s I’ll be gone in the dark, which opens on Sunday (10 / 9c), combines both stories in an exciting docuseries.

The project is, in part, a thriller about the search for the Golden State Killer and a captivating memory of Michelle McNamara, the writer who coined the killer’s nickname but died before completing the book on which the series is based. In addition, and with serious help from the work that McNamara and other “citizen detectives” did in the case, the police caught Joseph James DeAngelo in April 2018; At a court hearing in late June, DeAngelo is expected to plead guilty to a large number of the crimes attributed to the Golden State Killer.

patton-oswalt-interview-ill-be-gone-in-the-dark- TVLine recently spoke with producer / CEO Liz Garbus (What happened, Miss Simone?) and McNamara’s husband Patton Oswalt (Veep), which has a constant presence in the series. Read on to hear their thoughts on building a narrative when the narrator is missing, the importance of teamwork, and whether they plan to see DeAngelo’s day in court.

TVLINE The | I thought I’d watch one or two episodes to get a feel for the show … and I got caught up. I was awake road Too late last night with the screeners.
OSWALT The | Oh wow
GARBUS The | Sorry. And now we are preventing you from taking a nap!
OSWALT The | I’m sorry about that.[[[[Laughs]That is a testament to Liz’s work.

TVLINE The | I think it’s a testament to everything, right?
GARBUS The | Well, I was going to say that I think it’s a testament to Michelle’s voice and a testament to Patton’s generosity, but anyway, thanks.

TVLINE The | Let’s move on. As a reporter, I’m so impressed with how Michelle kept so many voicemails, emails, text messages, all of that kind of thing. Patton, was it always like this? Was she your family’s archivist?
OSWALT | Yes. I mean, not just her: she comes from a long line of archivists who save things.[[[[Laughs]It was incredible. The McNamaras are incredible records.

patton-oswalt-interview-ill-be-gone-in-the-dark- TVLINE The | Liz, that must have helped you a lot. When did you realize that was the kind of treasure you would have at your disposal to help craft the narrative?
GARBUS The | It took some time, and I have an amazing team working with me. When I first met Patton, when I first spoke to him, HBO gave me the manuscript before the book was published. I knew that, with Michelle’s writing and the stories of these survivors that I hoped I could get, and then, remember, at the time, we didn’t know who did it.

TVLINE The | Right.
GARBUS The | He knew he could tell a compelling story, combining Michelle’s voice with his stories. Later, when we learned that she would have conversations with her fellow detectives and with law enforcement and survivors, that really guided the style. Because then we feel, OK, we want to film this in such a way and edit it in such a way that you feel like you are on the journey with it, instead of being a narration in the past tense.

patton-oswalt-interview-ill-be-gone-in-the-dark- TVLINE The | There is a recurring theme in the series of how Michelle would establish these excellent working relationships with the people involved in the case, and how they would be so impressed by his knowledge and passion for the subject that they would associate with her. Patton, are you still in contact with someone who became close to Michelle during her work?
OSWALT | … I still talk to Paul Holes sometimes. And Billy Jensen is not a cop, but he is another crime journalist with whom I have had a relationship.[[[[Editor’s Note: Jensen helped finish McNamara’s manuscript after his death.]They are very, very unique and fascinating individuals who are drawn to this line of work, you know? It takes an incredible spirit to be able to sustain and do that kind of work with all the psychological risks and everything, you know?

TVLINE The | Many of the Golden State Killer victims had already told Michelle their stories, or had never spoken about what happened to them. Liz, can you talk about how difficult it was to get victim acceptance?
GARBUS The | Depending on the person, it was different, because as you said, some of them were not people who had introduced themselves before. Some of them are still under pseudonyms in our movie. The stigma of rape is, yes, although we have advanced since the 1970s, it is still not seen as other violent crimes. There still seems to be some sense that there was agency on the victim’s part. Working with him I’ll be gone in the dark imprimatur, Michelle’s good will, that bought us a lot, I think. The fact that it was HBO, and that I made movies in the criminal justice system, probably people felt that they were not going to be reduced to a 45-second sound where you only see them represented by the worst that has ever happened to them . [Instead,] you see a journey, and you see complete people, and you see it in the social and political context in which it took place. So I think that is very useful.

TVLINE The | I was surprised, in one of the episodes, how disturbed even Michelle was by some crime scene photos that I had not seen before, and that I had seen a lot. Tell me about the decision on which images to include.
GARBUS The | We talk about it a lot, and there are a lot of things we consider too rough to get into. There are many things that Michelle saw that she did not want to include in her book, and that we did not include in the documentary either.

But I had these dialogues with myself. It’s like, you can’t sweeten what happened. This is real, and this is what we are talking about. But at the same time, we don’t want to provoke people, and I don’t use that word all the time. I think here is appropriate. You do not want to harm a future generation that may be related to one of those victims. So it is a constant balancing act. I don’t know what the perfect balance is. I simply try to balance truth with moral sensitivity, and I will always strive to do so, and I am sure I will make mistakes. But it certainly is a big responsibility.
OSWALT The | That is a very good way of saying it.

TVLINE The | Your daughter Alice’s Patton is a very young girl in some of the images shown in the series. Knowing that little ones often hear things when we don’t think they’re listening, did you ever realize you were picking up on the subject of Michelle’s work?
OSWALT The | We made sure all of Michelle’s crime stuff and files and everything was in another room that Alice couldn’t access. We didn’t want him to open a folder and get into …

TVLINE The | Right. Oh God.
OSWALT The |[[[[Laughs]Exactly. But there is that great photo [shown in the series]. Michelle, she’s just checking a list of names. They are just names of people. So Alice would sit next to her with a small notepad like, “I want to do the data research.” She loved that part of it. Sometimes Alice will pretend to be a detective, and she will question me or [my wife ] Meredith [Salenger] about our movements or what we did yesterday or people on the phone and stuff.[[[[Laughs]It is very cute.

TVLINE The | Liz, was there someone you wanted to have on camera for an interview but couldn’t do it?
GARBUS The | One of the things we really wanted to do was explore Lombardo’s murder more than we did.[[[[Editor’s Note: The murder of Kathleen Lombardo, a McNamara neighbor who was killed when McNamara was 14, is often mentioned in the series. Lombardo’s killer has not yet been found.]My producer flew up and met the Oak Park police, I think twice, actually, and we filed FOIA requests … They say it’s still an ongoing case, but that’s certainly something we wish we could have explored . I hope that perhaps little Michelle McNamaras, after seeing this show, decides to take it on and draw attention to that unsolved crime again.
OSWALT The | And one other thing I loved that Liz emphasized: she doesn’t even emphasize it. It’s just there in the narrative, and Michelle was doing this at her job, too – she really wants to break the myth of the one-person crime solver. It is a team of people, grouping resources. Even in the police force, it is a team of people. This one-man crusade is such a dangerous myth. It is a very, very dangerous myth that will prevent cases from being resolved. [Ideally,] It is a group of people who come together and share resources, and Michelle believed it very much.

TVLINE The | The man believed to be the Golden State Assassin, Joseph James DeAngelo, will appear in court later this month. The proceedings will be broadcast on a private YouTube link. Is it something any of you want / have the ability to see?
GARBUS The | I would like to try to see if I can. I’m interested in what happens to survivors, you know? I am interested in how they are doing.
OSWALT The | I keep going back and forth on this. Someone asked me this before, and I said I wouldn’t be. Now I do not know. I know Michelle did the research work, but it feels more like her world than mine. One thing I am happy about is that I know that survivors and victims will be there to look at her and not find her gaze, which they have not yet been able to do.