Based on a True Story: Behind the Scenes of “Bernie”


Jack Black as Bernie Tiede.

Richard Linklater‘s newest film, BERNIE, is based on the strange-but-true story of a east Texas murder. Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine) was shot by her friend and beneficiary Bernie Tiede (Jack Black), the town’s friendly mortician.

After the jump, we have collected some articles and a video which explore this bizarre case, both the murder itself and how the actors prepared to recreate it. They prove that true stories can in fact be “stranger than fiction.”

The case was brought to public attention in 1998, with an article in the Texas Monthly.

Bernie Tiede is currently doing a life sentence at the Telford Prison Unit in New Boston, Texas. This video, Bernie Tiede: The Killer Inside Him, presents a short documentary of the case, including an interview with Tiede.

KLTV, a local news station in New Boston, Texas posted an interview with Tiede asking about the murder, his visit with Jack Black, and his reaction the big-screen adaptation of his story.

Terry Gross, host of NPR’s Fresh Air, interviewed Jack Black about taking on the role of Tiede. The role is an interesting one for Black who normally works in slapstick comedy roles (Gulliver’s Travels, Tropic Thunder), but many have noted that he captured the affable Bernie perfectly.


Did you find this articles interesting? Did any of them change how you think about the film? Let us know what you think. Post a comment below.

2 thoughts on “Based on a True Story: Behind the Scenes of “Bernie”

  1. Jack Black played him perfectly. He did wrong but you still liked him and wanted him to have a fair trial. Great movie!

  2. These articles were very interesting. It occurred to me that Bernie probably was not as nice a guy as he was portrayed in the film, but after seeing the interview with him, he appears to be a kind, sincere individual who is genuinely sorry for what he did. The other thing I noticed was that he doesn’t come across as “effeminate,” which is the way he was portrayed by Black and the way he was described by some of those who knew him.

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