Entertainment & Arts

Spotlight makers apologise for 'fictionalised' character

Scene from Spotlight Image copyright AP
Image caption Spotlight won the best picture award at the Oscars last month

The makers of Oscar-winning film Spotlight have acknowledged a character in the film was not accurately portrayed.

Jack Dunn was depicted as being complicit in the cover-up of the Catholic Church's sexual abuse scandal.

Open Road, which distributed the film, has now acknowledged Mr Dunn actually sought to help victims of abuse.

"We acknowledge that Mr Dunn was not part of the archdiocesan cover-up," it said in a statement.

Fabricated dialogue in the movie made it appear as if Jack Dunn, a former student and spokesman for Boston College, had downplayed the extent of the Catholic priest sex abuse scandal.

The scene Mr Dunn appears in was based on an interview with reporters that occurred at Boston College High School in 2002 after the school was informed that three former teachers had abused students during the 1970s.

At one point in the scene, Mr Dunn, portrayed in the film by actor Gary Galone, says: "It's a big school, Robby. You know that. And we are talking about seven alleged victims over, what, eight years?"

The on-screen character later says: "This is ridiculous. You are reaching for a story here."

Image copyright AP
Image caption Spotlight's distributors said the film contained "fictionalised dialogue"

Mr Dunn, who is still a trustee of Boston College High School, had threatened legal action against makers if the scene portraying him was not removed.

However, no lawsuit was ever filed and makers said in November that they had "respectfully declined" to alter the film.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the film's distributor, Open Road, said: "As is the case with most movies based on historical events, Spotlight contains fictionalised dialogue that was attributed to Mr Dunn for dramatic effect."

As part of a settlement, Open Road have agreed to cover Jack Dunn's legal fees and make donations in his name to two charities. All legal actions have been dropped.

Mr Dunn said in a statement: "This agreement will never end the painful experience of being falsely depicted in a film, but it gives me the opportunity to move forward with my name cleared and my integrity in place."

He said he hoped the agreement "causes Hollywood to reassess how it portrays scenes in movies that claim to be based on actual events".

Spotlight won two Academy Awards last month - best picture and best original screenplay.

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