Nicole Brown Simpson Finally Gets a Voice of Her Own in New Lifetime Documentary

Nicole Brown Simpson

Who was Nicole Brown Simpson? Perhaps you think you know the answer. She was O.J. Simpson’s murdered wife. One of two victims, along with Ron Goldman, at the heart of the Trial of the Century. But how much do you really know about her? That’s the question that drove filmmaker Melissa G. Moore to make The Life & Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson, a two-part documentary premiering June 1 on Lifetime.

“Whenever I’d bring up Nicole, people didn’t really know about her. They’d be like, ‘Wasn’t she on cocaine?’” Moore told Parade. “I felt people saw her as this body being pulled away from Bundy. Or they know that she was nearly decapitated. They know the gruesome crime-scene details, but they don't really know about her as a person.”

Melissa G. Moore<p>Courtesy of Melissa G. Moore</p>
Melissa G. Moore

Courtesy of Melissa G. Moore

With that in mind, Moore’s documentary features extensive interviews with Nicole’s friends and family, including her three sisters, Denise, Tanya and Dominique. It took years of trust-building for Moore—who met the eldest Brown sibling, Denise, a decade ago, while they were both speaking about domestic violence—to get the sisters on board.

“I said to Denise, ‘You should do a documentary about Nicole on the 20-year anniversary,’” Moore recalled. “And she was like, ‘No, it’s not time yet.’ Then I approached her on the 25th anniversary and was like, ‘What about now?’ And she’s like, ‘No, I don’t think so.’ And then it was New Year’s Day, Jan. 1, 2023, that she called me and said, ‘Alright, it’s going to be the 30-year anniversary soon; it’s time.’ She called all of her sisters and they all said yes, and that’s what she felt like she needed—she needed her sisters to all be together and in a place to do it.”

In addition to interviews with the Brown sisters, the documentary provides never-before-seen footage and photos of Nicole, as well as diary entries that shed light on the domestic violence she suffered during her relationship with Simpson.

For Moore, whose mother was a victim of domestic violence at the hands of her stepfather, and whose father is the convicted serial killer known as Happy Face (he murdered at least eight women in the United States during the early 1990s), telling stories like Nicole’s is something of a personal mission.

“I feel like this is a form of advocacy,” Moore said. “What’s important to me is that other survivors will feel seen when they watch this documentary. That’s how I felt validated in my pain, is by watching other people share their stories. And I feel like that’s what we’re supposed to do for human connection, is share our stories with each other.”

Ahead, Moore talks more about the Lifetime documentary, the upcoming scripted retelling of her father’s story and more.

It took you 10 years to get this made. What was the family’s biggest concern?

They had one really big concern. They were like, ‘We’ve been approached so many times by so many people, and everybody says they want to tell Nicole’s story, but they really only make it about O.J.’ And I think it was that long-term friendship and connection that helped them to trust me that I truly was genuine in my intention, that this was about Nicole and only about Nicole. And it was my North Star in every part of the edit. Every act had to start with Nicole; every act had to end with Nicole.

What compelled you to keep asking to make this?

I think it was my own experience that gave me that perseverance, and really feeling that we all missed out on knowing who Nicole was. That was just really driving me; there was an internal drive that I felt I had to complete this work.

This is a very well known story. What surprised you as you were doing your research and doing the interviews?

I would say what surprised me most would be that Nicole’s diaries were never admitted to court. That she documented the abuse and she had letters in her safe deposit box from O.J. admitting to the abuse, and it wasn’t admissible to court. And that seems like such a shame to me. She created this whole history, this trail, with dates and data, and it wasn’t presented. So nobody heard her own words.

O.J. Simpson died in April. Is the timing of this documentary release just coincidental?

Very. We were actually in post edits on the fourth hour [of the documentary] when he passed away. I actually didn’t even believe the news. I had to text the sisters and say, “Did you see the news?” And they couldn’t believe it themselves. We’d already wrapped, we’d already filmed everything and we were in post, and so the conversation was, How do we address this sensitively? The timing was interesting as well for the legal reason, because we were close to coming to the point where we had to reach out to O.J. Simpson to get his statements for what we were making claims about.

Related: O.J. Simpson's Cause of Death: How Did O.J. Simpson Die?

Did you try to get access to O.J.’s children with Nicole?

Yeah, I’ve been in contact with Justin and Sydney since 2016, and there've been many conversations with the adult children. The timing of this documentary, why they’re not a part of this, is that they both started their own families when we started filming this documentary and then at the end, when their father passed away, obviously they're in grieving for that. So there wasn’t really any way we could last-minute have put them into it.

How does your own family history inform your work?

Breaking your own story and sharing your own story is terrifying, because there is a shame aspect of it, for me, because obviously I was not and am still not proud to be the daughter of a serial killer. But it changed my life in a way that I felt like gave me more empathy and compassion for other families impacted by crime, and life led me down a path of helping them then take the stage and share their stories to connect with other survivors.

I will never be able to, nor is it my burden to, fix what my father did in this world. But I feel that it is my job to do the very best I can with my life and what matters to me, and that is making a difference. The experience of what I endured with my dad gave me a different point of view in life, and that is a point of view that other trauma survivors and other crime survivors have in common with me.

Related: Dennis Quaid to Play the Happy Face Killer in New Drama Series

You wrote a book about your experience with your father, Shattered Silence: The Untold Story of a Serial Killer’s Daughter, in 2008, and now there’s an upcoming Paramount+ series coming out about him called Happy Face. That’s a fictionalized version of your story?


Why a scripted series?

I feel that it’s important to do it in a scripted manner so that people can understand that there was a different relationship between my father and I, that I can’t do a show-and-tell with. I could tell you the experiences that I endured, but I couldn’t show you in real time or in any capacity what it was like to have these conversations with my dad that were abnormal at best.

Does this project feel cathartic to you?

It really does. I feel that it’s a tool to show people what it was like to live in this world, that I couldn’t do in another way. I wrote my book as a way to break free and share what I experienced, the real story, but I feel like this is a way of showing what it’s like to experience it, through dialogue, in another way. I’m learning how to articulate what that is.

You’ve shared on TikTok that your dad sometimes contacts you from prison, and not nicely. Does he know about Happy Face? Do you care what he thinks about it?

I don’t care what he thinks about it. The one thing that I love about becoming an adult is that I’m not scared anymore. My dad’s disapproval over me doesn’t scare me anymore. In fact, it almost encourages me. The more he’s displeased the more I’m like, “I must be on the right path.”

The Life & Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson premieres at 8 p.m. ET on June 1, and concludes Sunday, June 2 on Lifetime.

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