Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind is a documentary airing on May 5, 2020, exploring the life, career and death of the actress. The documentary is presented through the eyes of Wood’s daughter, Natasha Gregson Wagner, and relies on interviews, diary entries, old video footage and more.
Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind examines not just her tragic death, but her life and career which are often overshadowed by the mysterious circumstances around her death. The 43-year-old Wood was married to Robert Wagner at the time of her death on November 29, 1981, on a yachting trip. Wagner, her co-star Christopher Walken, and the boat’s captain Dennis Davern were all on board at the time of her death.
Walken Has Remained Mostly Silent About Wood’s Death, Speaking of It Rarely
Walken, who was filming the 1983 movie Brainstorm with Wood at the time of her death, has remained fairly silent about the events of that night. Walken has rarely spoken about her death, even when the investigation was reopened and Wagner was named as a person of interest. In 1986, he gave a brief comment to People about Wood’s death: “I don’t know what happened. She slipped and fell in the water. I was in bed then. It was a terrible thing. Look, we’re in a conversation I won’t have. It’s a f—ing bore.”
He elaborated further in a 1997 interview with Playboy Magazine, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter. He said, “Anybody there saw the logistics — of the boat, the night, where we were, that it was raining — and would know exactly what happened.” He continued:
What happened that night only she knows, because she was alone. She had gone to bed before us, and her room was at the back. A dinghy was bouncing against the side of the boat, and I think she went out to move it. There was a ski ramp that was partially in the water. It was slippery – I had walked on it myself. She had told me she couldn’t swim; in fact, they had to cut a swimming scene from [Brainstorm]. She was probably half asleep, and she was wearing a coat.
He added: “The people who are convinced that there was something more to it than what came out in the investigation will never be satisfied with the truth. Because the truth is, there is nothing more to it. It was an accident.”
Walken hired a lawyer when the investigation was reopened and Wagner was named a person of interest, but he was not considered a suspect in Wood’s death.
The Boat’s Captain Said That Wagner & Walken Were Arguing the Night of Her Death
Davern, the captain of the yacht and the other person on board during that fateful weekend, has said for years that Wagner and Walken argued the night Wood died. Davern told Vanity Fair in 2000 that Wood and Walken were flirting all night and Wagner became jealous.
He said, “Christopher and Natalie are sitting in the salon together and giggling, and I’m looking at [Wagner] and thinking, He doesn’t look too happy. [Wagner] was getting annoyed, and plus, we’re drinking… I was seeing [Wagner] getting mad. The boat just starts getting smaller. You can’t look for a whole lot of escape.”
The captain said in many interviews since the events that Walken and Wood had been flirting all weekend, and Wagner had been getting increasingly jealous. He told Vanity Fair: “I think she deserves an explanation for her death.”