The Jinx
Written by
Directed byAndrew Jarecki
Opening theme"Fresh Blood" by Eels
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of episodes6
Executive producerJason Blum
  • Marc Smerling
  • Andrew Jarecki
Production locationsNew York, U.S.
CinematographyMarc Smerling
EditorZac Stuart-Pontier
Running time38–51 minutes
Production companies
Original release
ReleaseFebruary 8 (2015-02-08) –
March 15, 2015 (2015-03-15)

The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst is a 2015 HBO documentary miniseries about New York real estate heir Robert Durst, a convicted murderer.[1][2] It was written by Andrew Jarecki, Marc Smerling, and Zac Stuart-Pontier.[3]

The series was directed by Jarecki, who had previously directed the feature fictional film All Good Things (2010), which was inspired by Durst's biography.[4] Durst had professed admiration for the film, All Good Things and telephoned Jarecki, after its release, offering to be interviewed (this conversation was recorded and incorporated into the documentary). Durst sat with Jarecki for more than 20 hours, over several years, despite having never previously cooperated with any journalist.

The Jinx gained widespread exposure, when Durst was arrested on first-degree murder charges for the death of his friend, Susan Berman, the day before its finale aired.[5]

In November 2023, HBO announced The Jinx – Part 2 was in production with the same producers and director, and is scheduled to air in 2024. Part 2 covers the 8 years between the original series in 2015 to present time, including new interviews, hidden material, and Durst's prison calls.[6]


The series investigates the unsolved 1982 disappearance of Durst's wife, Kathie, the 2000 execution-style killing of writer Susan Berman, and the 2001 death and dismemberment of Durst's neighbor, Morris Black, in Galveston, Texas. Durst was suspected of involvement in the first two murders and confessed to the third but claimed self-defense and was acquitted at trial. The series incorporates a wide array of existing media, including news footage, security footage, police evidence, and archival interviews, combined with footage shot by Jarecki. It is composed of contemporary interviews, visual reenactments (some of which were shot at Jarecki's upstate New York home),[7] and self-reflexive footage of Jarecki's film-making process and odd working relationship with Durst. Its complex editing style and narrative construction emphasize the contradictions, within both Durst's life and the bizarre and grisly murders he committed.

During the conclusion of the fifth episode, Sareb Kaufman, Berman's stepson, contacts the filmmakers, asking them to review material that was left by Berman after her murder. In it, he highlights an envelope from Durst to Berman, which was sent in March 1999: the envelope's block letter handwriting matches and contains the same "Beverley [sic] Hills" misspelling as an anonymous envelope sent to police in December 2000 to alert them to Berman's murder. The filmmakers, shocked by the revelation, place both envelopes in a safety deposit box and decide to get a second interview from Durst.

In the sixth and final episode, the filmmakers visit a forensic document examiner. After analyzing both envelopes and other documents in Durst's block letter writing, he states that the two writings have characteristics that can come from "one person, and only one person.” Jarecki attempts to get a second interview with Durst, who suddenly becomes evasive and uninterested in a follow-up. At one point, he claims to be in Spain, but Kaufman says that Durst told him he was in Los Angeles. After Durst is arrested for violating a restraining order filed by his brother, Douglas,[8] Jarecki convinces Durst to conduct a second interview. During their session, Jarecki confronts Durst about the match in handwriting on the two envelopes. Durst acknowledges the similarity but denies writing the letter about Berman's murder. After the interview, Durst goes to the bathroom. Apparently unaware that his microphone is still recording, he makes a rambling, off-camera statement to himself, ending with, "What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course."


No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateU.S. viewers
1"Chapter 1: A Body in the Bay"Andrew JareckiAndrew Jarecki, Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-PontierFebruary 8, 2015 (2015-02-08)0.752[9]
2"Chapter 2: Poor Little Rich Boy"Andrew JareckiAndrew Jarecki, Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-PontierFebruary 15, 2015 (2015-02-15)0.321[10]
3"Chapter 3: The Gangster's Daughter"Andrew JareckiAndrew Jarecki, Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-PontierFebruary 22, 2015 (2015-02-22)0.381[11]
4"Chapter 4: The State of Texas vs. Robert Durst"Andrew JareckiAndrew Jarecki, Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-PontierMarch 1, 2015 (2015-03-01)0.388[12]
5"Chapter 5: Family Values"Andrew JareckiAndrew Jarecki, Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-PontierMarch 8, 2015 (2015-03-08)0.446[13]
6"Chapter 6: What the Hell Did I Do?"[a]Andrew JareckiAndrew Jarecki, Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-PontierMarch 15, 2015 (2015-03-15)0.802[17]
  1. ^ Chapter 6 is referred to as "The Second Interview" on some promotional platforms.[14][15][16]


Writers Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-Pontier in 2018

In order of appearance:

Cast (reenactment)


Douglas Durst, estranged brother of Robert and head of the Durst Organization, was apprehensive about the documentary's portrayal of the Durst family and, in particular, its use of videotaped depositions that had been subject to a confidentiality agreement. He petitioned the New York Supreme Court in January 2015 to compel Jarecki to reveal his sources.[19][20] "Douglas Durst is worried [that] The Jinx will be a violent broadside against the family name and history,” the petition stated.[21] By showing that Robert or wife Debrah Lee Charatan violated a Westchester County judge's 2006 order sealing the material, Douglas could sue to recover a $65 million family trust settlement.[19][21] According to The New York Times, Robert gave filmmakers "unrestricted access" to his personal files, which included the videotaped testimony.[22][23]

A lawyer for Douglas argued that The Jinx is a "sensationalized docudrama" and that its director is exempt from New York's shield law, designed to protect journalists. Jarecki replied that his use of dramatic reenactments (by actors whose faces were never shown[7]) was not evidence of fictionalization. Despite attempting to "portray Robert Durst as a human being in a fashion that could help explain some of his behavior, rather than as a burlesque figure," Jarecki never promised Durst that his film would ultimately defend his innocence.[21]

On March 14, 2015, the eve of the final episode's airing, Durst was arrested in New Orleans by the FBI on a first-degree murder warrant obtained by the LAPD in connection to Berman's death. They had undertaken an investigation based on new evidence presented in the miniseries.[5][18][24][25] The Associated Press reported that the 1999 letter written by Durst to Berman, unearthed by the filmmakers, provided "key new evidence" leading to the filing of murder charges.[26] According to The New York Times, the filmmakers sought legal advice on when to share the letter with law enforcement, weighing journalistic privilege against possible claims of evidentiary inadmissibility in a future trial.[18]

Interviewed ten days after his brother's arrest, Douglas told The New York Times that his brother had stalked him as recently as February 22, 2015, in Palm Beach, Florida. He felt "a tremendous sense of relief" at the turn of events which led to Robert's arrest. Although sharply disputing some assumptions about the Durst family presented in Jarecki's documentary (which he had not seen), and continuing to stress the threat Robert posed to him and others, Douglas sounded a conciliatory note: “I no longer am looking over my shoulder,” he said. “I’m very grateful to ‘The Jinx’ for having brought this about.”[27] Douglas dropped his legal action against Jarecki in late April 2015, and was reportedly considering a move to freeze $74 million of his estranged brother's assets.[28][29]

In April 2019, during Durst's trial, a transcript from the series revealed that Durst's final remarks had been edited and presented out of order. According to the transcript filed in court, Durst's complete remarks were as follows:

"[Unintelligible] I don't know what you expected to get. I don't know what's in the house. Oh, I want this. Killed them all, of course. [Unintelligible] I want to do something new. There's nothing new about that. [Inaudible - possibly "disaster."] He was right. I was wrong. The burping. I'm having difficulty with the question. What the hell did I do?"[a][30]

Jarecki, Smerling, and Stuart-Pontier defended the edits as "entirely representative of what Durst said". Documentary filmmaker Mark Jonathan Harris described the edits as "problematic", saying that Durst's statements are "definitely more ambiguous in the transcript" and the edit made them "damning".[30]


The theme song is "Fresh Blood" performed by Eels.[31] The original score was composed by West Dylan Thordson with co-composition by John Kusiak.[32] Musical saw, performed by Natalia Paruz, is featured throughout the series.[33]


The Jinx received widespread critical acclaim and media buzz, particularly upon airing its revelatory finale. On Rotten Tomatoes, the series has an approval rating of 95% based on 44 reviews with an average rating of 8.2/10. The website's critics consensus is, "Disturbing themes and an engrossing blend of interviews and dramatizations make The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst a docu-series that merits further pursuit."[34] On Metacritic, the series has a weighted average score of 76 out of 100, based on 21 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[35] John Hendrickson at Esquire called the series' ending "one of the most jaw-dropping moments in television history."[36] Mike Hale from The New York Times said it was "gut-wrenching, remarkable television."[37] Sean T. Collins of The New York Observer called the series "a documentarian’s unicorn: a quest for the truth that, it seems, found it, and found it spectacularly," adding that in comparison to usual television true-crime documentary fare, The Jinx "pulls an SUV with a vanity plate that reads 'BEVERLEY' up on the curb and mows it all down."[38]

Other critics accused the documentary of charting an uncomfortable line between storytelling and journalism.[39][40] Two days after Durst's arrest and one day after the final installment of The Jinx was aired, The New Yorker reported that "[t]he filmmakers, having been quizzed on the time line of events as represented, have cancelled forthcoming interviews."[41][42][43] Specifically, when challenged over whether Robert Durst's arrest for trespassing on his brother Douglas Durst's property occurred before the filmmakers' second interview with Robert, as implied by The Jinx, Andrew Jarecki replied, "Yeah, I think I’ve got to get back to you with a proper response on that."[44][45][46] Several media outlets questioned how long the filmmakers had sat on evidence damaging to Durst before turning it over to law enforcement.[46][47]

Jarecki subsequently sent an explanation to multiple media outlets:

“Given that we are likely to be called as witnesses in any case law enforcement may decide to bring against Robert Durst, it is not appropriate for us to comment further on these pending matters. We can confirm that evidence (including the envelope and the washroom recording) was turned over to authorities months ago.”[48]

A study of Westchester County case notes by The Guardian indicated that, contrary to then-District Attorney Jeanine Pirro's assertions in The Jinx that "we were about to speak with" Susan Berman about Kathie Durst's disappearance, New York investigators had not yet scheduled an interview nor funded an investigator to visit Berman in California at the time of her December 23, 2000, murder.[49] Durst said in a 2005 deposition, excerpted in The Jinx, that Berman called him shortly before her death and said: "The Los Angeles police contacted me. They wanted to talk about Kathie Durst’s disappearance.”[50]

Although the Los Angeles Police Department denied any connection between Durst's arrest and HBO's airing of The Jinx finale,[51] Dick DeGuerin, Durst's defense attorney, lashed out at the timing. “Do I think this is a coincidence? Hell, no,” he said. “There has been rumor, innuendo and speculation for a number of years, and now we’re going to get our day in court on this.”[52][53]


The Jinx was nominated for six and won two Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards in 2015: Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series and Outstanding Picture Editing for Nonfiction Programming. It received nominations for Outstanding Cinematography for Nonfiction Programming, Outstanding Directing for Nonfiction Programming, Outstanding Sound Editing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera), and Outstanding Sound Mixing for Nonfiction Programming.[54]

The Jinx was also awarded a 2015 Peabody Award, as well as the TCA Award for Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries and Specials from the Television Critics Association.[55] Marc Smerling, Andrew Jarecki, and Jason Blum won the Producers Guild of America Award for Outstanding Producer of Non-Fiction Television.[56]

International broadcast

The miniseries premiered in Australia on May 7, 2015, on Showcase.[57] The Jinx premiered in India on June 9, 2015, on HBO Defined.[58]


  1. ^ Emphasis provided on the two lines edited out of order.


  1. ^ Li, David (December 2, 2014). "HBO to air documentary on cross-dressing killer Robert Durst". New York Post. Retrieved February 20, 2021.
  2. ^ Bagli, Charles V. (September 17, 2021). "Robert Durst Found Guilty of Murder After Decades of Suspicion". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 18, 2021.
  3. ^ Hale, Mike (February 6, 2015). "'The Jinx,' 6-Part HBO Documentary on Robert Durst". The New York Times. Retrieved March 9, 2015.
  4. ^ Dwyer, Jim (January 1, 2015). "Douglas Durst, in Rare Move, Speaks About Robert Durst Ahead of HBO Documentary". The New York Times. Retrieved March 9, 2015. Mr. Durst said he refused many times to be interviewed for the documentary because the same filmmakers all had previously made a feature film based on the Dursts, "All Good Things," which he believed distorted the truth, and would not give him assurances that the HBO series would not be twisted by his brother's fabrications.
  5. ^ a b Bankoff, Caroline (March 15, 2015). "Robert Durst Arrested for Murder". New York Magazine. Retrieved March 15, 2015.
  6. ^ Shanfeld, Ethan (November 2, 2023). "'The Jinx – Part Two' Sets 2024 Debut on HBO, Covers Eight More Years of Robert Durst Investigation". Variety. Retrieved November 3, 2023.
  7. ^ a b Emami, Gazelle (March 17, 2015). "What It Was Like to Be a Re-Enactor on The Jinx". Vulture. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
  8. ^ Italiano, Laura (August 17, 2013). "Robert Durst busted for violating restraining order at brother's Midtown home". New York Post. Retrieved August 1, 2017.
  9. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (February 10, 2015). "SHOWBUZZDAILY's Top 25 Sunday Cable Originals (& Network Update): 2.8.2015". Showbuzz Daily. Archived from the original on February 10, 2015. Retrieved June 1, 2015.
  10. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (February 18, 2015). "SHOWBUZZDAILY's Top 25 Sunday Cable Originals (& Network Update): 2.15.2015 (Expanded Chart)". Showbuzz Daily. Archived from the original on February 18, 2015. Retrieved June 1, 2015.
  11. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (February 24, 2015). "SHOWBUZZDAILY's Top 25 Sunday Cable Originals (& Network Update): 2.22.15". Showbuzz Daily. Archived from the original on February 25, 2015. Retrieved June 1, 2015.
  12. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (March 3, 2015). "SHOWBUZZDAILY's Top 25 Sunday Cable Originals (& Network Update): 3.1.2015". Showbuzz Daily. Archived from the original on March 5, 2015. Retrieved June 1, 2015.
  13. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (March 10, 2015). "SHOWBUZZDAILY's Top 25 Sunday Cable Originals (& Network Update): 3.8.2015". Showbuzz Daily. Archived from the original on March 12, 2015. Retrieved June 1, 2015.
  14. ^ Saba Hamedy (March 16, 2015). "Finale of HBO's 'The Jinx' averages roughly 35,000 tweets". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
  15. ^ Cynthia Littleton (March 15, 2015). "'The Jinx' Finale Recap: 'What The Hell Did I Do?' (SPOILERS)". Variety. Retrieved March 21, 2015.
  16. ^ "The Jinx HBO: Chapter 6, "The Second Interview"". Retrieved April 13, 2015.
  17. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (March 17, 2015). "SHOWBUZZDAILY's Top 25 Sunday Cable Originals (& Network Update): 3.15.2015". Showbuzz Daily. Archived from the original on March 19, 2015. Retrieved June 1, 2015.
  18. ^ a b c Bagli, Charles V.; Yee, Vivian (March 15, 2015). "On HBO's 'The Jinx,' Robert Durst Says He 'Killed Them All'". New York Times. Retrieved March 22, 2015.
  19. ^ a b Ross, Barbara (January 22, 2015). "Durst's brother wants filmmaker to tell how he got videos". New York Daily News. Retrieved March 20, 2015.
  20. ^ Bandler, Jonathan (February 7, 2015). "Robert Durst admits lying about wife's disappearance on HBO". The Journal News. Retrieved March 20, 2015.
  21. ^ a b c Doles, Kyna (March 17, 2015). "Douglas Durst's "Jinx" litigation rests on a single question". The Real Deal. Retrieved February 20, 2021.
  22. ^ Charles V. Bagli (March 20, 2015). "Robert Durst's Papers Are Seized From Hudson Valley Cellar". New York Times. Retrieved March 21, 2015.
  23. ^ Barr, Jeremy (April 14, 2015). "The Times' Charles Bagli on Bob Durst and HBO's 'The Jinx'". Politico ( Retrieved April 16, 2015.
  24. ^ Winton, Richard; Hamilton, Matt; Grad, Shelby (March 15, 2015). "Robert Durst arrested in slaying of L.A. writer". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 15, 2015.
  25. ^ Southall, Ashley (March 15, 2015). "Robert Durst, Subject of HBO Documentary on Unsolved Killings, Is Arrested". The New York Times. Retrieved March 15, 2015.
  26. ^ McConnaughey, Janet; Melley, Brian (March 17, 2015). "Durst's letter helped prosecutors bring murder charge". Associated Press. Retrieved March 17, 2015.
  27. ^ Dwyer, Jim (March 24, 2015). "For Durst Family, Arrest Brings a 'Tremendous Sense of Relief'". The New York Times. Retrieved March 24, 2015.
  28. ^ Ryan Hutchins (April 24, 2015). "Robert Durst's brother drops litigation against HBO filmmaker". Capital New York. Retrieved April 25, 2015.
  29. ^ Marsh, Julia (May 1, 2015). "Brother could freeze Robert Durst's millions following legal deal". New York Post. Retrieved February 20, 2021.
  30. ^ a b Bagli, Charles V. (April 24, 2019). "As Durst Murder Case Goes Forward, HBO's Film Will Also Be on Trial". The New York Times. Retrieved April 24, 2019.
  31. ^ Appelo, Tim (March 19, 2015). "'The Jinx' Theme Composer on Robert Durst: "It's Hard Not to Feel Sorry for Him"". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 31, 2015.
  32. ^ Tiedemann, Garrett (June 30, 2015). "West Dylan Thordson: 'The Jinx' and 'Foxcatcher' composer goes from Minnesota to NYC". Classical MPR. Retrieved October 31, 2015.
  33. ^ Thompson, Clive (March 12, 2015). "The "musical saw" is on the soundtrack to "The Jinx"". Boing Boing. Retrieved October 31, 2015.
  34. ^ "The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst: Season 1". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved November 9, 2023.
  35. ^ "The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst: Season 1". Metacritic. Retrieved November 9, 2023.
  36. ^ Hendrickson, John (March 15, 2015). "About That Robert Durst Quote at the End of The Jinx". Esquire. Retrieved March 17, 2015.
  37. ^ Hale, Mike (March 15, 2015). "TV Review: HBO's 'The Jinx' Finale Was Gut-Wrenching, Remarkable Television". New York Times. Retrieved March 17, 2015.
  38. ^ Collins, Sean T. (March 16, 2015). "The Perfect (Spoiler!) Crime: Art, Justice and 'The Jinx'". New York Observer. Retrieved March 21, 2015.
  39. ^ Greene, Robert (March 24, 2015). "The Jinx: not my documentary renaissance". Sight & Sound. Retrieved April 2, 2015.
  40. ^ Mahler, Jonathan (March 22, 2015). "Two Maxims at Odds: Tell a Story, Tell the Truth". New York Times. Retrieved April 2, 2015.
  41. ^ Mead, Rebecca (March 16, 2015). "The Queasy Finale of 'The Jinx'". The New Yorker. Retrieved March 16, 2015.
  42. ^ Hale, Mike (March 16, 1015). "Why Is the Timeline of 'The Jinx' So Confusing?". New York Times. Retrieved March 17, 2015.
  43. ^ Kim, Victoria; Rubin, Joel (March 16, 2015). "Will evidence in Robert Durst trial be 'Jinxed'?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 19, 2015.
  44. ^ Fretts, Bruce (March 16, 2015). "Director of Durst Film Says He Is 'Relieved' About Arrest". New York Times. Retrieved March 17, 2015.
  45. ^ Lynch, Jason (March 16, 2015). "What Are The Jinx's Filmmakers Trying To Hide?". The Daily Beast. Retrieved March 20, 2015.
  46. ^ a b Aurthur, Kate (March 20, 2015). "The Holes In 'The Jinx' Might Go Deeper Than We Thought". BuzzFeed. Retrieved March 25, 2015.
  47. ^ Gumbel, Andrew (March 16, 2015). "The Jinx makers face questions over when they found Robert Durst evidence". The Guardian. Retrieved March 23, 2015.
  48. ^ Mosendz, Polly (March 16, 2015). ""The Jinx" Director Andrew Jarecki Silent After Robert Durst's Arrest". Newsweek. Retrieved March 16, 2015.
  49. ^ Gumbel, Andrew (March 29, 2015). "Did Robert Durst's nemesis ignore clues before following his trail to California?". The Guardian. Retrieved March 29, 2015.
  50. ^ Bagli, Charles V. (March 31, 2015). "Robert Durst's Wife Steps Back After Years of Defending Him". New York Times. Retrieved March 31, 2015.
  51. ^ Mather, Kate; Winton, Richard (March 16, 2015). "LAPD says Robert Durst arrest not connected to HBO series 'The Jinx'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 17, 2015.
  52. ^ Hennessy-Fiske, Molly; Winton, Richard; Queally, James (March 16, 2015). "Robert Durst, charged with murdering writer, faces new weapons charges". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 17, 2015.
  53. ^ Hofmann, Tess (March 30, 2015). "DeGuerin's dilemma: Post-"Jinx," can Robert Durst win again?". The Real Deal. Retrieved March 30, 2015.
  54. ^ Steiner, Amanda Michelle (September 12, 2015). "2015 Creative Arts Emmys: And the winners are ..." Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved September 15, 2015.
  55. ^ Birnbaum, Debra (August 8, 2015). "'Empire' Wins Program of the Year at TCA Awards". Variety. Retrieved October 31, 2015.
  56. ^ Petski, Denise (January 23, 2016). "PGA Awards: 'The Big Short' Wins Top Film Prize; 'Game Of Thrones' Takes Drama; 'Transparent' Nabs Comedy". Retrieved January 24, 2016.
  57. ^ Knox, David (April 22, 2015). "Airdate: The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst". TV Tonight. Retrieved April 24, 2015.
  58. ^ "HBO miniseries 'The Jinx' to premiere in India". Tellychakkar. June 3, 2015. Retrieved January 18, 2016.