Here’s The Real, Chilling Story Gone Girl Was Based On (No Spoilers!)

The case of Scott and Laci Peterson has more than one similarity with the bestselling novel


by Sophie Wilkinson |
Published on

Most people know Gillian Fynn’s* Gone Girl* – the best-selling book that’s been made into a film that is, as we speak, selling out cinemas across the country (and in America) – is a dark tale where a man is accused of his wife’s murder. Ben Affleck plays the husband, Rosamund Pike plays the wife.

What we might not know – but do now – is that it’s got deep parallels with a real life murder case, where Laci Peterson, who was eight and a half months pregnant, was killed by her cheating husband, Scott Peterson.


Flynn has denied that her story is directly based on the murder case: ‘I definitely didn’t want to do anything specific. One could point to Scott and Lacey Peterson — they were certainly a good-looking couple. But they’re always good-looking couples. That’s why they end up on TV.’ However, David Fincher, who directed the film, spoke directly about Scott when discussing Ben Affleck’s casting in the thriller: ‘Ben Affleck looks more like Scott Peterson than Ben Affleck’.

Ok, now we get why he was cast in the role! That, and the fact Ben had already compared himself to Scott, by making this gripe about the press infatuation with his life: 'What was that guy’s name who killed his wife and dumped her off the side of a boat?… [Scott] Peterson,' he told *GQ. *'I remember thinking he actually gets slightly better treatment than I do in the press. At least they had to say "alleged killer."' Which makes Ben just the right amount of creepy for this role.

READ MORE: It's Here And It's Brilliant! Why You Should Go And Watch Gone Girl Right Now

Scott Peterson was a middle class degree-educated golf-playing Californian and is now on death row after being convicted for Laci’s murder. She had gone missing on Christmas Eve in 2002, reports Time, as she took their dog McKenzie for a walk near their house. The next day, the dog was found wandering the neighbourhood on its own. Scott reported Laci missing only later that day – Christmas Day – as he’d been on a fishing trip.

Laci’s family, obviously freaked out that she was gone, organised vigils and search parties comprised of hundreds of volunteers. They also told the press – who were pretty interested in the case as Laci and Scott were, as Flynn pointed out, attractive – that they trusted Scott and he was a good husband.

However, Scott didn’t seem like the desperately sad husband people expected him to be – when someone suggested he had murdered Laci, he stormed out of a press conference. In media interviews, he let his phone ring out (if your wife is missing, you’d presumably be waiting for any news and jumping on the phone the moment it made so much as a dial tone), and then news of Scott’s damning behaviour emerged. Not only had he taken out an insurance policy for Laci after discovering she was pregnant, but he’d been cheating on her with massage therapist Amber Frey. He hadn’t told Amber he was married, but he had said that he’d never wanted children. While Laci was missing he sold her car and looked into selling their house, too.

READ MORE: Here's What The Actual 'The New Gone Girl' Books Are

In this interview he did with Diane Sawyer, in an attempt to clear his name – the press had pretty much decided he was guilty by this point - you’ll understand all those bits in the book where Flynn describes Nick’s inability to properly look the part of someone feeling deep grief for their missing wife.

If you can’t watch it right now, we don’t blame you, it’s totally creepy. Scott has this habit of smirking as he says really depressing things, like ‘Violence towards women is unapproachable’ when asked if he ever hit his wife.

In April 2003, police found Laci’s body (and the body of a full-term male fetus), washed up on shore 90 miles away from where she had gone missing. When police found Scott, he had dyed his hair and beard blonde (presumably as a sort of disguise) and moved to San Diego, where his parents lived. Fearing he would flee to Mexico, authorities arrested him before the results of DNA tests on Laci’s body. The day he was found, he said that he was playing a game of golf, but police found four phones, multiple credit cards, camping equipment, a double-edged dagger, Viagra, a map to Amber’s house, a shovel, changes of clothes, 200 packs of sleeping pills and his brother’s driving licence in his car.

In the trial, Scott’s defence team argued that there was no direct evidence to prove he’d killed Laci – they even suggested that a member of a Satanic cult must have kidnapped and killed her – however, he was eventually found guilty of first degree murder.

READ MORE: The Books To Read Before The Films Come Out

As for Amber? She testified against Scott in the trial, later writing in a book: ‘It sickened me to see Laci's family on the news. I knew the truth about him, that he was a world-class liar, but they didn't know it and I wasn't at liberty to tell them.’

Scott is on death row in San Quentin prison, but maintains he is innocent. On his appeal website, his family and friends offer a ‘$250,000 reward for specific information leading to an arrest and conviction for the abduction and murder of Laci and Conner Peterson, or for specific information leading to the exoneration and release of Scott Peterson.’

No spoilers as to how this relates to Gone Girl. Naturally.

Like this? You might also be interested in:

Meet The Tinder Prostitutes

If Pushed, Jennifer Lopez Would Let Both Ex-Boyfriends P Diddy And Ben Affleck Drown

Oscar Pistorius Says He Pulled Trigger Of Gun Before He Could Even Think

Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us