"The film's goal isn't to make Shane become a hero to you, the viewer, it's to show that he was a hero to someone," director Justin Young tells TooFab.
2017 proved a big year for the major players in one of the biggest feuds of the 1990s, as Nancy Kerrigan competed on "Dancing With the Stars" and Tonya Harding found the media spotlight all over again thanks to the Oscar-nominated film based on her life, "I, Tonya." Now, one of the other players in that larger-than-life story will have his story told in a forthcoming documentary film, "My Hero's Shadow."
Shane Stant became notorious as the "hitman" hired to whack Kerrigan's knee, and subsequently spent 18 months in jail for his crime. But while the story of his "character" may have ended there, his life had no choice but to continue. Shane came out of jail a changed man, and made his way back home where he forged an unlikely relationship with his twenty-years-younger sister Maile. To the world, he is a villain. To Maile, he is a hero who helped save her from the abuses of their father.
The film's director, Justin Young, spoke to TooFab about what drew him to the Stant's story, and how he convinced the former public figure back into the spotlight. It all started with Maile, whom Young had met in Hawaii. "We were just talking about regular stuff and she told me about her older brother who had helped raise her and had been her hero her whole life," Young told us. "And then at the end, she was like, 'Oh yeah, and you remember the Nancy Kerrigan thing? He was the man that attacked her."
Young was able to convince the pair to share their story for his film, which includes the first time the brother and sister ever discussed the attack on Kerrigan. "We did approach Nancy's people because we wanted to make sure that she had an opportunity to weigh in on it if she wanted to," Young told us. "They didn't see a role for her."
Now that "My Hero's Shadow" is completed, Young said he intends to reach out to Kerrigan's people again. "I think it'd be interesting to get her reaction, if there is one, And one thing we'd like to do is donate some of the proceeds to a charity of her choice because I don't want people to think we're exploiting her pain for any sort of monetary gain."
As for Harding, Young felt that her story had been already told multiple times over. "She's already said what she's going to say multiple times in multiple places," Young said. "[Shane's] been almost the opposite of Tonya Harding. Nobody knows for sure what her role was, while he's taken full responsibility and really grasps the magnitude and the impact that it had on Nancy."
One of those places Harding's story was told is the film "I, Tonya," which Young admits both he and Shane enjoyed. "I thought it was a great movie," Young said. "Shane was portrayed as a completely bumbling idiot. He said the actor playing him had reached out to him at one point, and then they never connected. From what I understand, Shane enjoyed the movie a lot."
When it came time for Young to meet Shane for the film, he wasn't sure what he might find. "I was a little bit concerned that [Maile] had built up this person that was completely undeserving of such esteem, because it's her brother," Young confessed. "I wasn't sure if I was going to meet him and we were going to find something else."
And while Shane was apprehensive at first, he did open up. "You can tell he still carries himself in a way that he's sort of protective of himself. He didn't know me," Young said. "He took his sister's word for it that I was not going to exploit them, so he still had his defenses up a little bit. As I got to spend more time with him, he's a very likable dude. He's got a great sense of humor, he's considerate, he's very nice."
One of the themes of the film is forgiveness, and for Shane, he had to find it for himself. "I asked him if it would make a difference to him if Nancy Kerrigan forgave him," Young said. "He said it would, but ultimately it would make a difference to him if it would help her. He said for himself it's something he had to move beyond whether or not that's something she does."
Another major component of the film is Maile coming to terms with the man her brother was, thus their conversation about the attack that frames the story. "You can't have an intimate relationship with somebody who idolizes you," Young said. "For him to really have this closeness with his sister on another level, he needed to come down from the pedestal. She needed to see him as a human, flaws and all.
"The film's goal isn't to make Shane become a hero to you, the viewer, it's to show that he was a hero to someone and that's Maile," Young said. "That's an indisputable fact. He did have a positive impact on her life. Shane has sort of been defined by this once incident -- as well he should have been to some extent -- but he has contributed positive things in other ways. I don't know where she would have ended up without him, and I don't know where he would have ended up without Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan."