When you think of Nirvana, you think of Kurt Cobain. And when you think of Kurt Cobain, you think of Courtney Love. The trio is intrinsically linked and will forever be after the tragic and untimely death of the rising rock star after his suicide in 1994.
Since then, Love has been her own worst nightmare, on a rollercoaster of mishaps, run-ins with the law, drug abuse, and volatile relationships played out in the media. With Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the first fully authorized documentary about the iconic musician from acclaimed filmmaker Brett Morgen, we’re not only handed never-before-seen footage, audio, and writings from Cobain, but we’re given a glimpse of the early days of his relationship with Love.
At the documentary’s Tribeca Film Festival premiere -- which debuted at Sundance earlier this year and will air on HBO May 4 -- Love was open and candid, giving a perspective to the seemingly toxic relationship that’s been splashed through headlines. Here we have some of her most vulnerable moments from the panel with Morgen and moderated by Rolling Stone’s Neil Strauss.
On her reaction to watching the film. “This was my fourth time seeing it. This time I experienced some shame. Mostly I get really sad. There’s guilt, you know, about what I could have done. I told myself I wouldn’t see it again, but I did. Self-punishment I guess. It’s just such a beautiful movie. The first time I saw it was with Frances and Brett, and it was beautiful. I got to spend a little more time with Kurt and Frances…” [She chokes up, and can’t finish her sentence.]
On why she let Morgen have complete control. “I really like him and trust him and I just wanted someone to tell the truth. He majored in mythology. There’s a lot of myth out there. I didn’t want someone to micro manage him. I get to see this beautiful man I was married to 21 years ago. It’s heavy, but it’s as close to the truth as anyone is ever going to get.”
On the sex tape. “Somehow Brett found the sex tape. Me and Kurt only had this one tape and we could never figure out how to use the battery. So we recorded over and over and over on it, and everyone makes one sex tape once in their life, and we did it. I thought, Brett will never find that stuff. But he did.”
On being a rock star. “I don’t know if the retarded girl story is true [referring to an audio recording of Cobain talking about his first sexual experience]. To want to be a rock star – even I do it – you have to self-mythologize. We would even do the Dickens thing and compete for who had the worst childhood. The tradition is to embellish, like [Bob] Dylan riding the train tracks.”
On Cobain’s willingness to talk about his feelings to Love. “We were best friends. I’ve had great boyfriends since, but I’ll never have another friend like that. It’s that punch drunk love, where you meet your soul mate and you’re 25 and you’re fucking and talking and fighting and fucking. There are other kinds of love, more mature love. But this was a soul mate thing.”
Watch the trailer below: