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The Laramie Project (2002)

TV Movie  |  TV-14  |   |  Drama, Crime  |  9 March 2002 (USA)
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The true story of an American town in the wake of the murder of Matthew Shepard.



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Title: The Laramie Project (TV Movie 2002)

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Nominated for 4 Primetime Emmys. Another 5 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Andy Paris ...
Greg Pierotti (as Grant James Varjas)
Kelli Simpkins ...
Billie McBride ...
Bill Christ ...
Regina Krueger ...


Moisés Kaufman and members of New York's Tectonic Theater Project went to Laramie, Wyoming after the murder of Matthew Shepard. This is a film version of the play they wrote based on more than 200 interviews they conducted in Laramie. It follows and in some cases re-enacts the chronology of Shepard's visit to a local bar, his kidnap and beating, the discovery of him tied to a fence, the vigil at the hospital, his death and funeral, and the trial of his killers. It mixes real news reports with actors portraying friends, family, cops, killers, and other Laramie residents in their own words. It concludes with a Laramie staging of "Angels in America" a year after Shephard's death. Written by <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Everyone Carries a Piece of the Truth. See more »


Drama | Crime


TV-14 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

9 March 2002 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Le projet Laramie  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The film was to make its HBO debut on March 16, 2002, but was pushed forward a week when NBC scheduled The Matthew Shepard Story (2002) for the same day. See more »


[last lines]
Doc O'Conner: I remembered something to myself. The night he and I drove around together, he said, 'Laramie sparkles, doesn't it?' And where he was in that spot up there, if you sit exactly in that spot up there, Laramie sparkles. With the low-lying clouds, it's - uh - it's the blue lights that bounce off the clouds. And it goes over the whole city. I mean, I mean, it blows you away. And Matt was right there in that spot. And I can just picture - in his eyes - what he was seeing. And the last ...
See more »


Referenced in Brows Held High: Otto, or Up with Dead People (2011) See more »


Fight Wyoming Fight
Written by Edgar Lewis
Performed by The University of Wyoming Band
See more »

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User Reviews

A Moving Film
29 November 2002 | by (Laramie, WY) – See all my reviews

It took me a long time until I finally rented the DVD version of this. I live in Laramie, I go to the University. I didn't arrive here until 2000, but I was, and always have been, a Wyoming resident. Part of me was curious, especially with the actors involved, but another part realized how close to home this was. How close? My drama teacher Lou Anne Wright played Matthew Shepards mother (albeit uncredited).

When I first started watching this I was really confused. If they were taking a documentary approach, why in the hell would they then use real actors? As I sat and thought about it more, though, it made a bit more sense. The interviews were recorded only audibly at the time of the incident for the play version. You could sit down and reshoot it with the original citizens, but it would no longer feel natural. Plus I doubt they would've gotten all the people to consent to being filmed. Remember this is a small town and anonymity can go a long ways.

Aside from the acted documentary, I really felt they did a good job of trying to bring Laramie to life. Yes, they did focus a bit too much on the train tracks which are more or less out of town. I've only even seen them a few times in my 3 years here. They seperate Laramie from West Laramie. Not East Laramie from West Laramie, but Laramie from West Laramie, which should tell you something. Aside from that, it felt surreal to watch this. When I stepped outside my dorm afterwards to return it, I was staring right in the face of the hotel sign that at the time of filming read "Hate is Not a Laramie Value." I drove down third street and saw Laramie Lumber, I drove back on 4th and saw the antiquated Spic & Span Laundry. When they talk about how they drove past Walmart when they went out to kill him, I knew that road. I've driven home on that road many a time.

The characters were also extremely well-acted. For every character I saw portrayed on screen, I've known at least one Wyoming resident that was exactly like them. While some of the performances may have seemed extreme and hokey to some, I felt they had it down pat. I laughed to myself when Buscemi's character spelled out H-O-P-E for emphasis...I've heard the same silly thing done the same way by the same sort of people. Aside from "Live and Let Live" which I can honestly say I've never heard here in 20 years of WY residence (yet was emphasized over and over in the film), I've heard many of the same statements said almost verbatim by people I know.

The story, of course, is touching, but the route they went of making it the story of Laramie vs. the story of Matthew Shepard made it more than just a movie-of-the-week style thing. You can feel the emotions seeping through the screen. At the angel protest, I felt like jumping up and shouting down the bigoted guy leading the anti-gay side.

For its authenticity and heart-felt storytelling, I can't help but give this one a strong recommendation.

27 of 34 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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