‘Inventing Anna’ creator Shonda Rhimes Addresses ‘Made-Up’ Moments of the Netflix Show

The Netflix Inventing Anna drama miniseries follows the true story of Anna Sorokin, who posed as Anna Delvey, a fake German heiress, to con hundreds of thousands of dollars. Inventing Anna creator Shonda Rhimes already planned to adapt a true story based on Sorokin’s false tale, so she wanted a clear distinction between fact and fiction in the Netflix series. And Rhimes addressed the Inventing Anna made-up moments during an interview.

'Inventing Anna' creator Shonda Rhimes attends the 2020 Vanity Fair Oscar Party
Shonda Rhimes | Emma McIntyre /VF20/Getty Images

‘Inventing Anna’ creator Shonda Rhimes and her writers were like editors and journalists, like Jessica Pressler

During an interview with Inventing Anna: The Official Podcast, Rhimes talked about some Inventing Anna behind the scenes details. The interviewer compared her writing team to editors and journalists, like Jessica Pressler, author of the original Anna Sorokin article.

“It made it so much fun for all of us to have the writers come back with their own points of view and their own ideas of what they were going to put in,” Rhimes said. “And we’d argued and debate things, but in the end, what they each created was just fabulous.”

Whether the Anna Sorokin trial or Vivian Kent, Rhimes had researchers to know all the details. They wanted to keep track of the facts and made-up parts of the Inventing Anna Delvey story.

“The big addition to our room this time was that we hired a really incredible researcher,” Rhimes continued. “And having a researcher was extraordinarily important because we were telling a story that was based on fact. We needed someone to build an extensive timeline of events to dig into little things that we weren’t even sure were even going to matter.”

‘Inventing Anna’ creator Shonda Rhimes had a researcher build a timeline of events for Anna Delvey

Rhimes knew the importance of fact vs. fiction in turning the Anna Sorokin story into a Netflix series. Her researcher knew every detail about the Anna Delvey story inside and out.

“For this particular show, having someone who has read every transcript of the trial, who was paying close attention to every little detail in Anna’s life, knew everything there was to know about the buildings she lived by, all of those things, it was really, really important because we wanted to know what we were thinking,” Rhimes said.

The Inventing Anna writers kept fact and fiction distinctly separate when it came to ‘made up’ moments in the show.

“We wanted to know what we were making up, we didn’t want to be making things up just for the sake of it,” Rhimes said. “We wanted to intentionally be fictionalizing moments versus just accidentally be fictionalizing them.”

The creators kept a complicated wall to keep track of real and fake aspects

In Inventing Anna, Vivian Kent (Anna Chlumsky) created a wall to keep track of things. Similarly, the Inventing Anna cast and crew had a wall to keep a timeline of events and people.

“There was a huge wall,” Rhimes said. “There was more than one room and more than one wall. We had what I called our ‘Casting Wall,’ our wall of all the different pictures of Anna. And I mean all the different ways that Anna looked and all the different versions of Anna that existed in our world.”

In addition to keeping track of Anna Sorokin, Anna Delvey, and more, Rhimes used the wall to keep track of true and made-up facts in Inventing Anna.

“We had a wall that was about our characters who were based on real people vs. our characters who were fictionalized composites of people,” Rhimes said.

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