Netflix has just released its anticipated documentary Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed, about the rise of late, legendary soft-spoken painter Bob Ross.
The streaming service calls the film a “shockingly untold story,” and for those who’ve seen Ross’ iconic The Joy of Painting series, it is eye-opening. Behind the canvas and those “happy little trees” the painter created was a seething battle over the rights to his image and his name that continued even after his untimely cancer death in 1995.
Director Joshua Rofé tells ABC Audio that he was intrigued at the very beginning of the project, noting, “As soon as we were met with resistance from people who were expressing fear of even speaking about Bob publicly due to concerns with being retaliated against from a legal standpoint, we knew that there really is something here.”
The filmmaker adds, “Bob is amazing, Bob is an icon, Bob is obviously magical and transcendent in all of these ways. But if you then introduce this other element that seems to be a part of the story, then you really have something.”
Ross’ usual on-air comments about his canvas being the “only place I have control” take on a different meaning when viewed in the context of his off-screen life, and what he saw as the loss of control of his destiny, and his legacy, both personally and financially.
Rofé says, “[Y]ou can see how angry he is, actually…But if you don’t know the context, you would never guess that Bob Ross is angry….It’s fascinating to see, because you can see how it is really just bubbling up inside of him and he has to get it out.”
Melissa McCarthy and her husband and producing partner Ben Falcone co-produced the film.
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.