When Jennifer Williams was introduced to Kurt Busch at a charity function earlier this year, she was struck by how much the NASCAR driver differed from his reputation.
Williams, the executive producer at Zero Point Zero Production (the company behind Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations), found Busch to be engaging and entertaining – not at all what she anticipated.
"I was expecting to meet this incredible asshole, or some very-big headed guy who thinks highly of himself," she told SB Nation by phone on Wednesday. "Instead, I met a very different person. From a TV producer standpoint, it's like, 'Wow. He can be one way on the track and this way off the track. There's something to that person. There's a lot more layers there.'"
Her next thought?
"That makes for interesting TV," she said.
Thus the concept for the upcoming Kurt Busch The Outlaw documentary, an hour-long special set to air at 8 p.m. ET Nov. 15 on Speed. Busch and his girlfriend, Armed Forces Foundation president Patricia Driscoll, agreed to open up their lives and homes to Williams and her crew.
The result was a frank look at Busch's trials over the past year, Williams said.
"I think you're going to walk away and see a broader picture of him," she said. "We talked about everything: Homestead to Darlington to Dover and the suspension. We hit all the low points, I think, of his past year.
"But we also talk about how he even got into that position in the first place, and what else is going on there."
While she said the documentary "doesn't cut him any slack," Williams found Busch to be "very candid and honest." He felt comfortable enough with Williams to open up in a way the public has rarely seen him, she said.
"I hope people see a different side of him," she said. "I'm not saying you're going to walk away and think, 'Wow, that guy is totally different.' ... But I think when you do see everything in that broader perspective, maybe you kind of understand where he's coming from."
Cameras followed Busch and Driscoll to their homes – his in North Carolina and hers in Maryland – rode with them on his personal plane and to the race shop at Kyle Busch Motorsports. Tom Busch, Kurt's father, was among those interviewed for the documentary.
Williams found Kurt to be "wary of the sports media – and I think rightfully so."
"Everyone has a job to do and I get where the sports media is coming from, but I just think all these guys are very human and are made up into characters," she said. "I think that's absolutely good for a lot of things, but what gets lost is the bigger picture – not just of Kurt, but of all these guys."
And at least in Busch's case, Williams hopes NASCAR fans will get that broader view after watching the documentary.