2. The actors jumped head-first into research
The filmmakers behind Mindhunter weren’t the only ones to meticulously study the subject of criminal profiling, FBI techniques, and the cases of serial killers—the actors did research, too. Holden (Jonathan Groff) and Bill (McCallany) meet with a number of criminals through the first season, including Speck, Kemper, and Jerry Brudos (Happy Anderson), but other notorious names also come up, including David Berkowitz and Charles Manson. McCallany wanted to know as much as he could about the subjects of the show, and the job that Tench and Ford have.
“On this show we’re talking about the real guys and the real crimes that they committed, and you have to do the research because there’s so much to understand about the psychological underpinnings of sexually motivated homicide—homicides that are about domination and control.” McCallany says. “It’s a lot to try to understand. There were three things I wanted to understand. I wanted to understand what an FBI profiler does. What are the questions that he asks? What is he looking for when he goes to a crime scene? What are the steps that he takes? What does he actually do? Then the other thing was I wanted to understand as much as I could about all of these guys, whether it’s Charles Manson, or Ed Kemper, or Richard Speck, I really wanted to research them.
“You have to really familiarize yourself with each of these criminals, and the crimes that they committed, and how they were different than the other guys, and what distinguishes them,” McCallany says. “Whenever I have some moments when I’m not shooting, I feel guilty if I’m not doing more research. The whole time we were shooting, I couldn’t read anything that wasn’t related to the subject at hand. Another part of that is remembering I’m gonna prepare for all of this as a guy who is in 1978, which is when we first meet Bill Tench. He has a different worldview.”
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