There may be a system for catching serial killers, but what about for casting them?Netflix's new show Mindhunters follows FBI agent Holden Ford as he develops a system for psychologically profiling convicted serial killers in the hopes that he will be able to use it to track down other serial killers who are still on the loose.
Laray Mayfield, the casting director for Netflix's new crime series, says there is no difference in casting the most heroic of protagonists and villains that make you sleep with the lights on. Mayfield says she looks for one thing: a big personality.
"These big personalities, be them good or bad, and a lot of times they’re villains, have to feel realistic," Mayfield says in an interview with Newsweek. "It’s not to say we have sympathy for the killers on Mindhunter, or want to glamorize them, but they are three-dimensional human beings and they have to appear that way onscreen," adding that toeing the line between reality and fantasy is a difficult challenge.
Mayfield, who cast the David Fincher-directed show alongside Julie Schubert, uses casting newcomer Cameron Britton in the role of Edmund Kemper as an example. The real-life criminal, also known as the "Co-Ed Killer," committed horrible acts of sexual violence, killing eight women.
It could not be further from how the actor is in real life, who Mayfield describes as kind-hearted and thoughtful. She recalls watching Britton recite lines from the real Kemper's interrogations. When looking at actors for this role, Mayfield and Schubert had to look for someone who could convey a killer who could rationalize and analytically process his vicious crimes. Cameron Britton as Kemper goes on to play a significant role in the development of FBI agent Holden Ford both professionally and personally. “We saw several talented people for that role, but Cameron was just perfect,” she said in the interview.
Mayfield, who cast the superheroes in the Netflix series The Defenders as well, says that viewers can instantly spot if an actor is portraying a character more like a caricature. She explains that the process of turning naturally kind-hearted actors into spine-chilling serial killers is nothing short of a team effort. "They really gave themselves over to the roles, and they trusted David Fincher. When you have a team of actors who can pull off these unique roles without turning these men into caricatures, you know you have something special."
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