Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story Creator Ryan Murphy said he and his team contacted 20 families and friends of the victims over the three-and-a-half years it took to research and prepare the Netflix series about the serial killer.
“It’s something we’ve been looking for for a very long time,” Murphy said at an event for the show at the DGA Theater in Los Angeles on Thursday. “And we, over the three, three and a half years that we were really writing it, working on it, we reached out to 20, about 20 families and friends of the victims trying to get feedback, trying to talk to people and not one only nobody answered us in that process so we relied a lot on our amazing group of researchers who… I don’t even know how they found a lot of things but it was like a day and night effort to try to find out the truth about these people.
Between 1978 and 1991, Dahmer gruesomely murdered 17 men. According to the show’s description, “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story is a series that exposes these unconscionable crimes, focusing on underserved victims and their communities impacted by the systemic racism and institutional failures of policing that allowed one of America’s most notorious serial killers to continue his killer streak in plain sight for over a decade. Despite the stated purpose, the show has been criticized for its focus on Dahmer’s horrific behavior and framing of the victims’ stories.
Additionally, the series has received backlash from victims’ families, some of whom have accused the streamer and crew of not contacting them. Rita Isbell, sister of Errol Lindsey, who was murdered by Dahmer aged 19, has slammed the streaming giant for profiting from the tragic story. Shirley Hughes, Tony Hughes’ mother who had a relationship with Dahmer before he was murdered, said the series dramatized her son’s story. But Murphy and Paris Barclay, who directed episodes six and 10, said the show was about making casualties more than a statistic.
“One thing that we talked about a lot during the making was that we weren’t so much interested in Jeffrey Dahmer, the person, but what made him the monster that he became,” Murphy explained. . “We talked about it a lot…and we talked about it all the time. It really is a matter of white privilege. This is systemic racism. It’s homophobia. »
“We really want it to be about celebrating those victims,” Barclay added. “When Tony writes ‘I won’t disappear’ on that last card, that’s what it’s about. It’s about making sure these people aren’t erased by history and that they had a place and that they were recognized and that they were important and that they lived fully in. And they came from all kinds of different places, but they were real people.
He continued: “It wasn’t just numbers. It wasn’t just pictures on billboards and telephone poles. They were real people with loving families, breathing, living, hoping. That’s what we wanted it to be. »
Rodney Burford plays Tony Hughes on the show and, through an interpreter, said, “You see Dahmer just kills people left and right, no feelings, no remorse. But then, however, Tony shows up. He is deaf. He’s black, like the odds are stacked against him. But still, Jeff took a liking to him over others, and they created a connection. i got evan [Peters]and everyone was supporting me, so to see that reflected on Netflix was wonderful.
Niecy Nash, who plays Glenda Cleveland, Dahmer’s neighbor who repeatedly tried to alert the police to Dahmer’s murders but was always ignored, questioned why no memorials were erected for the victims.
“Anything we could do to make that happen, you know, I’d even be happy to pay for it myself,” Murphy said. “I think there should be something. And we’re trying to reach people to talk about it. I think there’s some resistance because they think the park would attract people who want to pay homage to the macabre …but I think something needs to be done.
Peters and Murphy had previously worked together on american horror story, and Peters had expressed that he wanted to play someone “normal” and maybe go do a romantic comedy, Murphy explained. He said that after auditioning about 100 people for the role of Dahmer, he went to Peters with the script. “He called me the next day and said, ‘It’s so difficult. It’s so hard that I kind of have to say yes, even though I’m terrified of it.
Peters chimed in on his process of including Dahmer, saying he read every book and article about the killer as well as psychological reports, confessions and timelines “in an effort to try to figure out why he did what he did and the struggle he fought”. had with him.
He added: “Then the physicality of it, which I know was going to be so difficult. He has a lot of external things in the way he walks, he doesn’t move his arms when he walks and talks. And so I did a lot of research to watch him and see how he moved and worked with weights on my arms, wearing a wardrobe, all kinds of things that I would carry with me throughout the day to try to stay in it so it’s second nature. And then I created a 45 minute audio composite, which I listened to every day to try and get his dialect and how he spoke and really try to figure out why he did what he did or what was his state of mind.
Peters was so deeply immersed in the process that Nash said she didn’t even really get to know the actor on set.
“I didn’t get to know Evan, because Evan stayed in his process,” Nash said. “So, you know, being his nosy neighbor and a thorn in his flesh, we weren’t really able to connect. I think we maybe said hello twice? Because I forced it on him.. . I realized, [I have to] stay in my lane because i didn’t want to disrupt your process and what you need to do to stay where you needed to stay.
The show hit #1 on Netflix in its first week of release, and Murphy said that in the next few days it will stream 1 billion hours.
“I have no idea how this became a phenomenon,” Nash said. “But what I hope is that wherever her spirit lives in the universe, Glenda Cleveland finally feels heard.”
Netflix screened episode six of the show ahead of the Q&A. Writer David McMillan sat in the audience.
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