Cameron Britton on Channeling the “Intellectual Creepiness” of a Real-Life Serial Killer

Patrick Harbron / Netflix

The Netflix series’ breakout guest actor reveals what it took to pull off his haunting performance as the murderous Ed Kemper (hint: lots and lots of director David Fincher’s infamous takes).

Daniel Fienberg
August 17, 2018
The Hollywood Reporter

You can’t always pinpoint exactly the moment when a show makes its big qualitative leap, but with Netflix‘s Mindhunter, it’s easy. Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff), an FBI agent experiencing frustration at his colleagues’ antiquated approach to murder investigation, goes to prison to visit a notorious killer and comes face-to-face with Ed Kemper (Cameron Britton).

Towering in stature, soft-spoken, viewing the world inquisitively through thick glasses, Kemper is intellectually vicious, yet unfailingly polite. By the end of one 10-minute conversation, we understand completely why Holden has been pulled into Kemper’s gravity and how this giant has instantly transformed his worldview.

It’s a show-changing character and a career-changing performance for Britton, making his first major TV role and earning his first career Emmy nomination. The actor talked with The Hollywood Reporter about his approach to the real-life killer, director David Fincher‘s notoriously exacting standards and more.

Read the full interview

 

Meet Your Nominee: Cameron Britton on ‘Mindhunter’s’ Lone Emmy Nomination & Future of The Show

The Hollywood Reporter (YouTube)
August 7, 2018

2018 ‘Mindhunter‘ star and the show’s only Emmy nominee, Cameron Britton, joins THR for Meet Your Nominee!

 

Cameron Britton (‘Mindhunter’): It was difficult to get into the mind of a killer

Gold Derby (YouTube)
August 6, 2018

Cameron Britton (‘Mindhunter’) chats with Gold Derby editor Daniel Montgomery: It was difficult to get into the mind of a killer, and to get out of it.

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In Conversation With Mindhunter’s Jonathan Groff

Paula Courtney
July 29, 2018
Absolute Music Chat

Actor Jonathan Groff has already enjoyed a huge degree of respect and recognition for his previous roles in theatre (Hamilton and Spring Awakening), on TV (Looking and Glee) and also in film with the hugely successful Frozen. Lately however he has found a whole new audience, who are singing his praises for his outstanding performance as Holden Ford on Mindhunter. In my extended interview with Jonathan we talk about his early years, his first roles, working on Mindhunter, his thoughts on David Fincher’s directing technique and so much more.

[…]

PC: Tell me more about working with David Fincher. Obviously his name is on everyone’s lips nowadays and we know his style of directing – we all know he may shoot the same scene 70 times – but there’s much more to him than that. I always like to get information first hand, if I can. What kind of impression has he made on you?

JG: Well it’s just the whole idea, for me at least, [of] having complete faith and trust in someone and knowing that they are going to take you somewhere that is interesting, and working with him is different to working with anyone else. One of the reasons being that you go, ‘Okay, I will just do whatever you want,’ because I so believe in him and in his brain and in his vision, and his point of view, because he’s just proven time and time and time and time again – with all of his films and projects – that he’s one of the most interesting, creative people working today. So just to get the opportunity to be a part of his world is exciting and especially with this TV experience, particularly right now, in this very moment, it’s the first time he’s ever come back to a television show. He directed the first two episodes of House of Cards and he was Creative and Executive Producer on that show, but he never came back to direct it again. He very much had his hand in every episode on the first season of Mindhunter. We weren’t sure if he would come back and do the second season or not, because he has never done that before and now here he is, and we are working on the second season. Just to get that extended time with him and to see how… I guess the thing that is so inspirational about him is that he doesn’t sit back and go, ‘Okay, we know what we are doing. We know who these characters are. Let’s just continue comfortably down the road we were going down before.’

We came back to the second season and obviously some of the sets are the same, and we actually basically know who the characters are, where before we didn’t know what the show was yet – we were still making it. So there’s that element, which is great. But it’s still the same process as it was the first time around: it’s not laid back and comfortable; it’s not pressing the same notes; he’s really trying to move things forward and make things different, evolve it and grow it and change it as it goes along – that’s just an artist that is always searching, always changing and always asking the questions. He’s just always trying to get to a better version of the truth: in the writing, then in the shooting and in the editing, he just never stops working and never stops asking questions, and it’s just so rare to find someone like that.

Read the full interview

Read the other Absolute Music Chat conversations with the Cast of Mindhunter (more to come):

An Interview with Mindhunter’s Holt McCallany
Jack Erdie: Actor (Mindhunter), writer & singer-songwriter
In Conversation With Alex Morf: Actor (Mindhunter, Daredevil)
In Conversation With Tobias Segal: Actor (Mindhunter, Sneaky Pete)
Spotlight Interview. Chris Dettone: Actor (Mindhunter), Stuntman/Coordinator

Cameron Britton Transforms Into Disturbed Killer Ed Kemper

Patrick Harbron / Netflix

Netflix (YouTube)
June 14, 2018

Cameron Britton pulls back the curtain to reveal his process as he transforms from nice guy actor into disturbed serial killer Ed Kemper.

Emmy FYC Spot directed & DP’d by Mindhunter DP Erik Messerschmidt.

252_Mindhunter_102_Unit_03095r3Patrick Harbron / Netflix

‘Mindhunter’ Breakout Cameron Britton Taps Into Psychology & Cold Intelligence Of Real-Life Serial Killer Edmund Kemper

Matt Grobar
June 14, 2018
Deadline

Breaking through with his first guest star role on David Fincher’s Netflix crime drama Mindhunter, where he would play terrifying serial killer Edmund Kemper, Cameron Britton found both an incredible artistic opportunity and a challenge that would daunt any actor, coming face to face with one of the industry’s most formidable auteurs.

In his first experience playing a real-life figure, Britton couldn’t have found a more deliciously complicated character than Kemper, who is still alive, living out his remaining years at California Medical Facility. Towering over his victims at 6’9” (Britton is 6’5”), Kemper’s dominance wasn’t only physical. Murdering 10 people, including his mother and his paternal grandparents—before desecrating their bodies—Kemper also possessed great intelligence and a knack for manipulation that made him a nightmare for his opponents, in life and in prison, where FBI agents (played in the series by Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany) tried to come to grips with his psychology.

“What drew me to the role was this dynamic where he’s this horribly violent, narcissistic, selfish person with no remorse, and yet he’s well spoken, he’s polite, he’s engaging,” Britton explains. “That sort of ‘Speak softly and carry a big stick’ concept, it’s always been interesting to me. If you are threatening and your opponent knows it, why flaunt it? Why not offer them the path of least resistance?”

To play Kemper effectively, Britton would have to dig uncomfortably deep into the psyche of a murderer who viewed himself as the hero of his own story, figuring out what it was that baffled psychologists—what made him tick.

Read the full interview

250_Mindhunter_102_Unit_02776R3Patrick Harbron / Netflix

Cameron Britton Breaks Through Playing Real Life Serial Killer Ed Kemper in Mindhunter

Hugh Hart
June 14, 2018
MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America), The Credits (Profiles Below the Line)

Netflix true crime drama Mindhunter moves efficiently in tracking the origins of forensic science as experienced through FBI odd couple (Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany) until midway through its second episode. Then, Cameron Britton makes his entrance. Playing real-life 70’s-era serial killer Ed Kemper, Britton strolls into an interrogation room and takes the show in utterly unnerving new direction through his embodiment of folksy evil incarnate.

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Actors on Actors: Jonathan Groff & Maggie Gyllenhaal

Variety (YouTube)
June 8, 2018

Los Angeles Times (YouTube)
June 7, 2018

Before Jonathan Groff Could Nail Mindhunter, He Had to Stop Smiling

ANATOMY OF A CHARACTER

The stage and screen star discusses leading David Fincher’s pitch-black serial-killer series.

K. Austin Collins
June 14, 2018
Vanity Fair

THE CHARACTER: HOLDEN FORD, MINDHUNTER

If you’ve seen classic David Fincher films like Seven, Zodiac, or even The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, you know the infamously exacting director has a type: the obsessive who tries to solve a crime in the library or the archives, nimbly combing through databases and warehouses full of forgotten evidence. The Fincher obsessive starts their work unblemished—but by the end, it has upended their lives.

In the case of Fincher’s 10-episode Netflix series Mindhunter, that obsessive is Holden Ford, played by Tony-nominated actor Jonathan Groff. Holden starts as a textbook Groff character: neat, bookish, pretty, an F.B.I. choirboy who becomes a teacher and researcher after a hostage situation goes wrong. But soon, alongside behavioral scientist Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) and anthropologist Wendy Carr (Anna Torv), Holden falls down the rabbit hole of a new line of thinking about killers, one that brings him a little too close to the murderers themselves.

Read the full profile

How David Fincher Nailed ‘Mindhunter,’ from Charlize Theron to Jonathan Groff

Holt McCallany, Anna Torv, Erik Messerschmidt (Director of Photography), Laray Mayfield (Casting Director), Cameron Britton, Jonathan Groff, Jennifer Starzyk (Costume Designer), Steve Arnold (Production Designer), David Fincher (Director/Executive Producer). (Patrick Lewis/Starpix for Netflix/REX/Shutterstock/IndieWire)

Take some people obsessed with serial killers, and a detail freak like David Fincher, and the alchemy is undeniably compelling.

Anne Thompson
June 4, 2018
IndieWire, Thompson on Hollywood

There are manifold reasons why Netflix’s chilling series “Mindhunter” breaks the mold, from David Fincher to the bromantic chemistry between boyish FBI agent Holden Ford (“Hamilton” star Jonathan Groff) and gruff, chain-smoking G-man Bill Tench (Fincher veteran Holt McCallany). Here are a few factors that pushed this series to the top of the competitive drama Emmy contenders.

1. Charlize Theron

The series may never have existed if executive producer Charlize Theron hadn’t recognized a fellow serial killer buff in Fincher. When the actress was researching her Oscar-winning role as sociopath Aileen Wuornos in Patty Jenkins’ “Monster,” she read John Douglas’s “Mindhunter,” about the groundbreaking ’70s FBI unit that pioneered research into serial killers.

“This guy had an incredible life,” she said. “What he does is so rare and mind-blowing. I’m fascinated by books on neurology and brain development and why people are sociopaths: They cut off all emotion in order to do horrible things. I bought the rights to his book. I thought about Fincher, who loved ‘Zodiac’ and ‘Seven’ [and thought] ‘He must be obsessed with this stuff too; he must know who John Douglas is.’ People said, ‘You have never produced television.’ I asked David to lunch and he knew about Douglas and was on board: ‘Let’s make it into a series.’ Dream big, motherfuckers!”

Read the full profile

Charlize Theron craves Sushi
Fincher and Theron, after their meeting in 2012 (Bauer-Griffin, AKM-GSI)

John Carroll Lynch on playing the president, a killer clown, and the Coen brothers’ warmest character

A.A. Dowd
9/27/2017
A.V. Club

Welcome to Random Roles, wherein we talk to actors about the characters who defined their careers. The catch: They don’t know beforehand what roles we’ll ask them to talk about.

The actor: Over two decades of big- and small-screen work, John Carroll Lynch has become one of Hollywood’s consummate “that guy” character actors, capable of punching up the margins of whatever he’s in. Theatrically trained, the Colorado native made his first big impression as eternally supportive husband Norm Gunderson in the Coen brothers’ Oscar-winning Fargo, before scoring a reoccurring role as crossdressing older brother Steve on The Drew Carey Show. Since then, he’s carved out an eclectic body of film and television supporting performances, playing his imposing stature for both paternal, Gundersonian decency (such as during a moving one-episode appearance on The Walking Dead) and for supreme, skin-crawling creepiness (like in Zodiac or The Invitation). Lynch has also worked with several major directors, from Martin Scorsese to Clint Eastwood to John Woo. Recently, he’s picked up the filmmaking bug himself; his directorial debut Lucky, starring the late Harry Dean Stanton in one of his final roles, opens in New York and Los Angeles this Friday, before expanding into further markets.

[…]

Zodiac (2007)— “Arthur Leigh Allen”

First thing’s first. Is Arthur Leigh Allen the Zodiac Killer?

JCL: No, and the reason I don’t think so is twofold. First, in performing the role, David Fincher asked me to play it as an innocent man. [Pauses.] Until the end. [Laughs.]

AVC: Until that last scene with Robert Graysmith.

JCL: And then the other thing was… and this is going to sound like a weird defense, but… Arthur Leigh Allen was a pedophile. To get to be a pedophile, to really choose to do that, consciously in your life, it’s my belief that you have to run through some really severe walls of societal norms and morals. It has to be a mania, an obsession, of such grand proportions for you to ignore the health and safety of children to do it—I don’t see how you go, “I want to sleep with children and kill people.” The only way I can think of it not being that way is if he molested children—[Aside.] this is a horrible answer—and he realized that wasn’t it. He just thought it was. But I find that hard to believe. Now, that’s a terrible defense of Arthur Leigh Allen. He wasn’t the Zodiac Killer, he wasn’t a serial killer, because he was a pedophile. But I will say that the circumstantial evidence that Graysmith presented, and that David Fincher expanded upon during the making of the movie, is pretty overwhelming.

AVC: But there have been so many suspects over the years. People have made these iron, convincing cases against several people.

JCL: Sure. That’s what the movie’s about, isn’t it? I think that movie is about the virus of obsession. And I don’t think that’s stopped. The Zodiac isn’t the first one to do that, obviously. The first one I can think of us is the guy here [in Chicago]. The Devil In The White City.

AVC: Oh, right, with the death hotel. Holmes?

JCL: Yes, H.H. Holmes. That guy may be the first recorded one. Although Jack The Ripper was before that. But it’s like the myth of vampirism. There’s just something attractive to people about these men who see themselves as above humanity. To be released from the constraints of moral society. We might be seeing that play out in other ways.

AVC: David Fincher has this reputation as an intense perfectionist, sometimes demanding 50 takes to get a scene right.

JCL: As a person who came from the theater, I love that. It doesn’t bother me at all. The fact that he wanted to do it again was perfectly fine with me. I was also aware of it, so I didn’t take it personally. I didn’t think, “I suck now” because we were on 50. I think if you get to 50 with Clint Eastwood, you’re doing something wrong. [Laughs.] But Fincher is meticulous. He’s like the other masters I’ve worked with. They understand filmmaking to a degree that I could only dream of. And they are following their passion. This is a poor analogy, but Picasso was a cubist and went through a wide variety of movements in his career. He could have drawn figures better than anyone if he wanted to. He didn’t want to. So that’s what it’s like working with David Fincher. He’s after something. And it takes him 50 takes to get it.

AVC: He knows what he wants.

JCL: He knows what he’s looking for, and he knows how to get it. I also think he likes the performances of exhausted actors. He finds something interesting about that.

Read the full interview

‘Lucky’ director John Carroll Lynch talks Harry Dean Stanton’s final role

By Jason Fraley
September 26, 2017
wtop

Podcast: 28:04 min

WASHINGTON — He’s one of the most prolific character actors in Hollywood history, from “Cool Hand Luke” (1967) to “Alien” (1979), from “Paris, Texas” (1984) to “Repo Man” (1984).

Now, just days after his death at age 91, Harry Dean Stanton gives his final performance in the indie dramedy “Lucky,” marking the directorial debut of actor John Carroll Lynch (“Fargo”).

[…]

Who can forget his suspect in David Fincher’s “Zodiac” (2007)? His acting chops are on display in two scenes: first as he’s called into the police station where the cops remark, “Nice watch.” They don’t seem to notice the clue right under their noses: the watch is a “Zodiac” brand.

“[Fincher] did a great job,” Lynch said. “That [acting] foursome — Elias Koteas, Anthony Edwards, Mark Ruffalo and I — had one of the best days on set that I’ve ever had.”

His final scene is just as brilliant, as Jake Gyllenhaal’s Detective Robert Graysmith enters Lynch’s hardware store, engaging in a silent staredown that suggests he’s the killer.

“Graysmith so desperately needs to know,” Lynch said. “The scene is written like the end of ‘Moby Dick’ where Ahab is tied to the whale. Melville writes, ‘The whale looks at Ahab, and Ahab looks at the whale.’ That’s how I saw it. They recognize each other in that moment.”

Read the full interview