How does one even prepare to play one of the most notorious serial killers in American history? That’s the challenge Evan Peters faced while playing Jeffrey Dahmer in Netflix’s limited series, Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story. In his preparation, Peters grappled with playing the two sides of Dahmer, who seemed like a normal person on the outside, but behind closed doors lived a homicidal monster. Peters knew what it would take to play Dahmer, which involved uncomfortable, but necessary levels of commitment.
“Honestly, I was very scared about all the things that he did. Diving into that and trying to commit to that was absolutely going to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life,” said Peters in an interview with Netflix. “I wanted it to be very authentic, but in order to do that, I was gonna have to go to really dark places and stay there for an extended period of time.”
Dahmer comes from the team of Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan. The supporting cast consists of Richard Jenkins as Jeffrey’s father, Lionel; Molly Ringwald as Jeffrey’s stepmother, Shari; Michael Learned as Jeffrey’s grandmother, Catherine; and Niecy Nash as Glenda Cleveland, a suspicious neighbor who alerted the police about Dahmer’s behavior.
Upon its release, the series received its fair share of backlash. Eric Perry, the cousin of Errol Lindsey, one of Dahmer’s victims, tweeted about how his family is “pissed” about the show because it’s “retraumatizing” the horrific actions of a killer. Rita Isbell, Lindsey’s sister, told Insider that Netflix did not contact her about the series and believes it’s “sad that they’re just making money off of this tragedy.”
Despite the backlash, Peters reiterated his respect for the victims and their families, which is why the show is told from the victims’ point of view. In the end, Peters believes this series is not about Dahmer. It’s about the victims and the organization that couldn’t bring him down.
“We had one rule going into this from Ryan. It would never be told from Dahmer’s point of view,” said Peters. “It’s called the Jeffrey Dahmer story, but it’s not just him and his backstory. It’s the repercussions. It’s how society and our system failed to stop him multiple times … The Jeffrey Dahmer story is so much bigger than just him.
Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story is now streaming on Netflix.
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