- 03 Nov 17
David Fincher’s new collaboration with Netflix, Mindhunter, argues that the serial killer genre needs to get past Hannibal Lecter and reveal the truth about homicidal sociopaths. Star Holt McCallany talks about working with Fincher and presenting a fresh take on familiar subject matter.
The serial killers to whom David Fincher introduces us in his new Netflix hit Mindhunter are very different from the suave Hannibal Lecter archetype. They pleasure themselves with ladies shoes (size 16), and boast of decapitating their mother (before, naturally, having sex with the neck). You wouldn’t want them around for fava beans and a nice chianti.
“That was very much David’s mission statement,” says character actor Holt McCallany, who plays seen-it-all-before FBI behavioural science agent Bill Tench in the 10-part thriller (which we recommend you binge immediately). “Not to take anything away from Anthony Hopkins and Silence Of The Lambs… but this idea of the serial killer as a wonderful character… witty, charming, clever… an opera aficionado and also a gourmet chef… Someone who would be the perfect dinner guest if he didn’t want to put you on the menu. That is not what these men are like in real life. They are deeply fractured, depraved, sadistic, scary individuals. You look at the Jeffrey Dahmers and John Wayne Gacys of this world and you think, ‘Oh my God.’”
Mindhunter is adapted from a memoir of the same name by FBI behavioural scientist Joe E Douglas, who through the ’70s and ’80s visited Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, Ed Gein and others in prison. He hoped to gain a sense of how and why they committed their unspeakable crimes. At the time, serial killers were regarded as monsters to be locked away and forgotten. Douglas’s great insight was that by deepening our understanding of these murderers, future killers could be more easily apprehended – or stopped from taking lives in the first place.