mindhunter season 2 review new

There are two scenes I want to ask you about specifically: Bill and Holden interviewing the Son of Sam, and when he’s interviewing a survivor of the BTK Killer in Wichita. When you first read those, what were your initial ideas of how to play them? 

The scene with Kevin in Wichita, the only survivor of BTK, was a really well-written scene and I thought it was one of Courtenay Miles‘, who kind of emerged as our lead writer in season two, I thought it was one of the best things that she wrote all season long. And it didn’t change much from the very early draft. He was kind enough to let me read some early drafts and I recognized how powerful that scene was the first time I read it. And what I also noticed was that it didn’t ever go through many revisions really, that I saw.

It was interesting to play because I can’t look at him, but as a detective, I still have to try to glean as much information as I can from that interview. And so paying very close attention, not only to the words that he chooses, but to his intonation, to the emotion. Do you know what I mean? That he invests into what he’s saying. To tiny details that may not seem important to him, but that could be important to the investigation. or me, that was always the scene that really kindles inside of Bill, a personal interest in that particular case. Do you know what I mean? And I continue to think about it and continue to be obsessed with it for the rest of the season.

As far as Son of Sam, look, I was born in New York City. I was a teenager. I remember the way that David Berkowitz brought New York to its knees. The way people were absolutely terrified. The way the women would dye their hair blonde. The way that people wouldn’t sit in their cars. His correspondences with Jimmy Breslin. We had hired the prosthetic makeup team who did a Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill, so the actor who plays David Berkowitz does six and a half hours of prosthetic makeup before, and he looks exactly like Berkowitz.

I didn’t think for a second that was makeup. 

Yeah, well I mean they’re the best. Kazu is the guy’s name. He’s the guru and we got a particularly strong performance from him and also from the actor who plays Charles Manson.

Holden and Bill are such an odd couple, but in the first few episodes of season two, watching your two characters apart, I started to wonder if they have more in common than they think. Do you think that’s true?

It’s a really interesting question because in some ways, we’re a study in contrast. We’re from different generations. We have different world views. We have different histories. We have very different personalities. And yet, we have many things in common as well. We’re both very driven as detectives. We both take great pride in our work and I think to a degree, they both enjoy the limelight a little more than they let on.

I was saying earlier today to somebody that the characters of Holden Ford and Bill Tench are loosely inspired by the real life detectives, John Douglas and Robert Ressler, who of course, were partners and conducted this famous series of interviews with incarcerated serial killers. Well, if you read “Mindhunter,” John Douglas barely mentions Robert Ressler and if you read “Whoever Fights Monsters,” which is Ressler’s book, he barely mentions Douglas, and yet these guys were partners and did every interview together. So, there was a lot of competition for glory and maybe that’s to be expected, but it was something that really struck me when I read the books.

For you, how much does Bill, being from the generation he’s from, continue to shape his mentality and worldview? 

Look, I always saw Bill Tench as a guy who was born in the 1930s and joined the military, fought in the Korean war, was in the military police, decided that he liked being an investigator, came out of the military and went into the FBI, has been in law enforcement for 20 years, and is very much a product of his time. And that’s really, for me, a very important thing, is that you not invest a character in 1979 with a mentality that belongs in 2019. The truth is that a lot of things were different back then. And then you also have to remember that when we meet Bill for the first time, in the late ’70s, he’s already well into his forties.

Do you see what I mean? So when did this guy come of age? In the Eisenhower administration. So, what were those guys like? What was that worldview? And now you’re talking about a pretty conservative guy, even by the standards of his day, right? So, it’s always having that in the back of your mind and not falling into the trap. Do you know what I mean?

No disrespect to television writers. We’ve been blessed with great writers on our show and great scripts and I think that that’s really at the heart of why we’ve been successful, but you have to take responsibility for your own character. Do you know what I mean? And if a line doesn’t feel right because it doesn’t feel like it adequately reflects the mentality of the character that you’ve created, then you need to speak to your director and ask permission to make a modification to the dialogue.

Both Bill and Holden appear more at ease talking to serial killers than dealing with their personal problems. You even see Bill show a little frustration with civilians and not quite connecting with them. What do you think it says about Bill he’s more comfortable questioning serial killers? 

It’s a real interesting question because it really depends on the guy. I had a very close friend who was in law enforcement, who said to me one time, “Holt, here’s my advice to you. If you ever get arrested for a crime, right? Be cordial. Don’t antagonize the officers that have arrested you. Don’t incriminate yourself. And if you don’t want to answer their questions, be cordial.” So with a guy like Kemper, I’m able to have a very civilized conversation, but much less so with a guy like Brudos. Do you know what I mean? And, as you’ll see in season two, have you seen the Manson one?

I haven’t yet. Only the first three episodes. 

Okay. So, they’re able to push my buttons. And I don’t share much of Holden’s… Holden, I think, has a more glamorous, perhaps, a picture of them than Bill does. Bill is less forgiving. And at the end of the day, most of the guys that I met and spoke to in law enforcement as I was preparing for the role, they don’t believe in rehabilitation. Interestingly, Robert Ressler, the guy that my character is loosely based on, is one of the few guys in law enforcement that I read about who, he died in 2013, so I was never able to meet him, I was able to meet Douglas, he opposed the death penalty. Most of them don’t. Most of them will say, “Yeah, I’d like to interview Bundy. Give me four hours with Bundy and then you can send him to the chair.” Ressler didn’t believe that. Ressler believed that they were more valuable to us, institutionalized, where we could study them and their psychology over a long period of time, that there’s no reason, we’ve got them now. They’re no longer a threat. Right? Let’s really study these guys and try to figure out why it is that they commit these horrible crimes.


Mindhunter season two is now available to stream on Netflix.

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