mindhunter video

One of the memorable aspects of the David Fincher-produced serial killer drama Mindhunter is the incredible performance of Cameron Britton. Britton plays real-life serial killer Ed Kemper, and his work on the show is chilling and attention-grabbing. In a new Mindhunter video, Britton shows us his transformation into the character.

I love Netflix’s Mindhunter for many reasons (it’s impeccably directed; has great writing and pacing; it’s an inherently fascinating show), but one of the biggest standouts of season 1 was the performance of Cameron Britton. I was completely unaware of Britton’s work, and watching him play serial killer Edmund Kemper on the show was something of a revelation. He fully embodied the character, and found a way to perfectly balance both humor and creepiness. This new Mindhunter video features Britton getting into character, and it’s pretty damn great.

Mindhunter Video

The real Edmund Kemper (who is still alive, and is currently incarcerated in the California Medical Facility), killed 10 people, including his grandparents and his mother. Yet one of the most remarkable things about Britton’s performance is the way he makes Kemper sort-of likable. FBI profiler Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff), the main character of Mindhunter, comes to like Ed – and so does the audience, by extension. But in the last episode, Holden (and the audience) see what a mistake that is, as Kemper’s genial attitude gives way to something terrifying.

Deadline asked Britton about trying to approach the character from a place of empathy, and Britton replied that it wasn’t easy:

“As actors, we’re supposed to never judge our characters, but I had a lot of trouble doing that. I found that the way to make him empathetic to audiences was to play him as someone who’s pretending they’re empathetic. I think the Kemper character wears a mask constantly. He’s sort of practiced this character he’s invented. It’s sort of a character within a character that wants you to feel sorry for him.”

In regards to Britton’s performance, producer and director David Fincher said:

“One of the things that was critical [came to me] when we did a read-through of the first three episodes…‘Make sure Cameron doesn’t talk to anyone. He can’t fraternize [with anyone]. I don’t want this to be a social thing. He has to literally come from Pluto and be in the show.’ He can’t be indoctrinated into what anyone else is up to. It has to be that this guy shows up, he’s got all the time in the world — 13 life sentences — and he’s going to tell you what you want to know. During the read-through, it was [clear] that if we can get that on film, we’re going to be fine.”

Mindhunter season 1 is now streaming on Netflix. I hope season 2 gets here soon. If you want more Cameron Britton-as-Ed-Kemper action, feel free to watch this two-minute video in which Britton silently eats a sandwich.

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