×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Mindhunter’ Star Cameron Britton on Getting Inside the Mind of a Killer: ‘It’s Hard to Get Out of That Energy’

Taking on the role of Edmund Kemper, a real-life serial killer who murdered 10 people from the mid-1960s through the mid-1970s, pushed Cameron Britton’s career from occasional guest star status to captivating supporting player. In the Netflix drama that Joe Penhall adapted from John Douglas and Mark Olshaker’s book, Britton’s scenes were mostly confined to small interrogation rooms as detectives interviewed him about his crimes in order to learn the inner workings of a killer’s mind. Britton calls the experience, which also included working with prolific director David Fincher, an “almost spiritual” one. “Episode 2” was the first time the audience got a glimpse at Britton’s take on Kemper, becoming both captivated by his affectations and perhaps concerned by how closely they were connecting with a killer.

Britton: “When I received the audition script I had never heard of Ed, and the description in the email did not even say that Ed was a real person. What I found interesting was that when I picked up the page and started reading the dialogue, for some reason, I could just tell this was a real person. So I looked up his name and found him on YouTube and went from there. Every single thing that I have learned about him since has been unendingly fascinating to me.

“I was lucky enough early in the process to not want to make an imitation and that’s something that David did not want either. So it allowed me, when watching interviews with him, to capture his essence and then just let everything else come organically and instinctually to me. So you sort of get a mix of what Ed Kemper was like and then the artistic expression that I found.

“This character is trying to hide his true self from everyone, so the audience needs to be able to see the true self and that he’s hiding it. So in my process, what I do is fill myself with dark impulses and then sort of create a second character. There’s Ed and then there’s the character Ed’s created to seem normal.

“Before shooting Ed my hair was down to my shoulder blades and I had a big beard. Hair and makeup and costumes went into every detail possible to be really authentic — [slicking back] my hair, which is very curly, darkening my eyebrows and [putting] my prescription in those glasses. It helped dramatically with the performance to be able to look in a mirror and not see yourself.

“I think what makes Ed Kemper so interesting is the way he phrases things and how insightful he is. It’s enough to just simply transcribe it at times. The rest of the script was Joe Penhall, and usually as an actor there’s a line or two in a script you don’t care for or that you want to re-look at, but with this script there was none of that. I loved every single word.

“After the first day [of shooting] I was pretty tired, but what made it through the week and what made me full of energy was all of those takes. There’s something incredible about sitting in a chair and just doing what you love until it’s time to go home.

“Mostly between takes [Jonathan] Groff and Holt [McCallany] and I were singing show tunes. It was a really dark subject matter, so it was really nice to have light, fun energy between to remember that this is acting. As an actor you need to enjoy what you’re doing to really do it.

“Sometimes Ed just lingers. It’s hard to get out of that energy. That’s the hard part — with many characters I’ve done, sometimes I feel them sprout up when I’m driving and I want to do them, but with Ed I ignore those impulses because if you just have dark thoughts all day, they become habitual. But that being said, I very much enjoy that headspace because, creepy as it is, there’s a control and a power that comes from being this monster.”

More TV

  • Outlander 406

    'Outlander' Recap: Jamie Encounters William Again in 'Blood of My Blood'

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “Blood Of My Blood,” the sixth episode of “Outlander” Season 4. The action in “Blood of My Blood” picked up almost immediately after the previous week’s episode, as evidenced by the fact that Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) was still staying with Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and [...]

  • The Flash -- "Elseworlds, Part 1"

    'Elseworlds, Part 1' Recap: Barry Allen and Oliver Queen Swap Skills, Visit Superman

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “Elseworlds, Part 1,” the first part of the 2018 “Arrowverse” crossover, which aired Dec. 9. After past crossovers that introduced beloved characters’ doppelgangers, a wedding and death, “Elseworlds,” the fifth annual “Arrowverse” event, had a lot to which to live up. Unlike previous years, [...]

  • Stranger Things

    'Stranger Things' Season 3 Teaser Reveals Episode Titles, 2019 Release

    Netflix dropped a new teaser for the upcoming third season of “Stranger Things” Sunday, confirming that it will land on the streamer in 2019. The teaser also revealed the episode titles for the third season, which are as follows: “Suzie, Do You Copy?,” “The Mall Rats,” “The Case of the Missing Lifeguard,” “The Sauna Test,” [...]

  • Kyzza Terrazas Joins Garcia Bernal, Diego

    Kyzza Terrazas Joins Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna’s La Corriente del Golfo (EXCLUSIVE)

    BUENOS AIRES — Launching their new production house, La Corriente de Golfo, last April, Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna have tapped Mexican writer-director Kyzza Terrazas as the company’s head of development. The appointment will certainly help build the company appointing an old-rounder capable of overseeing and implementing development, writing and directing, and a longtime [...]

  • Michael Che Defends Kevin Hart on

    Michael Che Ribs Academy Over Kevin Hart Controversy on 'SNL'

    Kevin Hart may have alienated some in Hollywood over his recently resurfaced homophobic tweets, but that didn’t stop “Weekend Update” co-host Michael Che from cracking some jokes in support of Hart on Dec. 8’s “Saturday Night Live.” After briefly recapping that Hart stepped down from hosting the Oscars after the 2011 tweets came to light, [...]

  • THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY

    'The Umbrella Academy' Superheroes Series Premiere Date Set on Netflix

    The dysfunctional-family superheroes of “The Umbrella Academy” are landing on Netflix worldwide on Feb. 15, 2019. The live-action series is based on the “Umbrella Academy” comic books created and written by Gerard Way and illustrated by Gabriel Bá, published by Dark Horse Comics. The Netflix original series comprises 10 one-hour episodes. Related Rachel Brosnahan on [...]

  • SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "Jason Momoa"

    Robert De Niro Appears as Robert Mueller in 'Saturday Night Live' Cold Open

    Robert De Niro made a surprise appearance as special counsel Robert Mueller in “Saturday Night Live’s” cold open. De Niro popped out of a closet in a sketch that skewered President Donald Trump and the mounting legal pressure Mueller’s investigation has put on many of Trump’s associates. Alex Moffatt played Eric Trump in a bedtime-story [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content