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The First Thing Evan Peters Did To Prepare For Netflix's Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story

Actors often have to portray some of humanity's most monstrous characters. Movies and television shows revolve around a conflict or tension that drives the story, which usually requires some villain(s) to stand in the protagonist's way. It's difficult to portray a fictional murderous character, but there are more complications to consider when a project focuses on a real-life tragedy.

In particular, true-crime shows like "I Am a Killer" prove harmful to those connected to the event. Often, this raises the ethical question of whether it is problematic for filmmakers to profit from others' suffering. Some critics might question if it's unethical for those who did not experience the traumatic events to produce films that earn them money and acclaim. However, other journalists might say that their stories need to be told regardless so history doesn't repeat itself.

When Netflix's "Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story" debuted, there was a lot of backlash about the true-crime series. Evan Peters, who portrays the titular serial killer, thoughtfully reflected on how he approached portraying the murderer.

How Peters prepared for the role

In an interview with Netflix, Evan Peters said the first thing he did to prepare for his role as Jeffrey Dahmer was watching the "Stone Phillips interview." He then proceeded to read biographies, police reports, and Dahmer's confession. "I found on YouTube some audio of what sounds like a psychologist interviewing him or even a detective," Peters said.

Peters explained why he thought it was important to research Dahmer. "It was so jaw-dropping that it all really happened that it felt important to be respectful to the victims, to the victims' families, to try to tell the story as authentically as we could," he said. Regarding his portrayal of Dahmer, Peters added, "You need to have certain plot points because he did do these things. But you don't need to embellish them. We get it. We don't need to see it over and over." 

According to Peters, he wanted to portray a bare-bones version of the man. This was no easy task: Peters described it as one of the hardest things he has ever done because he had to go to such dark places and stay there for extended periods of time to tell the narrative of what occurred. Still, it's debatable how accurate Netflix's "Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story" is.