‘Mindhunter’: meet the stars of David Fincher’s murderous new Netflix series

"I’d be talking about Ed Kemper cutting off some girl’s head and fucking her neck. My friends were like, ‘what do you do for a living!?’”

David Fincher is largely responsible for Netflix‘s current dominance. Back in 2013, the Fight Club director kickstarted the on-demand revolution with House Of Cards. Now he’s back with a new series that’s similarly paced, but even more spine-tingling.

Mindhunterbased on Mark Olshaker and John E. Douglas’ true crime bestseller – follows FBI agents Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany), who interview imprisoned serial killers to try and understand how they think. These interview scenes are as tense as anything you’ve seen on television: think The Wire but with psycho-thriller elements.

We caught up with Groff and McCallany to find out just how gruesome these murderous maniacs really were.

The first serial killer we meet in ‘Mindhunter’ is quite terrifying, isn’t he?

Holt McCallany: “Oh yeah. Some of the crimes Ed Kemper committed are truly astonishing. Cutting his mother’s head off for example. Then putting her voice box down the garbage disposal. He also buried women’s heads in the backyard and placed them looking up at his mother’s room, just because his mum said she liked people looking at her. I mean, seriously?“

What was the creepiest story you read about him?

HM: “He used to pull his car up to the kerb and offer rides to people, but once you got in the car there was no way to get out. The handle had been removed from the inside, the window didn’t roll down and the door only locked on his side. Then he would take them to the woods, torture them, rape them and mutilate their bodies. There was one story where he accidentally locked himself out of the car while the girl was safe inside. It only took him 20 minutes to sweet talk her into letting him back in. At which point she was promptly killed. He was a very intelligent guy.”

What was it like reading this stuff and then going home to your friends and family?

Jonathan Groff: Before Mindhunter I was doing this show called Looking on HBO. It was a gay show so I would go out with my friends and talk about anal douching and butt sex. Then [with this show] I’d be talking about Ed Kemper cutting off some girl’s head and fucking her neck. My friends were like, ‘what do you do for a living!?’” [laughs].

Mindhunter

Holt McCallany & Anna Torv in David Fincher’s ‘Mindhunter’

Why is David Fincher such a good thriller director?

HM: It’s the way that his mind works. Whatever walk of life he’d chosen, he’d have been successful. If he wanted to be the head coach of an NFL football team he would have multiple Super Bowls; if he was a general he’d go from victory to victory. He’s also got a very dark sense of humour, which helps.

Why is Netflix so successful at the moment?

HM: “Never before in human history has there been a medium where you can examine a character in as much detail as modern television. There simply isn’t room in a two-hour movie or a three-hour play. The famous screenwriting guru Robert McKee said to me, ‘Tony Soprano is a more complicated character than Hamlet’, and he was right. We’ve got nine seasons of Tony Soprano. We get to see him in all manner of situations – with his family, with other mobsters, with law enforcement. You just can’t do that in a movie.”

Is there something special about Netflix specifically though?

JG: “Yeah, they give total creative freedom to the showrunner. In this case it’s David Fincher. He was allowed to do whatever he wanted. On CBS, even with something as simple as changing a line, you’d have to run it up a flagpole to make sure it was okay.”

Will there be a ‘Mindhunter’ season 2?

HM: “There is a 70-page document written by a gentleman named Joe Penhall. It’s five seasons worth of scripts that gives an overview of what the journey of the central characters will be. So I’m confident.”

Mindhunter is streaming on Netflix now