Evan Peters stayed in character as Jeffrey Dahmer for months in preparation for Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, according to co-creator Ryan Murphy.
Speaking during a panel on Saturday (October 29) with Peters and co-stars Niecy Nash and Richard Jenkins, Murphy said the actor wore lead weights around his arms and lifts in his shoes to inhabit Dahmer’s physicality during four months of prep and six months of shooting.
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As Variety reports, Murphy noted that Peters “basically stayed in this character, as difficult as it was, for months”.
Explaining his preparation, Peters said: “He has a very straight back. He doesn’t move his arms when he walks, so I put weights on my arms to see what that felt like. I wore the character shoes with lifts in them, his jeans, his glasses, I had a cigarette in my hands at all times.
“I wanted all this stuff, these external things, to be second nature when we were shooting, so I watched a lot of footage and I also worked with a dialect coach to get down his voice. The way that he spoke, it was very distinct and he had a dialect. So I also went off and created this 45-minute audio composite, which was very helpful. I listened to that every day, in hopes of learning his speech patterns, but really, in an attempt to try to get into his mindset and understand that each day that we were shooting.”
Nash, who played Dahmer’s neighbour Glenda Cleveland in the series, said she kept Peters “in her prayers” during his method process.
Turning to Peters, Nash said: “I prayed for you a lot, for real, because this is weighty. And when you stay in it, and you’re tethered to the material, like bone to marrow, your soul is troubled at some point. And I could see him getting tired. I just said, ‘Well, I’m just gonna make sure I keep him in my prayers, because this is a lot and he wants to do it justice.”
After some families of Dahmer’s victims criticised the series, Murphy recently claimed the show’s team reached out to 20 victims’ families and friends, but “not a single person responded”.
“We relied very, very heavily on our incredible group of researchers who… I don’t even know how they found a lot of this stuff,” Murphy said. “But it was just like a night and day effort to us trying to uncover the truth of these people.”
Created by Murphy and Ian Brennan, the Netflix series was pitched, per a synopsis, as shining a “spotlight on the as-yet untold stories of Dahmer’s victims”.
Dahmer was convicted of murdering 17 men and boys between 1978 and 1991, with some of his crimes involving cannibalism. He was killed in 1994 at the Columbia Correctional Institution in Wisconsin by fellow inmate Christopher Scarver.