Netflix’s serial killer drama “Mindhunter” has become the streaming giant’s new must-binge series. Executive produced and co-directed by David Fincher, the show is inspired by the stories of real criminal profilers John E. Douglas and Robert K. Ressler, who headed the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit and interviewed dozens of America’s most infamous serial killers throughout their careers. While the characters played by Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany are only inspired by the real FBI agents, the serial killers featured in the 10-episode season are the real deal.
“Mindhunter” puts its characters face to face with real serial killers such as Edmund Kemper, the murderer and necrophiliac known as The Co-ed Killer, and Jerome Henry “Jerry” Brudos, who murdered four women in Oregon. The show’s casting directors Laray Mayfield and Julie Schubert had their work cut out for her in trying to find the right actors to embody these well-documented sociopaths. She decided to hire relatively unknown actors to play the show’s versions of the real murderers, and the decision pays off incredibly well. Sometimes it’s hard to tell where the acting begins and the sociopathic rage ends.
The first season of “Mindhunter” is now streaming on Netflix. Watch real interviews with the show’s lead FBI agents, as well as a number of its featured serial killers, in the videos below.
Speck tortured, raped, and murdered eight student nurses from the South Chicago Community Hospital in July 1966. He died of a heart attack in 1991 while in prison. He is played by Jack Erdie in “Mindhunter.”
ADT Serviceman (aka Dennis Rader, the BTK Killer)
We only know Dennis Rader as the “ADT Serviceman” in “Mindhunter” Season 1. The show features Rader in various cold opens before he became an infamous serial killer, which will most likely be one of the major plot points in Season 2. Rader bound, tortured, and killed 10 people in Sedgwick County, Kansas between 1974 and 1991. He is played by Sonny Valicenti in “Mindhunter.”
Jerome Henry “Jerry” Brudos
Brudos was a serial killer and necrophiliac who bludgeoned and strangled four women in Oregon between 1968 and 1969. After committing a murder, he would dress up in high heels and masturbate. Brudos died of liver cancer in March 2006 while imprisoned. He is played by Happy Anderson in “Mindhunter.”
Kemper murdered his mother and his paternal grandparents in the 1960s before abducting and killing several women throughout the early 1970s. He targeted young female hitchhikers and decapitated his victims after their deaths and performed forced oral sex with their severed heads. He is played by Cameron Britton in “Mindhunter.”
John E. Douglas
“Mindhunter” is based on John E. Douglas’ true-crime book “Mind Hunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit.” Douglas was one of the first criminal profilers at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and has inspired television FBI agents like Mandy Patinkin’s character on “Criminal Minds” and Bryan Fuller’s Will Graham on “Hannibal.” Douglas is the inspiration for “Mindhunter” protagonist Holden Ford, played by Jonathan Groff.
Robert K. Ressler
Robert Ressler joined the FBI in 1970 in the Behavioral Science Unit. He served as a criminal profiler and worked on cases involving Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and John Joubert. Ressler is believed to have coined the term “serial killer.” He is in the inspiration for “Mindhunter” character Bill Tench, played by Holt McCallany.
Other serial killers featured on “Mindhunter” include Monte Ralph Rissell, Darrell Gene Devier. Benjamin Barnwright, and Frank Janderman.