Even Peters appeared in various movies, such as Ghost Whisper, Criminal Minds, and American Horror Story. He played characters that had various demons, some of them good and some of them not as much. With his new role in the Jeffrey Dahmer Story, we can’t help but appreciate his skill at portraying slightly unhinged characters.
Considering his experience in portraying these types of troubled characters, one would think that the Dahmer role would come naturally to him. As it turns out, it might not be as easy as we thought.
A Heavy Character
The story of Jeffrey Dahmer is one that haunted many people’s nightmares. With his first crime committed in 1978 and ending with his 17th victim in 1991, Dahmer was given 17 live sentences without the possibility of parole. He was a real-life boogeyman, and even after a fellow inmate killed him, Dahmer still left many scars on those who knew him.
Dahmer was diagnosed with a variety of mental conditions. He had a psychotic disorder, schizotypal personality disorder, and borderline personality disorder. Even with his background, he still could not convince the jury at his trial that his actions were caused by madness. He would spend his life in jail, and nothing could be done about it.
Reticence about the Role
When he was offered the role of Dahmer, Peters was uncertain about whether he should commit to it entirely or not. Even with his marvelous portrayal of characters in the American Horror Story, Jeffrey Dahmer was in a completely different league. And perhaps the most critical factor was that this character was real.
In an interview for a Netflix feature, he admitted that he was also scared of Dahmer’s actions throughout his life. All the things that he did were enough to traumatize a person. As a result, he knew that committing to it would be one of the hardest things that he had to do in his entire life.
Watching the Dahmer Interview
To get into the character of a serial killer, the actor needed to learn his thought process. He had to find out as much as possible about the murderer, how they grew up, and what led them to do what they did.
In 1994, Jeffrey Dahmer gave an interview with Stone Philips, where he talked about his crimes and his thoughts. As a way to prepare for the role, producer Ryan Murphy said that Peters had to watch this interview. To perfect his role, he complied.
After he watched the interview, Peters admitted that the entire thing was highly disturbing and jaw-dropping. He noted that Dahmer also seemed to be guilty, regretful, and confused. He also caught a sense of disorder that was borderline odd. There was no devilish smile or winsome. He looked unfriendly, alone, and unaffected – detached – from the things that he did.
Peters also proceeded to read various biographies, where he learned more about Jeffrey’s life. He found audio interviews with diverse psychologists or detectives, where Dahmer would describe his action. Just like the interview, he noted that his speech was very candid and normal.
After getting more insight, Peters admitted that it was very important to maintain respect for the victims. The story needed to be told in a manner that was as authentic as possible without being embellished. They don’t want to see everything happening over and over again. They don’t want to see a criminal being glorified. Even eBay shut down its Dahmer costume line, out of respect for the victims.
Staying in the Right Environment
Watching the infamous interview would not be enough to play the character which is Dahmer. To become Dahmer, the actor needed to get comfortable with his environment. Extreme measures were not necessary, but Peters saw it fit to live a life as similar to Jeffrey as possible.
Evan admitted that he would go to dark places and stay there for extended amounts of time. Dahmer was a solitary being and lived most of his time in dark spaces, so Peters wanted to become accustomed to the feeling.
The actor said the crew was also essential, as they kept him on guardrails. They helped him stay in character while preventing him from falling off the wagon. He admits that without them, he could not have done the role.
Evan Peters is no stranger to playing characters with dark minds. The ten seasons of American Horror Story suggest that. However, Jeffrey Dahmer was a character that brought many challenges, especially for the soul and mind. In the end, Peters’ acting was impeccable, and his portrayal was perfect. But to do this, he had to visit places he never wanted to step into.