Actor Evan Peters, who plays Jeffrey Dahmer in Netflix’s hugely successful ‘DAHMER – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story’, explained the arduous prep he did to portray the notorious serial killer.
The 35-year-old actor plays Dahmer in Ryan Murphy’s ‘DAHMER – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story’, and while the series has garnered its fair share of criticism, Peters’ visceral performance has been widely praised.
In a conversation with Murphy and the series’ ensemble cast, released on November 28, Peters detailed the arduous work that went into capturing Dahmer’s ominous essence.
“He has such a distinct voice, and that dialect,” Peters said.
“I worked with dialect coaches and then created this 45-minute audio composite that I listened to every day to stay in the accent, but also to really get into the mindset for the day and all the scenes we were shooting. I tried to attempt to understand what he was thinking and going through. I just tried to stay in it because it was to hard too go in and out of it.”
Murphy pointed to a 1994 Dahmer interview with NBC’s Stone Phillips, the only network television interview Dahmer ever granted, that Murphy personally suggested as inspiration.
Peters said he “watched as much as I could,” which also included courtroom footage of Dahmer. However, it was more than just the voice that Peters focused on.
“I studied how he moved,” he said. “He had a very straight back. He didn’t move his arms when he walked.”
In fact, Peters took things into his own hands literally. Murphy revealed that Peters actually wore lead weights around his hands to work on Dahmer’s distinct posture.
“In the beginning it was important for me to get how that felt,” Peters said. “As we were shooting, I let that go. In the beginning I wore wardrobe’s shoes, jeans and glasses. I had a cigarette in my hand at all times, just trying to get all of these external second-nature so I wasn’t thinking about it when we were shooting.”
When co-star Niecy Nash, who plays Dahmer’s neighbour Glenda Cleveland in the series, questioned Peters about how he was able to shed everything after they finished filming, Peters said he knew it wouldn’t be easy, saying: “I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to take some time off and decompress. I haven’t worked since we shot this. I tried to really shake it all off.”
Peters joked that he “watched (2008’s) Step Brothers, just change up the psyche,” which drew a laugh from co-star and Step Brothers star Richard Jenkins.
“I put in so much negativity and darkness to portray the character,” Peters said, “that I thought, ‘OK, once this is done, all of that goes away and I have to get back into the light and start filling myself back up with comedies and romance and sorts of things like that.'”