Anna Torv: The great discovery of ‘Mindhunter’
The actress intends to understand how the mind of a serial killer works in one of this season’s revelatory series.
Charles Manson’s death in prison this week has brought the spotlight back to this magnetic figure among serial killers, precisely the profile around which Mindhunter revolves, the latest from David Fincher (the director of Seven, Fight Club and Gone Girl). “This attraction to serial killers is nothing new,” Anna Torv, one of the protagonists of the Netflix series, explains to ‘Grazia’ from Los Angeles, “figures like vampires and werewolves have created an entire mythology around these types of crimes for a long time.”
However, if serial killers are a recurring element in crime shows and movies, don’t expect the typical uses here. In Mindhunter they speak about serial killers but there is no action, nor blood, nor crimes or victims on the screen. There are only photographs of the homicides. And with this it is more than enough for Fincher and the three main actors, Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany and Anna Torv, to keep you on the edge of your seats episode after episode, in a spine-chilling environment, but definitely fascinating.
“As a viewer, when I first watched the first episode I thought: ‘My God, it takes you on a completely unique journey.’ I remember being surprised when I saw the scenes of the first interviews with the killers, they went on and on and didn’t finish, but in a good way. There’s not constant melodrama in the background or anything taken for granted, only the protagonists, and they are magnetic, and you want to keep watching them,” says the actress. “Jonathan and Cameron [Britton, who plays the serial killer Ed Kemper in a macabre and friendly way] give off so much energy in the scenes they share that you just want to keep watching them,” recognizes Anna Torv, who also gives us a masterful and contained interpretation of Wendy Carr, a consultant with the FBI.
Inspired by the non-fiction book ‘Mind Hunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit, by Mark Olshaker and John E. Douglas, the series recreates the beginning, towards the end of the Seventies, of the unit dedicated to serial killers, a term that had not even existed until then, “Although it’s difficult, we can understand a murder if it’s an act of vengeance or even an act of love gone wrong. But, it is impossible for us to comprehend an episode of horror like this, randomly perpetrated by one human being towards another, without any apparent reason,” says the Australian actress who may sound familiar due to playing Olivia Dunham, the lead on Fringe, for five years. “They keep fascinating us because we look at them with the hope of finding a reason,” she adds, and this is precisely where ‘Mindhunter’ goes; understanding how the minds of these criminals function.
To this end, the show depicts a series of interviews between the FBI agents and the most infamous assassins of the time, “David [Fincher] was very clear that he did not want to show the typical portrayal of a psychopath, not just the guy who is tremendously intelligent, because what he is looking for is the commonality of these distinct personalities that may not fulfill what we imagine as a killer,” something that is achieved by showing these electrifying conversations with some of the most famous criminals of the time, those that were interviewed by the actual protagonists back in the Seventies: for now, in the first season, Edmund Kemper, Jerry Brudos and Richard Speck.
There will be more: probably Manson himself, who is mentioned on various occasions in the first episodes. Because, even though Netflix has not yet given the official word confirming if we will see a second season, David Fincher himself has explained which criminals will appear in the next set of episodes. “It still has not been confirmed, but I know that they are having conversations so we are keeping our fingers crossed; I have high hopes,” says Anna Torv cautiously.
The actress has enjoyed, and much, working with Fincher, “I think he’s totally focused on the end result. My experience, especially in television, tends to be that you have a scriptwriter and a producer and then, on set, a director. You can ask the director of an episode a question about your character, but it’s common that they won’t know the answer because they are only worried about that scene. That’s why it has been so special to work with someone who has such a clear idea about what they want at all moments.”
The results speak for themselves: ten episodes where the actress plays a woman who is absolutely introspective, a role where every emotion is perfectly contained, sufficiently enough to transmit with pinpoint accuracy but without letting go. “Sometimes we tend to emphasize character, to surround her with flavors and feelings because you think that this will communicate things better. But, on the other hand, this doesn’t mean you are holding things in just to hold things in, instead to have it be very clear what you want to do and then spitting it out when the time comes. At times this is not a pleasant place to be,” Torv recognizes.
And if anything, Wendy has clear ideas and she knows what she’s doing, “Instead of starting by focusing on her, I took my time learning all the information that I had. Making sure that when I spoke that I was very clear in what I was doing because there is so much information and I had to control that. And that’s why, even before they gave me the role, I read the book that inspired the series and then a huge amount of information, various manuals… so that I could draw an increasingly deeper draft,” says the actress, who manages to convey a completely hypnotizing and rounded character.
Credit: Grazia España