MADPAC interviews Mindhunter’s Anna Torv
Netflix keeps working on adding addictive series online. Their latest is Mindhunter by David Fincher (Se7en, House of Cards, Gone Girl) which feeds our fascination with serial killers. The series is about the early days of the FBI profiling unit where research was done into the motives and backgrounds of serial killers. Leading roles are two FBI agents (Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany) and psychology professor Wendy Carr (Anna Torv). We spoke exclusively with the Australian Torv (38) about the new Netflix hit.
Where does our fascination for this type of crime series come from?
As humans we have a kind of inborn interest in knowing why people are the way they are. The crimes of serial killers are so horrible that we cannot even imagine it and therefore want to apply a ‘why’ to it. To not just prevent it but to understand it, however, the scary thing is that this is not so simple.
What are you most proud of?
That I played Wendy Carr – who is based on an existing professor – a role that is not standard for a woman. You see some of her personal life here and there to give her a bit more depth, and then it quickly becomes clear that she is completely equal to the men in the series. Something that we fortunately see more often, but not nearly enough.
Even though she is forced to lead a double life.
True, as a lesbian she is still partly in the closet. This is also because homosexuality was only removed from the list of mental disorders in 1973. Yet I think that, regardless of her sexuality, she would not talk about her private life. She is too focused for that. When she is at work, she is at work and there is no other time for it. Certainly no small talk, she finds it exhausting.
How does Mindhunter differentiate itself further?
I find it special that we – with the exception of the very first scene – do not show bloody murders or violence. It shows guts that David values the viewer and considers them intelligent enough that the ‘why’ is already exciting enough. And you have to admit, those scenes with Kemper are bizarrely exciting. I have never seen anything so fascinating on television. Take the last scene of episode ten, a brilliant ending which we worked towards from all those episodes.
For the experts, what’s the deal with your cat subplot? Do you have a theory, are you feeding a cat or is it something else?
Haha, yes Wendy thinks she is feeding a cat in the laundry room of her apartment complex. However, we never see a cat and in the end there are all kinds of ants in an untouched tray of tuna. I thought very naively that it would turn into a cat for her home, but in the end I think it’s open to interpretation. Is it a symbol for Holden who is increasingly corrupted by his dealings with serial killers? Or is it a harbinger of something more sinister that stops in her apartment complex, a novice serial killer who starts with pets? You hear it, the series has done something with my train of thought … (laughs)
Why is Netflix so successful at the moment?
Complete creative freedom plays a big role. Things are discussed and then the makers can go ahead and do practically what they want. Very different from traditional broadcasters where everything has to go through ‘many’ committees. And I think because we have that freedom we are able to deepen the medium of a series of characters very well. Take Breaking Bad or Mad Men, you know those characters through and through and know exactly how they will respond to something. You cannot achieve that with film, not even with the best Oscar winner.
Have the positive reactions to Mindhunter surprised you?
I knew the series was good, but it’s always great when critics and viewers agree. The feedback from people on the street is great. I had the same thing with the TV series Fringe, but because the series can now be seen all over the world, you now get it all at once. Overwhelming, but insanely natural that your work is seen. I already had it during the first weekend that Mindhunter was online, the fans really rushed through everything at once! An episode or three at a time is really my max …
After a while in Australia, are you back in the US, homesick?
It was good to be back home in Australia and to work there after having played in another TV series for five years. Seeing family regularly was nice and the excitement of working with new people in Australia was refreshing. I also realized that acting does not necessarily define me. I can also be happy without work. But then David Fincher comes along with something like Mindhunter, that was too good to let go.
For someone who has worked in Hollywood, that sounds surprisingly sober.
(laughs) But we are Aussies for that. Especially not too much believe in all that Hollywood glamour. Which can be nice at times, though I’m actually too modest for that. And that is not a false modesty. No, let me work. That’s where I get my satisfaction, the rest is a side issue.