Groff is back, now as FBI

Net­flix’s new Mind­hunter pulls no punches En­ter­tain­ment Week­end, Oc­to­ber 13-15, 2017

Metro Canada (Calgary) - - ENTERTAINMENT - The as­sO­ci­ated press

His TV fans know him as Pa­trick in HBO’s Look­ing, and as Jesse St. James in Glee. His movie fans know him as the voice of Kristoff in Frozen. And his the­atre fans? They know him as the pouty King George in Hamil­ton.

This week, fans will see Jonathan Groff in an en­tirely new sort of role — as an FBI agent try­ing to get into the mind of se­rial killers, in the new Net­flix series Mind­hunter.

The series takes place in the ‘70s — think Son of Sam and Charles Man­son — and is pro­duced and di­rected in part by David Fincher, who knows his way around a gritty crime story, hav­ing di­rected Gone Girl and Zo­diac. It’s based on the book Mind­hunter: In­side the FBI’s Elite Se­rial Crime Unit by John Dou­glas, who spent many years de­vel­op­ing psy­cho­log­i­cal pro­fil­ing to probe the minds of the coun­try’s worst killers.

Groff’s char­ac­ter, Holden — based loosely on au­thor Dou­glas — is a fresh-faced new­comer to the FBI. The ac­tor sat down re­cently to dis­cuss the part, and work­ing with Fincher.

This char­ac­ter’s a de­par­ture for you. Had you ever won­dered what it was like to be in law en­force­ment?

No. Be­ing an ac­tor and artist feels like the op­po­site. We’re emo­tional, we’re ex­pres­sive, we’re em­pa­thetic, and play­ing some­one in law en­force­ment seems like the an­tithe­sis of that — which made it re­ally ex­cit­ing. Also the char­ac­ter of Holden is in­quis­i­tive, re­ally in­ter­ested in bring­ing psy­chol­ogy and so­ci­ol­ogy to law en­force­ment. He’s kind of the New Age FBI agent.

That first in­ter­view with a se­rial killer in prison is bonechilling.

It’s sort of the mo­ment every­thing comes into clar­i­fi­ca­tion. At one point, the killer asks, “Why are you so tense?” For two days of shoot­ing, I’d been fid­get­ing and do­ing var­i­ous things, and sud­denly David came over and said, “What if you don’t do any­thing?” It was ge­nius.

There seems to be a Si­lence of the Lambs dy­namic here, with you as the Clarice fig­ure.

To­tally. But it’s in­ter­est­ing, as amaz­ing as Si­lence of the Lambs is, David wanted to blow up that no­tion of the comic book ver­sion of the se­rial killer, that bril­liant om­ni­scient ge­nius, and re­ally take a gen­uine hu­man look at who these peo­ple are. They had mostly av­er­age IQs, and they’re just sad, (messed) up peo­ple with a dam­aged story.

The term se­rial killer didn’t even ex­ist then?

No, and that’s the fun of the show. It’s all this vo­cab­u­lary that we’re now very com­fort­able with, but back then it didn’t ex­ist. Watch­ing these guys sort of shoot­ing from the hip, go­ing on in­stinct, is re­ally in­ter­est­ing.

So there’s no Han­ni­bal Lecter here?

It’s al­most eas­ier to un­der­stand, if it’s an An­thony Hop­kins type. “Oh, they’re an in­sane bril­liant crazy per­son.” But when it’s, no, this dude is my weird neigh­bour that I ig­nore, that’s re­ally scarier.

You had to leave Hamil­ton to be­gin shoot­ing this show in Pitts­burgh. Was that hard?

This op­por­tu­nity was so ex­tra­or­di­nary, it was a no-brainer. But it was bit­ter­sweet to leave the show, be­cause I loved that group. And there was ac­tu­ally a mo­ment when we were per­form­ing at the White House, (Hamil­ton) direc­tor Tommy Kail was just re­mind­ing me of this, and Pres­i­dent Obama got up im­promptu and hugged ev­ery­one. And I was cry­ing so hard. And Kail slaps me on the back and says, “Have fun in Pitts­burgh!”

Are you headed back to the the­atre soon?

I’d love to. It’s my first love.

Con­trib­uted

Groff plays a 1970s FBi agent in Mind­hunter

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