How Michael Sheen got into the mind of a serial killer
Los Angeles, Nov 8 Actor Michael Sheen went through several documentaries to understand the psychology of a serial killer, and says the experience was interesting.
Sheen is seen playing the serial killer Martin Whitly, known as “The Surgeon”, in TV series “The Prodigal Son”.
“I think over the last couple years, there’s just sort of been an explosion of content around these sort of issues. So there’s no lack of being able to read or watch stuff. I think one of the most useful things for me is I spent a few years working on a script that I wrote myself about what became known as the “Green River Killer” case, so I spent quite a long time looking into the psychology of that particular serial killer, which even though it’s not the same as the character I play, it was very useful in giving me a kind of broad background on these personality traits and that kind of stuff,” Sheen said.
“I also watched a couple things that were particularly useful, there was a documentary about the British doctor Harold Shipman, (which concerned) the idea of how a doctor, someone very trusted in the community, very loved, very respected, very admired, could also be doing these terrible things. And also, there was one that was useful about watching someone who, whilst being in prison, then kind of tried to reclaim a relationship with a daughter and grandchildren, and that was interesting as well. Very useful,” he added.
“The Prodigal Son” narrates story of psychologist Malcolm Bright (essayed by Tom Payne) who is forced to confront his serial killer father Martin Whitly to solve a case while working with New York Police Department. The show is aired in India on Colors Infinity.
Do you think he loves his son?
“I mean, that’s the question at the heart of the relationship. It was the first thing we talked about when I talked to the guys about the character and about going into this kind of heart of darkness. Is it a heart of darkness that can feel love, or is it a heart of darkness that can’t? And you very quickly start getting into very deep conversations about what is love? And is a simulation of love anything essentially different from what we consider genuine love? And all those kind of things,” he said.
The whole conversation was fascinating for Sheen.
“I’m not going to tell you what I think about that, because that’s my performance. But that’s certainly, I think, the thing that obviously, hopefully hooks an audience onto what is going on in the dynamic in that relationship. I mean, I find that fascinating. You know, given that what I do as a profession is about simulation, about pretending to be something or and yet, what we aspire towards as actors is not to just be pretending but for it to be real. And there’s that Oscar Wilde phrase about give a man a mask and he’ll show you his true face. So fake it till you make it,” he said.
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