HomeStreamingDominique Fishback, Paris Barclay on Serial Killer Limited Series Boom – IndieWire
Dominique Fishback, Paris Barclay on Serial Killer Limited Series Boom – IndieWire
June 15, 2023
While it’s easy to understand why audiences look for thrills and chills when they watch murderous characters on TV, it’s a little harder to understand why creatives are forced to go through hell and back to create a well-executed depravity that, at best, is shaping up to be . into something more poignant.
For Dominique Fishback, star of Prime Video’s pitch-black comedy “Swarm,” about an obsessive music fan who leans into the “Killer” part of being a “Killer Bee,” playing Dre was a chance to defy expectations. “I’m very used to playing characters that are seen as lovable or likable or more relatable,” said the actress, who, apart from her BAFTA-nominated supporting role, has mostly starred in Judas and Black Messiah. like a grouchy teenager. “I didn’t want to be imprisoned by my own artistry or my own fears of disappointing anyone by doing something they thought was ‘dark’.
Fishback, who can currently be seen in “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts,” wanted her “Monster” moment (Charlize’s version). “The most fun part of acting is really exploring every nook and cranny of the human psyche, and I think you can indulge yourself in characters that go to the shadow side in a way that you never would in real life. he told IndieWire.
Coincidentally, many Emmy contenders can relate to taking on this challenge, given that in the Limited Series categories alone, Evan Peters (“Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story”), Elizabeth Olsen (“Love and Death”), Paul Walter Hauser (“Black Bird”) and Domhnall Gleeson (“The Sick”) all join Fishback as actors who have received numerous awards for playing killers.
On paper, forcing Emmy voters to watch such brutal content might seem a bit morbid, but director Paris Barclay, who helmed two key episodes of “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story,” suggested the murders were just a jumping-off point. to a less exciting but more important topic. “I don’t really like psychotic, sociopathic, demented people. Society has enough problems of its own,” he told IndieWire via Zoom. “My goal, on the other hand, is to uplift the people who tried to stand up and fight against them and ended up falling victim to this person.”
That’s exactly what Barclay had to do with the standout sixth episode, “Silenced,” which critics praised and even thought the record-breaking Netflix series about serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer didn’t work for them as a whole. In it, viewers can see the entire life of the main character, Tony Hughes, a young, gay, deaf black man who was murdered by Dahmer in 1991.
“I can’t think of a better use of my time,” said the director. “In the final product, you can see a much deeper representation of the deaf community, not only the deaf people, but also the families who love them, which for me makes the whole episode not only richer, but also historic in a way. I have never seen that black gay family. I haven’t seen that. I didn’t see how they communicate, I didn’t see their love. I’m very proud to take it this far and to have it seen by millions of people around the world.”
Barclay praised writers David McMillan and Janet Mock for writing an episode that “redirects the show from Jeffrey Dahmer to the people he harmed, the people he killed, and the impact he had on society at the time” The series feels lost to critics, who didn’t make it past the first half of the series, which focused more on the killer’s origin story.
When he stepped in to direct the innovative episode, Barclay used every technique at his disposal “to downplay Jeffrey Dahmer in favor of Tony Hughes,” he said. “I know a lot about what the camera can do. I know a lot about what music and silence can do, and where we place the camera is very important. (Tony) was always a little shorter and a little tighter than Jeffrey. These are just small, subtle things that people don’t notice, but we, as directors, do it to build the heroic side of it.”
Likewise, “Black Bird” had a lot of intricacies that required the deft pen of creator/showrunner Dennis Lehane. The Apple TV+ crime drama is based on James Keene’s 2010 book In with the Devil, about the deal he made with the FBI to get suspected serial killer Larry Hall to confess in exchange for a 10-year prison sentence. Lehane previously told IndieWire that when he came up with the show, he asked, “How do you find common ground with a serial killer? Where does it intersect?” In Keene’s case, objectification was the answer.
“Everyone objectifies. I don’t care who you are. Everyone objectively. I know the human being. This is what we do. (But) it seems like only men are gunning for her,” said the screenwriter and author. “I don’t sympathize with Larry. He was never convicted, but he killed potentially 20-40 women, so I have no sympathy for him. But at the same time, I feel the pathetic loneliness that exists in that person.”
Fishback approached Dre with equal care. The only real backstory that “Swarm” creators Donald Glover and Janine Nabers had was that her character was emotionally stunted, so she really had to figure out the rest. “Everything I learn in my life, a role comes along and it just enhances it. So I learned about the idea of repressed memories and how something can be so traumatic that you don’t remember it happening at all. And so I thought, ‘Okay, maybe I don’t need to know your story,'” the actress said. “Dre’s life was so traumatic that he may have suppressed it to himself and suppressed it so much that even I can’t access it, but that’s not necessarily important.”
Fishback cites Joseph Hacker’s book Listening on Camera as a source that helped him understand his roles, and that no matter what happens, his character will be what it is regardless of how Fishback plays him, because that’s how it was written. “Dre’s a serial killer because of the circumstances, so I don’t need to bother him with serial killer-type stuff, whatever it is,” he said. “I can actually stop and be present and let the script, my instincts and my scene partners influence my reaction.”
Unlike his peers, most of whom ventured into the well-trodden territory of characters familiar to true crime fans, Fishback also had representation to consider. After all, it would be hard to name a black female serial killer off the top of your head. “I took it very seriously. So even though those circumstances are there, it’s going to be a serial killer, how do you make it something that we as a black audience can be proud to say, “Baby, I want to do something like that.” said the actress.
“I’m grateful to be able to bring everything from my character and get real ownership of who Dre is,” Fishback said. “I was so specific about Dre’s nuances that some people are like, ‘Oh, he did that on purpose?’ And 98% of the time it was on purpose. It was very special and very intentional, so it’s (good) to see people pick up on this stuff because I really cared about it and I really gave it my all.”
But it should be noted that he wasn’t trying to become Dre. “I’m definitely not a method actor,” Fishback said. While similar performances, such as Joaquin Phoenix’s “Joker,” came with stories of the star losing weight for the role and losing his composure, Fishback worked hard to protect his well-being. After receiving his request to be a producer on “Swarm,” it was Fishback who negotiated the hiring of a therapist for the days when the murder scenes were shot.
While Peters reportedly took a methodical approach to playing Dahmer, Barclay provided a necessary explanation. “He was extremely caring with Rodney (Burford) (who plays Tony Hughes) and when he got involved with the rest of the cast, knowing that Rodney had a lot less experience and obviously no Emmys, Evan really looked after him and he really did. he just helped him through the basics,” said the director. “You can’t be in your head all the time and still show that level of care.”
Despite the challenges, playing the deadly Dre was a fulfilling experience for Fishback. “The fact that I get so much rage for a character was very healing, I feel like I came out the other side easier,” said the limited series standout.
Still, she’s not too interested in playing another black female killer any time soon. “I want to do a classic timeless romance like ‘When Harry Met Sally,’ that’s what I want to do. I want to do an epic romance like ‘The Notebook’ or ‘Titanic’. I want to do something fantastic, like ‘Harry Potter’ or ‘Children of Blood and Bone,’” Fishback said. “(‘Swarm’) inspired me to keep going and to know that there are people out there making original work that excites me.”