Boston Strangler | Cast and Filmmaker Interview
The Boston Strangler is one of the first-ever serial killers on record. Investigative journalists Loretta McLaughlin and Jean Cole helped make connections between several murders and brought the information to the public. The real-life story has been turned into a made-for-TV film, Boston Strangler, which debuts on Hulu in the US and on Disney+ around the world on March 17th.
During the global press conference, we sat down with the cast and filmmakers to discuss their prior knowledge of the case, attempting Boston accents, and how they prepared for their roles.
- Keira Knightley (“Loretta McLaughlin”)
- Carrie Coon (“Jean Cole”)
- Chris Cooper (“Jack MacLaine”)
- Alessandro Nivola (“Detective Conley”)
- Matt Ruskin (Director)
Did You Know About The Case Before The Film?
Director Matt Ruskin explains that he grew up in Boston, so of course he had heard about the Boston Strangler. However, he did not know anything about the case. “Several years ago, I started reading all that I could and discovered this incredibly layered murder mystery that was full of twists and turns. And, in many ways, was as much a story about the city at the time. And so, I was just completely gripped by the case,” he confesses before adding, “I discovered these reporters, Loretta McLaughlin and Jean Cole, were one of the first reporters to connect the murders, and they actually gave the Boston Strangler his name during the course of their reporting.” Matt knew this was a compelling way to revisit the story.
Keira Knightley says that she had heard of the Boston Strangler as well, but like Matt she also didn’t know very much about it until she read Matt’s script. “I just thought it was a really interesting way of telling the story of a serial killer but through the point-of-view of these two female journalists. And the fact that you’ve got a case where most people didn’t know that it was two women who broke the story, that they’ve largely been erased from the history of this case, I thought was really interesting.”
Carrie Coon agrees that this was the most shocking part of the story for her. “That these women were so integral to breaking the case and to forcing the police departments to share information. And their names are never mentioned in association with it. That was really shocking to me.”
Not all of the characters in the Boston Strangler film have a Boston accent, despite it being set their. Matt claims that he did not want to force anyone to attempt because it really wasn’t necessary. He is from Boston, and not everyone he knows from there has an accent. “It was important to me to not kind of go down that road if it felt unnecessary. I didn’t want that to get in the way of the story we were telling.”
Carries says, “Everybody wants to try it, but Matt took away that pleasure, and we respect why.” Kiera adds that they asked him to let them try but responded “No way. You’re not from Boston.
You’re not doing it.”
Chris Cooper states, “Matt did a smart thing, which was just to also introduce a class element to the movie by separating out who was and wasn’t speaking with a southeast sound. I mean, obviously, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone working in the police department who doesn’t sound like that.”
What Drew Carrie Coon To The Film?
For Carrie Coon, she wanted to be a part of the film as soon as she learned about the strong females at the center of it.
“Their stories of how they became journalists, as individuals, they were very compelling, very moving stories. Certainly echoed the lives of the women in my world who grew up in the Midwest. My mother was a nurse. One of my grandmothers was a teacher, and the other was a homemaker. And those were the opportunities available to women aside from secretary. So Jean’s fight to become a journalist at all was very moving to me.” She also confesses that she loves Matt’s work and thinks of him as a deeply moral filmmaker, and she was eager to work with him.
Showcasing Strong Females
Director Matt Ruskin tells an interesting story surrounding how he came to know the families of Loretta and Jean so that he could better write the film. Surprisingly enough, he learned that one of his friends is the granddaughter of Jean Cole via Facebook, after looking up the names of Cole’s daughters that were listed in her obituary. “The more I got to know about these women and reporters, the more I grew to admire them and just felt incredibly compelled to trying to tell their story.”
Kiera explains that to her, Boston Strangler is a love song to female investigative journalists as it highlights how important it is to have women in position of power in storytelling because it was these two women who pushed for the story to be told so that the women of Boston could remain safe. “It was a story that had been, at that point, ignored by the male establishment.” She says that it is wonderful to be a part of something that highlights that.
Carrie goes on to point out that there is importance in having men back women up in the work place. “There’s a great story about Jean. She wanted to get a raise because she was making $30 a week and her childcare was costing $25. And she went in to appeal for a raise, and all of the men in the newsroom went in with her to back her up and suggest that she needed a raise.” Jean didn’t want to ruffle feathers, and thankfully she had male allies that would advocate for her when necessary.
Alessandro Nivola details that this film is told from the point of view of the ladies. He says that his character kind of bails at the end of the story and this is something he likes about the film. “Matt had him do the right thing against his better judgment at the end of the movie.”
Boston Strangler comes to Hulu in the US and on Disney+ around the world on March 17th.