Ross Lynch threw himself into exile.
To get in the headspace of notorious serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, the Disney alum sought isolation in Akron, Ohio, where he would go on to film My Friend Dahmer. “There was not a lot going on in the area, to say the least,” the 21-year-old exclusively tells Us Weekly. “I was really to myself and alone, like Dahmer throughout his childhood.”
Known as the Milwaukee Cannibal, Dahmer raped, killed and dismembered 17 boys and men over from 1978 to 1991. However, this psychological thriller, based on the graphic novel by Derf Backderf, deftly dives into his formative, high school days.
“This isn’t necessarily a ’boo’ scary film, but instead, it looks at the capabilities of a human, which makes it scary,” explains Lynch. “People often only see one side to someone’s personality, but there are levels. Playing Dahmer, there were ups and downs. It wasn’t all dark, all the time. I felt a wide range of emotions.”
Lynch opens up to Us.
Us Weekly: This is so different from what fans have seen you do on Disney. What drew you to this role?
Ross Lynch: When I was on Disney Channel, I was thinking of the projects that I wanted to do next. I wanted to do something that was darker, a more intense character. When the script fell into my lap, at the time, I didn’t know who Jeffrey Dahmer was. It’s a little bit before my time. I started researching Dahmer and he’s tragically interesting. The crimes that he committed are, unfortunately, terrifying and devastating. But they are interesting.
Us: How did you research Dahmer’s life?
RL: I actually didn’t have that much time to do research. I wrapped A Chorus Line and I flew to Akron, Ohio the next day. So while I was doing all these other, more light-hearted material, I was researching Jeffrey Dahmer in my trailer. I watched a lot of videos to see how he walked, how he talked. Behind closed doors, he was probably a lot different. When the camera was on him, he would deflect people.
Us: In between takes, how did you lighten the mood?
RL: We definitely had our fun. During lunch, we would have a ping pong tournament. The whole challenge for the crew was to see who could beat Ross. Only two people did: Alex Wolff and one of our producers.
Us: Hardest scene to shoot?
RL: There’s one in a car and basically the idea was that Dahmer was going to have this emotional break down. It was a very much emotionally taxing, exhausting scene. That scene never made it to the film, though.
Us: After a day of filming, did you ever have a hard time letting go of Dahmer?
RL: I had this colored mousse in my hair to make it a different shade. Whenever I went home, I would take a shower and would watch the mousse go into the drain. It was symbolic for me. I felt like I was shedding him.
Us: Bullying plays a major role in this. What message do you hope audiences get out of this?
RL: The most asked question about serial killers is, are serial killers born this way or were they bred this way? This may raise flags so when people see someone who seems a little out of touch or hard to grasp, they’ll try to engage them and help.
My Friend Dahmer hits theaters Friday, November 3.
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