The Oscar winners play a prolific serial killer and the friend who helped arrest him in Netflix's dark but surprisingly human film.
Jessica Chastain is well aware of the rise of the 'true-crime' genre in TV and film, and isn't really a fan of it: "There have been a lot of shows and movies about things like ' true-crime" which I find a little vulgar – there is a sensationalism of violence and aggression," she told Emergesocial.net. And though The Good Nurse centers on a male nurse who murdered dozens, if not hundreds, of patients, Jessica Chastain saw an opportunity to tell a different story — not just that of serial killer Charles Cullen (played by Eddie Redmayne), but also that of Amy Loughren, the nurse who helped the authorities catch him.
“I wanted to pay homage to someone like Amy,” says Chastain, who plays Loughren in the film: “She's the kind of superhero I want to celebrate, because they're everywhere. »
Based on Charles Graeber's 2013 book The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder, the tense thriller, which is directed by Danish filmmaker Tobias Lindholm and will premiere on Netflix in the fall, explores no only the heroic efforts Loughren went to help catch Cullen, but also how Cullen was able to evade authorities for so long. "When I read the book, I realized it wasn't just another serial killer movie," Lindholm told Emergesocial. “It was a portrait of a system that didn't stop the serial killer, and the nurse that did. »
The film features awe-inspiring performances from the two Oscar winners—as seen in exclusive Emergesocial.net footage—that weave together a story that explores how America's health care system and hospital administrations allowed Cullen to go from hospital to hospital. the other, even as suspicion loomed over his actions. During her 16-year career as a nurse, Cullen worked in nine hospitals in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, killing patients by administering lethal doses of insulin and other drugs.
"From the actor's perspective, it was about trying to figure out why this person did what they did, knowing that you would never find the answer," Redmayne explains.
Chastain and Redmayne have crossed paths many times over their careers, presenting together at the Golden Globes or exchanging pleasantries via text and email – "We're both red-haired people with lots of freckles, and we always wanted to work together,” Chastain laughs. The Good Nurse, written by 1917 Oscar nominee Krysty Wilson-Cairns, offered them a two-voiced film that would allow them to push and outdo each other as tension grew between their characters.
"I've done some big ensemble pieces – big symphonies where, as an actor, you're playing one instrument – but I thought this piece would be more like improvised jazz," Redmayne explains, "and working with someone as brilliant as Jessica was exactly what I was looking for. »
Lindholm, who wrote and directed the 2015 Oscar-nominated drama A War, originally signed on to direct the film in 2016 but then stepped away to shoot The Investigation, a six-part miniseries about the death of Swedish journalist Kim Wall. Chastain and Redmayne, even with busy schedules, were willing to wait – they agreed that no one else could tell this story with the necessary care and sensitivity: "You see it with his series The Investigation, the way he handles these stories — it's with the utmost dignity and decency for everyone involved,” Chastain says.
For Lindholm, it was about focusing on the people at the center of the story, not the macabre details: "We had to remember that everyone was human at some point, and we didn't want to be mesmerized by the crimes, he said. I think that was the hardest part, maintaining the thriller aspect and making it entertaining and thrilling and, at the same time, truthful and human. »
"It's what anyone would do"
Lindholm credits Chastain and Redmayne for creating this balance. Chastain and Redmayne were able to talk to Loughren about her experience: “It's interesting because when you ask her a question, she always downplays the things she's done. It was clear to me that she felt, in a way, uncomfortable when I called her a hero or brave, because she kept saying, "Well, that's what anyone would do,” explains Ms. Chastain.
In The Good Nurse, Loughren is a single mother who works night shifts in the hospital to support her two children. In the film, she also suffers from a fatal heart condition, which requires immediate treatment, but she must continue working for several months for her health insurance to kick in. To reflect the precarious situation her character finds herself in, Ms. Chastain wore an earpiece during filming, in order to hear her heartbeat in her ear, and asked for the volume to be turned up when his character's health was in jeopardy due to his physically demanding job.
When Cullen arrives as a new employee at Loughren Hospital, they quickly become friends. Cullen appears to be a skilled, quiet, and mild-mannered nurse, but when a couple of detectives arrive to investigate an unusual death at the hospital, Loughren begins to grow suspicious of his new friend.
Chastain and Redmayne both trained as nurses and studied footage of their real-life counterparts, while reading Graeber's book. Redmayne found the book to be a particularly useful tool in preparing for the role of Cullen: "It uses metaphors and visual imagery, which I find interesting because when you're playing the role of someone real, it will never be a facsimile, it will always be a step forward from the truth,” Redmayne says. “It was also interesting to hear Charles' impression of this man – the little things, for example, like when he describes Charlie looking almost like a question mark. »
Redmayne reunited with movement coach Alexandra Reynolds, whom he worked with for his Oscar-winning role in The Theory of Everything, to master how he would move as Cullen. "She noticed that in fact it was almost as if he was being held down by the tag in his shirt collar – that's where all the tension was, and it was interesting to investigate. something physical,” Redmayne says, adding that he had no contact with the real Cullen, who is serving 17 consecutive life sentences in New Jersey State Prison in Trenton.
Redmayne completely transforms into the role, not only ditching his British accent for a New Jersey accent, but also moving his whole body: "There's one thing he does at a table where his fingers are gripping the above a desk almost like a spider – that's exactly something from the interviews [with Cullen]. What he does in this film is amazing”, greets Chastain.
Lindholm adds that, on set, "I thought that's how Robert Benton must have felt doing Kramer versus Kramer, with the best actors of their generation right in front of him. They were brilliant and honest, and were able to both be very open to notes and conversations, but also able to find the distilled truth of the character, in a genre that dictates pacing and fascination.”
It may never be possible to fully understand what motivated Cullen to kill so many people (he confessed to murdering up to 40 patients, but investigators reportedly estimate there could be as many as 400) , but the film is able to explore how the American healthcare system allowed Cullen to continue his carnage. In each hospital where he worked, as suspicions fell on his actions, the hospitals found a way to terminate his employment, without reporting his actions or informing his future employers for fear of being prosecuted. or held responsible.
“I come from the UK, where health care is universal and not for profit,” says Eddie Redmayne. "When hospitals are run for profit, people can become cautious and lawyers make decisions that protect the business and not necessarily the people, and I think that's one of the reasons Charlie was able to move from one hospital to another without being questioned or questioned. »
The Good Nurse promises to share both the darkness of Cullen's story and the system that enabled it, balanced by Loughren's bravery. "I wonder if maybe true crime is interesting because it makes us feel connected to others, it makes us question ourselves," says Chastain. “He makes us want to pay attention to others, and check on our neighbors. I hope true crime, in some sense, creates a sense of empathy and connection for all of us.»
Author: Michael Zippo
Written by Michael Zippo
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