‘My Friend Dahmer’ is one of the standout films at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival, and in an EXCLUSIVE interview with HollywoodLife.com, star Alex Wolff reveals how disturbing it was to film inside Jeffrey Dahmer’s real house — plus SO much more.
Alex Wolff, 19, stars in My Friend Dahmer, a dark film about the early days of notorious serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer‘s life. In the film Alex portrays Derf Backderf, the author of the “My Friend Dahmer” graphic novel and high school friend of the cannibal, who is played by none other than Ross Lynch, 21. HollywoodLife.com had the pleasure of speaking to Alex at the premiere of My Friend Dahmer on Friday, April 21 in New York City, and he opened up about the dark tone of the story, the eerie performances by the cast and what it was like filming in the murderer’s real-life childhood home. Creepy!
On whether or not he knew who Jeffrey Dahmer was before making ‘My Friend Dahmer’:
“Yeah, I knew who Jeffrey Dahmer was. I knew he was a serial killer. It’s kind of hilarious [that none of the other cast knew]. I knew who he was. I didn’t know in detail, but I knew who he was.”
On playing the author, Derf Backderf, who he plays in the film:
“I was talking about how I played Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in ‘Patriot’s Day’ not too long ago, and how I was obsessed with every one of his mannerisms and everything. I was nailing him down because he was a public figure, in a way. This, the interesting part was Derf was guy in high school and then he wrote a book where he really changed who he was, and then there was a script written that sort of changed who he was in the book. And the script actually reminded me a lot of myself and not really of who he was in real life, so I didn’t want to meet him until half way through the movie. So I found out a lot of stuff from him, but Derf was a character that I had to create but it wasn’t one of those things where I was trying to nail down his mannerisms. I just wanted to provide the most interesting story for this guy [referring to Ross Lynch next to him].”
On whether or not he talked to any of Jeffrey Dahmer’s friends and family for research:
“No. We didn’t talk to any of the Dahmer family. [Ross] did, but I didn’t. I wanted to put myself in the world of where he was, Derf, and we were in the town and I hung out with his friends a lot. His old friends, and I heard stories about him. I really, I had a big thing about, something about how I wanted to serve our movie. This is a very interesting story about friendship, and I wanted to serve the movie and the character. I wanted to know Ross’ Dahmer. We had a very kind of weird relationship during it. It was eerie. Honestly talking about it I’m getting chills, it was just an eerie experience.”
On working with Ross while he was in ‘Dahmer’ character:
“[Ross and I] didn’t talk. We had a whole thing where I just completely ignored him for most of the movie. Me and the other two kids were just goofing around all the time, laughing. We all hung out one day as ourselves in the beginning, and me and Ross were talking about how he wanted to make sure he stayed very isolated in his hotel room and particularly us, too.”
On filming some of the more disturbing scenes in ‘My Friend Dahmer’:
“I think it was hardest for Ross. Really, it’s crazy. The animal stuff, for some reason since I prepared for it long before, like you read the book… it’s one of the buzziest scenes. The stuff I didn’t prepare for was how tough it was going to be to hang out with Ross, who basically stayed in character the whole movie. Walking around in those glasses, sitting in a car just us two, that was hardest for me. The animal stuff was fake and it wasn’t quite as challenging as looking in his eyes and seeing that dead look. He would hunch over, we were shooting in his real house, Jeffrey Dahmer’s real house, we were sitting in the car. It was fucked up.”
On his upcoming projects like ‘Dude’ and ‘Jumanji’:
“I feel super lucky. People say that, but no, I’m really… got lucky. Went on an audition and met someone who gave me a chance, it’s been really awesome. Everyone in this movie though has the coolest stuff going on. All of these guys are so talented, Tommy and Harry, and Ross… some of the most talented. And Anne Heche, Dallas Roberts!”
On filming ‘Jumanji’ immediately after ‘My Friend Dahmer’:
“It’s funny, I did ‘Dahmer’ and ‘Jumanji’ like a month apart or two months apart. They were back-to-back. They were strangely…. yeah, they were very, very different. Very, very different set. The one thing that ‘Jumanji’ was about being funny, and that was fun for me because I had sort of done these dark movies in a row. Where I had to sort of put myself through a lot, so ‘Jumanji’ was because I got to have a lot of fun and be funny.”
Tell us, HollywoodLifers — Why are YOU so excited to see My Friend Dahmer? Comment below to let us know!