Exclusive: Paul Walter Hauser on how his comedic roles helped him play a serial killer in Black Bird

Black Bird, the latest addition to the true-crime genre-themed Taron Egerton, has some heavy content. Created by Dennis Lehane, the show follows a criminal – Jimmy Keene, who has been jailed for selling drugs. When offered a deal by the FBI, he takes on the task of getting the confessions of suspected serial killer Larry Hall. For Paul Walter Hauser, who plays the macabre killer, the role seems unlikely. He’s after all known for comedies like Queenpins and hit movies like I, Tonya, and Cruella. However, when we first met Larry as he was being questioned by the authorities, there was something unmistakably sinister about him. In an exclusive interview with Filmfare, Paul Walter Hauser opened up about understanding a serial killer, working with Rocketman star Taron Egerton, and why comedians do well in criminal roles on the screen.

Larry Hall is this really weird serial killer. What about this role made you choose it?

It wasn’t so much about Larry that I wanted to play the part. It’s more about Dennis Lehane’s writing and how smart and thoughtful it is and the opportunity to work opposite Taron Egerton was a big deal for me. I’ve seen Rockmetman twice and I think he’s good. And on the streaming platform too, I have to say I love Ted Lasso, CODA and a lot of the things that come out there are starting to gain traction and they are one of the things to watch for as far as it goes. regarding the streaming wars.

Black bird

You are best known for your comedic roles. How does it feel to explore a whole new range with Black Bird?

Well, it’s good to talk about this because I think a lot of people talk about how comedians play dark roles really well and I think that has to do with the freedom not to judge yourself, you can’t be without. Be safe and judgmental while doing comedy – I suppose you can but I don’t think you’re good at it. The best comedy when you have free time. If you watch Tiffany Haddish in Girls Trip, you know that she is free in that role and explores everything. So is Jim Carrey and freedom and expression are what it takes to play a serial killer convincingly and I want to play more serious roles in film and television.

The movie has a dark theme and it can be difficult to play a serial killer without their humanity or being able to justify some of their actions…

There are a lot of public figures, be it a serial killer or a politician, who I can identify and say, “I don’t necessarily do what they do and I don’t necessarily say what they say” but I am also prone to lusts for control or power or money or these desires may be pure in the beginning but can become destructive and dangerous if dragged excessively long. I think to Larry, I look at him and say, “I think I understand what it feels like to be outcast and lonely and depressed and angry at the world. All of those traits I think I can appreciate and end up with. So, although I don’t connect with many of the things he did, I can connect with some of the feelings that were born in the things he did.

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You have some tense scenes with Taron Egerton. What is your experience working with him?

My biggest lesson from working with Taron Egerton is mostly related to his work ethic. He’s actually a Herculean actor. He must maintain both his mental state, his physical state, and his transformations for half a year or more. I really admire his work ethic and craftsmanship and I also enjoy hanging out with him and being with him socially. He is funny and stimulating and a very caring, caring guy.

Black Bird also features Ray Liotta, Greg Kinnear, Sepideh Moafi, etc currently streaming.

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