Top 10 actors who looked EXACTLY like the real-life killers they played!

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In crime thriller movies and TV series, when actors perfectly transform themselves into real-life killers and mimic their infamous crimes, the audiences find an extra layer of authenticity and darkness in the crime story.

When watching a biography series about a real killer, viewers want to experience the darkness in the portrayal rather than just being an ordinary thriller.

Without further ado, here is a list of the top 10 films and TV series that contain stars that have played real-life killers effectively and won over fans.

Disclaimer: The following list in entirely based on the author’s perspective, and we understand that individual choices and preferences may vary.

10. Black Bird: Paul Walter Hauser as Larry Hall

Black Bird (2022), directed by Dennis Lehane, is a true crime drama miniseries with only six episodes, based on the first autobiographical novel by James (Jimmy) Keene with Hillel Levin.

Starring Taron Egerton and Paul Walter Houser, the story unfolds when a bright young football player, Jimmy, is sentenced to 10 years for his marijuana business and possession of illegal firearms.

A twist arises for him when a detective offers him freedom with a clean record if he can befriend a suspected killer, Larry Hall, and get a confession from him.

So, after watching this miniseries, people are left in awe of how well Paul resembled Larry, with many calling it ‘The Paul Walter Houser Show.’

Along with accurately replicating Larry’s high-pitched voice and awkward behavior, Paul also succeeded in achieving his unique mutton chop sideburns.

Moreover, he has also won various awards, including Golden Globe Awards, Primetime Emmy Awards, and more, for his performance in Black Bird.

Black Bird

IMDb DramaBiographyCrime

Jimmy Keene is sentenced to 10 years in a minimum security prison, but he cuts a deal with the FBI to befriend a suspected serial killer. Keene has to elicit a confession from Larry Hall to find the bodies of as many as eighteen women.

DirectorMichaël R. Roskam
Release DateJuly 8, 2022
StudioEMJAG Productions
CastTaron Egerton, Paul Walter Hauser, Greg Kinnear
Runtime58 minutes
WritersRiccardo DiLoreto, James Keene
RatingTV-MA

9. The Girl from Plainville: Elle Fanning as Michelle Carter

Created by Liz Hannah and Patrick Macmanus, The Girl from Plainville (2022) is another biographical crime drama miniseries where the lead character, Elle, uncannily resembles the criminal Michelle Carter.

It follows Michelle Carter, a young girl from Massachusetts who encourages her boyfriend, Conrad Roy III, to take his own life through text messages.

Also, the story starts in 2014 with the tragic death of Conrad, and in 2017, the girl is convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

In this 8-episode miniseries, the lead girl, Elle Fanning, transforms herself into Michelle in such a way that viewers are shocked by how much they resemble each other.

Along with her moles and freckles, she required three wigs for her transformation to perfectly resemble the real-life Michelle.

Moreover, the dark eyebrows, which were likely the most characteristic feature, further emphasized the likeness.

The Girl from Plainville

IMDb DramaBiographyCrime

Inspired by the true story of Michelle Carter’s unprecedented “texting-suicide” case. Explores Carter’s relationship with Conrad Roy III and the events that led to his death and, later, her conviction of involuntary manslaughter.

DirectorPippa Bianco
Release DateMarch 29, 2022
StudioUniversal Content Productions
CastElle Fanning, Chloë Sevigny, Cara Buono
Runtime45 minutes
WritersJesse Barron, Sarah Cho
RatingTV-MA

8. American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace: Darren Criss as Andrew Cunanan

American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace is the second season of the award-winning limited American crime story series based on true events and directed by Ryan Murphy.

This series stars Darren Criss as the main character, who portrays the real-life killer Andrew Cunanan, and Édgar Ramírez as the famous designer Gianni Versace.

In this nine-episode series, the focus is on the spree killer, Andrew, and his last victim, fashion designer Gianni Versace.

The story is in reverse narrative and reveals the death of Versace first, then explores how events led up to that point.

There are a lot of similarities between the actor who played Andrew and the real Andrew that viewers notice. The fact that both are native Californians lends authenticity to the presentation.

Moreover, their similar facial structures, along with glasses, add to the authenticity of the performance, contributing to the actor winning four awards.

Inside Look: The Assassination of Gianni Versace – American Crime Story

IMDb ShortDocumentary

An inside look at the making of American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace.

DirectorRyan Murphy
Release DateJanuary 17, 2018
StudioFox 21 Television Studios and FX Productions
CastDarren Criss, Giovanni Cirfiera, Ricky Martin
Runtime50 minutes
WritersTom Rob Smith
RatingTV-MA

7. Chapter 27: Jared Leto as Mark David Chapman

Written and directed by Jarrett Schaefer, Chapter 27 is a biographical drama film based on the 1992 book Let Me Take You Down by Jack Jones.

This movie is centered around the real-life killer Mark David Chapman, played by the actor Jared Leto, and his crime of murdering John Lennon.

Moreover, with a focus on Mark’s history of mental illness, this movie portrays the events surrounding the shooting of the former Beatles member.

Further, the lead actor’s dedication to accurately resemble the real-life killer led him to gain over 60 pounds just for the movie.

Moreover, Jared earned an award for Best Actor due to his dedication and accurate portrayal of the character’s dark nature.

Chapter 27

IMDb BiographyCrimeDrama

A film about Mark David Chapman in the days leading up to the infamous murder of Beatle John Lennon.

DirectorJ.P. Schaefer
Release DateMarch 28, 2008
Studio
CastJared Leto, Lindsay Lohan, Judah Friedlander
Runtime1 hour 24 minutes
WritersJ.P. Schaefer, Jack Jones
RatingR

6. The act: Joey King as Gypsy Rose Blanchard

Hulu’s The Act is yet another eight-episode limited biographical crime drama miniseries based on true events.

Starring Joey King as Gypsy Rose Blanchard and Patricia Arquette as Gypsy’s overprotective mother, Dee Dee Blanchard.

The story unfolds as Dee Dee manipulates Gypsy, fabricating illness to control her, until Gypsy eventually uncovers the truth about her mother.

Following the revelation of the truth, Gypsy and her boyfriend, Nick, collaborate, ultimately resulting in murder.

The lead actress portraying Gypsy did not resemble her a bit. However, Joey shaved her head and imitated her voice to portray the role more accurately.

Moreover, as Gypsy’s teeth changed over time, Joey also had to put on fake teeth to get ‘more into the character.’

The act

IMDb DramaBiographyCrime

Dee Dee Blanchard is overprotective of her daughter, Gypsy, who is trying to escape the toxic relationship she has with her mother. Gypsy’s quest for independence opens up a Pandora’s box of secrets, which ultimately leads to murder.

DirectorLaure de Clermont-Tonnerre
Release DateMarch 20, 2019
StudioEat the Cat Writ Large Universal Content Productions
CastPatricia Arquette, Joey King, AnnaSophia Robb
Runtime53 minutes
WritersNick Antosca, Michelle Dean
RatingTV-MA

5. Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile: Zac Efron as Ted Bundy

Joe Berlinger’s Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile is the biographical movie based on Ted Bundy’s former girlfriend, Elizabeth’s personal narrative, The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy.

The movie is about America’s most notorious killer, Ted Bundy, who is portrayed by High School Musical actor Zac Efron.

The story follows a young law student, Ted, who meets his Liz, and they begin to date, with Ted also becoming involved in raising her daughter, Molly.

Ted finds himself at the center of a string of young girl murders; he is taken into custody but is eventually freed on bond.

However, his girlfriend, Liz, refuses to believe he is capable of the horrendous crimes. Slowly, however, as the truth unfolds, she eventually finds closure and moves on with her new husband and her daughter.

Although the documentary received mixed reviews, Zac Efron’s performance was praised by the viewers. Zac was the first and only option of the director for the role of Ted. From his spot on expressions to the wavy hair, Zac’s portrayal of the serial killer grabbed viewers attention.

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile

IMDb DramaBiographyCrime

A chronicle of the crimes of Ted Bundy from the perspective of Liz, his longtime girlfriend, who refused to believe the truth about him for years.

DirectorJoe Berlinger
Release DateJanuary 26, 2019
StudioUniversal Content Productions
CastLily Collins, Zac Efron, Angela Sarafyan
Runtime1 hour 50 minutes
WritersElizabeth Kendall, Michael Werwie
RatingR

4. Des: David Tennant as Dennis Nilsen

Lewis Arnold’s Des (2020) is a three-part British crime drama miniseries that tells viewers the story of the arrest of Scottish serial killer Dennis Nilsen.

The story revolves around the serial killer, Dennis, who is portrayed by Scottish actor David Tennant, who has murdered at least 12 men and boys.

Further, the plot arises when a plumber finds the remains of flesh and bones in the drain of his apartment building.

Following the investigation, Dennis freely admits his crimes at first; however, later, he stops cooperating with the detectives and police.

In addition to the compelling storytelling, viewers were captivated by David Tennant’s portrayal of the role, delivering it with a chilling intensity.

For this series, he won an International Emmy Award for best actor as he perfectly nailed every detail, from the hairstyle and glasses to mimicking the exact signature of the serial killer.

Des

IMDb DramaBiographyCrime

In 1983, Scottish serial killer Dennis Nilsen was arrested after the discovery of human remains that had blocked a drain near his London home.

DirectorLewis Arnold
Release DateSeptember 14, 2020
StudioNew Pictures
CastDavid Tennant, Daniel Mays, Jason Watkins
Runtime48 minutes
WritersLewis Arnold, Kelly Jones
Rating

3. Monster: Charlize Theron as Aileen Wournos

Another biographical crime drama film that is successfully directed and written by Patty Jenkins is Monster, released in 2003, which narrates the life of Aileen Wournos, known as America’s first female serial killer.

The movie revolves around a serial killer and street prostitute, Aileen, portrayed by Charlize Theron, who murdered seven of her male clients.

Although the movie is about a serial killer, it is completely unique and does not entirely focus on blood and violence. Instead, it shows us how Aileen got into that situation. In addition, viewers can also see a hint of romance between Aileen and Selby.

But what captivated the attention of the viewers was simply an unbelievable show put up by Charlize. Every single aspect of her facial features, including the hair and the spots, was too perfect, making the portrayal more precise.

So, for her performance in the movie, Charlize earned several awards including Oscar, Golden Globe Awards, and more.

Monster

IMDb DramaBiographyCrime

Based on the life of Aileen Wuornos, a Daytona Beach prostitute who became a serial killer.

DirectorPatty Jenkins
Release DateDecember 17, 2003
StudioDenver & Delilah Films K/W Productions
CastCharlize Theron, Christina Ricci, Bruce Dern
Runtime1 hour 49 minutes
WritersPatty Jenkins
RatingR

2. Mindhunter: Damon Herriman as Charles Manson

Joe Penhall’s Mindhunter is a psychological crime thriller TV series based on John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker’s 1995 true-crime book Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit.

This series ran for two seasons, and Charles Manson, portrayed by Damon Herriman, appears on the fifth episode of the second season.

Moreover, the series centers around two FBI agents, Holden (Jonathan) and Bill(Holt), alongside psychologist Wendy(Anna).

They, as a group, initiate a research project where they have a conversation with an imprisoned serial killer to unravel their dark psychology.

Although Damon had a small role in the series as a guest actor, he left a significant impression to the audience. He uncannily resembled the real-life Charles, from his beard and wild-hair to his deep-set eyes which were crucial for the role.

Moreover, the actor also portrayed a younger version of Charles in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. Portraying the same character in two different projects says how good of an actor he is.

Mindhunter

IMDb DramaMysteryCrime

In the late 1970s, two FBI agents broadened the realm of criminal science by investigating the psychology behind murder and ended up getting too close to real-life monsters.

DirectorJoe Penhall
Release DateOctober 13, 2017
StudioDenver and Delilah Productions
CastJonathan Groff, Holt McCallany, Anna Torv
Runtime1 hour
WritersJoe Penhall, John Douglas
RatingTV-MA

1. Dahmer- Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story: Evan Peters as Jeffrey Dahmer

Ryan Murphy’s Dahmer-Monster (2022) is one of the most-watched American biographical true crime television anthology series.

The story follows the life of Jeffery Dahmer(Evan Peters) and how he became one of America’s most well-known notorious serial killers.

However, delving into his crimes also examines how the negligence of the police facilitated his criminal activities.

The lead actor was superb in his portrayal of every aspect of the character, from the Wisconsin voice to the awkward behavior. They said that his glasses and dyed blonde hair also played a great role and really captured Dahmer’s identity accurately.

In addition, for his performance as Dahmer, Evan has won several awards for Best Actor, including Golden Globe Awards, Critics Choice Super Award, and more.

Dahmer- Monster

IMDb DramaBiographyCrime

The story of a cannibalistic serial killer named Jeffrey Dahmer, a.k.a. the Milwaukee Monster.

DirectorRyan Murphy, Ian Brennan
Release DateSeptember 21, 2022
StudioRyan Murphy Productions
CastEvan Peters, Richard Jenkins, Molly Ringwald
Runtime1 hour
WritersRyan Murphy
RatingTV-MA

Prabisha Manandhar
Prabisha Manandhar
Prabisha Manandhar is a passionate undergrad student, who is enthusiastic in writing and also loves watching movies and Tv-shows. Prabisha's words resonate with a unique blend of creativity and depth.

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