“It was a different story that we had never heard before.”
Ted Bundy’s horrors are well documented. That said, the work of FBI agent Bill Hagmaier, who worked tirelessly to get Bundy to admit his crimes and end the families of his victims, has never been told until now. “What was intriguing about this particular story was that it wasn’t a movie about Ted’s exploits. It wasn’t a movie that detailed his violence, and it wasn’t about the trial.” , Elijah Wood, who plays Hagmaier against that of Luke Kirby. electrifying portrayal of Bundy, said of No man of god (in theaters and on request August 27). “We tried to make the movie for about five years.” But once they did, it was clear that Wood and Kirby were on to something. “I am in awe of Luke as an actor.” Despite the heavy topic, the production offered actors a sense of relief after months of isolation due to the coronavirus pandemic. “As crazy as it sounds for a movie that deals with that kind of darkness, there was a lot of levity on set and a lot of joy just engaging with people after lockdown.”
What made you want to do in Bill’s story No man of god?
Initially, it was just the fact that there was a script on Ted Bundy that consisted of transcribed conversations between Ted and Bill. Then it was the fact that it was a different story that we had never heard before. I read a lot about Ted, and I didn’t know anything about this special relationship at the end of Ted’s life. He considered Bill his best friend. He actually bequeathed all of his earthly possessions to her upon his death, which says a lot about the impact Bill had on Ted. Ted didn’t trust law enforcement, he ultimately felt that they all had an agenda, which overall is a bit true, a lot of them wrote books and he was scared that everything what they would discuss is ultimately exploited. Bill is a different kind of person. He is a man of his word and integrity is of the utmost importance to him. He still hasn’t written the book because he doesn’t believe it. There is a standard he stands by. All of this to say that what was intriguing about this particular story was that it wasn’t about a movie about Ted’s exploits. It wasn’t a movie that detailed his violence and it wasn’t about the trial. What was interesting about this particular version of his story, in this particular chapter of his life, was that he was incarcerated, that he faced his death and was afraid of it and could not use his power of manipulation. to save his life. And out of there came real conversations of a man who was sort of unraveling. And there’s Bill trying to get so much information from him to provide law enforcement with shutting down families who had no idea where their daughters had been buried. So it was just a story that hadn’t been told.
What do you think serial killers, and in particular Ted Bundy, are so scheming?
I think what’s intriguing about him, unlike a Jeffrey Dahmer, for example, who was, for the most part, a lock-in, Bundy was part of society, not shy, calm and gentle, and not necessarily the person you are. would like to imagine who would do these things. I think that’s why he continued to hold people’s imaginations. He was involved in local politics. He studied to become a lawyer. He had relationships with people who thought he was innocent and incapable of doing these things. I think that’s why it sort of persists as this point of fascination. To live as successfully as some sort of normal person in quotes. Again, what was intriguing about this was not his humanization, but simply portraying him as a person in all his faults. There is an absolute chess match that happened during these conversations. There is manipulation. He is desperately trying to save his life. But at the end of the day, those conversations also revealed the person deep down, scared of dying, quite weak, and ego driven. It’s those conversations that reveal this person’s flaws, that he wasn’t quite as smart as he thought and was not as strong as he thought he was. And I think it’s just inherently interesting. But the movie isn’t about him either, the movie is really about Bill and the effect those conversations had on him. What happened between these two men, how does it feel to sit down in front of someone who is capable of these things and kind of dive into that darkness? Bill also being a father, having children and being able to leave this space and return to his family. I think that’s what really fascinated me as an actor, playing Bill.
Bill is unique in his dance between Ted and his other life as a family man. Was it important to try to find this balance?
I think what we were trying to show was someone who was in conflict with this person that he was spending time with. He believed himself guilty of all these things. It was inevitable to just have spent time with someone and know they were going to die then, and then want to connect with his wife and family. We were trying to illustrate his headspace, leaving a world behind and trying to reconnect with what really connects him to his core beliefs and to his heart.
What was it like sitting across from Luke Kirby as Ted Bundy?
It was quite remarkable to watch. Luke had a very different journey in this movie, obviously. He was sort of touching the void in a way that I didn’t have to. While searching for Ted, he heard a lot of interviews and submitted to a lot of ugly material. So, it was really difficult. But sitting across from him as Ted, it was really weird sometimes. As actors, we also enjoyed the experience of the creative process. As crazy as it sounds for a movie that deals with that kind of darkness, there was a lot of levity on set and a lot of joy just engaging with people after six or seven months of lockdown. None of us had really engaged with other humans except our loved ones, so just being on a movie set and jumping into these really intense dialogue scenes, these multi-level interactions, there was so much to chew on and work on and play with. I am impressed with Luke as an actor. It was a joy to work in front of someone so good at what they do, who so brilliantly embodied the character and who just had a joyful experience working this intense chess match between these two characters. .
How do you find the projects to produce and decide which ones you want to play in as well?
As for the material that we take, it is really a response from the heart. In the case with No man of god, a writer we knew mentioned this particular topic and we had certainly never heard this story before. We fell in love with the script. As for my choice to work on some of them as an actor, I have to be really shaken up, look at it from another perspective. Whenever we read documents for our business, I never think of it from the perspective of acting in one of them. Either way, my grower partners had to change focus and go, you might want to consider that. This was the case on No man of god. We tried to make the film for about five years. When it started to fall into place, it was my producer partners who asked me if I could just look at it from that angle. When I did, it was immediately obvious to me. I love the material, I love the script, and I loved the character. So it was an easy yes.
It’s the 20th anniversary of The Lord of the Rings. What impact have these films had on your career?
Taking the kind of enormity and scope of the movie aside for a second, just the arc the character goes through of this very innocent character, kind of every man really destroyed psychologically and physically by the ring at the end of the movie. . I had never had the opportunity to take a character from this place to another place so extreme as an actor. So it was a huge opportunity. Getting to work on something of this size, scope and reach has been life changing. In many ways it opened up opportunities for me, put us all on the world stage to a degree that cannot be compared to anything before or since honestly, because there is no such thing. On this level, absolutely. But as a life experience, it was incredibly deep. I was 18 when I flew to New Zealand, and I was 22 when we finished, those were really formative years. This is usually when you go to college, those are very important growth years as you move from adolescence to adulthood. So it had such an impact on me. I had never lived more than two months away from home, certainly never more than a year. When I think of these films, I think of them in so many different ways, but most of all I think of the experience and the profound impact that experience has had on my life.