Boston Strangler director says "there's more" to story as trailer launches
Keira Knightley and Carrie Coon star in the true crime film which arrives on Disney Plus next month.
It's well documented that the true crime genre has been thriving in recent years, both on the big and small screens, and the upcoming movie Boston Strangler is the latest film to continue that trend.
The trailer for the film – which you can watch below – has just been released ahead of its arrival on Disney Plus next month, and to mark the occasion writer and director Matt Ruskin spoke exclusively to RadioTimes.com about what viewers can expect.
As can be seen in the trailer, the film retells the story of an investigation into a spate of fatal strangulations that occurred in Boston in the early '60s, which previously formed the basis for a 1968 Richard Fleischer movie.
But whereas that earlier film focused on the case from the point of view of the police, the new movie shifts to the perspective of Record American journalists Loretta McLaughlin and Jean Cole, played in the film by Keira Knightly and Carrie Coon respectively.
"I had seen that  film and then a few years ago I started reading about the Boston Strangler case," Ruskin explains when asked about the origins of the film.
"I read the Gerold Frank book from which that movie is largely based on and then I started reading all these other books and I discovered a very layered and compelling murder mystery at the heart of this story that really wasn't touched on in the 1968 film.
"So that really grabbed me – looking at how there's a lot more to this story. And I thought that would be really worth telling, but I couldn't get excited about telling a hard-boiled detective story, it just didn't seem to add up."
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He added that after seeing a "really brief" interview with McLaughlin, he discovered that she had actually been the one to break the story of the Boston Strangler, and from there the process of finding an angle for his film really began to pick up momentum.
"She was the first to connect the murders and she actually gave the Boston Strangler his name while she was reporting on the story," he added. "And so I tried to find out all I could about her. There's very little information about her or the other journalist, Jean Cole, who she was partnered with.
"And I discovered that Jean Cole's granddaughter was actually a friend of mine, so I called her up and she introduced me to both Loretta and Jean's families. And once I was able to make a personal connection to them I became really invested in telling the story through them. The more I got to know about them, the more I grew to admire them, both as people and as journalists."
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One thing that immediately comes across in the trailer is the attention to detail in Ruskin's recreation of Boston in the '60s, and the director said that "authenticity of time and place" was absolutely crucial when crafting the piece.
"I did a ton of research while I was writing the film," he said. "And I worked with an incredible production designer named John Goldsmith who did so much research about the architecture, the colour palettes – he was so committed to getting it right.
"It was amazing to be able to work with him and to work with this costume designer named Arjun Bhasin who pulled together a lot of clothes from that period that were just really striking, but also felt very lived and of the period. So it was a huge challenge, but a lot of fun to go back and really try and get all of the little details, right."
Meanwhile, Ruskin said that Knightley was the "dream person" to play the lead role of Loretta, while lavishing just as much praise on her co-star Coon.
"[Knightley] just possesses all the qualities of this character and I think she also identified personally with a woman trying to balance career and family," he explained.
"So she responded to the script and Carrie Coon similarly is just such an extraordinary talent and really has so many qualities that Jean Cole had – she's razor sharp and funny and scrappy.
"So it was dream casting for those two roles, and they're so talented and so committed. And it was just a real privilege to get to work with them."
So, what exactly can viewers expect when the film arrives on Disney Plus a month today? Well, Ruskin said that for him the movie is first and foremost about identity.
"Both the identity of who is the Boston Strangler, but also the identity of the city of Boston – from all accounts, it really changed the city. It was a story that gripped people for almost two years and it really changed the way people lived in the city of Boston. There's this anecdote that people didn't lock their doors before the Boston Strangler case.
"And then, of course, I think it's very much a story of identity for Loretta who was working very hard to do serious journalism in a male-dominated newsroom in the early 1960s. [It's about] what it meant to be a journalist and mother and woman during that time."
Boston Strangler will be released on Disney Plus on Friday 17th March. You can sign up to Disney Plus for £7.99 a month or £79.90 for a year now.
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