According to director Tobias Lindholm, “The Good Nurse” has no intention of being a typical true crime film. “We realized that it wasn’t a story only about a serial killer, it was about a friendship. And it was a proof of humanity,” Lindholm said while visiting TheWrap and Shutterstock’s Interview and Portrait Studio at the Toronto Film Festival for a conversation moderated by TheWrap’s Executive Editor, Awards, Steve Pond.
“The Good Nurse” premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sunday, September 11, and explores the real-life friendship between nurses Amy Loughren (Jessica Chastain) and Charles “Charlie” Cullen, who is suspected of killing approximately 400 patients during his 16-year career. The movie also depicts the attempt to bring Cullen to justice.
In the studio, Lindholm was joined by “The Good Nurse” cast members Nnamdi Asomugha, Jessica Chastain, and Eddie Redmayne, all of whom were ready and willing to dig into the complications that accompany the depiction of real-life people and the film’s genre.
“Sometimes I have some difficulty with true crime stories,” Chastain said. “I like to celebrate what’s so wonderful about humanity and I find sometimes [true crime stories] can slip into gossipy or something salacious, where, like, you feel dirty after watching some of these shows. After talking to Tobias and understanding his humanity and knowing the filmmaker he is, I was really excited to explore it.”
The actress, who last year won the Oscar for her turn as Tammy Faye in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” also felt that “The Good Nurse” served as important counter-programming to the messaging that often accompanies true crime tales.
“Normally, in media, you see violence stop violence,” Chastain said. “In our story, it’s the opposite. It’s compassion that stops [violence]. It’s stopping and listening and reaching out to another person as a human being and not treating them as a monster. And that, to me, is a really exciting thing to be a part of.”
For Redmayne, the opportunity to venture into the darker side of the human condition was a “really thrilling and terrifying” experience, but the real advantage of digging into Cullen as a character was that the man was far from a two-dimensional bad guy.
“There was a level of friendship and compassion that was much more complicated than the normal sort of true crime story,” Redmayne said. “One of the things that was interesting for me, when we met the real Amy and talked to her, was about how gentle, kind, self-deprecating this guy was. He had an amazing capacity to mock himself and that was often a way that people became close to him. He was almost skinless with his vulnerability.”
Amy Loughren’s presence during filming was universally helpful for the cast, as evidenced by Asomugha, who plays Danny Baldwin, who alongside Tim Braun (Noah Emmerich), were the police officers who investigated the mysterious murders.
“Danny Baldwin is a very real human being and I got to spend some time with him and Tim Braun as well and just see the great work that they did, see how many doors closed for them while they were trying to get this done,” Asomugha said. “It was intense, it was a lot of work. You know, I think also being able to meet Amy, who Jessica portrayed, helped a lot, because we then started started to see how difficult it was for them, and that there was someone else that was going to come in, that was on the inside that was going to take care of, you know, all the barriers that were placed in front of them.”
“The Good Nurse” premieres in U.S. theaters Oct. 19 and on Netflix Oct. 26.
For the full conversation about “The Good Nurse,” click on the video above.
Studio sponsors include GreenSlate, Moët & Chandon, PEX and Vancouver Film School.