Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story
It’s been almost 30 years since serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was bludgeoned to death in prison by fellow inmate Christopher Scarver, but regardless, Netflix subscribers proved more than enthralled by the world of the cast of Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story. The true crime series didn’t win many fans among the critics, but audiences couldn’t get enough of the show.
Monster wound up with an embarrassing 57 percent critics score on Rotten Tomatoes; arguably for the same reason audiences loved it. Reviewers weren’t thrilled with how the series strove to turn Dahmer into a dark, sexy villain but praised the cast of Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story.
Evan Peters – Jeffrey Dahmer
At the head of the cast of Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story is Evan Peters in what is unquestionably his most chilling role. Known best as the superhuman speedster Quicksilver in Fox’s X-Men films, Peters takes on a much different kind of animal in Monster. While a younger actor (Nick A. Fisher) plays the killer as a young child, Peters plays Dahmer from his teenage years until his death at the age of 34.
To anyone who was alive in the U.S. and was at least in their teens in the early ’90s, the name Jeffrey Dahmer was as well known as any president or pop star. In particular, the serial killer’s cannibalization of his victims gave the story an automatic boost to national and eventually international news, and it also rendered the name “Dahmer” regular fodder for stand-up comics and late-night talk host monologues.
The story took on a particularly eerie life-imitating-art note in those five months before Dahmer’s capture when the psychological thriller The Silence of the Lambs was released, for which Anthony Hopkins won his first Oscar as the cannibal serial killer Hannibal Lecter.
Niecy Nash – Glenda Cleveland
The cast of Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story includes a number of big-name actors playing hard against type; none more so than Niecy Nash as the titular killer’s neighbor, Glenda Cleveland.
Nash is best known as Deputy Raineesha Williams, one of the many bumbling dopes of the mockumentary series Reno 911! But in Monster she delivers a wonderful dramatic performance. It’s through the eyes of Nash’s Glenda that we witness one of the most disturbing aspects of Monster — how much systemic racism contributed to the serial killer remaining on the loose for as long as he did.
Glenda Cleveland was no creation of poetic license, though the makers of Monster did take some poetic liberties with her. The real Cleveland didn’t live down the hall from Dahmer, but in the building next door.
Regardless, her actions in Monster in terms of trying multiple times to get the police involved with Dahmer’s activities were fairly accurate.
Richard Jenkins – Lionel Dahmer
Richard Jenkins has been working in television and film since the 1970s and has become one of the most recognizable character actors working in Hollywood (even if you don’t necessarily remember, or even learn, his name).
As a member of the cast of Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, Jenkins gets an unprecedented opportunity to shine. Known to usually play often officious characters — sometimes in positions of wealth and power — in everything from blockbusters like Kong: Skull Island to thrillers like Killing Them Softly, Jenkins plays anything but in Monster.
There are conflicting stories about the accuracy of Jenkins’ portrayal. In flashbacks, we see Lionel Dahmer encouraging his young son’s grisly postmortem experiments on dead animals, for example, while the killer’s father claimed he didn’t know about the younger Dahmer’s obsession with dissecting animals.
Today reports that Lionel Dahmer is now 86 years old and living in Seville, Ohio where he has yet to make any public statements about Monster.
Molly Ringwald – Shari Dahmer
Few names are more surprising in the cast of Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story than that of the star of so many iconic 1980s films, Molly Ringwald. The star of such teenage cinematic ballads as Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club plays Shari Dahmer in Monster, Jeffrey Dahmer’s stepmother and Lionel Dahmer’s second wife.
The real Shari Dahmer was, by all accounts, a rock to Lionel Dahmer during her infamous stepson’s trial. She’s proven defiant to any suggestion that she should feel anything but pride for the Dahmer name, and still lives with Lionel in Ohio.
After Jeffrey’s capture and trial, Shari would insist that the only early sign she noted that anything was wrong was his habitual drinking.
Michael Learned – Catherine Dahmer
Another surprising member of the cast of Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story is Michael Learned, best known as the family matriarch of the long-running Great Depression-era historical drama The Waltons.
Learned plays the killer’s grandmother — and Lionel’s mother — Catherine in Monster. She is a four-time Emmy winner; earning three of the trophies on The Waltons and one for the CBS medical drama Nurse.
Since the release of the series, some have speculated that Jeffrey Dahmer murdered his grandmother, but that isn’t the case. The real Catherine Dahmer died at the age of 88 in December 1992, after her infamous grandson was convicted for his crimes and while he was incarcerated.
According to Women’s Health, while Monster hints that Catherine may have had an idea of the gruesome things Jeffrey was getting up to in her basement, she claimed she had no idea.
Penelope Ann Miller – Joyce Dahmer
It’s Savannah Brown we first meet playing Jeffrey Dahmer’s mother Joyce in the cast of Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, but later the older version of the killer’s mother is played by Penelope Ann Miller. A regular face on big and small screens since the mid-80s, Miller is best remembered as the love interest in two wildly different films: the crime drama Carlito’s Way and the Arnold Schwarzenegger-led comedy Kindergarten Cop.
The real Joyce Dahmer died of breast cancer in 2000 while working as a case manager for the Central Valley AIDS Center in California. Joyce expressed guilt over her son’s actions and any way that she may have contributed to her son’s homicidal compulsions.
After her son’s death, she wanted his brain to be studied by doctors, but her ex-husband Lionel fought her in court, saying that it was Jeffrey’s wish to be cremated. A judge weighed in on Lionel’s side and ordered the brain cremated with the rest of the serial killer’s corpse.
Shaun J. Brown – Tracy Edwards
You may think that of all the characters portrayed by the cast of Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, Tracy Edwards may very well be the luckiest. As portrayed by Shaun J. Brown in Monster, Edwards endured a horrible four-hour ordeal in Dahmer’s apartment but managed to fight his way out. It was his successful escape that finally led authorities to Dahmer’s capture.
But as People reported in October, the real Tracy Edwards would probably not be the first person to refer to himself as “lucky.” Edwards was traumatized by what happened, wound up homeless afterward, and was eventually convicted of attempted murder.
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