Top 9 Actors to Play Real Life Serial Killers

Michael Rooker - Henry Lee Lucas - Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
Perhaps the most beloved horror film on this list, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer launched the career of Michael Rooker, who played the title character. Rooker was brilliantly cast in the role as he even had a passing resemblance to Henry Lee Lucas. But equally impressive was the casting of Tom Towles as Otis (who represented Lucas' real-life confidant Ottis Toole) as the resemblance there was remarkable. Henry was directly inspired by Lucas, although the events of the film are fictionalized. The actual number of murders committed by Lucas is hard to say as he changed his story so many times. He was scheduled to be executed in Texas but had his sentence commuted to life in prison by George W. Bush. (Death penalty commuted in Texas? Really?!) Both Lucas and Toole would die in prison of natural causes.

Jeremy Renner - Jeffrey Dahmer - Dahmer
Long before he was racking up awards and nominations for films like The Hurt Locker and The Town, Renner put on an impressive performance as Jeffrey Dahmer, one of the most infamous serial killers in American history. Although he would win nothing for his role in Dahmer, it was said by director/producer of The Hurt Locker Kathryn Bigelow that she cast Renner in the lead role of her film because of his performance in Dahmer. As for the Milwaukee Cannibal, he pretty much did it all. Dahmer's tale is one that involves murder, rape, necrophilia, dismemberment and permanent preservation of body parts. He was convicted on 16 counts of murder and was serving 16 terms of life imprisonment when he was beaten to death by his fellow inmates at the Columbia Correctional Institution in 1994. It couldn't have happened to a nicer guy!

Steve Railsback - Charles Manson - Helter Skelter
We save what has to be considered the greatest performance of a serial killer for last as we cover Steve Railsback's portrayal of Charles Manson in Helter Skelter. (Incidentally, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre star Marilyn Burns also appeared in the film playing Manson girl turned key prosecution witness Linda Kasabian.) Railsback's performance was so good he seemed to become Manson. Railsback also played real life baddie Ed Gein in Ed Gein, but nothing could touch his work playing Manson. The made-for-TV movie aired over two nights and was nominated for three Emmy Awards. Check out the awesome courtroom speech in the video below. As for Charlie, he was arrested in 1969 and was sentenced to be executed. However, California eliminated the death penalty in 1972, and Mason's sentence was immediately commuted to life in prison. Incidentally, California reinstated the death penalty five years later in 1977, but Manson's sentence remained life in prison, which he is still serving today, having been denied parole 12 times, most recently in 2012.

The Frozen Ground

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