INDIANAPOLIS — Often cast in standout supporting roles, such as "Cruella," "I, Tonya" and "Cobra Kai," Paul Walter Hauser gives one of the most bone-chilling, terrifying performances as soft-spoken, high-pitched, suspected serial killer Larry Hall in the Apple TV+ limited series, "Black Bird."
Based on the unbelievable true story, a promising young football player (Taron Egerton) later turns to a life of crime and is sentenced to 10 years without parole. However, investigators give him the chance for a shorter sentence if he can get a confession from an alleged serial killer (Hauser).
Hauser has already won a Golden Globe and Critics Choice Award for his performance, and is also nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award.
"It's really exciting to get to talk about work you're proud of," Hauser said. "I think sometimes when you do a TV show or a film you're not real happy with how it turned out, these things can be pretty dreadful, but this is nothing but fun for me."
The suspected serial killer, who grew up in Wabash, Indiana, confessed to committing at least 35 murders throughout the Midwest and eastern United States, but slowly recanted all of those confessions. The FBI currently suspects Hall may have committed at least 50 murders.
"So many of us want to believe in the goodness and kindness and normality of strangers," Hauser said. "I would just warn people [that] being friendly doesn't mean making yourself vulnerable. Those two things can be separate."
Tasked with getting in the mindset of a serial killer can be a difficult task, especially when it comes to shutting it all off when the cameras stop rolling.
"Playing Larry is like someone holding their hand over a candle's flame. You do it because 'This is a neat party trick. I can do this for 3 or 4 seconds.' Then, you hit 5, 7 or 8 seconds, and you go, 'Alright, I've proved my point. Can I take my hand off this thing?'" Hauser said. "With Larry, I had my hand over the candle, and I couldn't wait to yank it away and get back to being Paul."
And Hauser got the opportunity to work with the late Ray Liotta ("Goodfellas," "Field of Dreams"), who died in May 2022 while filming a movie in the Dominican Republic.
"It was one of the great pleasures of my career. I'll never forget it. It was brief, but it was so meaningful," Hauser said. "Ray was such a sweet guy. He gave me a big hug on set. He gave me his phone number and said, 'Let's go grab a bite to eat. I want you to meet my girl.'"
All six episodes of "Black Bird" are available to stream on Apple TV+.