'Mindhunter' Star Cameron Britton Answers a Big Question From Season 1

"One of the reasons I love Kemper is that you never know where he's coming from."

Mindhunter Season 2 finished filming last December, but there’s still a lot we don’t know about the second outing for Netflix’s serial killer-obsessed series. However, if there’s one thing we’re sure of, it’s that not including Cameron Britton — he plays deranged killer Ed Kemper in Season 1 — would be a huge mistake.

In an interview, Britton tells Inverse why he thinks he his character is so appealing, what he learned from inhabiting the role of one of the most terrifying serial killers in modern history, and why he’s attracted to playing villains in general. (Britton also stars as the time-traveling assassin Hazel on Netflix’s new show The Umbrella Academy.)

The one thing he wouldn’t reveal? Whether his character will return in Mindhunter Season 2 (“No comment,” he says), but a conversation with Britton makes it clear that Netflix would be remiss not to bring back his characters for future seasons of both of those shows.

Here’s an edited version of our interview with Britton (you can also read more about his experience working on The Umbrella Academy here and here).

netflix mindhunter season 2 kemper cameron britton
Will Kemper be part of 'Mindhunter' Season 2?

Inverse: You play the role of a villain — or, at least, an antagonist — in both Umbrella Academy and Mindhunter. How do you think those two characters differ from each other?

Britton: Well, I don’t even think of Hazel as a villain. I’ve never thought of him that way. I think that is a very overly justified person, he makes a lot of excuses for himself.

I think the major difference between Hazel and Kemper is that Kemper is incredibly comfortable in his own skin. He’s a much more standard villain. Most villains know exactly who they are and what they want, it’s the heroes who are lost. But in Hazel’s case, he’s a bit of a lost villain. He’s sort of a unique take on the bad guy in the show, and part of the reason I wanted to do Umbrella Academy was how unique he was.

I wouldn’t normally take on another killer after just doing one, but Hazel was very different. So, I felt comfortable doing it.

MIndhunter has a really passionate fanbase, so I wanted to ask you a question that comes straight from the Mindhunter subreddit about the final scene in Season 1: “Do you guys think Ed had intentions of killing Holden? That moment at the Hospital when Ed hugged him, was it a simple hug or was he planning on snapping his neck/back?”

One of the reasons I love Kemper is that you never know where he’s coming from. When you meet him in the very first scene that he’s in, you expect a maniac but you get this pleasant guy offering egg salad sandwiches. That holds true to the very last scene of the show. You never quite know where he’s coming from. That’s the point he’s trying to share with Holden, and, I guess, trying to share it with audience as well.

But the goal was that the audience doesn’t expect Kemper to jump up and turn around and block Holden. So, that is the mystery to me, as well as to anyone that the fun is is not quite understanding where Kemper’s coming from.

Isn’t that sort of the crux of Mindhunter? Isn’t that kind of why we watch true crime in general? Because we can’t understand what makes these people tick?

Do you think playing a serial killer like Ed Kemper has given you a better understanding of what makes them tick?

Yes, studying Kemper sort of demystifies a lot of the super villain feel that we give serial killers, that they are these mastermind folk. They’re not to me anymore at all. There’s nothing commendable about what they did and why they did it.

Mindhunter Season 1 is streaming now on Netflix. Season 2 is coming later this year.

Media via Netflix, Inverse