We’re all obsessed with Netflix’s true crime docu-series Making a Murderer. Literally all of us. Like, everyone in the world. But now that everyone with a pulse and a love for Wisconsin accents has binged all 10 episodes chronicling the case against Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey, we’re left wondering what to do with ourselves. Sure, we could sign one of numerous petitions calling for President Obama to look into the cases against Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey. Yeah, we could also read the Yelp reviews for former state prosecutor Ken Kratz’s private law firm and laugh at all the one star reviews calling out his questionable ethics and dubious facial hair choices. And, okay, we could move onto The Jinx or any other similar TV show to get our fix of riveting non-fiction stories, but none of the above choices would do justice to our all-encompassing obsession with Making a Murderer.
That’s why we at Screen Rant can’t stop thinking about the story behind Making a Murderer and how astoundingly excellent it would be as a major Hollywood film. It has all the twists and turns necessary to keep viewers glued to their seats, it’s filled with compelling characters that would draw interest from every actor in Hollywood, and it would shed even more light on the truth behind the Avery and Dassey cases, showing the human and emotional sides to a story that is all too easy to distill into hard legal facts.
So while we’re waiting for the green-light on the Making a Murderer film, we’ve decided to put together a list of our dream cast for every major part in the would-be movie. Below we present you with the actors that we think can pull off the difficult task of portraying real characters in a real case that has destroyed real lives. Here’s 10 Making a Murderer Movie Castings That Need to Happen.
Michael C. Hall as Steven Avery
With a little bit of a weight gain and some hair dye, Michael C. Hall wouldn’t fool anyone into thinking he’s Steven Avery, but he would come closer than many in Hollywood. And though we all want to forget that time Dexter became a lumberjack, Hall’s lumberjack look wouldn’t be that far off from what he would need to do to pull off looking like Steven Avery, the main character – and key ingredient – in a potential Making a Murderer film.
The reason that Hall is such perfect casting for Avery is that he’s more than capable of leading a film and portraying a character as dynamic – and unpredictable – as Steven Avery. Not only would Hall be a recognizable choice for a tough role, but his years on Dexter more than proved he can play a character the audience doesn’t fully stand behind, yet completely sympathizes with. Hall’s ability to elicit emotion and empathy from a morally ambiguous character would be perfect for playing Steven Avery, and we know that Michael C. Hall has the range (and as seen in Dexter, the ability to pull off crazy accents) to play Avery as someone who is potentially innocent while never losing sight of the horrific crimes that Avery has been accused of.
Paul Dano as Brendan Dassey
Paul Dano is proving himself to be one of the finest actors working today – and between his role in 2013’s Prisoners as a simple-minded man hiding dark secrets and his physically and emotionally demanding portrayal of Brian Wilson in 2015’s Love & Mercy – Dano has built up the kind of resume needed to play someone as complex as Brendan Dassey. With a look that lends Dano the ability to play Dassey young without any suspension of disbelief needed, as well as Dano’s willingness to gain weight for a role (as seen in Love & Mercy) – which will be needed in Dassey’s later years – Dano shares several physical traits with Dassey that would make him a perfect physical fit.
Across Michael C. Hall – though it’s conceivable that the two would never meet on screen – Paul Dano would be a formidable co-star, capable of stealing scenes and portraying Brendan Dassey with unparalleled compassion and innocence. While the real character of Brendan Dassey in the Making a Murderer series is one that is as compelling as it is perplexing, Dano would lend a distant humanity to the character; an ability to connect with the person behind the glassy stare and the inconsistencies in his story.
John Goodman as Ken Kratz
No movie is complete without a compelling villain, and the character of Ken Kratz is as compelling as they come. While many could argue that Steven Avery is the villain, Kratz spent most of the 10 episode Netflix series being portrayed as a morally dubious prosecutor, hiding his own secrets while seemingly ignoring cold, hard facts in favor of his own agenda. Now imagine John Goodman as this character, and you have what may end up being the stand out performance of this film.
John Goodman as a villain who believes he’s doing the right thing is an irresistible idea, and when you pair that with his resemblance to the real-life Kratz and the idea of him whining on in Kratz’s high-pitched voice you have all the ingredients necessary for a magnetic, scene-stealing performance. Goodman playing against type – as an almost-always whispering prosecutor, rather than a loud-mouth on the wrong side of the law – has Oscar-worthy written all over it, and it’s hard to imagine anyone else portraying Kratz as someone that you want to simultaneously punch and pat on the back all at once.
Andy Buckley as Jerry Buting
During his time on The Office playing David Wallace, Andy Buckley portrayed embattled hero like no one else. And if ever there were an embattled hero, searching for the right thing to do amidst a handful of incompetent morons, that would be Jerry Buting; one of Steven Avery’s two attorneys. Having dealt with Michael Scott on The Office would set him up perfectly to take on the astounding incompetence of The State of Wisconsin and Manitowoc County; not to mention that Andy Buckley looks almost exactly like Jerry Buting, right down to the hair and glasses.
Andy Buckley would make a great contrast to the big stars we’re suggesting for the Making a Murderer film, as he’s one of those actors that have been in so many things that you can’t help but say “Oh, he’s that guy from that thing.” Nonetheless, we have no doubt that Buckley could pull off the role of Jerry Buting, exchanging verbal barbs with John Goodman’s Ken Kratz and making one great point after the next, solemnly showing the flaws in other people’s logic and making you root for him despite the nearly insurmountable odds against him. Buckley has that every-man quality that makes you want to see him get a win, and having him in such a pivotal role here would greatly elevate his career as well as the overall film.
Kyle Chandler as Dean Strang
If there was ever someone born to play a charismatic man on the right side of the law, that someone would be Kyle Chandler; and for evidence look no further than nearly every role he’s ever played. Chandler would be exceptional as Dean Strang, Steven Avery’s other attorney, and it would be thrilling to see him battle it out in the courtroom and behind the scenes of Avery’s trail with his whip-smart dialogue and trademark cocky delivery. With a good head of hair and a winning smile, Chandler would be one of the only characters (along with Buting) in this whole film that is in the moral clear, and it would be a joy to see Chandler play a lawyer who can’t believe what is going on around him.
As Dean Strang, Kyle Chandler would have to rely upon his experience as Coach Taylor from Friday Night Lights to lend the character credibility and an assuredness that he’s doing the right thing. As he tries to paint police officers and lawyers as criminals involved in a wide-reaching conspiracy, Chandler is the perfect person to add weight to condemnations that may or may not be true. While we want to side with Strang, Buting, and Avery but find it conflicting with every new piece of evidence uncovered, Chandler would be a surrogate for the audience and would walk us through the twists and turns of the case with confidence and charm.
Jeffrey Tambor as James Lenk
Whether James Lenk – one of the officers accused of planting evidence against Steven Avery – is portrayed as a villain here is up to the would-be filmmakers, but the idea of Jeffrey Tambor hiding a massive secret and being caught in lies while under oath is too tantalizing to resist. As the patriarch of the Bluth family caught up in his own crimes, even Arrested Development has yet to fulfill our dreams of seeing Jeffrey Tambor take the stand and squirm while he hears his own lies read back to him in a court of law.
Though Tambor’s newer fans may recognize him as the sensitive transgender woman in Transparent, Tambor has been receiving widespread acclaim for decades now, and his abilities in comedy are equal to his abilities in drama. While he played George Bluth as someone who either was or wasn’t involved in a crime, and either did or didn’t know he did anything wrong, and he either was admitting his wrongdoings or was never admitting them, Tambor could bring that same infuriating sense of confusion to the character of Lenk. His quiet cadence, his uncomfortable physical cues, his seemingly endless memory lapses; all of these things would be a challenge that Jeffrey Tambor could more than rise to the occasion of, and seeing him in a meaty dramatic role like this would further cement him as one of the greatest actors working today.
Christian Slater as Andrew Colborn
Christian Slater has that type of face – complete with a smug smile and half-open eyes – that makes him the perfect actor to play characters with secrets to hide. A little bit sleazy, maybe he thinks he’s better than everyone else, it seems like asking him anything is wasting his time; this is the general checklist for a Christian Slater character. And, would you look at that, this seems to sum up the character of Andrew Colborn as well.
If the director of a Making a Murderer film had to distill Sgt. Andrew Colborn into an identifiable character, chances are that Christian Slater could play the hell out of that character. In the Netflix series, Colborn always looked like he had his own motives and reasons for doing everything he did, and Slater would be able to perfectly encapsulate that attitude and bring it to the screen in an endlessly compelling way. With a murky relationship to Steven Avery and complex motives that make even the most well-written character pale in comparison, Slater’s Colborn would be more than just a side character; he’d be a captivating presence that raises more questions than answers every time he’s on screen; even if his only scenes are ones where he’s on the stand literally answering questions.
William H. Macy as Len Kachinsky
Aside from Ken Kratz, Len Kachinsky is Making a Murderer’s big-bad, although rather than twisting the truth at any chance, Kachinsky manages to boil viewers’ blood with simple incompetency; and that infuriating smile. Constantly grinning at all the wrong times, Brendan Dassey’s grossly incompetent attorney seemed only interested in furthering his own career and making friends with the press. His small-town charm oozed out of every frame he was in, and yet we hated every minute of it; which is why there’s no better actor to play him than William H. Macy.
The undisputed king of characters that aren’t aware of their own assholery, Macy not only looks exactly like Len Kachinsky, but he’s the only actor with the astounding ability to pull off playing such a buffoon while still making him appear human; which is something even the real Len Kachinsky couldn’t do. For five seasons of Shameless, Macy has made us love to hate a character that would be a cartoon in less capable hands, and that’s exactly the type of tender portrayal that would be needed for Kachinsky. Macy could even re-employ his accent and haircut from Fargo and switch places with Kachinsky in the real world without anyone noticing; and while we’re sure Macy could prove a more capable lawyer than Kachinsky, we highly doubt that Kachinsky could fill the acting shoes of William H. Macy.
Sandy Martin as Dolores Avery
Dolores Avery was one of the most heart-wrenching characters on television in 2015 thanks to the Netflix Making a Murderer series. But despite everything she’s been through, the show managed to show us glimpses of her sense of humor and strength, which is why we’re turning to one of the funniest characters on TV to cast her.
If you look at Sandy Martin – who plays Mrs. Mac on It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia with such deadpan precision that she should win all the Emmys – you’d see an actress who not only could pull off the physicality of Dolores Avery, but someone who has the experience needed to fill such an important role. While the roles that Martin has played over the years haven’t been large ones, she fills every frame she’s in with a presence that not many others can match. In Always Sunny she steals entire scenes and episodes with just a grunt, and casting her as Steven Avery’s mother would be a win for everyone, letting this lesser known actress have the chance to give voice to someone who rarely speaks, but whose presence – her eye shifting, her silence, her nervous stares – speaks volumes.
Nick Offerman as Allan Avery
Sure, there’s a bit of an age gap between Allan Avery and Nick Offerman – in fact, Offerman is nearly a decade younger than Allan’s son Steven – but with a bit of old age makeup it’s hard to imagine anyone more perfect for this role than Nick Offerman. Look no further than Allan’s minuscule screen-time in the Netflix series to prove that he’s a man of few words, but when he does talk, what he says is blunt and to the point. Just picture Nick Offerman saying “an innocent man shouldn’t be in prison” and you have an idea of how Offerman would play the elder Avery; with a Ron Swanson-esque wisdom and disdain for authority; and a grand desire to be left alone.
Offerman has excelled at every role he’s been cast in, and we have no doubt that this would be no different. Able to play dramatic roles with a hard-edged sentimentality, Offerman could lend emotion to the gruff Allan Avery and show what’s beneath the surface. Similar to his appearance in the second season of FX’s Fargo and his role in the excellent The Kings of Summer, Offerman can elicit a lot of feelings with only tiny doses, and that’s a skill that he could utilize perfectly for the character of Allan Avery.
Bonus: Philip Seymour Hoffman as Steven Avery
Philip Seymour Hoffman has never played a role like this. Often going all out for a character engaged in a game of chess with everyone around him, always thinking six steps ahead and looking for a way out, Hoffman’s characters always seemed like they were the smartest people in the room, and they hated everyone else. There’s no doubt that Hoffman was one of the greatest actors of our generation, and were he still alive, he would certainly top this list.
While it’s clear that Hoffman looked more like Avery than anyone else in Hollywood, we do have to wonder if he would be able to pull off the quiet simplicity of Steven Avery. We know he could give depth to the role and put his finger on the complex feelings and raw dangers that may reside beneath Avery, but would he be believable enough as a Wisconsin salvage yard employee? Would he be able to sit in court silently while we wonder if he’s innocent or guilty? Philip Seymour Hoffman was a master at providing fireworks and a stacked arsenal of verbal artillery, but the character of Steven Avery is one that we couldn’t imagine would ever raise his voice. He would need to be constantly questioning, always one step behind and looking to catch up. And while we never got the chance to see Hoffman play a character like this in his career, we would have loved the chance to find out.
Do you think any of these are particularly inspired choices? Which do you think don’t fit at all? Who would you like to see play these real life people? Share this article and let us know in the comments!