Coming to HULU March 17, the Boston Strangler pivots its focus from the killer to the female journalists who broke the story and helped to track down the murder. Writer-director Matt Ruskin's decision to highlight Loretta McLaughlin and Jean Cole is what brought stars Keira Knightley and Carrie Coon to the project.
Boston Strangler Interview: Keira Knightley & Carrie Coon
The Boston Strangler is a true-crime thriller that follows the two female reporters who in the 1960s broke the story of the notorious Boston Stranger. Loretta McLaughlin (Keira Knightley), a reporter for the Record-American newspaper, is the first person to connect various murders together and dub the killer the Boston Strangler. As the murders continue, she along with her colleague and confidante Jean Cole (Carrie Coon) work to discover who is attacking these women. It isn't just a mysterious killer they have to contend with, as sexism threatens to derail their investigation at every turn. Nevertheless, McLaughlin and Cole continue their pursuit of the truth even though it means putting their own lives on the line.
Everywhere you look there seems to be a true-crime movie or show, with the emphasis placed solely on the murder without too much thought paid to the people they killed or the ones who caught them. Matt Ruskin's Boston Strangler stands out amongst this crowd as it chooses to focus not so much on the killer but instead on the journalists responsible for aiding the police in tracking them down. In this case, these two women have been largely forgotten by history. Their contributions glossed over with credit given instead to the men around them. Ruskin's decision to tell McLaughlin and Cole's story is what brought stars Knightley and Coon to the project.
“I just thought it was a really interesting way of telling the story of a serial killer but through the point-of-view of these two female journalists. The fact that you’ve kinda got a case where most people didn’t know that it was two women who broke the story, that they’ve largely sort of been erased from the history of this case, I thought was really interesting,” Knightley shared.
“That was the most shocking part of it for me,” Coon replied. “These women were so integral to breaking the case and forcing the police departments to share information, and their names are never mentioned in association with it.” Coon also spoke about how the challenges they faced as women in the workforce related to what she had witnessed in the lives of the women in her family. “Their stories of how they became journalists were very compelling, very moving stories. [It] certainly echoed the lives of the women in my world who grew up in the Midwest. My mother was a nurse, one of my grandmothers was a teacher, and the other was a homemaker. Those were the opportunities available to women aside from [being a] secretary. So Jean’s fight to become a journalist was very moving to me.”
“This whole film is really a love song to female investigative journalists and really highlights how important it is to have women in positions of power in storytelling,” Knightley added. “Because it was these two women that really went, ‘This is an important story. This is information that needs to be in the public in order to keep the women of Boston safe.' And I think, largely, it was a story that had been, at that point, ignored by the male establishment. I don’t know that their male colleagues would have seen the importance of it. So I think it’s wonderful to be part of something that is really highlighting how important it is to have as many good female journalists as you possibly can for the safety of our communities.”
Boston Strangler premieres March 17 on Hulu. It is rated R for some violent content and language.