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Crime News Based on a True Story

Murdering [SPOILER] Was “Strangely Awful” On Set, Says Based on a True Story’s Killer

The actor who plays the West Side Ripper describes how he filmed Based on a True Story's violent kill scenes, while keeping a good rapport with his fellow castmates when the cameras stopped rolling.

By Jill Sederstrom

Killing can take a lot out of someone — even if it’s only on film. 

Tom Bateman described the “strangely really awful” experience of acting out the gruesome kill scenes on the set of Peacock’s comedic thriller Based on a True Story in a recent interview with NBC Insider.

Tom Bateman on Natalia Dyer Scene

Bateman’s character, Matt Pierce, is a single father who spends his days working as a plumber and his nights trolling for victims as Los Angeles’ feared serial killer The West Side Ripper

For Bateman, filming the violent scenes “again and again” took an emotional toll, particularly the gruesome scene where he killed Stranger Things star Natalia Dyer as the bartender tried to fit in a workout at home. 

RELATED: Is Based on a True Story Based on a True Story?

“I’m very big and she’s a lot smaller than me, so to tower over someone and have them scream in your face in terror, it kind of eats into you after the third, fourth hour of which you’re filming it,” Bateman confessed.

But it wasn’t all grim. To temper the dark days of filming, the Murder on the Orient Express star said showrunners tried to keep the overall atmosphere on the Based on a True Story set "light" and “wonderful.” 

“Everyone was so respectful and cool and tried to keep it light and make sure everyone was OK,” he said.

As a result, the more brutal scenes felt  “as good as it could be.” 

Bateman himself also tried to keep it as friendly as possible with his co-stars when the cameras weren’t rolling.

“I tried as much as I could to sit around and joke with people I was about to stab to death in a bathroom,” he laughed. 

During the shoot, Bateman formed a tight bond with co-stars Kaley Cuoco and Chris Messina, who play struggling couple Ava and Nathan Bartlett.

RELATED: Kaley Cuoco and Chris Messina Talk Based on a True Story's "Crazy Tone," Their Chemistry, and More

The couple team up with Matt after discovering he’s a killer to produce a very unique true crime podcast that gives an inside look into the killings.

“We became these stupid three clowns just trying to make each other laugh and surprise each other the whole time,” Bateman said of the camaraderie they formed during filming. “So, I love them.” 

Bateman admitted he first wondered how he’d be able to play such a sinister character, but found himself drawn to the series’ “new and unique” take on a serial killer. 

“He’s so fun and stupid and silly and playful and provocative,” Bateman said. 

Bateman tried to bring out Matt’s pure “glee in being the cat in the cat and mouse dynamic.” 

“I wanted to sort of see that he enjoys playing with these two people and all of the people that he comes in contact with,” Bateman said.

Don’t expect Bateman to be listening to any true crime podcasts on his own, however. He admitted to NBC Insider he’s not much of a true crime fan.

“I think it might be something that’s far bigger in America than it is in the UK,” he said of the growing true crime “phenomena.” 

Watch all eight episodes of Based on a True Storyon Peacock now.