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Michael Chernus Cast as Serial Killer John Wayne Gacy in Upcoming Peacock Limited Series

The series aims to take a closer look at Gacy's life and the impact his crimes had on those around him.

By Joe Dziemianowicz

Michael Chernus will play the title role in Peacock’s Devil In Disguise: John Wayne Gacy, the streaming service’s upcoming limited drama series about the notorious serial killer who murdered 33 boys and young men in the 1970s.

“I am both excited and humbled by this opportunity,” said Chernus, a versatile actor known for roles in Severance and Dead Ringers, in a press release. “While Gacy was the perpetrator of these horrific crimes, Im relieved that he won’t be the main focus of the series. 

Patrick Macmanus (Dr. Death, The Girl From Plainville) serves as showrunner, writer, and executive producer of the scripted project that concentrates on the exacting investigation that ultimately brought Gacy down. The series is inspired by the 2021 Peacock docuseries produced by NBC News Studios: John Wayne Gacy: Devil in Disguise

The direction that the writers are taking with this project is important, focusing on the victims and their families as well as those who finally brought John Wayne Gacy to justice,” said Chernus.

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The Scripted Series

Michael Chernus wears a blue jacket on the red carpet at a premiere at sundance in 2024

The limited series was announced by NBCUniversal during a Television Critics Association presentation in February. 

Per a description of the series, "Devil In Disguise: John Wayne Gacy peels back the twisted layers of John Wayne Gacy’s life while weaving in the heartrending stories of his mostly gay victims; exploring the grief, guilt, and trauma of their families and friends; and exposing the systemic failures, missed opportunities and societal prejudices that fueled his reign of terror.” 

Who was John Wayne Gacy?

Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, Gacy kidnapped, tortured, and killed nearly three dozen male victims, many of them gay. Gacy hid their remains in a crawl space under his house during his six-year spree that began in 1972.

Gacy’s easygoing and charming personality helped him to elude capture for so long. The infamously prolific killer even entertained at children’s parties dressed as a clown before his capture, death row imprisonment and, in 1994, execution.

Three decades after Gacy was put to death by lethal injection in Illinois, the devastation of his grisly crimes and lives lost remain.

Its heartbreaking for me to think of what his victims could have done with their lives had the system not failed them so tragically,” said Chernus.

I believe in the power of storytelling,” Chernus added, and hope that by telling this story, in a thoughtful way, we can play some part in preventing this from ever happening again.” 

To learn more about Gacy and how he was eventually caught, watch the six-part docuseries John Wayne Gacy: The Devil in Disguise on Peacock