Actors who got into the mind of a monster to bring these captivating true crime stories to the screen.

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1. Charlize Theron as Aileen Wuornos

Rex Features

Rex Features

Charlize Theron won the Oscar for Best Actress for her portrayal of serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster (2003).

Wuornos murdered seven men in Florida between 1989 and 1990. She worked as a prostitute and claimed she’d killed the men in self-defence. Wuornos was given the death sentence, and executed by lethal injection in October 2002.

 

2.  Dean Cain as Scott Peterson

PA/Rex Features

PA/Rex Features

New Adventures of Superman star Dean Cain played Scott Peterson in The Perfect Husband: The Laci Peterson Story (2004).

Peterson was convicted of murdering his wife, Laci and their unborn son Conner. Laci disappeared on 24 December 2002, and her remains, along with Conner’s, were washed up on San Francisco Bay the following April. Peterson was given the death penalty for the murders, but still professes his innocence.

 

3. Maxine Peake as Myra Hindley

Rex Features

Rex Features

Maxine Peake made her name in Dinnerladies and Shameless before taking the role of Myra Hindley in Bafta winning drama See No Evil: The Moors Murders (2006).

Child killer Hindley and her partner Ian Brady committed a spate of heinous murders in the 1960s. She died in 2002, after spending 36 years in jail and was dubbed in the Press as ‘the most evil woman in Britain.’

 

4. Gary Oldman as Lee Harvey Oswald

PA/Rex Features

PA/Rex Features

Gary Oldman played Lee Harvey Oswald in Oliver Stone’s conspiracy thriller JFK (1991), which told a version of the assasination of American President John F. Kennedy.

Oswald shot and killed Kennedy in November 1963, as he travelled on a motorcade through Dallas, Texas. Oswald himself was shot dead just two days later by a Dallas nightclub owner, an event that was captured on live television and watched by millions of viewers.

 

5. Laura Prepon as Karla Homolka

PA/Rex Features

PA/Rex Features

She’s best known for her roles on That 70s Show and Orange is the New Black, in 2006, Laura Prepon starred in Karla, playing Canadian killer Karla Homolka.

Homolka was convicted of helping her husband Paul Bernardo rape and murder two teenage girls in Ontario in the early 1990s. The pair also raped and caused the death of Homolka’s younger sister Tammy. She was jailed for 12 years for manslaughter.

 

6.  Jeremy Renner as Jeffrey Dahmer

PA/Rex Features

PA/Rex Features

Before his starring roles in The Hurt Locker and Avengers: Age of Ultron, Jeremy Renner played the part of one of America’s most infamous serial killers in Dahmer (2002).

Jeffrey Dahmer killed 17 men between 1978 and 1991. He dismembered and cannibilised many of his victims. He was handed a life sentence, but was killed by a fellow prisoner in 1994.

 

7. Charlie Brooks as Beverly Allitt

PA/Rex Features

PA/Rex Features

Best known for her long-running role as EastEnders bad-girl Janine, in 2005, Charlie Brooks portrayed a real life villain.

BBC drama Angel of Death retold the case of Beverly Allitt, a British nurse who murdered four children and attempted to murder of three more. She was also convicted of causing harm to a number of other child patients, all of whom were under the care of the hospital where she worked. She must serve 30 years before she can be considered for release.

 

8. Dominic West as Fred West

Fred West 2

PA/Rex Features

The Wire’s Dominic West bore a scary similarity to his namesake Fred West when he played the sick serial killer in ITV drama Appropriate Adult (2011).

Fred West was suspected of the murders of 12 women, including his first wife and his daughter. The crimes, most of which were committed with his second wife Rosemary, shocked the world because of the degree of torture and sexual sadism the couple inflicted on their victims. Rosemary West must serve a whole life tariff, but Fred West evaded justice, hanging himself while on remand.

 

9. Farrah Fawcett as Diane Downs

PA/Rex Features

PA/Rex Features

Small Sacrifices (1989) saw Charlie’s Angels actress Farrah Fawcett play the part of child killer Diane Downs.

In 1983, Downs shot her three children, then claimed they’d been victim to a failed carjacking. Cheryl, 7, died from her injuries, and Christie, 8 and Danny, 3, survived, but faced a long recovery. Police grew suspicious of Downs’ story, and she was convicted of Cheryl’s murder and the attempted murder of her other two children.

 

10. Reece Shearsmith as Malcolm Webster

PA/Rex Features

PA/Rex Features

TV drama The Widower (2014) saw The League of Gentlemen creator Reece Shearsmith act the part of Malcolm Webster, who murdered his first wife and attempted to murder his second.

Webster killed Claire Morris in 1994, in a faked car crash. It was believed to be an accident until his second wife, Felicity Drumm also had a similar accident, which provoked fresh police interest. Webster received a 30 year sentence for the crimes.

 

11. Mark Harmon as Ted Bundy

PA/Rex Features

PA/Rex Features

NCIS star Mark Harmon was on the other side of the law when he took the part of Ted Bundy in Deliberate Stranger (1986).

Bundy used his charm and good looks to disarm young women before raping, torturing and murdering them. He’s known to have decapitated a number of victims, keeping their heads as souvenirs. The extent of Bundy’s offending is not known, but before he was executed in 1989, he confessed to 30 murders.