Two Journalists, Two Killers

In real life, Michael Finkel and Christian Longo. In the forthcoming movie version, Jonah Hill and James Franco.

In the forthcoming movie adaptation True Story, Jonah Hill plays former New York Times Magazine reporter Michael Finkel while James Franco portrays convicted killer Christian Longo.

Per a Q&A in New York magazine, Finkel explains that for research purposes, Hill had dinner with the reporter in Manhattan to ask an evening’s worth of probing questions. Franco, on the other hand, has been very public about his desire to have nothing to do with Longo. Had the actor paid a visit to the killer in prison, Finkel says he probably would have been surprised by how normal the man seems:

“‘He’s a complicated guy’ is about the nicest thing I can say about Longo. On some level, he’s the most frightening person you’ve ever met because he’s not frightening at all when you meet him. This is someone who not only is convicted of murder but freely admits that he’s guilty, so it’s not like there’s any question. And yet, he seems completely normal, despite the fact that you’re talking through bulletproof glass on death row at the Oregon State Penitentiary. [He] has a lively mind and quick wit. The disparity between the crime and the sort of cavalier conversation, the chitchat that this guy is able to do, is always startling and ridiculously creepy.”

Finkel says the movie production was so well crafted that when he spent a day watching, it felt like “journalism PTSD.” Read the rest of Finkel’s conversation with New York contributor Dan Reilly here.
[Photo: Fox Searchlight]