Game of Thrones star on playing SA’s first ever serial-killer profiler

14 February 2024

Game of Thrones star on playing SA’s first ever serial-killer profiler

Charlotte Hope, who played Myranda in Game of Thrones and headlined Starz’s The Spanish Princess as Catherine of Aragon, stars in Catch Me A Killer as Micki Pistorius, South Africa’s first-ever serial-killer profiler. 

Adapted from Pistorius’ memoir of the same name, the Showmax Original has just made history by being named the first South African series to crack top international festival SeriesMania, who call the show, “A female Mindhunter in the guise of a wonderfully-produced true-crime series.”

Watch the trailer for Catch Me A Killer

In his four-star review in Rapport, Leon van Nierop writes, “Showmax hits the jackpot again with a dark, creepy but highly realistic adaptation of Micki Pistorius’s Catch Me a Killer… It’s one of the best true crime series ever.”

Charlotte Hope as Micki Pistorius in Catch Me A Killer

We chatted to Charlotte to find out more:

What is Catch Me A Killer about? 

Catch Me A Killer is a story of the first female profiler in South Africa: a woman called Micki Pistorius. It’s her experience of understanding the psychology of serial killers to help the police catch and prosecute them.

Why did you want to be involved? 

The simple answer is that my agent sent me the scripts and, genuinely, they were the best scripts I’d read in a really long time. 

It’s a world that I find completely fascinating. I’ve always really been interested in the psychology of criminals and the psychology of serial killers. I spent a lot of the pandemic with my partner listening to a YouTube channel called JCS – Criminal Psychology. It’s amazing. Basically, it takes you through unedited interviews with criminals, and shows you what the psychology is from point to point to point. So it shows you when they’re coercing, when they’re threatening, when they’re trying to get you on their side. 

So when Catch Me A Killer landed in my lap, it felt like kismet. Most of the time, when you’re an actor, you get a project and you get to research all new stuff. When I got this, I realised I had actually been researching this on my own for a year. Then I got to study loads more. I’m a big nerd so that was really fun. 

Micki uses her psychology training to really get into the minds of murderers, so she can help the police catch them. How do you think the audience will respond to her trying to empathise with serial killers?

There’s a difference between empathising with someone and condoning someone’s actions. Micki, as a psychologist, had a huge amount of empathy for these people. There’s a bit in her book where she says, “Serial killers are not monsters. They are human beings with tortured souls. I will never condone what they do but I can understand them.” That’s also what I’m really trying to do as an actor. I can’t judge my characters; I have to empathise with them. 

A lot of serial killers, even in our show, are desperate to be caught. Because it’s a pathology. And it’s an instinct that they can’t stop and they need to be stopped. For Micki, the only way to stop them is by empathising with them, because understanding them, understanding their thought processes and understanding why they act the way they do, is the only way that you can trace them and catch them.

Her job really took a toll on Micki herself. How did you stop yourself from going into the abyss?

Emotionally taxing jobs are really hard. They take a toll on your body. Your body experiences trauma, even if it’s only pretend. 

I have done a role similar to this once before, and I learned a lot about how to handle it. I also have an incredible therapist, and a great support network of people around me. This is hands down the best crew I’ve ever worked with. I came to work every day and had a group of people who were really holding me. And I got to go home every day and wash it out of my hair; Micki never got to do that. It stuck with her the whole time. 

At the same time, it would be a disservice to Micki if I did this job and didn’t go into the abyss, because that’s where she lived. And I want to tell her story as honestly as possible. There’s a famous FBI profiler called Robert Ressler, and he says in his book: “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you.” For Micki, you have to go into the abyss to understand them, but you have to be able to come out of it too. 

What was the most challenging scene to shoot?

The really long monologues. Those are stressful because I’m just terrified about not f*cking it up. 

There was also a day when I was covered in live maggots, and I had a stomach bug… 

But I’m a pretty determined person, and I like to think that I’m quite brave. So there’s very little that felt too much, other than my own self-doubt and criticism. 

It’s a very South African story, and you are from the UK. Did you identify with Micki?

She’s a South African woman, so, naturally, that made me a bit nervous when I was preparing for the role because I wanted to do an honest portrayal of her. We talked about her accent a lot. What we decided is that Micki is an outsider. More than that, she’s also had this very nomadic childhood that has made her incredibly empathetic. She’s travelled a lot; she’s never really felt a sense of belonging. 

For me as an actor, that’s an experience that I can really understand. I also am very nomadic; I don’t have a home; I go wherever the work is. I don’t have a sense of people who I belong to, because I’m never in one place long enough. So when I read the script, that really resonated with me. 

There were so many little things where I was like, “Oh, I know this woman and I think I understand her”. Like she speaks fluent French, and she did a BA in languages and I did a BA in languages. There was an early bit in the draft where Suzanne, who’s her sister, says, “Just relax your jaw a bit, Micki.” And I was like, “I have jaw tension.” Micki eats the insides of sandwiches, and I eat the insides of sandwiches. Even though I’m not South African, I can still understand this woman, and try to tell her story as accurately as I can.

Why should audiences watch Catch Me A Killer? 

I was fascinated by the story. When I read the scripts, I couldn’t put them down. Every episode I wanted to know what happened next. So I really hope that the audience gets to experience that as well. It’s a show that I would really want to watch. 

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