In MR. MERCEDES, based on the best-selling Bill Hodges trilogy (Mr. Mercedes, Finders Keepers, and End of Watch) by Stephen King, a retired detective finds himself tormented by a serial killer (Brady Hartsfield, aka Mr. Mercedes) through a series of letters and emails, causing him to set out on a dangerous and potentially felonious crusade to protect his loved ones and himself.
In Season 3, after the beloved local author, John Rothstein, is found murdered, Hodges, Holly, and Jerome, along with local police, must track down his killer. But this case is more complex than the cold-blooded killing of an American icon. Unpublished novel’s of Rothstein’s were stolen from his home, and they are worth millions. As the case unfolds, the trio learns that, although Brady Hartsfield may be gone, his depravity lives on in the lives of his victims.
Recently, Nightmarish Conjurings had the opportunity to speak with Breeda Wool, who plays the immensely complex character, Lou Linklatter, who, after killing Brady Hartsfield in what some would consider self defense, she finds herself on trial for murder. During the interview, we discussed everything from Lou Linklatter’s story arc, the possession by Brady Hartfield, and more.
*interview contains spoilers for MR. MERCEDES*
Thanks so much for speaking with me today, Breeda! To start things off, your character, Lou, has gone through such a transformation these last three seasons. As an actor, how has it been to go through such a huge arc?
Breeda Wool: Fun (laughs). Jack Bender, David E. Kelly, and Denis Lehane in Season 2, these guys really supported me and wrote for me. What I love about our series and what frightens me about it is this idea of evil entering you. And in Season 2, they sort of play with how it’s almost like literally entering you like Brady is possessing people. We see his capability in doing that in Season 2, it’s almost irrelevant whether he actually did it in Season 3 to me or not. I committed such a big act of violence, he already entered me. That moment where I choose whether I’m going to remain myself or go into this other heightened, violent human, I pass over it. It’s sort of like he’s entered me on my own choosing almost if that makes sense.
Absolutely, which brings me to my next question. What started as a friendship with Brady becomes something much scarier and dangerous, leading you to have to kill him in order to protect yourself. That said, at this point in the series what does Brady mean to you as a whole?
Breeda Wool: Yeah, [luckily] the whole town had my back. The whole town is like, “Good on you! Good job, girl!” When we started this series we didn’t know a lot about who I was. All I knew when we started this series was that I had a soft spot for Brady Hartsfield. We knew a lot about Brady, I mean when you read the books you know so much about his internal life. I guess since I knew a lot about him, I just thought to myself, “I’m him, right?” We both are very smart, we both are way overqualified for our jobs, we have similar upbringings – you know that old saying like certain people would either be CEOs and top-notch lawyers or they’re going to be mastermind criminals? And those same personalities are the same side of this sort of like nurture versus nature of that personality type. I think with Brady and Lou, society, and we see this with our boss, Roby, where because of the hierarchical structure and system of these large corporations you see very overqualified, very intelligent people being undermined, undercut, underpaid, forgotten, pushed down. And then ultimately in their private lives, abused, which is what we learned about Lou in Season 2. And so what I always thought was interesting about the series was Brady took that and turned it into something horrible and began externalizing all of that awfulness, externalized all the hate and feeling like he was being forgotten and undermined by society, and hurt people with it. Lou is sort of the feminine version [of Brady] but I chose not to hurt people and I come from a similar background that Brady does and I chose a different path until I didn’t. You see in Season 3 how ultimately that choice that I make, that I feel like I don’t have a choice in the story of killing Brady because I think he’s possessing people. I find out with Hodges and Holly that he’s possessing people so what choice do I have? There’s no law that’s going to contain that (laughs). Everyone thinks that it’s a revenge killing, but Hodges and Holly and Jerome and I know that it was to prevent future harm.
Talking about that path to harm, that’s something we see a lot when it comes to mass shooters. Whenever it’s a white shooter, it’s almost always accompanied by the excuse that he was suffering from a mental illness. But that can’t really be used as an excuse because there are an infinite amount of folks who suffer from a mental illness and do not cause harm to others.
Breeda Wool: All the time, all the time. This was written a little bit before people were really examining it and I wonder if Stephen King will go there, he’s very political. Brady is in his basement radicalized on the internet and this is what we see from these young white men who are socially, sexually isolated radicalized in their basements on the internet. This is our nightmare that we have. This is our American nightmare.
Outside of acting, you’re also a producer and writer. How has being on MR. MERCEDES helped in crafting your skills?
Breeda Wool: I learned an incredible amount from being on MR. MERCEDES. The way that Jack Bender runs set he has an extremely deep respect for every crew member and a real understanding of every detail of how it’s all put together. Also, just being with a group of people for three years who are at the top of their game. I think one of my favorite things about getting involved in the producing and creating side is that it is such a collaborative art form. And when you produce something you are making something from scratch and you’re putting together the collaborative team. Seeing how that all comes together on the day and then in post-production, there’s so many points of contact with people and it’s such a community. I think ultimately that’s why I got into this game cause I crave that community art force.
What has been the most enjoyable part about playing Lou? If there’s another season of MR. MERCEDES, what would you like to be see explored with your character?
Breeda Wool: I love working with Jack Bender so much and I am very interested in the topics of right now. I read this thing one time about when societies are doing very, very well, they get preoccupied with zombie movies because it’s like the ultimate fear of the disintegration of society. And then when societies are doing really poorly, they get obsessed with vampire shit because vampires are the quintessential rich aristocrats who lives forever and have high-end things. But now I’m like, what is the catharsis of what we’re dealing with now? It’s so much. We have a lot of vampire content, a lot of zombie content. I am interested in this sort of rejection of people in our society and the fallout from that. The fallout in that over time has been a separation of wealth and our country. The concept of radicalization and we see in Season 3 of MR. MERCEDES, where people are getting fanatical about me as a vigilante in this town. Stephen King’s so awesome with creating these microcosms inside these little American small towns. He started to explore a lot of the themes of almost like fascism by the internet. I definitely do not shy away from the dark side of examining those things. But if you ask Jack Bender or David E. Kelly about this they’d be like, “Lou’s the hero!” (laughs). So I always see myself as like this dark horse who’s gonna come in and examine the underbelly of everything and they’re like, “Nah, you’re the hero girl” (laughs).
MR. MERCEDES is now streaming on Peacock. Seasons 1 and 2 are available on free tier with Season 3 on the premium tier.