[Article] BOSTON STRANGLER – Highlighting Female Investigative Journalism

[Article] BOSTON STRANGLER - Highlighting Female Investigative Journalism
THE BOSTON STRANGLER l 20th Century Studios
In the BOSTON STRANGLER, the film follows Loretta McLaughlin (Keira Knightley), a reporter for the Record-American newspaper, who becomes the first journalist to connect the Boston Strangler murders. As the mysterious killer claims more and more victims, Loretta attempts to continue her investigation alongside colleague and confidante Jean Cole (Carrie Coon), yet the duo finds themselves stymied by the rampant sexism of the era. Nevertheless, McLaughlin and Cole bravely pursue the story at great personal risk, putting their own lives on the line in their quest to uncover the truth.

Recently, Nightmarish Conjurings took part in the virtual press conference for BOSTON STRANGLER, moderated by Joyce Kulhawik. On hand were Keira Knightley (“Loretta McLaughlin”), Carrie Coon (“Jean Cole”), Chris Cooper (“Jack MacLaine”), Alessandro Nivola (“Detective Conley”) and Matt Ruskin (Director).

Kicking things off, Joyce Kulhawik chatted with Matt Ruskin where they discussed Ruskin’s prior knowledge of the Boston Strangler and what drew him to this case:

“I grew up in Boston…I had always heard about the Boston Strangler, but I really didn’t know anything about the case. And then several years ago, I started reading all that I could and discovered this incredibly layered murder mystery that was full of twists and turns and, in many ways, was as much a story about the city at the time. And so, I was just completely gripped by the case. When I discovered these reporters, Loretta McLaughlin and Jean Cole, I found out that they were one of the first reporters to connect the murders, and they actually gave the Boston Strangler his name during the course of their reporting. I felt like that was a really compelling way to revisit this case.”

Carrie Coon as Jean Cole and Keira Knightley as Loretta McLaughlin l Photo by Claire Folger.

Taking on the roles of reporters Loretta McLaughlin and Jean Cole are acclaimed actors Keira Knightley and Carrie Coon. In discussing this with the actors, they spoke about what made them want to be a part of this project.

“Well, I think for me, I had heard of the Boston Strangler,” stated Knightley. “I really didn’t know anything about it. So I really came to it from Matt’s wonderful script. And I just thought it was a really interesting way of telling the story of a serial killer but through the point-of-view of these two female journalists. And the fact that you’ve kind of got a case where most people didn’t know that it was two women who broke the story, that they’ve largely sort of been erased from the history of this case, I thought was really interesting.

“Yes, that was the most shocking part of it for me, that these women were so integral to breaking the case and in forcing the police department to share information, and their names are never mentioned in association with it. That was really shocking to me,” explained Coon. “And then, their stories of how they became journalists, as individuals, they were very compelling, very moving stories. Certainly echoed the lives of the women in my world who grew up in the Midwest. My mother was a nurse. One of my grandmothers was a teacher, and the other was a homemaker. Those were the opportunities available to women aside from secretary. So Jean’s fight to become a journalist at all was very moving to me. And then, of course, I had seen Crown Heights, which Matt had made, and I think of him as a really, deeply moral filmmaker. And I knew that his interest in this story was feminist. That he was really interested in revealing that those women had been erased from the story. And of course, I knew Keira was involved as well, and I was really excited to get the opportunity to work with her.”

Jumping off of that, Knightley went on to explain the importance of these two women journalists being at the forefront of a major investigation:

“This whole film is really a love song to female investigative journalists, and really highlights how important it is to have women in positions of power in storytelling because it was these two women that really went, ‘This is an important story. This is information that needs to be in the public in order to keep women of Boston safe.’ And I think, largely, it was a story that had been, at that point, ignored by the male establishment. I don’t know if their male colleagues would have seen the importance of it. So I think it’s wonderful to be part of something that is really highlighting how important it is to have as many good female journalists as you possibly can for the safety of our communities.”

BOSTON STRANGLER will stream exclusively on Hulu starting March 17th. For more on the film, check out our review.

Shannon McGrew
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