prashant gupta/ Lifetime TV
"The Craigslist Killer" is a cautionary tale about the dangers of the Internet, which has been made into a Lifetime Television movie. The film investigates the dark side of Philip Markoff's (Jake McDorman) life, which he led while preparing for a promising future as a doctor and a wedding to his fiancée, Megan McAllister (Agnes Bruckner).
Now, ETonline chats with Jake about going to that very dark place and also the series finale of "Greek," on which he plays Evan, a character that is most definitely 180 degrees from Philip Markoff.
ETonline: Were you aware of the Philip Markoff case before you landed the audition?
Jake McDorman: I had heard of it. I hadn't heard all the details of what happened. I wasn't nearly as familiar with it as I was once I took the role. I hadn't heard he had a fiancée and the double life he was living. It did really fall into that category of you never know who you are talking to on the Internet.
ETonline: Philip Markoff seemed to have it all. What do you think drove him?
Jake McDorman: The thing the director and I talked about when I first met him and the thing that got me interested in the story was the fact that, especially when we found out he had taken his life in prison, and the way he did it, it didn't look like any sort of cry for attention. When I read the script, he hadn't done that yet. It wasn't until about three weeks before pre-production that I got word that he had committed suicide in jail. It added this new level of validation to the story.
As far as what drove him, I think he really wanted to be THAT guy. A big part of him was THAT guy who was a medical student, a fiancé and the charismatic good guy, but he had these demons that made him feel he wasn't deserving of it. And a lot can be said for the anonymity of the Internet. The Internet has given everybody an opinion and an ability to be extremely mean because nobody knows where it is coming from or who you are. I feel like when you get into that world, it can get addicting. His crimes became a lot more violent in the months leading up to the wedding. It was like the more responsibilities he had, the more he would do on the other end to self-sabotage.
ETonline: Why do you think it was so hard for people -- especially his fiancée -- to believe he was guilty? Was it his fresh-faced look?
Jake McDorman: Sure. I think he was just as surprised that it went as far as it did himself. If you watch the arraignments -- I was given this big packet of DVDs, articles and transcripts to watch and read -- in all of those, he never changes his plea from not guilty, even though there is this indisputable evidence stacked against him. There was a solid case. The Glock 9mm was found under his bed in a hollowed-out book of Gray's Anatomy and so were the women's underpants that he kept -- and he kept them right under his mattress.
I talked to a therapist about this just before I started shooting because that was the one thing -- especially from the angle going at in the script -- we were arguing that there was a big part of him that was not THIS guy and was embarrassed about being THIS guy but needed to feed that side of him. But it was a good point of view to give because he knew that he had this dark side and the only redeemer was Megan because Megan McAllister really loved him and she was such a sweet person and he would never want her to see that side of him. But he knew he couldn't get rid of it. By keeping those trophies right under the mattress, it is almost like completing the circle. It was as close as he could get to ever telling her.
ETonline: How hard was it for you to go to such a dark place?
Jake McDorman: The interesting thing about "The Craigslist" movie and the character was the fact that it felt like I was playing two different movies. There were the scenes where you just got to be in love and happy and I am doing well and I am smart and getting good grades. Then there are the scenes where he goes to that place of: I can only have all that good stuff with this bad stuff. The way we did it in the movie was that it was a necessary evil.
It was almost like playing a vampire. This was the analogy that [director] Stephen [Kay] used. It is going to sound crazy, but not a Transylvania-type vampire, but a vampire who needs blood to survive. Philip has Megan and he can't get the blood from her, but the longer he goes without getting the blood or that rush, he starts to get agitated and irritated and has to put the leather jacket and the cap on and leave and go find it. It is almost like a release and then he could be a good guy again because he got that out of his system. The biggest challenge was the balancing act between the [two] Philips.
ETonline: What can we expect from Evan on "Greek" as the series wraps up?
Jake McDorman: We just finished the last 10. We finished right before I started "Craigslist." Those are going to be the last 10 episodes unless there is a big boom in the ratings. It is a great 10. It starts with graduation and then it warps six months ahead. Evan is now a graduate student in law school. Casey (Spencer Grammer) has to figure out where she is going to go to law school because she didn't get into CRU [Cyrus-Rhodes University] law school. She might have to leave. Everybody, obviously, except for Cappie (Scott Michael Foster), who were seniors have graduated and have to figure themselves out. The undergrads are now juniors or seniors and it is now them taking over the Greek system.
ETonline: Do you make New Year's resolutions? And if you do, do you keep them?
Jake McDorman: The things I really want to change, I don't say out loud because they will fall apart.
"The Craigslist Killer" premieres Monday, January 3 at 9 p.m. on Lifetime. "Greek," too, returns with all-new episodes Monday, January 3 at 9 p.m. on ABC Family.