Kat Westergaard (‘Dr. Death’ cinematographer): Shooting the series in a ‘naturalistic way’ made it ‘even more unsettling’ [Exclusive Video Interview]

“I think we actually tried to stay away from that as much as possible,” admits cinematographer Kat Westergaard about the overall look and feel of crime thriller “Dr. Death,” which avoids the standard horror and thriller tropes that often feature other series in the genre. “It made it even more unsettling. I kept thinking about how to tell the story in a naturalistic way, as opposed to making it feel to stylized,” she explains. Watch our exclusive video interview above.

In “Dr. Death,” Joshua Jackson stars as Dr. Christopher Duntsch, a Texas neurosurgeon who gained notoriety after he was convicted of gross malpractice for permanently mutilating 31 of his patients and killing two of them during surgery. The crime drama was created by Patrick Macmanus, based on the first season of the podcast of the same name that focuses on egregious cases of medical malpractice. The limited series co-stars Christian Slater, Alec Baldwin, Grace Gummer, AnnaSophia Robb, Kelsey Grammer and Carrie Preston, and premiered on Peacock in July last year to critical acclaim and strong word-of-mouth, scoring two Critics Choice nominations, for Jackson in Best Limited Series/TV Movie Actor and Slater in Best Limited Series/TV Movie Supporting Actor.

While Macmanus and his team of writers establish early on that Duntsch displays traits that are typical for malignant narcissists, the series endeavors to paint a more nuanced picture of the man, as Jackson portrays him with a charismatic and casual charm that is unexpectedly unsettling. Westergaard wholeheartedly agrees that the mystery around Duntsch’s state of mind and motive is critical to the show’s narrative. “I always want to know intention, especially when I’m working with a director and we’re trying to figure out what story we’re trying to tell,” she reveals. “What is the intention behind this and what do we want the audience to take away from this? When I read it, I was like I have no idea what this person is doing or why they’re doing this,” she says, asking “are we making us a story about someone who’s purposefully killing people? Or are we making a story about a very confused human who made a lot of really bad choices?”

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