How Black Bird's Taron Egerton And Paul Walter Hauser Developed Their Horrifying Dynamic In The Apple TV+ Series

Taron Egerton came to television for the starring role of Jimmy in Apple TV+’s Black Bird, and only two episodes of the intense limited series are left. His character’s mission to secure his own freedom by getting a confession from suspected serial killer Larry (Paul Walter Hauser) takes a toll on him, as he has no choice but to try and convince Larry that he’s a friend. The relationship between Jimmy and Larry is central to the series, and the two actors guaranteed that their dynamic on screen is downright horrifying. Speaking with CinemaBlend, Egerton explained how he and Hauser developed that dynamic.

Black Bird is inspired by a true story originally told in author James Keene’s In with the Devil: A Fallen Hero, a Serial Killer, and a Dangerous Bargain for Redemption autobiography. The Rocketman star (who explained his approach to Black Bird as a TV show as opposed to film) opened up about his and Paul Walter Hauser’s approach to delivering their unsettling dynamic as Jimmy and Larry:

We wanted it at times [that] it should just feel like two guys having a conversation, and it's the normality of it is kind of what becomes a bit unnerving, that you can talk in a very pedestrian way about things that are truly horrifying. But in terms of how we approached it, Paul and I were very excited about working with each other and were, I think, a fan of each other's work. We got on very well instantly. He's a very easy guy to get on with. He's very warm, so funny. But he's also incredibly passionate about acting and storytelling, and we really bounced off each other well.

You wouldn’t necessarily guess that the actor playing the chilling Larry is warm and funny in real life, so kudos to Paul Walter Hauser for going all-in on playing the serial killer! His performance as Larry might be particularly jarring for any fans of his from Netflix’s Cobra Kai, where he definitely was not playing a serial killer.

Interestingly, showrunner Dennis Lehane revealed that it was after Hauser read the “three most disturbing Larry scenes” that he was convinced the actor was right for the role, and shared that Taron Egerton said that he would “have chemistry” with Hauser because “this is the guy.” Lehane also revealed that the Black Bird team wanted Egerton as Jimmy early on, saying that they needed an actor who could play the boyish and charismatic sides of the character as well as the dangerous and calculating sides. 

So the two stars were each right for their roles early on, and viewers can certainly attest to their intensity as a duo by this point in the series, but how did they handle when the story got especially dark? Egerton explained:

There's certainly some of the darker elements – well, there's a lot of darker elements to the show and those characters – but we kind of knew when to be a little bit silly with each other and have some fun, break some of the tension because it's an intense shoot. You know, it's an intense subject matter.

“Intense subject matter” may be putting it mildly, but Black Bird actually doesn’t show any of the terrible crimes committed by Larry. Instead, the show focuses on the details of the cases, Hauser’s performance, and Egerton’s reactions to Larry as Jimmy to sell the horrors. As actress Sepideh Moafi explained, the show managed to not “exploit the story” of what truly happened by keeping the violence off screen. 

The limited series’ run has nearly come to an end, but new episodes release on Apple TV+ on Fridays, so be sure to keep your Apple TV+ subscription active.In addition to Taron Egerton, Paul Walter Hauser, and Sepideh Moafi, the show stars the late Ray Liotta and Little Miss Sunshine’s Greg Kinnear. 

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).