The Actor Who Plays Son Of Sam In 'Mindhunter' REALLY Pulls It Off

by Rebecca Patton
Originally Published: 
Screenshot via Netflix

Spoilers ahead for Mindhunter Season 2. Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) are able to check several serial killers off their wishlist in Mindhunter Season 2 — William Pierce, Elmer Wayne Henley Jr., William Henry Hance, and even Charles Manson. Then there's David Berkowitz, aka the Son of Sam in Mindhunter, who's played by Oliver Cooper in Episode 2 of the Netflix show.

On July 29, 1976, Berkowitz killed his first victim, Donna Lauria, in the Bronx, according to CBS News. In the next year, the Son of Sam went on to kill five more people, leaving seven wounded, the article reported. Then, in June 1968, the New York Times reported that Berkowitz was sentenced to 25 years to life for each of his six murders — all of which he pled guilty to, per the NYT.

While he was originally called the ".44 Caliber Killer," the moniker "Son of Sam" came from Berkowitz's neighbor of the same name who had a black Labrador, according to the New York Times. The serial killer claimed to take orders from the dog, per the article, and wrote disturbing letters to the police. The serial killer is still in prison, according to CBS News, and claims to have found religion. "I get letters all the time," he told the news channel in 2017. "I have a calling to just write to encourage young people from all walks of life. It's something I do on my own, in my spare time and I get a lot of satisfaction out of it and most of all I believe that that's what God has called me to do."

Screenshot via Netflix

As for the actor who plays Berkowitz, Cooper has a much more comedic filmography for someone who's so good at playing a notorious serial killer. He's originally from Toledo, Ohio, per his IMDb, and has appeared in movies like The Hangover Part III, Project X, and Office Christmas Party, while his TV credits include Californication, Red Oaks, The Goldbergs, Valley of the Boom, and Jay Pharoah's short-lived comedy White Famous, among others.

He was even nominated for MTV's Best Onscreen Dirtbag Award in 2012 after his appearance as Costa in the 2012 film Project X. "Everybody else out there, they've got careers, they're doing movies all over the world. Me? I'm living with my aunt right now. In Encino," he told MTV back in 2012, attempting to portray himself as the dirtbag he played in Project X. "I'm Jewish, but I haven't been to temple in over three years." And while Cooper ended up losing out to Jennifer Aniston in Dirty Bosses, he was in good company, since Jon Hamm in Bridesmaids and Bryce Dallas Howard in The Help were also nominated, among others.

In addition, Cooper has spearheaded various projects, such as writing, starring in, and producing the 2013 film Four Dogs (which is streaming on Amazon Prime) as well as the 2018 short, Another Cancer Movie. However, Mindhunter is still a huge get for Cooper, whose upcoming projects include a show called The Coop an interactive Funny or Die series for Eko, per Deadline.

So yes, while Cooper's turn as the Son of Sam is a departure for him, he handles it with panache. Furthermore, it proves that Cooper has more range than just playing a dirtbag teenager at a blowout party.

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