New Jersey true crime story hits the silver screen

The real-life story of a nurse who admitted to killing several patients at various hospitals, including New Jersey’s Somerset Medical Center (now called RWJ University Somerset Hospital), has hit the silver screen.

Jessica Chastain plays Amy Loughren, a nurse and mother of two who takes down real-life serial killer Charles Cullen in the film “The Good Nurse.”

Eddie Redmayne plays Cullen, a nurse who confessed to killing up to 40 people in various hospitals across the country from 1988 to 2003. Loughren was Cullen’s friend and co-worker.

What You Need To Know

  • Jessica Chastain plays nurse Amy Loughren who stopped friend and serial-killer Charles Cullen
  • Eddie Redmayne plays real-life serial killer Charles Cullen
  • “The Good Nurse” storyline focuses on the person who stopped the violence, not the person who committed it

The real Amy Loughren visited the set during filming which was a new experience for Chastain.

“Oh, that was intimidating,” said Chastain. “I’ve played real characters before. I’ve never been observed by them acting out a scene from their life. You know, there’s so much to play with Amy.”

“She was struggling at the time with cardiomyopathy, she was a single mom, she wasn’t allowed to have her heart go past a certain beats per minute or she could die. I mean, she needed a heart transplant at this time. And she uncovers this problem at the hospital where people are dying. And she really kind of puts her health and everything to the limit to try to stop it. So I was so impressed with her and so happy to get to tell her story.”

Meanwhile, Redmayne said playing Cullen is probably the darkest role he’s ever had.

“They don’t know how many people Charlie killed but they believe it may be between 400 and 1,000, which would make him the biggest or the most prolific serial killer in the States,” said Redmayne.

“But what was interesting was that one of the reasons, and there were various reasons, that he was able to get away with it for so long was that he was two different people, or that’s how the real Amy Loughren described him.”

Redmayne said the film shows Cullen was a monster, but it’s also an indictment of the system that didn’t stop him.

“Charlie worked at nine hospitals,” Redmayne said. “Many of those hospitals had a sense of what he was doing, but moved him on because they didn’t want to face the liability for the deaths. That was completely astonishing to me.”

Chastain said she wanted to do the film because director Tobias Lindholm focused on her character’s compassion toward Cullen.

“Instead of spending so much time with the person who commits the violence, what if we spend the time with the person who stops the violence,” Chastain said.

“She used humanity and love and friendship to stop it. She reminded him that he was human, when everyone was treating him as a monster, and that’s what stopped him. And that was very exciting for me to be a part of; I want to be a part of anything that celebrates the compassionate heroine.”

“The Good Nurse” is playing in theaters now and will stream on Netflix later in October.