Ross Lynch is going from Disney to Dahmer. The Teen Beach Movie and Austin & Ally star has been cast as serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer in the indie movie My Friend Dahmer, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Lynch will play a young version of the notorious killer, who went on a 13-year rape and murder spree that included necrophilia and dismemberment of some of his 17 male victims, as well as cannibalism.
Ross Lynch will portray the troubled Dahmer in his high school years in the live-action coming-of-age flick based on Derf Backderf’s graphic novel of the same name. Backderf was a childhood friend of the cannibalistic serial killer, who committed his first murder two weeks after his graduation from Revere High School in Ohio in 1978. Dahmer was killed by another prison inmate in 1994 after serving less than three years in jail.
When the film adaption of Backderf’s book was first announced in 2012, Ross Lynch was busy being a teen idol with his Austin & Ally role. At the time, Backderf said he knew someone would snatch his story up for a big screen adaption, despite the fact that it took him 20 years to find a publisher for his book.
“Everybody’s making movies based on comics; that’s all they make anymore,” the author told Cleveland.com. “It’s such a great story. I always knew in the back of my head that somebody’s got to snatch this up. As long as they stick to the spirit of the book. It is after all nonfiction and meticulously researched. But I’m sure they will.”
The role is about as far as can be from Ross Lynch’s child star past. Ross started out his career playing teen singer Austin Moon on the Disney Channel hit sitcom Austin & Ally, which just wrapped for good earlier this year. Lynch also appeared in Disney’s Teen Beach Movie and its sequel, and he performs with his brother, Dancing With the Stars alum Riker Lynch, in the pop rock group R5. Ross is also set to showcase both his acting and singing chops in a production of A Chorus Line at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles later this month.
While he’s clearly trying to shed some of his Disney skin with his dark movie role pas Jeffrey Dahmer, Ross Lynch told Just Jared Jr. that he never let the squeaky clean Disney brand dictate his own life.
“I always made a conscious decision to be respectful to the brand, but in no way did I let it limit my life. I still did everything I wanted,” Ross revealed.
Ross Lynchかっこいい！— mihina (@mihinaDisney) March 11, 2016
Lynch, who is now 20-years-old, also added that he would never rule out returning to the House of Mouse for a future project. “Disney has all of the biggest franchises at the moment, so absolutely. I would consider myself fortunate to work with them again,” Lynch said.
Ross Lynch is not the first actor to play Jeffrey Dahmer. Jeremy Renner previously portrayed the late serial killer in the 2002 movie Dahmer, and he received an Indie Spirit Award for the career-launching role. But the part came at a price, so Ross Lynch may want to learn from Renner’s experience about stepping into the shoes of such a high-profile murderer.
“After I did the film, playing a guy who was basically a monster, things started getting creepy,” Renner told Parade. “My cat was stolen. Then some girl bit me in a bar because I wasn’t paying attention to her anymore and I had to go to the hospital. It kept me single for a while, that’s for sure.”
Take a look at the video below for more on Ross Lynch.
[Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images]