Meet the Boston Strangler cast: who's who in the true crime thriller

Boston Strangler cast Keira Knightley and Carrie Coon as investigative journalist on the tail of a serial killer.
(Image credit: Disney Plus/Hulu)

The big new film on streaming right now is Boston Strangler, coming to Hulu in the US and Disney Plus in the UK on March 17, and it's a classic investigation story in the same spirit as the recent She Said, as well as The Post or Spotlight.

The year is 1964. Over the past few years, 13 women have been murdered, some in Boston and others outside it. But Boston Strangler doesn't tell the infamous story of that mass murderer — no, instead it tells the empowering story of the journalists who investigated the identity of the criminal.

Not only is the movie based on a real event, but this too is a real story, focusing on the humans who were working to shine a light on the case. And it's an all-star cast too — let's meet them now.

Keira Knightley as Loretta McLaughlin

Keira Knightley in Boston Strangler

Keira Knightley in Boston Strangler. (Image credit: Hulu)

Loretta McLaughlin was a journalist for the Boston Record American, now known as the Boston Herald, in the 1960s. Along with another character on this list, she's famous for having publicized information on the Boston Strangler, after a long investigation into the case. She ended up writing a series of articles on the case.

Keira Knightley is a recognizable Hollywood star, after coming to prominence in Star Wars prequel The Phantom Menace (which was only her second-ever movie appearance).

She's also recognizable for a long string of hits including the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Love Actually, Bend It Like Beckham, Pride & Prejudice and The Imitation Game

Carrie Coon as Jean Cole

Carrie Coon in Boston Strangler

Carrie Coon in Boston Strangler. (Image credit: Hulu)

Like McLaughlin, Jean Cole investigated the Boston Strangler case at the Boston Record American, tying together seemingly-unrelated cases to inform the public of the threat. She was more of a veteran reporter than McLaughlin, bringing lots of expertise to the case.

Coon has actually portrayed a similar role to this before, playing Washington Post writer Meg Greenfield in 2017's The Post, which was about the publishing of the Pentagon Papers in 1971.

Other roles you may recognize Coon from are TV shows The Leftovers, The Sinner and Fargo (season 3 of the anthology show), and movies Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Widows and Gone Girl. She also provided the voice of one of Thanos' henchmen in Avengers: Infinity War, though someone else did the motion capture.

Alessandro Nivola as Detective Conley

Alessandro Nivola in Boston Strangler

Alessandro Nivola in Boston Strangler. (Image credit: Hulu)

The journalists can only go so far in a murder investigation without bumping into the police, and Joan and Loretta's closest contact is Detective Conley, who's hunting for the strangler just like they are. Conley ends up bring McLaughlin's closest ally in the hunt, as they share lots of information, even if he doesn't see it to its end.

Alessandro Nivola is an actor who's had roles in a lot — recently he's been the lead actor in The Many Saints of Newark but he's also had smaller roles in everything from Jurassic Park 3 and Face/Off to Amsterdam and American Hustle. He's also set to play a villain in the upcoming Marvel movie Kraven the Hunter.

Chris Cooper as Jack MacLaine

Chris Cooper in Boston Strangler

Chris Cooper in Boston Strangler. (Image credit: Hulu)

Jean and Loretta's editor, Jack MacLaine is the person who has to look after his young writers, first shutting them down but then trying to figure out what to do with the knowledge they find, when they press on without his consent and want to run a story. When push comes to shove he stands up for his writers, even if his choice to hire women to write the story was initially purely a publicity stunt.

You'll probably recognize Chris Cooper's face, though you might not recall where from. He's been in Adaptation, American Beauty, August: Osage Country, Amazing Spider-Man, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood and more (including some movies that don't begin with 'A').

Bill Camp as Edmund McNamara

Bill Camp in Boston Strangler

Bill Camp in Boston Strangler. (Image credit: Hulu)

Edmund McNamara is a real figure, who wasn't invented for Boston Strangler. He was newly appointed as Boston's police commissioner in 1982, and the murders fell right at the beginning of his role (as did many other city problems, like racial conflict and police brutality). In the movie, however, he's not keen on the reporters pointing out the police force's ineffective investigation.

Bill Camp has made a name for himself in historical biodramas with the likes of Vice, Dark Waters, Lincoln and 12 Years a Slave and Molly's Game under his belt, with more fictional ones including News of the World, Hostiles and Public Enemies.

David Dastmalchian as Albert Desalvo

Albert DeSalvo ends up being one of the key suspects in the case of the Boston Strangler, and while he's certainly a creepy person, not everyone is convinced it's him.

David Dalmachian may be newer to acting than some of the other names in this list, with his first credited movie role being 2008's The Dark Knight, but since then he's been in loads. He's had roles in Prisoners, Dune, The Suicide Squad (playing the Polka-Dot Man), Ant-Man and the Wasp (and its sequel, but in a different role) and Blade Runner 2049.

Dastmalchian is sure to be on screens loads through 2023 with roles also in Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer, André Øvredal's The Last Voyage of the Demeter and Stephen King adaptation The Boogeyman.

Tom Bedford
Streaming and Ecommerce Writer

Tom is the streaming and ecommerce writer at What to Watch, covering streaming services in the US and UK. His goal is to help you navigate the busy and confusing online video market, to help you find the TV, movies and sports that you're looking for without having to spend too much money.