‘The Most Dangerous Animal of All’ recounts a son’s real-life pursuit
One of FX’s earliest efforts at a documentary series may not seem that far a cry from many of its dramatic shows.
Based on Gary L. Stewart’s bestseller (written with Susan Mustafa), “The Most Dangerous Animal of All” — which premieres with the first two of its four episodes Friday, March 6 — incorporates dramatic re-creations as Stewart searches for the father who abandoned him, only to learn information that shakes him to his core: The man may be the notorious and extremely elusive Zodiac serial killer who terrorized San Francisco in the late 1960s.
“I met Gary because I read the book,” executive producer Ross M. Dinerstein reports. “I knew it was available, and I read it, and I couldn’t put it down. I felt there was definitely more to the story, so I found myself on the phone with Gary about two days later, and we had about an hour conversation. I said, ‘Look. I need to come meet you. I’m going to come to Baton Rouge and have lunch with you.’
“I spent the day with him and really got to know him as an individual,” adds Dinerstein. “I really wanted to get an understanding of what motivated him to write this book and what motivated him to go down this rabbit hole. Everyone has a different upbringing than Gary, but they can relate to him. They can understand where he was in his life, and it’s a lot of ‘Be careful what you wish for’ and ‘The grass isn’t always greener.’ ”
Executive producer and director Kief Davidson notes that “The Most Dangerous Animal of All” is “a story about a man’s quest for his identity to find out who he is, where he came from. It’s also very much about obsession, so we have a character that actually — in so many ways — fits very much into what I’ve seen on FX before, complex characters like in ‘The Americans’ and ‘Sons of Anarchy.’ My question was, without the Zodiac part of it, would this be an intriguing story? And the answer was, ‘Yes.’ ”