NEW YORK (AP) — Former Disney star Ross Lynch has taken on one of the toughest film assignments you can get — making a cannibalistic serial killer likable.

The "Austin and Ally" star plays Jeffrey Dahmer in "My Friend Dahmer" as a high school student, long before he went on his murderous rampages.

"Although you know he's going to become a serial killer, it's not hard to think of him as a human because he once was. And really, our film takes place at the time when he's losing his humanity, when he's becoming this monster. So, we have to start with him with his humanity," said Lynch.

The 21-year-old actor admits he wasn't familiar with Dahmer, who raped, murdered, and dismembered 17 men and boys. He died in prison in 1994.

"Once you start reading one sentence about Jeffrey Dahmer, it usually leads to hours of researching the things that he did because they're unbelievable, like the definition of the word unbelievable," Lynch said.

While the new role was a radical departure for Lynch — he made a name on the music-filled comedy for Disney — he knew it was important for his growth as an actor.

Former Disney star Ross Lynch says that his new film, “My Friend Dahmer” is more like a film about a high school kid than the serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer grew up to be. (Nov. 2)

"It's not as family friendly, but you know it's interesting. I do have a lot of younger fans, but you find that a lot of their parents are really fans, too, because they end up watching the show and the movies, end up listening to the music in the car. So, a lot of the parents are equally almost as much of a fan," Lynch said.

___

Follow John Carucci at http://www.twitter.com/jacarucci