Serial killer biopics seem to be all the rage right now. Ross Lynch recently played a young Jeffrey Dahmer in My Friend Dahmer, Zac Efron is taking on the role of Ted Bundy in the upcoming Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, and now Doctor Who and The Crown star Matt Smith is set to play Charles Manson in a brand new biopic, per The Hollywood Reporter. I guess this is really just the logical next step for the movie biz after the true crime boom brought on by Serial, Making a Murderer, The Jinx, et cetera. Well, trend or not, Matt Smith should make an incredible Charles Manson, so get ready for this creepy new movie.
Matt Smith will play the title role in the new psychological drama Charlie Says. Though Smith is playing the murderous cult leader Charles Manson in the movie, the actual stars will be the young women that followed Manson. Set after the events of the Manson Family murders in 1969, Charlie Says will focus on three members of Manson's cult who have to learn to confront their horrific nature of their actions after being sentenced to life in prison. The three women, known as the Manson Girls, will be played by Hannah Murray (Game of Thrones, Skins), Odessa Young (The Daughter), and Marianne Rendón (Imposters). Nurse Jackie and The Walking Dead star Merritt Wever will play Karlene Faith, the graduate student who is tasked with rehabilitating the three women after they are removed from Manson's cult. Additional cast members include supermodel Suki Waterhouse, Carla Gugino (Watchmen), and Kayli Carter (Godless), all in undisclosed roles.
Charlie Says comes from the directing and writing team that previously produced the 2000 Tom Cruise-starring psychological thriller American Psycho: writer Guinevere Turner and director Mary Harron. The screenplay is partially based on the book The Long Prison Journey of Leslie Van Houten, written by Karlene Faith, the grad student tasked with rehabilitating the imprisoned Manson Girls. Up until her death last year, Faith had been a staunch advocate for the parole of Leslie Van Houten, one of the members of Manson's cult. However, Van Houten currently remains in prison, despite being up for parole numerous time over the past several years.
Since the movie's plot sounds like it is so focused on Manson's followers and the aftermath of the Manson Family's heyday, it is unclear just how much of Matt Smith's Charles Manson will be in Charlie Says. Smith actually has some experience with the creative team behind this new movie, albeit in a pretty tangential way — he starred in the original West End run of the America Psycho musical as Patrick Bateman in 2013 and 2014. That musical was, of course, adapted from the Charlie Says team's first hit movie, American Psycho.
Although Matt Smith has played a serial killer before on the stage, the role of Charles Manson will be a dark new turn for many of his fans. Smith is best known for portraying a the eleventh iteration of The Doctor in BBC's long-running sci-fi series Doctor Who from 2010 to 2014, which was a lovable and heroic role. The Crown fans may be better prepared for a less likable Matt Smith character — most viewers agreed that his part as Prince Philip on the Netflix royal series was a total jerk in the recent second season of the show. Smith is now leaving The Crown after two seasons, due to the show's decision to jump forward several years for Season 3 and recast all its main roles accordingly.
Charlie Says is expected to begin shooting in the spring. No release date has been announced yet.