The Eleventh Doctor may soon be on screens as the infamous Charles Manson, as it's been reported Matt Smith is in talks to play the cult leader in a new movie from the director of American Psycho called The Family. One of several recent projects to feature the now-deceased criminal, the film may also star the Game of Thrones actress Hannah Murray as one of his 'disciples'.
Smith is primarily known for his performance as the eleventh incarnation of the universe-saving Time Lord in the BBC's Doctor Who, for which he played the title character from 2010 to 2013. However he has also recently won new fans with his portrayal of Prince Phillip in the biographical series The Crown. Whilst playing one of history's most recognisably evil men might seem an unusual move for Smith, the actor has explored his dark side in previous films. He briefly played the personification of Skynet in Terminator: Genisys, and also menaced the cast as the vicious criminal Bully in Ryan Gosling's Lost River.
The possible casting news was reported by The Tracking Board, which revealed details of the new film from director Mary Harron and screenwriter Guinevere Turner, who previously collaborated on American Psycho. The Family is based on the factual book, The Long Prison Journey of Leslie van Houten: Life Byond the Cult, but will also draw inspiration from the 1971 novel of the same name. The plot focuses specifically on three convicted women from Manson's commune: Leslie Van Houten, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Susan Atkins. Originally sentenced to death, their punishment reverted to life imprisonment, and the film will explore them facing up to their action and how events led them to horrific murders. If Smith signs on, he'll be seen as Manson in flashbacks, brainwashing the women. Best known as Gilly in Game of Thrones, Murray is in talks to play Van Houten, whilst Imposters actress Marianne Rendon may play Atkins.
Manson died in November 2017, but his malevolent influence has been felt in several projects recently. Evan Peters played a version of him the last season of American Horror Story, and Quentin Tarantino's upcoming untitled 1969 project is said to feature Manson even if he's just a background or supporting character. If Smith is confirmed for the role, it will be interesting to see how the English actor will portray him, and interpret the alleged charm and definitive evil of the cult leader.
The Family is an independent film being produced under the Roxwell Films banner, and principal photography is expected to start in March in the location of Los Angeles. There is no information regarding an expected release date yet. But with Harron behind the camera, and Smith and Murray attached, the film could well be a chilling insight into one of America's most infamous murder cases.
Source: The Tracking Board