Manson fever is catching on and Matt Smith might be feeling it.
Crazy beards are cool. Cults are cool. Or at least these things are hot right now. According to The Tracking Board, Matt Smith, best known as Prince Philip on The Crown and for his portrayal of the Eleventh Doctor on Doctor Who, is in talks to play Charles Manson in the next film from American Psycho director Mary Harron.
We might be entering a period of Mansonsploitation. Quentin Tarantino has been making waves lately by announcing that his ninth film will be set in 1969 Hollywood, with the Manson-ordered Tate-LaBianca murders serving as a backdrop for the story of an actor, to be played by Leonardo DiCaprio.
But before Tarantino set his sights on the subject, Harron and screenwriter Guinevere Turner began work on The Family. This film will be a true-life tale based on two books: “The Family” by Ed Sanders and “The Long Prison Journey of Leslie Van Houten: Life Beyond The Cult” by Karlene Faith. The latter author met Leslie Van Houten while working in a California prison and chronicles her own 30-year friendship with the former Manson Family member, as well as Van Houten’s time spent in the cult and her experiences in prison.
The Family will follow Faith as she works with Van Houten, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Susan Atkins after the three women are incarcerated following their involvement in the murders. The main story will be told through flashbacks as the three recount their part in the recently deceased cult leader’s deadly schemes.
The Tracking Board also reports that Game of Thrones actress Hannah Murray is in talks to play Van Houten while Marianne Rendón of TV’s The Imposters is in talks to portray Atkins. Rendón’s next project, Mapplethorpe, will also co-star Matt Smith.
Harron and Turner previously worked together on both American Psycho and 2005’s The Notorious Bettie Page. The Family will see Harron getting back to feature filmmaking after directing last year’s Alias Grace miniseries as well a number of other TV show episodes she’s helmed over the last few years.
Development of the project is still in early stages, but considering what was accomplished when Harron and Turner teamed up for American Psycho, their take on the Manson Family will surely be worth talking about and will no doubt be a different approach to the subject matter than what Tarantino has planned.