I wasn't sure what to think when I heard Matt Smith would be playing the notorious Charles Manson in his latest feature film. I mean, how would that even work? He looks nothing like him... Oh how I underestimated the power of hair, make-up, and wardrobe experts. Matt Smith as Charles Manson has been revealed for the first time in a trailer for the movie Charlie Says, and honestly, all I can say is wow. The actor looks so similar to the cult leader it's actually pretty creepy.
Smith — best known for playing the eleventh Doctor in Doctor Who between 2010 and 2014 — bears a striking resemblance to the cult leader who terrorised California in the late '60s. Unlike other Manson-related biopics, Charlie Says doesn't revolve around the murderer. Instead, it follows the story of a student (played by The Walking Dead's Merritt Wever) that visits three of Manson's family members who are serving a life sentence in prison: Leslie Van Houten, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Susan Atkins. In a potentially misguided attempt to rehabilitate them, she decides to help them see that Manson is nothing more than a failed leader and help them face up to the horrors of what they have done.
You're probably wondering where Smith comes into this. Well, the film features several flashbacks to Manson's ranch where viewers will get to see Smith switch from Manson when he was a music-obsessed aspiring rock star to something altogether more sinister.
Smith attended the film's premiere at Venice Film Festival on Sunday alongside girlfriend and actress Lily James. According to The Telegraph, a UK release date hasn't been set yet. However, critics have already posted their reviews and the response is rather mixed.
The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw has only given Charlie Says a two out of five rating, but described Smith's performance as "strong." The Telegraph's Robbie Collin, on the other hand, gave the film three stars but writes that Smith "is horribly miscast, with none of the magnetism or menace required to make the young women's devotion feel like something more complex than a deeply stupid choice."
Film critics are notoriously harsh so the above isn't to say that you won't enjoy the female-focused story. But if Charlie Says doesn't sound worth a watch to you, another Manson movie is in the pipeline with a much starrier cast.
Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood also takes a different approach to the Manson Family. Set in 1969, it centres on the life of a struggling actor (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double (played by Brad Pitt). They decide to ask their neighbour (Margot Robbie) for some help.
Their neighbour turns out to be none other than Sharon Tate who was murdered while heavily pregnant by members of Manson's cult. Tate was the wife of notorious film director Roman Polanski; a man who has been the subject of his own controversy ever since pleading guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor in 1978, as reported by Rolling Stone.
You'll have to wait a little while to see this one as it's not scheduled to release until July 2019. Until then, you'll have Smith's Manson to contend with.