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Is Matt Smith in Star Wars: Episode IX or isn’t he? I suppose we’ll have to wait until that film’s first trailer or its December release to know for sure, but in the meantime, the former Doctor Who star will definitely be showing up in Charlie Says, where he plays someone who unquestionably belongs to the dark side. Take a look below to see the trailer for Charlie Says and see the debut of Matt Smith’s Charles Manson.
Charles Manson doesn’t show up for almost a minute into this trailer, but his presence is felt from the start as we see some of what befell those who followed him into the darkness. When Matt Smith appears as the cult leader, he really looks the part: bearded, longhaired and charming, and along with Hannah Murray’s Leslie Van Houten, we see the appeal of what he’s selling and how he roped people in.
The kumbaya lovefest he is pitching bears quite the resemblance to Chris Hemsworth's character in Bad Times at the El Royale, so you can see from whom that film took its inspiration. That lovefest turns as the things Manson is saying begin to have seriously dark connotations. When Grace Van Dien’s Sharon Tate opens the door and Charles Manson is just standing there, Matt Smith, more known for his roles as good guys, gives off some seriously creepy vibes.
Matt Smith has a magnetic presence and that is crucial to this film that will explore both how Charles Manson convinced people to kill for him in the first place and the powerful hold he had on these women long after they were sent to prison for their crimes. He can’t just be a crazy creep, we have to be drawn in by the actor’s portrayal and see how he appealed to his followers and they wanted to believe in him.
The book The Long Prison Journey of Leslie van Houten: Life Beyond the Cult, written by Karlene Faith (here played by The Walking Dead’s Meritt Wever, serves as inspiration for Charlie Says. That gives this film an interesting perspective as it looks at these women who committed horrible crimes as victims themselves, who made excuses and rationalized their behavior as a result of Charles Manson’s manipulation and their loyalty to him.
We see that in this trailer, especially with Sosie Bacon's Patricia Krenwinkel clinging to something that captivated her not wanting to take responsibility or acknowledge the truth. Also, Hannah Murray looks to be giving quite the performance as Leslie Van Houten as she come to grips with the truth of what she did and who Charles Manson was years later.
Charlie Says comes from director Mary Harron who created one of the staples of the serial killer genre in American Psycho. Most recently Harron directed episodes of Netflix’s Alias Grace.
Since 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Manson murders, Charlie Says is just one of the cinematic looks at the notorious crimes that both puzzle and fascinate to this day. Actress Hilary Duff stars in The Haunting of Sharon Tate, due out April 5, and the second season of Netflix’s Mindhunter will also feature Charles Manson. In an interesting twist, the actor starring as the cult leader in Mindhunter, Damon Herriman, will also play Manson in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.