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Jenna Coleman hit the mainstream as a TV star with her role as companion Clara on Doctor Who, who was very much one of the good guys and the #1 ally to not one but two incarnations of the Doctor. Now, however, Coleman is joining a series that will take her in a very different direction than Clara. She has signed on to play the partner and accomplice of a serial killer for the upcoming Netflix/BBC drama called The Serpent.
On The Serpent, Jenna Coleman will play Marie-Andrée Leclerc, who is known for working with and helping the French serial killer Charles Sobhraj. Although Sobhraj isn't the most well-known serial killer, his life and crimes should be plenty to drive the drama. He was the suspect in the murders of up to 20 young travelers in the mid-1970s. He allegedly targeted his victims in India, Thailand, and the "hippie trail" in Nepal.
Charles Sobhraj became the most wanted man on Interpol's list, and earned the nickname of "The Serpent" for his habit of slipping through the grasp of authorities all over the world. He was jailed and convicted for his crimes in India from 1976-1997, then wound up behind bars yet again in 2003, after returning to Nepal and earning himself a life sentence.
Marie-Andrée Leclerc was a tourist-turned-accomplice from Canada who wound up joining Charles Sobhraj as he killed. Considering Jenna Coleman is arguably best known for playing Clara on Doctor Who and Queen Victoria herself in Victoria, I would say that joining The Serpent will allow Coleman to show off a whole new side of her acting range.
The cast of The Serpent is filled out by Tahar Rahim, Billy Howle, and Ellie Bamber, according to Variety. Rahim is on board to play Sobhraj. Howle will play a junior diplomat at the Dutch Embassy in Bangkok by the name of Herman Knippenberg, who fights to bring Sobhraj to justice. Bamber will play Herman Knippenberg's wife. The Serpent will release on the BBC in the United Kingdom and Netflix in the United States and elsewhere.
While The Serpent's premise is certainly something new and the story of Charles Sobhraj hasn't been told time and time again in movies and TV, Netflix is no stranger to serial killer projects. The second season of Mindhunter -- which covered plenty of serial killers on top of the murderers who appeared in Season 1 -- recently released, and may have teased another big serial killer for Season 3.
Another notable serial killer-based project on the streaming giant was the Ted Bundy-centric Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile movie starring Zac Efron, who responded to some concerns about the film. How will The Serpent compare in the grand scheme of Netflix's experiments with serial killer content?
We'll have to wait and see. Netflix hasn't yet released a premiere date for The Serpent, which is unsurprising if the show is still adding key members of the cast. The good news is that there are plenty of viewing options on Netflix now and in the not-too-distant future, including Mindhunter and more projects showcasing some very creepy subject matter.