Almost immediately upon getting word of Quentin Tarantino’s new Charles Manson project, the Internet (as it is prone to do) exploded in fuuuuurious anger and ferocious debate. Some argued as to whether such a particularly vicious chapter in American crime warranted a big screen rehash while others argued the merits of Tarantino taking on (for the first time) a docudrama with seemingly little room for his brand of snappy patter or freewheeling narrative style, but the bulk of online chatter has revolved around the film’s casting and who will (or should) play specific parts.
It’s hard to tell where Tarantino’s focus will fall and to what extent certain characters, including Manson himself, will truly be featured (my guess is that the movie will primarily concern itself with relating the story of the women who found themselves so far under Charlie’s spell that they became willing monsters for him or will focus on the comedy of lethal errors that unfolded from his failed attempts at pop stardom), but what follows are all the major players in the all too true story and who I think would be best suited to fill their docudramatized shoes.
Vincent Bugliosi / Vincent Kartheiser
The man who brought the case to trial and convinced a jury that Manson orchestrated the murders as a means to jumpstarting an all out end-of-the-world race war, Bugliosi will be a major character if the story follows the Family into the courtroom. Mad Men’s Vincent Kartheiser has the acting chops and the hairline to pull off Bugliosi’s bulldog determination and rakish charm. Also, same first name. So…
Susan Atkins / Kristen Stewart
10 Reasons Why Kristen Stewart Gets A Bad Rap As An Actress & As A Human Being is a whole separate article, but without getting into that riled up conversation (and risking a barrage of angry tweets from the President), I will simply say that Kristen Stewart would make a hell of a good Susan Atkins, the creepiest of the Manson Girls and the one who actually murdered Sharon Tate and her unborn baby.
Leslie Van Houten / Amber Tamblyn
Already a Tarantino vet, Amber Tamblyn could easily channel the right mix of earnest girl next door and angst ridden, disillusioned daughter to effectively play “the Cute One” in Manson’s bizarre Fab Four fan fiction.
Patricia Krenwinkel / Zoe Bell
Another Tarantino Buddy, Zoe Bell has grown more and more into a solid actress since adding Thespian to her already impressive resumé as a highly regarded stunt double, and she may be able to emote a degree or two of real pathos as the formerly bullied convent drop out who found solace and satisfaction in the Manson Family and their hell-bent retaliation against straight upper and middle class society.
Linda Kasabian / Jennifer Lawrence
One of the most volatile arguments among Quentin fans (so far) has related to the rumor that America’s Millennial Sweetheart is up for the role of America’s Baby Boomer Sweetheart Sharon Tate. The problem with that rumor is that (like most gossip) it came from a kernel of truth that exploded into a Jiffypop bag full of lies. J-Law (I can call her that ‘cause she’ll never see this) is indeed interested in being cast and QT seems to be interested in her for the movie as well, but he has not once specified which role he would consider her for. So, as usual, the Internet took two plus two and came up with a hundred and thirty five.
If I had to guess (and…I kind of do, I mean, that’s sort of the whole point of this article), I’d say she’s in the running to play Linda Kasabian, the scaredy cat getaway driver who eventually turned state’s evidence against her fellow cult members. She was the only member of the Family to feel remorse for what they did (even though she never actually killed anyone) and could (if the narrative comes from her perspective) end up doing most of the talking in the movie just like she did in the courtroom. Plus we already know J-Law knows how to rock some serious braids and pigtails.
Tex Watson / Wallace Goggins
Another Tarantino Company Player, Wallace Goggins would be no doubt brilliant bringing to life the vast array of casually evil quirks and drug addled ineptitudes that were Tex Watson.
Bobby Beausolei / Dave Franco
I feel like Dave Franco has a great performance in him just waiting to happen, and the role of baby faced stoner Bobby Beausoleil (who Manson used as a recruit for drawing young hippie chicks into his cult) could be the part that finally earns the eternal baby brother a credibility all his own.
Squeaky Fromme / Taryn Manning
Taryn Manning is an impressively diverse character actress but has a real affinity for playing likably loopy nut jobs, and I can think of no one better to play the part of Manson’s most outspoken press secretary and future failed presidential assassin. Pennsa-Squeaky 2018!
Dennis Wilson / Channing Tatum
Fresh off his role in Hateful 8, Channing Tatum is hopefully ready to saddle up with Tarantino once again because he’d be perfect as the handsome, charming Beach Boys drummer who fell in with Manson for the fast access to even faster women but who quickly changed his tune when the beat went off rhythm, the notes went off key, and…well you get the point.
Terry Melcher / T.J. Miller
Terry Melcher was Doris Day’s son and the record producer who auditioned but ultimately rejected Manson, forever dashing his dreams of rock stardom and palling around with the Beatles. He also happened to be the previous tenant in the house that Sharon Tate moved into just a few weeks prior to being murdered by Manson’s groupies, and it is widely believed that he was Manson’s true intended target in the night’s massacre.
Personally, I can see QT finding macabre comedy in the notion of Manson as a wannabe fame whore who throws a toddler like tantrum over the loss of that dream, then (in true Pulpy fashion) fowls up his effort at revenge by not realizing the guy he sent his minions to slaughter had actually moved. Also, Melcher had a hell of a mustache, so…T.J. Miller.
Sharon Tate / Margot Robbie
Margot Robbie is the popular choice at the moment among online cinemaphiles to play Sharon Tate. I do not disagree. More Margot is always a good thing.
Jay Sebring / Christoph Waltz
Hairstylist to the stars Jay Sebring is best known for giving Jim Morrison his famous Alexander the Great cut in 1967. He is unfortunately second best known for choosing the wrong night to try to get a threesome going with Abigail Folger and her fiancé at pal Sharon Tate’s house. (He’s third best known for having a cameo on Bat-Man.)
Christoph Waltz should play him in the small but memorable moment wherein he tries to reason with Tex Watson for the intended sake of saving Sharon’s life and the life of her unborn baby. The moment, of course, does not end well.
Abigail Folger / Alison Brie
Coffee heiress Abigail Folger was perhaps the wiliest of the Manson Family’s victims making her way out of the house (after already being stabbed multiple times) before being tackled and finished off on the front lawn. Not the most dignified way for an heiress to go out, but if anyone could find a way to turn that horrifying sequence of events into more than just routine slasher fare, it’s the amazing Alison Brie. She’s already adept at smart comedy, dark drama, and being stabbed to death by psycho killers (Scream 4).
The LaBiancas / Tom Sizemore & Uma Thurman
Sizemore has never acted properly in an actual QT film but gave unforgettable turns in both Natural Born Killers & True Romance (both written by Tarantino and at one point two interlinking stories in the same screenplay) before derailing his career with a litany of larcenous and legal entanglements. This small but crucial role could finally insert him into the true Tarantino-verse and continue to see him along on his recent return to acting in notable projects (Twin Peaks) after (seemingly, hopefully) putting his self-destructive ways behind him.
Uma is, unfortunately, not a good match for any major leads in the movie, but a cameo as the determined Rosemary LaBianca would make a certain cinematic sense; Rosemary was the only known victim of the Family’s to actually fight back before being overpowered by Watson, Krenwinkel, and Van Houten. (This would also afford us Quentin obsessives the chance to see Uma fighting with her former Kill Bill stunt double Zoe Bell. Even if just for a moment.)
Roman Polanski / Paul Dano
Not likely an essential part of the main story, Roman could easily make an appearance on a newscast or at a funeral, and the intensity of Paul Dano would make the famously sleazy director’s gut wrenching grief all the more palpable.
Richard Nixon / Samuel L. Jackson
Well, he’s gotta play somebody.
Charles Manson / Brad Pitt
The man himself, the charismatic cult leader who controlled his followers to the point that they were willing to kill and be killed on his command. Brad Pitt not only has Tarantino experience (both on set and off), he has a long and successful history of playing charming as hell psychopaths with varying degrees of scroungy facial hair. So I say Pitt is the perfect guy to bring the young Charlie back into the hearts and minds of all the aspiring mass murderers out there in filmland.
So what do you think, fellow movie lovers? Is this the right cast for the (gruesome) job or do you have better ideas? If so, let’s hear 'em and (as the Internet is prone to doing) hash it out in the comments section!