For decades, the name Charles Manson has been synonymous with one of the most grisly true crime stories in American history. Now, NBC’s new show “Aquarius” puts actor Gethin Anthony in the role of the real-life criminal, a responsibility that the actor does not take lightly.
Anthony, who previously played Renly Baratheon on HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” took on the role several months ago after reading the script and becoming enamored with the larger story behind Charles Manson.
“I got really strong reactions to the authenticity of the dialogue that had been written for the Manson character and the characters around him in that world,” the 31-year-old actor told reporters at a recent press event. “I was aware somewhat of that era of history in U.S. history, but it felt the dialogue was really authentic for me and so it made me want to dig deeper into understanding the late 60s. And, yes, I think I was excited they could have the courage to make a show about such sensitive subject matter with authenticity excites me.”
For those that are unfamiliar, Manson and his “family” were the subjects of one of the most horrific home invasions and murder cases in American history. In 1969, it was revealed that he was the mastermind behind the infamous Tate-Labianca murders in California. “Aquarius” will take place in 1967, two years before Manson orchestrated the crimes for which he’s currently serving a life sentence in prison. While the NBC series will focus more on David Duchovny’s character and the political unrest in California at the time, Anthony will play a big role in tying the show to the real world.
To help capture one of the country’s most notorious personalities, the actor told the press that he hit the books and studied as much about Manson as he could. When asked if he ever considered going the extra mile by reaching out to the incarcerated criminal, Anthony said he toyed with the idea, but ultimately thought it would be a useless endeavor.
“I don't think it would serve either party,” he said. “And not me because if I can meet him in 1966 or '67 that would be… Meeting him at the end of his life when he's been incarcerated for most of it, I don't think it would serve me in any particular way or rather performance for the show. And I certainly don't think it would serve him as an individual.”
The actor added that he hopes his performance and the show will shine more of a light on the people and victims that were affected by Manson’s crimes rather than the criminal himself.
“Aquarius” premieres May 28 on NBC with a special 2-hour premiere at 9 p.m. EDT. After that, the entire series will be available to stream online before it settles in at its normal premiere time on Thursday nights.