In April it was announced that NBC were developing a new TV series based on Charles Manson. Titled Aquarius, the series will star David Duchovny as a detective in the late 1960s on the trail of a cult leader, and that leader is Charles Manson. The series will see X-Files star Duchovny return to NBC after his hit series Californication.
Now TVLine have revealed some more casting updates for the series, and Charles Manson has now been cast!
Game of Thrones’ Gethin Anthony, Friday Night Lights’ Grey Damon and Bunheads’ Emma Dumont have boarded the 1960s-set drama, which stars Duchovny as a cop who goes undercover to track Manson and his brood.
Anthony — who on Thrones played Renly Baratheon — will portray Manson, described here as the “archetypal Authentic Hippie Freak” whose intense charisma draws young followers to him in droves. A jailbird who has spent half his life in prison, Manson dominates his young women followers through a combination of sex, drugs and a paternalistic and caring attitude that masks his inner evil. A dark, seductive force of nature, he recruits young Emma Karn (played by Dumont) to his ranks — but his interest in her may be far beyond the merely sexual. In fact, he may have embroiled her father in a far-reaching conspiracy.
Damon, meanwhile, will co-star as Hodiak’s (Duchovny) new partner — and the two are well-matched in their maverick methods and savvy instincts. He helps Hodiak trace the missing Emma Karn, going undercover himself to learn more about Manson.
NBC has given a 13-episode straight-to-series order to “Aquarius,” penned by drama vet John McNamara (“In Plain Sight,” “Profit”) who exec produces with Duchovny, Marty Adelstein (“Prison Break”) and Duchovny’s longtime manager Melanie Greene. “Aquarius” hails from ITV Studios and Marty Adelstein Prods.
The pact also marks Duchovny’s reunion with NBC Entertainment chief Bob Greenblatt, who greenlight “Californication” during his tenure as Showtime entertainment prexy. Greenblatt and Duchovny also go back to the origins of “The X-Files” when Greenblatt headed drama at Fox.
“I’m thrilled to be working with Bob Greenblatt again and coming back to broadcast television. I think ‘Aquarius’ has a chance to be a special show and I can’t wait to get going,” Duchovny said. Greenblatt returned the compliment, adding: ”I’m especially pleased that he wanted to come to NBC where I know there is a big audience waiting to see him.”
In “Aquarius,” Duchovny will play a Los Angeles police sergeant with a complicated personal life. In the late 1960s, he and his younger partner begin tracking a small-time criminal who specializes in luring vulnerable young women to his “cause.”
The plan is that the series will follow “the twists and turns” of Manson’s early efforts, but the horrific murder spree in August 1969 that made his name synonymous with evil will not enter the story until subsequent seasons.
“Event series are a big priority for us, and the combination of a show that charts the lead-up to the Manson murders, along with a television star of the magnitude of David Duchovny, is the very definition of an event,” said NBC Entertainment prexy Jennifer Salke.
It’s 1967, and the era of free love, drug experimentation, and the Vietnam War is in full effect. When the teenage daughter of a respected lawyer goes missing, L.A. Police Sgt. Sam Hodiak (David Duchovny; “Californication,” “The X-Files”) starts asking around. He soon discovers that the hippie kids he’s questioning don’t take kindly to cops, especially one with hair as short as his. Needing the help of someone they will trust, he partners with rebellious undercover cop Brian Shafe, a man who’s more comfortable rolling a joint than patrolling a beat.
It’s not long before they stumble upon a small-time cult leader seeking out vulnerable women to join his cause. From there, they follow this man’s trail down a rabbit hole of drugs, sex, murder, and cultural revolution. Little could they know, however, the guy they’re hunting will eventually become the killer we now recognize as Charles Manson. He was a lost soul who desperately wanted to get into the music scene of the ’60s until something snapped. This is the show that will explore the cat and mouse game between him and the police that will go on for several seasons, ultimately ending with the infamous Tate-LaBianca murders.
Writer John McNamara (“In Plain Sight”) serves as executive producer with Marty Adelstein (“Prison Break”), David Duchovny, and Melanie Greene. “Aquarius” is a production of ITV Studios America and Marty Adelstein Productions.