NBC’s Aquarius’ Gethin Anthony on getting into the mind of Charles Manson

Gethin Anthony Charles Manson

When people hear the name Charles Manson, there are many words that come to mind and all rather negative. Serial Killer. Cult Leader. Murderer. Psychopath. The Most Hated Man in America.

It’s hard to believe anyone would want to portray this horrific monster, but actor Gethin Anthony took the risk to tackle Manson in NBC’s hit drama Aquarius.

Anthony tells us why he took on such a role, “I guess what makes it easier [to play Manson] and what makes it more a beneficial reason to be him is knowing that he in this series, he is part of a bigger story. The show is set in the late ’60s and it follows the David Duchovny’s character and touches on bigger stories. I think as a performer and artist it is easier to be a pawn in a bigger machine, because it kind of contextualizes our reactions to him and everything. In a sense, it is more of an achievable task. I don’t think it would be as achievable if I was just doing, you know, monologues playing him on stage every night, then it would be a different thing.”

Anthony doesn’t seem to have a hard time getting into the mindset of the killer since he uses different techniques to become Manson. “It’s really an interesting process. It’s really simple, physical things that help me there. I use his music, and with it, the sound of his voice,” said Anthony. “Then filling your mind with all of the research and the biographies that you read, which I was game about learning about him before 1967 [two years before the Tate-LaBianca murders].” He adds, “it was the case of trying to educate myself about what’s possible about him before then, and then, on a day-to-day basis. It came down to things like listening to his voice over and over again in my headphones and using that to recite it to myself.”

As for getting out of the mindset, Anthony had no trouble switching from Manson back to himself. There were some moments he found it difficult when he would shoot for days and weeks. He tells us, “I guess you may say, I find it useful to get to a quiet focus place, but I’ll say I was probably still available to people as a human being between takes.”

Now, with a second season in order, Anthony will have to further prepare for the second phase in Manson’s life to portray. Anthony tells us he’s interested in seeing Manson interact more with people in general. “There are some very interesting parts of the biographies I read where he really is interacting with people that aren’t names, but are part of the film industry. There are parts of his life that we know about, through the trials and the biographies, his interaction with those kinds of people. I guess, regular walks of life. I find it very interesting as an actor what those character interactions might be like.”

As for the critics, Anthony has been praised for his portrayal of Charles Manson, but many have been concerned about Anthony’s looks. The network has been criticized of glamorizing Manson by using such a handsome actor. He just tells us he is just grateful he did not have to wear prosthetics to alter his appearance as Manson. Anthony joked, “I was definitely too ugly to play Renly [Baratheon from HBO’s Game of Thrones], so I’m somewhere in the sweet spot ‘too ugly’ for Renly and ‘too good-looking’ for Charles Manson.”

He adds, “I’ll just take notes and work on being ugly!”

The first season of NBC’s Aquarius is set to release on DVD and Blu-ray this Tuesday, September 15th. The DVD and Blu-ray will feature exclusive never-before-seen extended versions of all episodes.

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Laura Sirikul
Laura Sirikul 1849 posts

Trekkie. Jedi. Whovian. Sherlockian. Hobbit. Sanrio. Comics. I am Spartacus. Warrior Princess. Superhero. Nerd. Follow me @lsirikul