Many actors have played deceased madman Charles Manson, including Steve Railsback in Helter Skelter (’76), Marcelo Games in The Manson Family, Jeremy Davies in Helter Skelter (’04), and most recently, Evan Peters in “American Horror Story: Cult.”
One actor who has become somewhat synonymous with Manson, while never actually playing him, is Bill Moseley, who starred in Rob Zombie’s Houses of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects as, well, a character very much based on Charles Manson. Moseley’s Otis Driftwood was clearly inspired by Manson, to the point that he even spouts ramblings directly from Manson’s mouth.
Moseley so nailed Manson with Otis that it was only a matter of time before he was cast to play Manson himself. And indeed he was… in a movie that was never made.
The project Manson Girls originally surfaced back in 2011, set to be directed by Susanna Lo and with Bill Moseley in the role of Charles Manson. Other name actors such as Monica Keena, Taryn Manning and Eric Balfour were also attached to the initial iteration of the project, teased with a three-minute “sizzle reel” that made its way online in 2012.
In the sizzle reel, which was essentially an early trailer that was put together to sell the concept before filming actually began, Moseley briefly appeared on screen as Manson in the beginning and end, and he also sung The Doors’ song “Five to One” over the entire thing. The footage was even used as part of a brief making-of piece that aired on Entertainment Tonight at the time, featuring interview snippets with Moseley, Manning and Keena.
Ultimately, the sizzle reel was all that was ever shot for Manson Girls, which was to “chronicle how eight young women in Charles Manson’s brood came from diverse and even privileged backgrounds to become the most notorious female serial killers of the decade’s Love Generation.” The plan was to “follow the girls’ pre-Manson teen years through their indoctrination into the Family and up to the bloody summer of 1969 when their violent “Helter Skelter” campaign that rocked Los Angeles and the counterculture community.”
After a couple years of silence, Manson Girls found itself in the news again in late 2014, when a new company came aboard. The headlines indicated that filming would begin in early 2015, with Moseley still attached to play Manson. But Moseley quickly shot down those reports, noting on social media that he was no longer involved in the project.
“There’s no deal; hell, no one’s even negotiating,” Moseley tweeted in November 2014. “Not signed to play Charles Manson in any movie, made-for-TV movie, after school special, webisode, etc.”
It looks like the movie, at least not the original version of it, will never actually be made, but you can watch that early sizzle reel for Manson Girls below.