Marilyn Manson’s having a hell of a year. Let me rephrase that. He’s having a hell of year while lining up his next year. Yes, I’m actually touching upon his musical career in a sense, as a jumping off point, given that he was the most surprising addition to Travis Scott’s second Astroworld Festival lineup. That quite nearly makes the former shock rocker shocking once again. Beyond that milestone, however, his TV career is taking a turn, and not an altogether unexpected one, given that he’s amassed quite a gathering of guest TV gigs over the years, but in 2020? Get ready to see an unusual amount of the man previously known (only in his youth) as Brian Warner on your small screens.
Again, I want to stress that this shouldn’t be a complete surprise. Manson is a savvy artist. Further, he’s quite intelligent, as anyone who’s browsed through his various talk show interviews can attest. He is a captivating performer in a live capacity, although I cannot truthfully conclude — despite viewing most of his acting performances (both TV and film) — that he’s a convincing actor beyond being, you know, Marilyn Manson. However, it’s not up for debate that everything that the guy does is calculated. One does not spend two decades making a fine living as Marilyn Manson without planning a few moves ahead. And right now, his plan is to pop up on multiple well-regarded shows in the near future.
To that end, has Manson scored some honest-to-god high profile gigs. He’s diving headfirst into a triple-header of prestige TV series in 2020. Yes, in those spare moments when the guy took a break from wearing leather pants and fur coats onstage in 100+ degree heat this past summer, he took some moments to nail down this trio of roles:
The New Pope is gonna be fantastic. When in Rome pic.twitter.com/tvuoCJjqbi
— Marilyn Manson (@marilynmanson) May 17, 2019
– The New Pope: No one knows (maybe not even HBO? I kid) what character Manson will be plucking up on this series, but since it’s already such delightfully batsh*t show already, one can expect him to hit peak strangeness. Our own Brian Grubb wonders if he’s actually the guy responsible for this red neon cross above Pope Pius XIII’s bed, and it would be fitting that Manson would portray whatever medical or spiritual doctor meant to welcome Jude Law back into the realm of the living. I’m pulling for him to outlandishly play a smartly-dressed archbishop or veer straight into portraying the Dark Lord in dream sequences. Nothing in the middle, folks. Manson does not do grey areas.
– The Stand: Yes, there’s another Stephen King property being rebooted (or refashioned or whatever you want to call it), and this one carries high stakes. It’ll be a flagship property of CBS All Access and a wide-spanning limited series to hopefully deliver a proper rendition of one of the greatest (and most expansive) works of apocalyptic fiction. There’s going to have to be several tweaks to the subject matter to make it 2019-friendly, but adapting The Stand has always been an intimidating feat, so much so that, a handful of years ago, Ben Affleck ducked away from directing a feature-length version that never materialized. Again, who Manson will embody remains a mystery. He’d have been an intriguing Randall Flagg, although that role went to Alexander Skarsgård, who should do just fine. With any luck, Manson will play a role more substantial than Jim Morrison at a gas station, which would be a decent Easter egg, at least, but hey, Stephen King wrote a new ending! I think that ending should take place at a Marilyn Manson concert.
– American Gods: This show is still doing its weird thing with Neil Gaiman’s source material. In season 3, the real-life shock rocker will portray Johan Wengren, the lead singer of a viking metal band, Blood Death. He and the band will somehow become a source of sustenance and power for Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) while he continues to combat the New Gods. Now Manson’s going to be on a series that executed a vagina dentata-esque scene, for god’s sake. Art’s pretty strange at times.
All of this is kind of wild, right? Marilyn Manson’s going to appear on a series about delightfully wacky American popes starring John Malkovich and Jude Law and a remixing of one of Stephen King’s most-read works. Who will he play next, a rival televangelist on The Righteous Gemstones? An evil robot overlord on Westworld? Natasha Lyonne’s estranged dad on Russian Doll? Doctor Manhattan in a second season of Watchmen? All of these scenarios sound insane but perfectly plausible.
Honestly, I don’t have an argument to make here, I’m simply pointing out that we’re about to see the (arguably) last surviving rock star, who still tours annually, bang out a bunch of TV appearances. No one ever expected this. I certainly did not, not one year ago, and not when I first went to a Nine Inch Nails show and didn’t know the name of the dildo-wielding menace who fronted the opening act. His lyrics actually include, “God is in the TV,” and now he’s all over that medium, but we shouldn’t feel too shocked that Manson’s been quietly plotting to take over your small screen.
After all, he’s made a decent array of TV appearances already. Yes, he played himself on Californication because he was the only person who could shake up Hank Moody’s carefully disaffected little world. Yet he’s disappeared into a few quickie roles, including his brief stint on HBO’s Eastbound and Down, a series that he was “obsessed with,” so he took off his makeup to play a terrible waiter who disrupted a marital spat on behalf of Kenny Powers and his wife. In Once Upon A Time, he was cast as the voice of Shadow, who lured children to Neverland, because the showrunners “wanted to cast someone with the vocal ability to make our skin crawl.” It worked, and then Manson stepped up with a sh*t-eating grin on Salem as a sociopathic barber who lingers between the dead and living and administering autopsies and dealing with the Devil. On Sons of Anarchy, he played an unstoppable threat who took out poor Juice after participating in a nightmare-fuel sex montage. And for Funny Or Die, he laughed at himself while reciting spooky stories in “Halloween Anthology With Marilyn Manson.”
The thing about Manson is that his appearances in TV shows — generally ones with loyal fanbases and often critically acclaimed ones — is that non-believers usually regard his presence as stunt-casting. And that’s a fair reaction, honestly. During The Onion‘s legendarily better days, the publication satirized his apparent eagerness to shock, although Manson’s always been self-aware of how people perceive him. I mean, he still comically burns bibles, all to roast people’s expectations of him. Nowadays, he’s pretty content to tour constantly, and I’m not sure when he’s even found time to film these TV gigs. Yet like I said, 2020 will be an odd year for Manson spotting. And although no one would ever suggest handing him an Emmy, it certainly won’t be a dull affair.