Becoming synonymous with Charles Manson probably isn’t how he’d expect to be spending the summer, but Damon Herriman wears that role like a devilish opportunity. The Australian actor can be seen in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood,” releasing July 26. He stars as Manson, an elusive albeit controversial, character and one of Tarantino’s many moving pieces to the puzzle that is his ninth film set in the late ‘60s. Herriman is given the task of emulating one of history’s most infamous masterminds and the brains behind the “family” cult of murderers responsible for the death of actress Sharon Tate. This year is bound to put the actor in the spotlight as he rises to his first blockbuster role.
Herriman pulls double, serial killer duty this year as he plays Manson in the second season of David Fincher’s “Mindhunter” for Netflix. The drama series starring Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany as FBI agents in the Behavioral Science Unit lands on the streaming platform next month as it returns to study and solve case-by-case murders of its decade with the helpful observations of locked up killers. News of Herriman’s casting in the series first broke out around August 2018, when he had already shot his role for the series and was awaiting work on the Tarantino film. The timeline takes place as Manson is already locked up so Herriman may not get as much screen time as we’d like to see. But don’t fret. It’s hopeful that his role in “Once Upon a Time…” will more than make up for it.
Born in Adelaide, South Australia, Herriman is best known in the States as Dewey Crowe in the FX series, “Justified.” Long before that role came to fruition, he began his acting career in the mid-1970s in Australian television and mini-series. His first recurring role came with a supporting performance in the 1990 Australian fantasy comedy series, “Elly & Jools.” He’s also made appearances on shows like “Breaking Bad” and “Wilfred.”
Herriman has been recognized by the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) when he won the lead actor award for his work in Jeffrey Walker’s “Riot,” and an award for his guest acting in the television drama “Secret City.” Herriman has continued his active work in Australian produced projects like “Top of the Lake: China Girl,” “Squinters,” “No Activity” and “The Little Death.”
That’s not to say the projects he boards don’t find their American audience. Among his latest performances, Herriman stars in two films that premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. “The Babadook” director and Aussie native Jennifer Kent screened her latest at the fest, “The Nightingale.” Herriman appears in the film, a vengeful thriller set in 1825. He also stars in Mirrah Foulkes’ “Judy and Punch” with co-star Mia Wasikowska.
The world will soon see the many faces of Manson, embodied by Herriman in two polar opposite pieces of work. Herriman plays a Manson in his prime period of malicious intent in Tarantino’s film. On the other end, he plays a post-trial, prison-held Manson in the 1980s, in David Fincher’s “Mindhunter.” Even by the looks of released images, he fits the bill on both timelines, respectively. It will be interesting to see how he taps into both performances as the same figure but with different direction and script. Catch Damon Herriman as Charles Manson in “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood” July 26, as well as Netflix’s “Mindhunter” season two August 16.