He’s played perverts, porn stars and party monsters in the past – and with his new film Let Me Make You a Martyr set to hit screens, we’ve looked at the musician’s best on-screen roles
In a 2009 interview with Spin, Marilyn Manson brought up the recurring question he’d been asked throughout his career: Do you consider yourself a role model? “I consider myself a role villain,” he said. “A role model is a fucking mannequin. A role villain has to ruin things and break stuff and make changes… There’s no story that anyone has ever seen, read, or loved where they don’t like the villain, even if they don’t want to admit it.” While most people point to Manson’s music when discussing the darker and more macabre aspects of his persona, his selected acting appearances often deal with similar themes. His new film is no exception.
Co-written and directed by Corey Asraf and John Swab, Let Me Make You a Martyr follows two adopted siblings as they plot the murder of their father. The father gets wind of their plan, and hires Manson’s character, a hitman named Pope, to put things to an end. In a clip from the film, Manson sits in the passenger seat of a car with his hair slicked back and a gun in his hand. The driver, clearly there against his will, appears agitated as Manson asks him, “You ever kill a man with your bare hands?”
This isn’t Manson’s first time playing a role villain – he’s played a pervert, a porn star, and even a white supremacist. Below are five of his most memorable acting roles.
PARTY MONSTER (2003)
Throughout his career, Marilyn Manson has experimented with different styles and aesthetics that challenge and provoke the gender binary. In his 1998 music video for “The Dope Show,” he stars as an androgynous extraterrestrial with prosthetic breasts, and he has frequently performed onstage in corsets and thigh-high stockings. It seems fitting, then, that Manson would play a drag queen in Party Monster.
Macaulay Culkin and Seth Green give some of their most memorable performances as 80s club kids Michael Alig and James St. James in the 2003 film, but Manson somehow manages to steal every scene he appears in as Christina Superstar. Notable moments include her wriggling around in a bra and mini-skirt covered in green slime after being named the ‘Queen of Downtown’, and sticking out her tongue to reveal a tab of acid before driving a semi-truck full of party-goers to a rave.
In Dazed’s 2016 interview with Manson, he even discussed his own involvement in New York’s club kid scene of the 1980s, calling it “a truly great fucking era.”
THE HEART IS DECEITFUL ABOVE ALL THINGS (2004)
Speaking to Rolling Stone in 1997, Manson went in-depth on his public persona. “I've felt for so many years that I was the person who always wanted to fit in,” he said. “Now I'm in a position where I can be as misanthropic as I'd like to be. I don't know if it's my way of paying everyone back or if I'm just bitter.” One can’t help but wonder if this same obsession with the misunderstood and lonely applies to Manson’s choice in film roles.
Asia Argento’s The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things packs an impressive amount of stomach churning moments into a 98-minute film. But perhaps the most devastating scene features a walk-on by Manson as Jackson, the protagonist (Argento)’s white trash boyfriend. The JT Leroy novel-turned-film centres around Sarah and her young son, Jeremiah. After leaving him three years prior, Sarah returns to claim her son from his loving foster family. She convinces Jeremiah to begin dressing as a little girl so he can act as her “little sister” instead of her son. One night, Jeremiah dresses in his mother’s clothes and seduces Jackson while he’s drunk in front of the TV. Manson’s cameo is brief, disturbing, and altogether tragic.
LOST HIGHWAY (1997)
It’s perhaps unsurprising that David Lynch, a director most readily associated with all things bizarre, absurd, and surreal, would call upon Marilyn Manson for a cameo in his 1997 mystery Lost Highway. Summarising a Lynch film is never easy, but, in short, it centres around two storylines: in one, a jazz musician (Bill Pullman) is accused of murdering his wife (Patricia Arquette); in another, a young mechanic (Balthazar Getty) finds himself wrapped up in an affair with a woman (also played by Arquette) who is cheating on her amateur porn producer boyfriend (Robert Loggia). The two storylines eventually converge in an unusual, uncanny, and singularly Lynchian way.
Manson’s cameo lasts for only a few seconds, but Lynch clearly made a very deliberate choice in his casting. The musician stars, alongside his bassist Twiggy Ramirez, as a porn star. The clip comes at the film’s final moments as Loggia’s character lies in an empty field, his throat slit open. He’s handed a small portable TV, only to be a shown a snippet of one of his own pornos – Manson stands over two women as blood spurts from an unknown part of his body. A casual threesome suddenly turns savage and grotesque as Manson falls to the floor, shaking violently.
Despite its seven per cent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, Darren Stein’s twisted teen comedy Jawbreaker has, in recent years, established itself as something of a cult classic. In the film, a clique of popular teenage girls, headed by Manson’s then-girlfriend Rose McGowan, scramble to cover up the accidental murder of their queen bee.
Manson’s cameo isn’t much of a stretch from his role in Lost Highway. As McGowan speaks to a detective, she attempts to cover up her own involvement in the murder by focusing on her dead friend’s sordid affairs. The scene cuts to a dark and dingy dive bar. Enter Manson. Scorpions’ “Rock You Like A Hurricane” plays over the speakers as Manson swivels around in his chair. His long hair is greased back and he is donning a particularly off-putting porno mustache. He perversely licks his lips as he follows Mcgowan’s character out of the bar. She takes him to her dead friend’s bedroom to have sex in an attempt to frame him for her murder. Manson’s walk-on as a random sleazebag is so utterly convincing that you barely feel sorry for him.
SONS OF ANARCHY (2014)
After his mother’s passing in 2014, Manson wanted to find a way to cheer his dad up. His solution? Act in his favourite TV show. Sons of Anarchy centres around the crimes of a motorcycle gang in the fictional (and cheekily named) town of Charming, California. In its final season, Manson plays Ron Tully, an incarcerated white supremacist high up in the Aryan Brotherhood, who is described as “a freak with clout.”
In a particularly memorable, albeit tragic scene, Tully sits with his romantic interest, Juice (Theo Rossi) in the prison cafeteria. Juice hands him a knife under the table and convinces Tully to kill him in order to protect himself from a rival prison gang. Tully nods to his fellow inmates – they leave the table and incite a riot in the cafeteria. As the guards are distracted, Manson hugs Ortega and whispers in his ear, “You went out good, Sweetheart,” before stabbing him repeatedly in the neck.