The character, Thomas Dinley, will play a pivotal role with ties to the Devil on the third season of the show, which premiered Wednesday, November 2 at 9 p.m. EST on WGN America.
Manson sat with RollingStone to elaborate on his character on the series
RS: How did it feel to be on set in your character’s barber and surgery shop?
MANSON: It wasn’t too far off from my living room except it was just in an older time period. I have a lot of the same collectible things, like the medical instruments. I’ve always been fascinated with things of that nature, so it was the perfect fit for me.
RS: What types of medical instruments do you collect?
MM: Straight razors. I have a barber’s chair, strangely enough, at home [laughs]. I have different prosthetic limbs, skeletal remains, the usual things that you might expect to find in a person’s imagination of what my house would look like [laughs].
RS: How do you pick the roles you play as an actor?
MM: I don’t. I snuck my way onto Sons of Anarchy. I wanted that one really bad. This one just seemed perfect and appealing. There’s a couple of things in the future I want to do. I watch episodic shows like Hannibal, and there’s something in the future of that story line – what comes after Hannibal, Silence of the Lambs – that I’m hoping is going to happen but I won’t talk about that yet. What happens when I take roles is I end up fucking myself over because I try to get on shows I like, and then it’s a spoiler alert for me because I know what happens on the show if I’m on it. That’s the one flaw in my plan [laughs].
RS: Did the Salem setting feel real?
MM: They’ve built this perfect city, an actual town. It was really like being in another time. … I just remember the first day, I dove right in. I think people will see: It’s pretty gory and intense for the format that they’re working in. They’ve really taken it to the extremes. The acting, the cinematography and the story line is as good as any movie that I’ve seen about that era.
RS: So the gore looks real?
MM: The special-effects people created things that looked very realistic, when it comes to autopsies and things like that. They were very historically accurate. It’s the dawn of the creation of new medicine, and my character performs enemas, tooth pulling, shaves and autopsies, so it’s a time when they’re trying to figure out what doctors and surgeons are. My character comes in and becomes this person that nobody can really figure out. They kind of fear him, I think, because he’s pretty utterly sociopathic and emotionless.
RS: You’ve described your character as the “Devil’s best friend.” Can you explain that relationship?
MM: Yeah. There’s the different elements of the story in Salem, like who’s really running the show, and you’ve got this witch war that begins, and my character doesn’t take anyone’s side. But when it comes to it, my character has to believe in something. If you go to my office, you usually die [laughs]. And you probably don’t end up in heaven; you probably end up in a sausage. … There’s some Sweeney Todd in it.
Check your local listing and make sure you tune in for is just getting started in what will be a truly amazing season!