‘The Serpent’ Star Tahar Rahim Talks Playing Killer Charles Sobhraj on the Netflix Drama
Evil has a face, and in Netflix’s The Serpent it’s handsome and tan with a chiseled jawline. So it’s no wonder at least 10 victims fell prey to charming killer Charles Sobhraj, played on this limited series by The Looming Tower star Tahar Rahim.
In the 1970s, Sobhraj and his lover Marie-Andrée Leclerc (Jenna Coleman) befriended, drugged, stole from, and murdered young travelers making their way through Asia, including Thailand, where the couple lived and posed as gem dealers.
While local law enforcement didn’t truly investigate the missing persons — some of whom were much-derided hippies — a Dutch diplomat (Billy Howle) stationed in Bangkok grew determined to solve the murder of two tourists from Holland. But Sobhraj and Leclerc managed to stay a step ahead. “He was clever,” Rahim says of Sobhraj, who earned the moniker “the serpent” because he was slippery. “He was playing a game.” Indeed, a tense cat-and-mouse game unfolds over these eight episodes.
Rahim became fascinated by Sobhraj when he was a teen and read a book about the sociopath. “Wow, this is a movie!” he recalls thinking. Fast-forward two decades, when Rahim’s agent contacted him about portraying Sobhraj. “I was like, ‘It’s fate,'” he says. But playing the “heavy” role took a toll: Rahim would often head to the gym to get the killer off his mind. “I don’t know how many hours I worked out,” he says, “but it was a lot.”
Sobhraj promises to haunt viewers too, in the way only the creepiest TV villains can.
The Serpent, Series Premiere, Friday, April 2, Netflix