David Tennant to play controversial doctor RD Laing in new biopic

The Doctor Who star will appear as the Scottish psychiatrist opposite Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss in a new film directed by Robert Mullan

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Former Time Lord David Tennant’s purple (man) patch continues – the actor has been cast in an upcoming biopic about renowned Scottish psychiatrist R.D. Laing, a controversial figure whose work still divides opinion 26 years after his death, 

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Co-starring Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss, Metanoia will focus on Laing’s attempts to create a sanctuary for patients diagnosed with psychosis and schizophrenia, with his unusual methods including administering LSD, keeping all doors unlocked and encouraging patients to “embrace their madness”.

However, this unorthodox approach led to at least two patients throwing themselves off the roof of his facility as well as raids by the drugs squad, with much of the psychiatric community disagreeing with his methods and his theory that schizophrenia was a logical response to trauma (they considered it purely medical).

“I have long been fascinated by the life and work of RD Laing,” Tennant told Screendaily, taking a break from filming his role as villainous Kilgrave in Marvel Netflix series A.K.A. Jessica Jones.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate and discover this important man and I am honoured and thrilled to be involved in telling this story.

“[Director] Robert Mullan’s passion for the subject is inspiring and the presence of the brilliant Elisabeth Moss makes this something I cannot wait to start work on.”

Mullan – whose work includes Letters to Sofija and We Will Sing – added: “In the late 1960s, and throughout the 1970s, R.D. Laing was seen as the ‘high priest of anti-psychiatry’ and the so-called ‘Acid Marxist’ – lauded by his supporters for his daring and experimental work with disturbed people.

“In truth, Laing simply tried harder than other psychiatrists to sympathetically understand the cracked minds of the people who came to see him. He gave them time and tried to see the world from their point of view. His books sold all over the world and his reputation was global”.  

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All very exciting – and at the very least, we’ll get to see Tennant addressed as “Doctor” again, right?


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