Interview: Stephen Manas Talks Music, Acting, ‘Ted Lasso’August 10, 2020
Recently we had the chance to talk to Stephen Manas about life as a musician, actor and his new comedy series on Apple TV + Ted Lasso
Before you started acting music was a big part of your life. Where did the interest in music come from?
Stephen: I started in music when I was very young. Actually, I wasn’t very interested in it but my parents pushed me to learn music. I started when I was about five years old and I played clarinet, then when I was fifteen I decided to play saxophone and played in a jazz band, a classical orchestra and when I was eighteen I fell in love with the piano, I played solo every day until I was twenty-two, twenty-three until I started to move beyond there, it was more difficult to play music after that. Yeah, I love music, it was a big part of my early life.
A lot of actors have musical backgrounds. Do you think acting and music are similar, in terms of creating and performing?
Stephen: For acting, I think it’s a huge creation so I believe each actor has their own power of creation in another area. Mine is music, some people can be writing, some can be drawing, different things. Many actors being musicians, that doesn’t surprise me, it’s part of the creative process and the creative nature they have, although each does it in a different way.
Where did your interest in acting come from?
Stephen: I fell in love with movies when I was eleven, watching Harry Potter, I was basically the same age as the characters. However, even though I loved the movies I didn’t pursue acting because where I am from, a small city, it really wasn’t realistic as a career goal. We can be many things but being an actor really wasn’t a choice. When I was seventeen I graduated and moved to a big city with cinema school, acting school and movies shooting on the street and I thought to myself, I can try this. I’ve done many small movies, student movies, things like that and I started to fall in love with the acting industry and being an actor myself, and when I was eighteen is when I realized yes, I can really give acting a try.
You moved to India and worked in the Bollywood industry there. What was that experience like?
Stephen: Oh, it was funny. I was living in Paris when I was twenty-three and I got a call from this agency in India and at that time, I really needed a change in my life, so it was great timing. They offered me a three-year contract but I stayed almost two years, discovering India, on the whole, was so interesting. From a personal and business point of view, it was very interesting, I didn’t really have any big roles but I played in many things there, but it’s just so different. There are so many people on set and one time on set, the director, he had an idea where he needed a white tree for a scene, so about thirty Indian men left and went into the city and thirty minutes later came back with this tree and started painting it white, it was really amazing. When an order is given so many people move, it’s almost like the military, it’s really something to see.
When you left India after two years, where did you go next?
Stephen: After India, I moved to Tokyo and it was so completely life-changing. It is a totally different way of thinking so it was very interesting, working in the Tokyo industry. They are so strict, if you are two minutes late they can fire you, they don’t accept excuses for anything. You have to know your lines perfectly, you have to be on time, but it was very interesting and different to work on set with Japanese people. It was after I left Japan that I ended up returning to France.
What do you love about acting, that made you want to make this a career?
Stephen: It is like being part of this huge constructed piece, everybody works so hard to make this happen, I love that part of acting. There are the other actors, the crew, the director, producer, they are all working together and you have a huge responsibility, you cannot let people down, I like that. There is also letting go of your mind sometimes, being unfocused, but you still have a lot to learn, a schedule to keep. The people working on set will remind you of this yet you still have to be creative, it’s a wonderful mix.
Tell me a bit about your character Richard on the new Apple TV + comedy series Ted Lasso.
Stephen: I can’t say much until it’s released but yes, my character is named Richard and my coach is Ted Lasso. I play a football player in England, the Premier League, but I really can’t say much more than that.
What was it like working on this series?
Stephen: This was the first time for me, being in a big show like this, an international project, so I was very happy to be there. It was so fun working with Jason (Sudeikis) on set, he was so nice, so helpful, giving advice. Many times he came to me when I was acting and sometimes I was a little off, it wasn’t perfect, so he would say maybe you should try it like this, or say it like that, and I really appreciated that. I learned a lot from him and everyone there, it was an amazing comedy to be a part of, such positive energy from the first to the last day, I was so blessed to be a part of it.
You’ve worked in both film and television now, so do you have a preference moving forward, or do you want to continue to do both?
Stephen: Oh, I love them both. With movies, there is a beginning, middle, and end that has to fit into about two hours, and I like that structure. There are so many things to say and it has to be focused, you have to make sure you know your lines. With television there is so much more time, to go more in-depth with characters, explore many different things, so many different to stories to tell. I hope Ted Lasso is such a huge success we can be working on it for ten seasons, you never know.
What other projects do you have coming up?
Stephen: Right now, I can’t say. Maybe there will be a season two of Ted Lasso, maybe I have a big movie coming up, it’s unknown. Of course, right now, everything is a little strange and scary because of the COVID-19. I wanted to move to LA, meet many new people, I was supposed to be in New York and LA for two months but it has been canceled, another movie in Belgium has been postponed, so the future is a little complicated right now. There is nothing much I can do about it, just hope everything turns out fine.
I want to thank Stephen for taking the time to talk with us.
Ted Lasso premieres on Apple TV + on August 14th, 2020