Fans of NBC’s mystery/drama MANIFEST know there’s already a hell of a lot going on. The show is nothing if not complex, and, well, dramatic. But we got a chance to speak with some of the cast at the NBC TCAs, and let me tell you, things are only going to get wilder.
Josh Dallas, who plays Ben Stone on the show, said it best, “There’s just so much happening.” He teased that in season two, fans are going to get answers or at least more pieces to the puzzle. We’ll learn more about the death dates (which Dallas finds “very unnerving”), how the callings work, and about the love triangle between Michaela Stone (Melissa Roxburgh), Zeke Landon (Matt Long), and Jared Vasquez (J.R. Ramirez).
“We’re going to find out more about the outside influences who are threatening every single day of this family’s life,” Dallas told us. “We’re just going to get deeper into it.”
At the risk of saying too much – “Sorry, Jeff [Rake, creator of MANIFEST]!” – Roxburgh also told us that “you’ll see quite a bit of outside forces and how that affects us – people who may not be on board with us.” Fans of Lost and The Walking Dead will likely feel a bit of a shiver at that comment. The reveal of “the others” never really pans out well for the main characters on a TV show, now does it?
But of course, that’s not all. Zeke has a ton going on this season. He ends up in prison over the infamous gunshot from season one and still has to worry about his looming death date. On top of that, he’s following all of the callings he continues to receive, which, understandably, make life difficult. Long also teased, “By the end of the season, the biggest things that can happen to a person, happen [to Zeke].”
There are also big things in store for Olive Stone, played by Luna Blaise, who says that acting in this season “100 percent” tested her limits. In particular, episodes seven, eight, and nine will have you “bawling your eyes out,” Blaise warned.
As foreboding as that is, it makes sense in a season that Blaise described as very “coming of age” for Olive. She promised it’ll be filled with love and heartbreak. “She’s finding out who she really is, and what her purpose is,” Blaise told us, adding, “It’s a great season.”
So how on earth do you prepare for acting in a show like this? Well, Blaise says that when she first got the gig, she watched Lost and Castaway (which happens to be one of her favorite movies), and researched the lost Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
However, she didn’t research too much, as MANIFEST is a fictional mystery. So she said she loves to “go into every single week, just kind of going along with the mystery.” TV actors, they’re just like us!
And Long agrees. He also credits Rake with creating a script that didn’t really require developing a character backstory or additional research on his part. “I’ve been lucky,” Long said, sharing that “Jeff and the writers have written me really actable and tangible conflict for my character.”
Long also admitted that he found character development a bit easier since he didn’t have to be one of the people returning from lost Flight 828. While his character Zeke does have relatives and other people from his past returning, it wasn’t quite as dramatic as all of the Flight 828 passengers returning at once. “It’s been easier for me because it’s been more of an emotional, sort of personal level,” Long said, of the acting.
So, what would the stars of MANIFEST do if they were really in this situation? “I can’t imagine,” Long said. “I hope that I would spend time with my family and loved ones. But I’d also like to go do things that I’ve always wanted to do – travel, go around the world, etc.”
Blaise insisted, “I don’t want a reality where this happens to anyone!” However, if it did happen, she’d want the callings. “Just for the fun of it, I think I would want callings,” Blaise told us. “I think I would want the powers, just so I could, you know, figure something out.”
Roxburgh, on the other hand, thinks the callings would just be “annoying.” Imagine you’re trying to work out on the treadmill and you get hit with one!
Either way, their fictional counterparts, unfortunately, do not have the option to choose. So check out how they handle the drama as it unfolds on new episodes of MANIFEST, airing on NBC, Mondays at 10pm. For more on MANIFEST, click here for our coverage of the TCA panel.