Popular Guy: Jake Manley
Jun 22, 2020
Starring as the lead in the Netflix Original ‘The Order’, actor Jake Manley has had quite the past year. From his many 2019 roles like ‘A Dog’s Journey’ and Brotherhood where he dawns as George Waller, nothing quite stands out like his most notable role to date as the well-mannered Jack Morton from ‘The Order’. Jack enters as a college freshman way in over his head as he chases secrets at the infamous Belgrave University. Since it’s inception the show has picked up a cult following as well as a second season that released on Thursday, June 18th!
The Toronto native can also be seen staring alongside Bella Thorne in the summer blockbuster hit ‘Infamous’ which quickly rose to No. 1 on the Apple Charts even before its official launch! The story follows a young couple with eyes set for ‘The City of Angels’ as the film explores the allure of fame and and pitfalls of social media.
I interrupted Jake’s peaceful cottage getaway with his dog Rupert to discuss his ideas on fame and social media, jumping back into the role of Jack Morton, and his upcoming project ‘Holidate’ as he appears alongside Emma Roberts and Kristin Chenoweth.
First question – The original title of your new film ‘Infamous’ was actually Southland right? What prompted that change?
I mean I guess that’s the world of indie movies. Josh Caldwell – who wrote and directed it – had named it Southland and I think it’s because it’s about this couple robbing their way across the South or the Southland. I guess when it was acquired they wanted something that kind of popped a bit more. I think Infamous works really well.
And in ‘Infamous’, the most powerful weapon in the film just so happens to be Arielle’s phone. How true to real life do you think that is?
That’s such a good question. The power just seems to be growing with phones and social media and being able to connect with people instantly. Like being able to go live and seeing people unfiltered and uncut – I think it can be extremely powerful. It has the power to influence, which is one of the most powerful things of all. It’s just something that has to be used with with such responsibility and it’s obvious that in the film, Arielle does not use it responsibly, so hopefully people will see that and do the opposite.
There’s also a scene in the film that takes an interesting turn where they pick up a fan and she talks about her reasoning for following them as it brings a different meaning to her life and describes the feeling of being stuck. Your character responds “I think that people are looking to waste time.” Which side of this are you on?
I’m on Dean’s side there. I think it can be an empty pursuit. In some cases, there are a lot of meaningful things that you can tune into on social media, but then a lot of it is just escapism. It’s a lot of living vicariously through other people or trying to measure up to different people as a viewer, and then as a poster there are people looking for validation and acceptance and love who don’t have it in certain areas of their life and are trying obtain it through this. That’s what I liked about Dean. We definitely have that in common. I don’t get the world of social media as much as Arielle does, so I could have never portrayed that.
Do you think that she was ever going to be satisfied in her pursuits?
No because it’s never ending. You get 1,000,000 followers and you think that’s the best, but then you get there and it’s not. Or you get the money and realize it’s not about the money. It’s some other deep-rooted issue inside that needs to be figured out that has nothing to do with social media.
Fame is a bit of what she was chasing. What is your view on it, and was that ever a dream when you started acting?
I think it’s nice to be recognized and it’s nice to have fans. The stressful part is when you realize how much your following relates to business now. Producers can make decisions based on your social media following and not just off of talent so that can be a little intimidating. At the same time, I don’t think you need to completely resist the idea of social media. You just have to use it in a way that you’re comfortable with and not expect too much from it or tie too much into it and use it responsibly.
With that, 2019 was such a big year for you between ‘A Dog’s Journey’, ‘Midway’, ‘Brotherhood’, and then ‘The Order’. Did you notice a change in your day to day life or anonymity through that?
No, it hasn’t been too crazy. Every once in a while, people out and about maybe recognized me and say something, but ultimately nothing has changed. I’m the same person. I have the same great family and friends that I get to hang out with. Those are kind of just external things but inside you’re always the same person looking for the same things. I’m really happy about this accomplishment, but you will always want to build on them and can get more, so understand that pursuit.
Is there a role or dream that you’re currently chasing?
I would love at some point to do a biopic to play someone or portray something that was of significance or importance to me. For now, I’m just really liked diversifying things and hopping on different genres of different filmmakers. I just want to experiment. I want to be able to get on sets or projects and learn from great actors and directors and learn more about my craft and just experiment. I feel like it’s a constant of trial and error of seeing what works and what doesn’t. I’m in like a happy place. I just like collaborating with different people.
I know you also work behind the lens as a producer. Is there a different approach to diving into a role in-front of the camera as opposed to behind it?
When you’re producing you definitely miss acting because when you’re an actor you don’t have to deal with all the problems that producers do. You realize as an actor that your job is so much more simple and you’re catered to so much more. It definitely makes you have an appreciation for producers and everything they do. Being a producer can be super stressful and you’re kind of pulling your hair out about it, but I think you need that in life. That thing that makes you pull your hair out, but you love the pursuit. For me, I just love like the whole world of filmmaking so to be part of any cast whether it’s producing or acting is always very rewarding. It’s its own challenge and I like that as well and I hope to do more of it.
And of course, ‘The Order’ season two released on Netflix. Congratulations! You star as Jack Morton is that. Can you tell us a little bit about him and where he left off?
Last season was a challenging time. I went through a lot. I don’t know how he handled it, but he ultimately ends up having his memory wiped at the end of last season and has no idea who he is or where he’s from. The season picks up with him trying to piece everything together and he starts having these flashbacks of his memory. The hardest thing is just him getting it back and reconciling with what happened, what Alyssa did, and why she did it so he can come to terms with that. Now he’s being thrust into this whole new world of villains and organizations and he kind of questions everything he believes. This is the reason he flip-flops between who’s right and who’s wrong. It’s a very interesting journey for him in season two and it’s not easy. There’s a lot packed in season two with a lot of amazing characters. I’m excited for everyone to check it out.
You mentioned in another interview last year that you and Jack were on a different wavelength because he was a bit more careful. Dean from ‘Infamous’ is almost at the other end of the spectrum. Do you find yourself relating more to Dean?
I think I’m somewhere in-between. There are definitely things that I understand about both characters. They both just want to live a normal life and they have a strong moral backbone and I relate to that absolutely, but sometimes Jack Morton is just so careful and forgiving and I don’t know if I could be that perfect in real life.
Do you ever find yourself taking pieces of your characters back home with you?
Oh, definitely! I mean the hardest part was, I went from shooting ‘Infamous’ in Miami – we had a couple of days in Miami – we finished shooting the movie and I had this ratchet facial hair and blonde hair, hopped on a plane, and was shooting ‘The Order’ the next day. The schedule was so tight so it was definitely hard to not let that bleed into ‘The Order’ even just some of the habits I feel that Dean had. I’m interested to watch it to see if there’s anything that I can catch. There’s probably some swearing they had to cut out of ‘The Order’.
Did you find it hard to jump back into the character of Jack or was it like a reflex?
It took a few days and then I could feel it out as I got back. It was really being surrounded by all the other characters and being on that set and at the studio. You just adapt really quick. I think Jack is more similar to myself. It’s definitely easier to get into than initially jumping into Dean was for ‘Infamous’.
Of all your roles to date, which do you find furthest from you, personality wise?
I mean the closest one is probably Jack on ‘The Order’. Some of these other ones like Dean are more of a departure, but I think that’s what’s fun. What’s so fun about ‘Infamous’ is there was so much to that guy that I wasn’t. Maybe not even that I wasn’t, but I had to work harder for it. They all have these feelings or attributes that we don’t necessarily act on, so it’s interesting to just explore those and do more prep. ‘Infamous’ was a ton of prep as opposed to ‘The Order’. In season one of ‘The Order’ there was nothing I could do to really get inside this guy versus ‘Infamous’ with the physicality, the look, working with weapons, and all of these things were more of an exploration which was a lot of fun.
What was the training on set like for the weapons used in ‘Infamous’ and how much did you actually get to work with them?
When I was talking to Josh beforehand, he was saying “you got to work on this.” So, I went to some ranges with friends that could help me in California and then when we got to Oklahoma, we had a day of gun training with these awesome guys at OKC Tactical and this guy Travis Donaldson from Blackjack Security. All of the guys were like ex-Marines that were highly trained and they spent the whole day going through everything and were there on the days that we were working with the weapons as well to answer questions and just show us everything. That was super important in making it look natural and lived-in which is something these characters needed.
You just mentioned being in Oklahoma and earlier Miami. Did the cast actually film in all of the states that Arielle and Dean travel?
No, it was Oklahoma for a month and then we had a skeleton crew go to Miami. I went for 24 hours because I had to jet to start ‘The Order’ and I think Bella and Josh were there for 48 hours, but even then it was just four or five of us who went to Miami because we really wanted those establishing scenes and you just can’t mimic that. Everything else was in different areas of Oklahoma.
Did you have to go through any other specific training for this role?
The only other thing that was more specific was this character is someone that had just gotten out of jail, so Josh was able to connect me with a guy that he knew that had just spent a lot of time in the prison system when he was younger. So I hopped on a couple of calls with him and just picked his brain and asked all these questions. I think that was an integral part of bringing that guy to where he needed to be.
With all the training that you do for acting, how do you see that it helps you in your everyday life?
I think it’s great. It makes you more well-rounded and cultured. It makes your life richer as you’re adapting to these new skills. Anytime you get to learn about something I think it’s really cool and adds value to your experience. I always love that part of it. I don’t see it as work. It’s pretty fortunate that you get to be connected with professionals or people that are highly skilled at these trades and can get to have this alone on-on-one time with them training you to be the best and it’s super rewarding. I think it would only make someone’s life better.
Aside from acting, what have you been using this time to do?
I’m using the downtime to spend a lot of time with my girlfriend and dog, go for walks outside as much as possible, doing meditation and at-home workouts, catching up with friends and watching TV. I’m just trying to make the best of the time and focus on the positives and reflect and just be ready to come out of it refreshed and a better person hopefully.
What can you tell me about the filming of ‘Holidate’?
That was so much fun. It was probably the most fun experience I’ve ever had working on a project because I’ve never worked on something that was just a straight comedy, so to go in everyday and just have fun and not worry about doing heavy scenes was very refreshing and the script is so funny that it just made things so easy. This cast was very vast with amazing eclectic personalities. I wish I could just go back and do it all again or maybe they love it enough to do a sequel! I think it’s going to be a new holiday classic staple. I think people are going to really love it. Emma Roberts crushes it! She’s so lovable and endearing and funny as well as the surrounding cast.
- Photographer Santiago Bisso @santiagobisso