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Actor J.P Manoux
J.P Manoux has been acting for around 20 years. He has appeared in films like Mary-Kate and Ashley's Our Lips Are Sealed, Disney's Bolt and Transformers. He is best known for his roles as Curtis and Vice Principal Hackett in the Disney Channel's Phil of the Future and S.T.A.N in Disney XD's Aaron Stone. He also works as a director and screenwriter.
I was recently given the opportunity to interview Mr. Manoux for Teen Ink.
Rachel – Tell us about yourself.
J.P Manoux – I'm a comedic actor and sometime director who works in both the U.S. and Canada. And I like competitive games.
RH – How did you first become interested in acting?
JPM – I was involved in some children's theatre growing up in Santa Barbara, but didn't take an active interest in acting until my freshman year at Northwestern University. That's when I discovered the "Mee-Ow Show" – a smart, student-run, sketch/improv comedy group that modeled itself after what Second City was doing in downtown Chicago. I wanted to run away with that circus.
RH – What was the most challenging part about playing two characters on Phil of the Future?
JPM – Scenes in which Mr. Hackett and Curtis the caveman appeared simultaneously! Playing two different characters was lots of fun. But, racing in and out of the make-up chair and quickly changing wardrobe was exhausting.
RH – Which one did you prefer?
JPM – In the first season, my favorite scenes were the ones where Curtis had some kind of big responsibility. He took every instruction too literally and couldn't resist the seductive power of wallaberries. Lots of opportunities for great physical gags. In the 2nd season, I especially liked when Mr. Hackett got cloned. Shooting that episode was like putting together a puzzle inside something that is already a puzzle (single-camera filmmaking). I like games in general, and those kind of challenges in particular.
RH – What is your fondest memory from working on Phil of the Future?
JPM – I loved getting the opportunity to direct. Making Craig Anton improvise a hologram scene over and over... He was so funny! But, my fondest memory is the simple joy of working with friends every day. Raviv, Aly, Amy, Craig, and Lise. We still stay in touch and see each other now and then, but I'm sure we all miss those long days spent laughing together.
RH – What was the biggest difference between working on Phil of the Future and Aaron Stone?
JPM – Aaron Stone was darker and more suspenseful than Phil of the Future. And, story-wise, those episodes built upon each other in a more obvious way. Aaron Stone routinely involved parkour and stunt fighting... stuff that never would have made sense in Phil of the Future. My character, S.T.A.N., was obviously different (I was an android!), but certainly shared some qualities with Curtis and Hackett. S.T.A.N. was a laughable junior authority figure, like Hackett. He was also innocent and absolutely loyal, like Curtis. S.T.A.N. was kind of like Curtis and Hackett squeezed into one.
RH – What has been your favorite role to play so far?
JPM – The Robot Mime in Euro-Trip and Kuzco in The Emperor's New School. One was totally physical. The other was totally vocal. Both were a blast.
RH – Which character are you recognized the most for?
JPM – Mr. Hackett from Phil of the Future. Without question.
RH – I hear that you will be appearing in the second installment of the Atlas Shrugged adaption; what can you tell us about your role?
JPM – It's a small part, but my scene comes at a very intense moment in the movie. I play the conductor of a futuristic passenger train who... knows something. Can't say more without spoiling it.
RH – Tell us about the upcoming series, Transporter, that you're a part of.
JPM – It's an HBO/Cinemax series based on the Transporter movies that starred Jason Statham. We shot the first season in Toronto, where I live about six moths out of each year. The show will feature violent action, foul language, and even (gulp) some nudity. It's about as far from the Disney Channel as you can imagine.
RH – How does your character fit into the story-line?
JPM – I play Kagan, a double-crossing weasel who appears in a handful of the early episodes. It remains to be seen whether my character will evolve into a more significant hero/villain... or if he will finally push someone too far.
RH – What has been the most interesting part of filming Transporter?
JPM – Fight scenes! Over the years, I've done plenty of small stunts for comedic effect, but I am rarely cast to be on either end of a realistic punch, or kick. Super fun.
RH – What is The Prince Test about?
JPM – It's a romantic comedy about a young woman who is hired by engaged women to test the fidelity of their fiancés. No man can resist her charms... except the one man who turns out to be her perfect match.
RH – Other than as a writer, how will you be involved with the project?
JPM – I will probably end up playing one of our leading lady's bad dates. And I hope I get to suggest some of the soundtrack music. A writer named Rachel Weinhaus came up with the original story. I may, or may not, be working with her on set to do last-minute rewrites.
RH – How has working as a director and other film crew members helped you learn more about the filming process?
JPM – As with any job, I think the more you know about all parts of the process, the better equipped you are to effectively play your specific role. Knowing something about writing informs the level of my performance, from scene to scene. Knowing something about cameras and lighting informs how and when I move my body. Knowing something about stunt work and editing allows me to say things like, "Um, maybe we should let that other guy who looks a lot like me tumble down these stairs."
RH – Which job do prefer?
JPM – Acting in a multi-camera sitcom is my favorite. You can't beat the adrenaline rush of performing in front of a live audience. I look forward to more opportunities to direct for TV and film, but pre- and post-production is not a process for which my short attention span is best suited.
RH – What other projects are you currently working on?
JPM - I recently shot episodes of Community, Bones, and NCIS: Los Angeles. Very different characters. Look for those in the coming weeks.
RH – What advice do you have for those aspiring to work in the film business?
JPM – Pursue any part of the business other than acting! Less than 15% of us are lucky enough to make a living in front of the camera. Write, edit, learn any other craft that is film-related (special effects, make-up, etc.). Those avenues to a career in the industry are also daunting, but not quite as statistically doomed. Of course, if your life's dream truly is to become a professional actor in Hollywood, it won't matter what I tell you. Logic goes out the window. Sooo... Good luck!