Interview with Camille Mana

Camille Mana is co-starring in Jesse Eisenberg on his new play “Asuncion” only with Justin Bartha from “The Hangover” series. She is also co-starring in upcoming film “Norman”. Media Mikes had the chance to chat with Camille about her new play and her upcoming films.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about working with Jesse Eisenberg on his new play “Asuncion”?
Camille Mana: I couldn’t be more excited. I think he has so much to offer as an actor, and I really love his taste in projects. To work with him, especially on his writing debut is a really amazing opportunity. Playing the title role, however, is giving me night terrors! Ha.

MG: Tell us about your role which was made specifically for you correct by Eisenberg?
CM: Well, the role of Asuncion was already in place as the female character who comes into Edgar (Eisenberg) and Vinny’s (Bartha) lives. She is an immigrant and is sort of enigmatic to the two boys initially. They are both highly educated and consider themselves worldly, and her arrival gives them and opportunity to demonstrate just how much they know. When Jesse and the creative team began researching actresses who might be appropriate for the role, it was then that they approached me directly to play Asuncion. It felt like it came out of thin air, as I had never worked with anyone involved, so I was quite flattered. Jesse has also been extremely generous in being open to collaborative input from others on the project, including myself, so I am very grateful to have come along during the development process of the piece. It is so rare that we get to do that as actors.

MG: Are you looking forward to working with Justin Bartha?
CM: Very much so. I’ve met him a few times so far, and think he is really bright and has a strong sense of storytelling. And Jesse and he have such obvious chemistry together; they were pretty amazing in Holy Rollers. I am thrilled to be in such great company.

MG: Is this your debut to the stage? How do you feel it differs from TV and film?
CM: Well, I’ve done a lot of plays, dating back to musicals in children’s community theater in my hometown. Ha. But it has been a while, and I’ve certainly never been invited into such a promising piece, sandwiched as a lead between two movie stars! So, this will be a unique experience for sure. The play is running at The Cherry Lane Theatre, which is said to be the oldest and maybe the most historic Off-Broadway theatre. Some of the biggest playwrights of all time have had their works birthed in that space, so I’ve got some pretty big shoes to fill on that stage. And The Rattlestick (who is producing the play) is known for bold and edgy work, so it’s an interesting balance, and one I am excited to tackle. I do love film and TV, but there is something special about theatre – energetically – in the same way that seeing a band live is completely different from listening to their album at home. It’s immediate, it is visceral in a way that something that’s been spliced onscreen together by an editor and which ten “higher-ups” had to sign off on… just cannot be. There’s room for true magic to happen, because there is room for failure as well.

MG: Tell us about your supporting role of Helen Black in “Norman”?
CM: Oh, it was a blast playing “Helen”. She is pretty much antithetical to “Asuncion”. Where Asuncion is vibrant and confident and the object of mens affections, Helen is insecure and neurotic and as awkward as can be. They dressed me head-to-toe in Hot Topic garb and I am the only character in the entire school who is more of an outcast than “Norman” is. And him being an outcast is kind of the whole thrust of the story, so that’s saying a lot! I have a fun role and get to have some moments of levity and comic relief to what is at times a very heart-wrenching and beautifully dark film. Adam Goldberg plays our English teacher, Richard Jenkins (who is always phenomenal!) plays Norman’s father, and Emily VanCamp plays the love interest to Dan Byrd’s Norman. Oh, and extra credit points for Andrew Bird doing the original score! They are releasing a soundtrack in October, I cannot wait. It’s a pretty amazing film. I am extremely proud to be a part of it.

MG: We recently interviewed Colin Hanks, tell us about working on “High School”?
CM: “High School” is one of the few teen comedies that has come along in a while that adults may like even more than kids. It was extremely well-received at Sundance and dare-I-say-it, but comparisons were even made to “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” (I know, gasp). It has a sprawling cast of thousands, but funny you should ask, because I would have to say Colin Hanks is pretty standout in it. It’s really fast-paced and has a very cinematic and edgy look to it. I think kids and adults will enjoy it. I had a blast working on it.

MG: After the play, what do you have planned next?
CM: I will be most looking forward to coming back home to 70 degree weather! I am more frightened about the New York cold than pretty much anything else…

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