Exclusive interview: Taryn Manning believes you can go home again; especially during tough times!

Taryn Manning in Last Call. Pic credit: IFC Films

Taryn Manning is quite charming as Ali, Jeremy Piven’s childhood crush in Last Call, a film about an old Philly neighborhood in peril due to unscrupulous developers – a far cry from Tiffany “Pennsatucky” Doggett, her hardened prison character in Orange is the New Black, it clearly shows her range as an actress.

This sweet, funny, and irreverent indie film is about Seamus “Mick” McDougal (Jeremy Piven), who returns home to his offbeat blue-collar Philadelphia neighborhood for his mom’s funeral and feels obligated to stay and make sure the family’s ailing corner bar does not go under.

Along the way, Mick grows closer to Ali, the girl-next-door that got away (Taryn Manning) and they find themselves on opposite sides of a local casino initiative. Among the bar patrons is the legendary actor Bruce Dern.

Last Call is a buddy-comedy and a love story about friendship, family, and doing what’s right, even under difficult circumstances. It also has a great deal of heart.

A true labor of love with a short filming schedule, during often chilly temperatures, it was written, directed and produced by Pablo Pilladi, along with his close friends Ante Novakovic, Rob Simmons, and DJ Dodd.

Mick attended an Ivy League college, and is now a white-collar guy, who comes back thinking he has outgrown everyone but later looks at his family and friends through a clear new lens. The message: You can go home again.

The coronavirus lockdown kept Manning at home in Palm Springs it forced her to slow down and literally stop and smell the flowers in her garden, but even so, the Orange is the New Black star has four new movies coming out in the next year or so.

During a recent exclusive interview with Monsters & Critics, Manning spoke about life in the hit Netflix prison series, hanging out in the “hilarious” boys’ club in Last Call, making time for self-care, life lessons and other new habits from COVID-19.

Monsters & Critics: One of the themes of Last Call is that you can go home again, even if you forget where you come from at some point in your life. Do you agree?  Did you think about any of this while making the movie?

Taryn Manning: Yes.  Those were some of my exact actual thoughts.  Yes, you can go back.  Sometimes people have to go back. I notice, too, like COVID, if you look around at all the different license plates now from all different states, people are just really traveling and maybe heading back home or maybe even kind of out there not knowing where to go.  You just see a lot of people at home. 

M&C: So, what does this mean to you?

Taryn Manning: The point I’m trying to make is that family is important; because of this crisis, a lot of people have had to be alone, too. And there’s crisis in this film. And there’s a lot of things that are conflicted, angry and hurt, that you can get through and come out the other side. So, I feel there’s a lot of heart in this film and it is charming.  It’s a simple message that’s important.

M&C: I thought the movie was delightful, funny, and irreverent.  What attracted you to this movie?

Taryn Manning:  I really liked the script a lot, and I also really liked the part.  It was just different from other things I’ve played.  My friend is the producer and told me he thought I would love this. I heard about Jeremy Piven and Bruce Dern being in the cast, so I knew it was going to be amazing, and so I signed on.

M&C: Did you and Jeremy have an immediate chemistry?

Taryn Manning: We ran our lines together. I felt like we had great chemistry. I’ve known him a while, so we already had a good rapport.  I really enjoyed working with him in the scenes and just how funny he is and just the improv.  There was a lot of improv.  We had so much fun; it was like a big acting class.

Jeremy Piven and Taryn Manning in Last Call. Pic credit: IFC Films

M&C: Talk about the quirky romance between your character and Jeremy’s – there is clearly a budding romance there.

Taryn Manning:  I love that part and I liked how subtle the romance is and that she can sort of speak her mind.  But you can also tell there’s a lot of like she’s been hurt by him.  I think this time around he sees it and he’s kind of seeing her for the first time like “she must really care about me.”  

This is a shift that happens, for the first time in all the years they’ve known each other. She gets really hurt. That’s what I love about her; she’s loyal, very loyal, loyal to her roots – something that is hard to come by these days.

M&C: The relationship with your character and her mother was really nice, too.

Taryn Manning:  Yeah. Cathy [Moriarty] is awesome. We had such a great rapport.  She is awesome.

M&C: There were a lot of guys in this movie so were there a lot of guy pranks going on?

Taryn Manning: So many. It was just hilarious. When the cameras would stop the ridiculousness of it all, it was some of the funniest things I’ve ever witnessed.

M&C: Do you think that there were certain things that you learned during COVID-19 or something that you did differently?

Taryn Manning:  I definitely took a lot of work time to try and focus on other things besides working because everything was completely shut down.  Just a lot of work around the house.  My garden is all bloomed and amazing.  Just tended to so many things like that, lots of meditation, yoga, and reading—all kinds of stuff.

M&C: I think that’s one of those silver linings that I got out of the pandemic, to literally stop and smell the roses and make time for the people in your life.

Taryn Manning:  I love that saying… a lot! I was literally taking long walks. There was no stress around it. You can come to terms with so much on long walks. I also live in Palm Springs. It’s so beautiful. The mountains are there. It’s just a really beautiful atmosphere. 

M&C: Do you think you’ll approach projects in the future and life in general differently now that you’ve had a little bit of rest that you weren’t expecting?

Taryn Manning:  I think so. I feel like time, health, self-care, and self-esteem, self-worth is taking precedence over work, work, work, and burning the candle at both ends – and thinking that there’s some type of urgency when that really means you’re not really enjoying this sort of a journey.  

M&C: What else do you have coming up movie-wise?

Taryn Manning:  I have four other movies that are completed, including Karen, a suspense thriller. All of them are coming out within the next year and a half.

M&C: What other movies of yours coming up are you excited about?

Taryn Manning:  I really like this movie Every Last One of Them that we did out here in Palm Springs with Richard Dreyfuss, Michael Madsen, Paul Sloan, and Jake Webber. It was just so much fun with all of the action, guns, and firing—a lot of fun with helicopters. We did a really compelling story that turned out with a lot more heart than was on the page, but once you filmed it, it turned out really amazing.

Taryn Manning in Orange is the New Black. Pic credit. courtesy of Netflix

M&C: What do fans of Orange is the New Black say when they meet you? How do they act?

Taryn Manning:  Yeah, they get so excited. It’s so sweet.  And then once you talk to them, they’re just gushing over the whole show and everybody. They just love it and miss it. They wished it would come back and have a new season.

M&C: Did Orange change your life?

Taryn Manning:  It added to my life. It was another portion of my life that I enjoyed.  There were some hard times in it as well, because I had to move to New York, and I wasn’t from New York. So, I was going back and forth every season. That was a lot.  I have a bunch of animals in LA, rescues and stuff, so I had to keep going back and forth for them.  By Season 7, I loved it in New York.

M&C: Do you keep in touch with any of the people from that award-winning show?

Taryn Manning:  Yes, I am close friends with Kimiko Glenn (Brook Soso), who is awesome. Then for the rest of the group, lots of times, we just like DM each other on Instagram and stuff like that. Because that’s the new form of communication now, during this time.

M&C: Was there a time that you looked at the show after the first few episodes and said it’s going to be as big as it was?  Or could you not tell that for a while?

Taryn Manning: You know when you’re doing something that you’re just really moved by it and invested in, and everybody else is invested in; it’s like a whole working machine.  You’re like “Wow, something’s going on here.” I would never be able to speculate a level of success that the show achieved. But it was something that felt so good.

Last Call is playing in Theaters, On Demand and Digital starting March 19

Seasons 1-7 of Orange is the New Black, are streaming on Netflix

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