“Just the craft of acting is so beautiful and it’s really just the greatest job on the planet if you’re working. If you’re not, it’s quite painful.” – Taryn Manning
Director Christian Sesma‘s new action thriller, Every Last One of Them, stars Paul Sloan as an ex-Black Ops soldier who is on a hunt to find his missing daughter. After finding out the truth to her disappearance, he vows to bring those responsible to justice. Or a painful death.
Taryn Manning, who may or may have a hand in the disappearance, stars as Maggie, who runs a security firm alongside her brother (Jake Weber). The film, which also stars Richard Dreyfuss, is an old-school revenge film in the vein of Rambo and it’s a lot of fun to watch.
In this interview, Manning talks about the film and her preparation for the role, her career (including how she got her first job as a SAG actor) and more! These are edited excerpts from that conversation. For the full interview (where we talk about chipping our teeth), check out the video below or on YouTube.
I don’t know what it is, but I love revenge movies.
Taryn Manning: Right? Yeah. It reminds me of like kind of like nineties movies or something, you know, or like early 2000.
How did you get involved in the film? Are you a fan of these kind of films?
Taryn Manning: Absolutely. I got involved with the film, just living out in the desert and meeting Christian through a friend of a friend, my trainer actually out here knows Christian from growing up. And he just said, “My friend has a script and was wondering if you’d read it.” And I’m like, “absolutely.”
We were pretty much in the pandemic still and we had to wait a little while before we could actually film. But I read it and was a different role for me. I related a lot to it because I have an older brother and I could understand like her loyalty and her savageness just to kind of keep the peace and have her brothers back. I loved the father saving the daughter and of all the corruption. And of course when I heard Richard Dreyfus, I was like, “What?” So there were all kinds of reasons to say yes.
This is kind of a different role for you. You’re like a bad ass mama bird in the film.
Taryn Manning: Yeah. When he offered it, Christian liked to say that she’s a twisted, Susie- homemaker that just really wants peace in her life, but all the while has this brother and would literally do anything for him. And so she turns out to be pretty savage, as some people are when they’ve got someone’s back.
How do you prepare for a role like this? Or any role actually?
Taryn Manning: Sometimes when there’s not like a ton of dialogue and a lot of action, that’s when I get most nervous. Sometimes I’m more comfortable with a lot of dialogue, you know? You can really kind of get into it and just make it your own. If you have the time and the director has the vision, you can really have a lot of fun with that. This is where that thing comes in, “There’s no small parts, just small actors.”
For this particular one, a lot of backstory that I write on my own. Learning all about like security firms and what kind of training do they have to have? What kind of credentials do they have to be able to be licensed and verified as a security firm? They were just a little bit more elite than your everyday mom and pop kind of place. So just studying all about the ins and outs of that, which I love. I love anything to do with security.
And then, they’re all twisted in with the government and the casinos, which is a big deal around here. A lot of native American land that we live on. So just all that stuff, all the inner workings of all the deals that go down that go down that no one knows about.
You mentioned Richard Dreyfuss. I think he’s just great. I remember seeing him in American Graffiti. It was HBO when I was a kid, and I must have watched that a million times. What was it like working with him?
Taryn Manning: I grew up watching Jaws and literally like won’t go in the ocean because of it.
I mean to be around him, he’s a legend. It was really cool. I felt very privileged, and you know, he’s a force. He has a lot to say, a lot of stories and when somebody like that comes around, you listen, and you learn. And so, I always glow in those types of moments where I can just learn from the greatest and be around that. There’s a reason why someone to maintain a career for that long and do all types of movies too.
Speaking of maintaining a career for a long time, you’ve been acting for quite a while yourself. Looking at timeline, I can’t recall any sort of moment where you’ve had a lull in your career.
Taryn Manning: Thank you. I’m very grateful to be a working actor. I’m very grateful to be, I guess, a character actor, which took a long time for me to accept. I’ve done this all through my twenties, my thirties, and now I’m into my forties.
There was a time that I wanted to play other roles or be seen differently, but then I understood that it’s a team. It’s a ‘we.’ It’s our film and I love to elevate the leads. I know my place and I love it. There’s obviously dreams that I have, and aspirations and I just hope one day I get the opportunity again.
There’s nothing greater than playing or creating an arc. And you know how it is since you’re an actor. Getting fulfilled of starting one place and ending somewhere else and kind of knowing where you’re going and stumbling along the way, just like any human would.
Just the craft of acting is so beautiful and it’s really just the greatest job on the planet if you’re working. If you’re not, it’s quite painful.
I know that pain.
Taryn Manning: We all do.
Are you the kind of actor who feels like it helps so much more if you get like the proper outfit or wardrobe?
Taryn Manning: Yeah. I love to go into costume. Absolutely. I love changing up my look and it’s just fun. The writing should do that already, but just that extra layer. And the departments work together to create a story and I love that. I love that so much.
What was the first professional acting job that you had? Your first job as a SAG actor?
Taryn Manning: I was a background actor and, I don’t know if you know this, but if you’re trying to earn your SAG card, you have to get like three background jobs to where you get a union voucher. So that took two almost two years to get a union voucher, because I was non-union.
And then when I needed my third one, I got Taft Hartley’ed and Taft Hartley is when you all of a sudden get a line, you get like chosen to speak. And I’m like, “Are you kidding me?” I was so happy, but it’s just Murphy’s Law. That was in a movie called Speedway Junkie. And that was cool. That was a Gus van Sant movie where I played like a raver, and I got a couple lines.
And then after that I was in The Practice, I got a guest starring role. That was a pretty special moment. It was Lara Flynn Boyle and Dylan McDermott.
And I was working at the Mercer’s Burrito Adventure, and I thought I was rich, and I quit my job. And then I got my check and there was nothing in there. And I was like, “Hey!” Because I didn’t really understand about 10% for agents, 10% for my manager and a bunch for taxes. Then I got a job at Johnny Rockets. I was always working. I started from the ground up.
At what point did you quit your day job?
Taryn Manning: Well, listen, I always loved to work.
You know what it was? I got hired for a movie to play a dancer, because I grew up doing ballet and then they let me go. They let me go after I already did my fittings and rehearsals because they wanted to hire the gals from Roswell, which which was a huge show at the time. It wasn’t personal, they just got more money in the budget.
But it was my first experience being fired, if you will. And it was a tough, tough lesson to learn at a young age, but it really put the fire in me. Like if it wasn’t already burning, it was burning, you know? Sometimes it’s not the most fair business, but it’s worth it hopefully.
What’s been your worst audition?
Taryn Manning: My worst audition. Let me think really quickly. It was probably when I had to pretend like I was on a green screen, in an office building with four white walls and I had to dodge dinosaurs with things flying and coming at me. I just felt, I don’t know, I just felt so stupid. I think I was like, “I’m so sorry.” They were like, “Yeah, you can go. Don’t call us, we’ll call you.”
And then, I remember what time my manager got a call from someone, saying, “She’s very green, she needs a lot more practice. That was when I went in for Girl, Interrupted way back in the day. And that was tough.
But, we’re always learning. We’re always learning.