After a busy year of filming various projects, Manny Jacinto has been reunited with his quarantine baby.
The actor had just returned from walking Henri shortly before hopping on the phone from his home in Los Angeles. “She’s actually a middle-aged hippo,” says Jacinto of his rescue French Bulldog, whom he and fiancé Dianne Doan adopted last summer. “I definitely have been replaced in terms of who gets more affection in the household.”
This summer, Jacinto recently wrapped “I Want You Back,” an upcoming rom-com for Amazon, and is recording a voiceover role for an animated Disney film. The actor is also in the midst of press for two miniseries, “Brand New Cherry Flavor” for Netflix and Hulu’s “Nine Perfect Strangers,” both of which premiered this month.
“Nine Perfect Strangers,” created by David E. Kelley and based on Liane Moriarty’s novel, took Jacinto to Byron Bay for several months of filming during the height of the pandemic. The all-star ensemble cast includes Melissa McCarthy, Luke Evans and Regina Hall, and is led by Nicole Kidman, who portrays the founder of a high-end wellness resort. Jacinto stars in the drama as Yao, an employee of the wellness resort and ethereal confidant to Kidman’s character. (As one might guess, not all is as well as it appears.)
“It was like shooting a show about paradise, in paradise,” says Jacinto, adding that the isolation of their filming location (and mandated quarantines upon arrival) meant they were able to film safely. It also meant that the cast hung out with each other offset, which Jacinto credits for building a strong camaraderie onset. “It’s the people that will get you through a project. Never underestimate the people you work with,” he says. There were group dinners, and a memorable board game night that included a World War II social deduction game. “Playing that with Michael Shannon is probably the scariest experience you’ll have playing a board game,” says Jacinto. “There were fun times.”
The 34-year-old actor, whose breakout role was on the NBC comedy “The Good Place,” is showing his range on-screen through a variety of genres. “Brand New Cherry Flavor” led him into the realm of surreal horror-thriller, and his voice-acting work has allowed him the opportunity to overact. “The weirder, the better for me,” says Jacinto, asked if he gravitates toward a particular genre. “I’m always on board when I feel like I read something that hasn’t been done before.”
Later this fall, Jacinto will appear alongside Tom Cruise in the much-delayed “Top Gun: Maverick” as a young fighter pilot who is “under the tutelage of Maverik himself,” says Jacinto, who was also under Cruise’s tutelage onset. “With Tom, it’s 100 percent; there’s no half-assing, there’s no CGI.”
He’s confident that the sequel will live up to the fandom of the original film from the 1980s. Jacinto wasn’t yet born when the movie came out in 1986, but he credits his mother, a Tom Cruise fan at the time, for manifesting the role.
“She had subconscious thoughts about wanting me to be like Tom Cruise when I grow up. I don’t know if that means be a movie star, or be a fighter pilot, or be as handsome as Mr. Cruise, but there was some sort of manifesting going on,” he says. “At the end of the day, I’m here because of her, so I’ll happily give all the credit to my mom.”
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