October is going to be a busy month for actress-producer Camille Mana. First up, she has a supporting role in the feature film Norman, which opens in theatres on October 21. She plays Helen Black, a unique high school classmate who has a crush on Norman (played by Cougar Town's Dan Byrd). Secondly, she will appear in actor/playwright Jesse Eisenberg’s new Off-Broadway play Asuncion, which opens October 27 at the historic Cherry Lane Theatre (directed by Kip Fagan and produced by The Rattlestick). To mark the launch of these two latest projects, Mana was kind enough to do an email interview, where we also discuss her plans for new projects allowing her to pursue additional writer-producer opportunities as well as her additional upcoming film releases.
How many pages did you get into Talton Wingate's script for Norman before you realized you wanted the role of Helen Black?
I'd say that within the first 5 to 10 pages, I knew I would love to be a part of the project. I think you always know within the first 10 pages if you're attracted to a piece. Just like first impressions in life- you know early on whether or not you're hooked on something. All good screenplays establish tone and the world of the story in their opening beats. I remember writing my agents, saying I loved the screenplay, because this is exactly the kind of movie that I love to watch!
What was it like to work with director Jonathan Segal?
It was great. Jonathan was very approachable. He was open to collaboration from his cast, and yet had a great sense of how he wanted to tell this story. That's a great balance. I am so impressed with how the film turned out, and grateful to have been involved.
Would you agree that Norman is a darker-edged comedy than your typical comedy? Is dark comedy harder to pull off as an actor?
I think that on the page, the screenplay for Norman reads as a dark-comedy for sure. It has many quirks. But upon seeing the completed film, I would say that because the performances are rooted in something so heartfelt and emotionally dark, the film is a drama that has a hefty amount dark comedy peppered throughout. I think different audiences will have different responses to the film, some will see it as very dramatic and others may take it in as a dark comedy. I've seen it now with 3 different festival audiences, all of whom emphatically enjoyed it, but in one screening- everyone was crying, and in another everyone was laughing! I think that's a testament to the film's success- that it is so multifaceted and three-dimensional that people can relate to it on many levels.