SLAP STICK – Rising star Darren Mann talks about enjoying the spotlight from “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina,” his recent projects, and what’s ahead for him.
You can say that Darren Mann is a veteran – the rising actor have been performing on commercials and multiple stages since before he was ten years old. Yet he found a true calling once he reached his teens – hockey. A depart from the industry took him into a professional hockey player, playing in the minor league.
Although, true callings are not always forever. It took him one acting role (and still, hockey related) for the Vancouver native to rediscover his love for acting again. And in no time, he’s starting to work in front of the camera again.
After more than five years and more than 20 roles, his big break finally came when he joined the ensemble cast for the supernatural Netflix production, “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.” The spin-off for the phenomenal teen soapie “Riverdale,” apparently gained many fans and great reviews alike – putting Mann’s name on the map.
Next up is a coming of age film about high school kids, and another about sports – his favorite subject in life. After that, Darren Mann is ready to tackle anything that comes before his way.
DAMAN Hi Darren! Congratulations on the release of “Giant Little Ones!”
Darren Mann: Hi, guys! Thanks so much – appreciate it!
DAMAN: Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Darren Mann: Well, I started acting when I was eight years old. But then about five years later, I kinda stopped acting to pursue my love and passion for hockey. Maybe I missed it, because I returned to acting part time in my late teens, and eventually became full time again in my early twenties. I am born and raised in East Vancouver, British Columbia. As of right now, I am still an avid sports fan and Asian food enthusiast.
DAMAN: For someone so young, you’ve been in so many productions. Can you tell us how did you start acting in the first place?
Darren Mann: My mom put me into acting classes at an early age, in hopes of breaking me out of my shell, as I was a very shy kid. I’ve been fortunate enough to find success in acting and I look forward to where the journey continues to take me.
DAMAN: We asked the same thing to Chance (Perdomo), what do you think about the huge response on “Sabrina”?
Darren Mann: I think it’s pretty damn cool. It’s always special to be a part of something that’s having such great success, so I feel very fortunate to be a part of it.
DAMAN: What do you think is the deciding factor that makes “Sabrina” accepted widely?
Darren Mann: It’s very current, and it has characters from all walks of life. I think everyone has a character in “Sabrina” that they can relate with and follow their journey. Also, I think people appreciate that the show doesn’t hold back. It’s definitely not “on-the-surface” material, the writers and showrunners aren’t afraid to dive right in on many topics.
DAMAN: In your own perception, what makes Luke a great character to watch?
Darren Mann: There are so many questions left about Luke, and I think everyone can agree that mystery in a character can be quite intriguing; Luke certainly possess that. So I think it will be exciting to see how this character progresses. Season 1 was a massive hit, so I’m excited for all the fans to get to see more soon and to see how they react.
DAMAN: Jumping to your most recent project, “Giant Little Ones.” From what we’ve researched, critics are favoring the movie – can you tell us what the movie is all about?
Darren Mann: “Giant Little Ones” follows the lives of two best friends at the peak of their high school careers. Everything starts out perfect until an incident occurs between them that no one foresaw coming. We follow them on their difficult journeys in finding themselves and hopefully finding peace in who they are or who they may be. It’s truly a story of friendship, love and honesty.
DAMAN: Your character, Ballas, seems to be a conflicting teen with a complex range of traits – he’s the alpha male, which is also a closeted homosexual, and showing toxic masculinity altogether. What was your approach on getting into this complex character?
Darren Mann: I will start by correcting you that he may or may not be “homosexual”, “straight”, or “bisexual”. I would be doing a disservice to the film’s message to label him one way or the other. Ballas is a complex guy dealing with a lot of uncertainty. I think the pressure of high school, sports, and being what he thinks people want him to be really takes a toll on him. There’s a lot of pressure for young men to be what they think their peers want them to be. I also think it’s extremely scary for people to not know who they are, everyone wants to be a part of a “group,” even though the most beautiful thing you can be is your individual self and whoever that authentic person is. So for me playing Ballas was a lot of fun, he’s got a lot going on. Keith [Behrman, the movie’s writer and director] wrote such dynamic characters, and I wanted to make sure that I did him and the character justice by going in depth and creating a well-rounded character. I really just tried to put myself in his shoes and go through what he was going through. There was a lot there for me to work with, so I was able to be there in the moment with Ballas and live his journey.
DAMAN: Apart from your character, the film itself tried to cover the topic of teens and their coming of age problems. What do you think makes this movie different than those having similar plot?Darren Mann: Without giving too much away, I think what’s different is it doesn’t have some sort of contrived Hollywood ending. The film’s message is very clear to me, and I think it’s very unique. The outcome is so current and relevant, I’m extremely proud to be a part of such a beautiful story.
DAMAN: Back to your career. Of all the various roles you’ve done, which is your favorite so far?
Darren Mann: Damn, tough question… I’ll start by saying that the variety in roles I’ve gotten to play has been extremely nice, so they all have a special place in my heart. But If I had to name a few (in no particular order) I would say Ballas in “Giant Little Ones”, Jett in “Embattled” and Lucas in “Let the Right One In”.
DAMAN: And talking about experience, what’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done for a role?
Darren Mann: Being an ex-athlete, I am extremely happy when I get to mix my athletic ability with acting. So, I would say getting to train with the unbelievable stunt team, as well as the kickass professional fighters and coaches in Birmingham, Alabama for my upcoming film “Embattled” (which revolves around the backdrop of MMA) has been by far the coolest. Not only did I get to learn from some of the best in the business when it comes to stunts/MMA, but I also got to make kickass friends that I stay in touch with on a weekly basis.
DAMAN: Do you have any role models that you wished you could work with someday in the future?
Darren Mann: Absolutely! The ones that come to mind right away are: Brad Pitt, Tom Hardy, Leonardo Dicaprio, Jeremy Renner, and Bradley Cooper.
DAMAN: There are literally decades ahead of you – do you have any dream role that you would like to tackle one day?
Darren Mann: I am a massive fan of war movies! So, I would love to play a gritty or raw role in a World War 2 film. Maybe directed by Bradley Cooper – the man sure can direct!
DAMAN: Lastly, how does Darren Mann sees himself in five, ten and 25 years?
Darren Mann: Following my heart and doing whatever at the time is fulfilling my dreams and contributing to my happiness. I definitely see myself directing in the future, as well as creating my own content. I always want to enjoy and love the work that I am doing. After all, I decided to do this job because I love it, not because it’s easy.
Photography Josh Tendero
Styling Lisette Mora
Grooming Robert Ryan
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