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Ty Doran | From Theatre to TV

The actor talks about his Texas beginnings and his time on Manifest.

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On the final season of Netflix’s Manifest, we meet Ty Doran as Cal Stone, who returns to his father as a young man after disappearing as a teen. But for now, we meet Ty Doran as himself: a young actor raised in Houston, educated in Chicago, and now working between LA and NYC as he follows his dreams in entertainment. 

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Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your acting journey? Is acting something you stumbled upon or something you’ve been working towards?

My dad is an actor/director/teacher, so my career began when (as most kids do) I started to emulate my dad. I started acting when I was 8 in a high school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, where I played the changeling child and also developed a strong love of people fighting over me. From there, I fell in love with work and started acting around professionally in Houston where I grew up whenever someone needed a child actor. I must have been in A Christmas Carol three hundred times. That’s where my love for this began, and now that I have made some venture into TV/Film, that passion can also be explored in a slightly different medium. But it all started in the theatre (note the -re spelling to signify fanciness).

(In relation to ‘Manifest’ s4) How do you approach sharing a character with another actor? Are there any communications that need to be made between you two to ensure a continuity in character for the show?

It was a new exercise for me. It all started with becoming the absolute biggest Manifest and specifically Jack Messina fan out there. Personally, I think I could give a few people a run for their money in terms of niche early Manifest Cal moments. I was looking for anything and everything I could steal from the lovely way Jack and the writers had already built this character for three seasons. I met Jack a couple times and that helped me get something of a rhythm to his cadence and things like that, but really he left it all on the screen for me. That continuity and the preservation of Cal’s mental and emotional youth despite his physical transformation was something we were thinking a lot about on set, and I hope we were able to make that transition in a way that feels like it serves the story.

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How is this role different from your previous jobs?

For me, the trickiest peculiarity to Manifest was mastering the way the show seamlessly interweaves this grand mystery full of magic and spectacle with sincere grounded human drama. Coming out of a “calling” having seen a puzzling glimpse into destiny only to segue into a heart-to-heart with your sister about just how much she has meant to you in the wake of our mom’s death was an interesting dance. It was those moments (among many) that I would turn to the rest of the amazing creative team on the show and rely on their experience and talent.

When you initially came on as a guest star did you think/know that you would be regularly casted for season 4?

Yes! The casting process was interesting, because they were in the middle of finishing shooting season 3 at the time. This meant that the cliffhanger moments that end that season were still very much under wraps. I don’t even think anyone outside the writer’s room and producers knew what was coming. So, I was sent fake sides with all the names changed that were ideas for future Cal scenes in a theoretical season 4. I didn’t even know what show I was auditioning for in the beginning. Once we made it through that whole process, which at the time included getting approval from NBC executives, Jeff Rake (our showrunner) gave me a call, explained where he wanted to take the character, and set me to my task of Manifest binging.

Can you talk a bit about working with the cast of this show, and how you’re able to develop a chemistry with your cast mates after joining the series a bit later than other actors?

This was something I was really worried about going in. Building an ensemble is something that’s always been very important to me, and I knew coming in that I was very much the new guy joining a seasoned and well-oiled team that had spent years growing and learning together. Honestly, beyond being concerned about our ability to collaborate and play off one another, I was anxious about who I’d sit with at lunch. All those fears immediately melted. Every single person on the show met me with kindness and open arms. Those people soon became my family. Hopefully that translates to the art, but I cannot express here how warm and included every person from the cast to the producers to the crew makes sure people feel when they step on the Manifest set. It’s a beautiful thing.

This is the last season of Manifest, and a season that fans and audiences literally petitioned for- what is it like working on a show with a high demand, and what do you hope to deliver to those who fought so hard to get Manifest another season?

Contentment. Satisfaction. Really, I just hope that the fans who worked tirelessly so we could have the opportunity to finish telling this story that has meant so much to them feel like it was worth it. I don’t really know how to thank all these strangers (though more and more become familiar faces every day) for a year I will never forget. I would not have gotten to spend this past year of my life getting to know a beautiful city in New York and a beautiful group of people I will carry with me as long as I live. I hope that our work is a source of joy for those fans that brought so much joy and light into my life.

Photographed by Asia Geiger.

Grooming by Asia Geiger.

Styled by John Tan.

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