Pearry Teo’s GHOSTHUNTERS, actor Stephen Manley talks Spock, Chaney, “F*cking method actors” and more with Brad Slaton!
Best known as “Young Spock” in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984). His experience spans from work as a child on shows such as All in the Family (1971) and Emergency! (1972) to work as a teen on The Love Boat (1977) and Little House on the Prairie (1974). And that is barely scratching the surface of this amazing actor that has contributed so much to the entertainment industry, Mr. Stephen Manley!
Terror Time/ Brad Slaton: Hi Stephen. Thank you for taking time out of your schedule to talk with me. You’ve been acting for over 40 years. Having worked in both film & television for so long what keeps you focused and hungry after all these years?
Stephen Manley: Thank you for the invitation to be interviewed for your readers. My desire and drive has changed over the years. Having started when I was five years old, after years of playing starving children, I became a bit frustrated as an older teen and young adult in the range of roles I was capable of. I looked very young and very Euro, so I hit a point for many years of no movement.
My acting coaches, Bill Howey and Milton Katselas took me aside and said that when you get older and get some age and more life experience under your belt, you will be able to play a wider range of roles. Thirty years later it’s starting to happen. My focus is to take advantage of all of my experience and training to play as broad a range of characters as truthfully as I can. Since one of my heroes is Lon Chaney Sr. who played so many wonderful characters truthfully and passionately, my goal is to continue to use him as inspiration for my own work as best I can. Also, my Grandfather, Stephen Soldi who started in silent films is an inspiration to me and knew Lon and talked of him fondly. Your readers may find it fascinating that one of my prized possessions is Grandpa Soldi’s makeup kit, an old fire box from the 1920’s that has many of the same products that are in Lon’s kit which is in the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles.
TT: That’s a fantastic heritage that you come from. A lot of fans first saw you in your role as the young version of Spock in STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK. Do you have a favorite trekkie encounter from over the years?
SM: I have to preface my answer. There were four of us who played “young Spock” at different ages. I was fortunate to play Spock at 17, which people now call me “Pon Farr Spock.” Because of pon farr-ing with Robin Curtis who played Saavik, most of my fans are ladies who want to pon farr with me. I seem to have a small core group of nice fan ladies who have been wonderful people and very supportive of me to this day. The funniest encounter was with Robin herself when several fans asked us to pon farr for pictures, she turned red and yelled out “Oh, my god! I feel like I’m doing something pornographic with Stephen!” The fans watching seemed to love that.
TT: That’s hilarious. From watching the GHOSTHUNTERS trailer it looks like you really dug deep into your role. What aspects of the character intrigued you?
SM: Dr. Henry Tanner was a very deep wrought character who had suffered tragedy. I saw the opportunity to infuse the interpretation of him with as much depth as possible. Drawing as much as I could from my own despairing times. Director Pearry Teo (CURSE OF SLEEPING BEAUTY, CLOUD ATLANTIS) had a goal to make a dramatic ghost story for The Asylum. As a result, his script read like a gothic stage play. The entire cast worked very hard with Pearry to make each character a deep, well-rounded person. We had a beautiful location to shoot in, a dilapidated gingerbread and tudor home built in the early 1900’s, located in the West Adams District of L.A. Which gave the actors a wonderful stage for Pearry.
TT: Since the film deals with the paranormal and a group of ghost hunters. What are your thoughts on the paranormal?
SM: You’re asking that question to a guy who prepared his third screen test audition for the role by running his lines in Grandpa Soldi’s mausoleum for three hours. And who also chose the darkest most macabre room in the location to prepare before a scene. A room that all the cast and crew avoided in order to prepare before a scene. I have had my own momentary experiences with what I felt were disembodied spirits, so I had to draw what I could to help me for this film. At one point while preparing in that dark space at our location, our P.A. girl, Shelby, stood frozen in horror as I emerged from that dark room while preparing for a scene and ran to our production coordinator mortified. Pearry Teo laughed and said “F*cking method Actor.”
TT: (laughs) That’s priceless! What’s the number one thing you would recommend a young actor to do to try and sustain a long lasting career such as you have?
SM: As with all arts, you must make your art your way of life. Carry on through the lowest of lows and cherish the highs. Be professional and give a hundred percent to every performance you give, both in an audition and roles you are cast in. Train with the best coaches and teachers you can find. Be easy to work with, amicable, and reliable. In doing that, you will establish a good reputation. Word of mouth will spread and people will want to work with you. Good work begets good work.
Terror Time/ Brad Slaton: Stephen, you are always welcome back and very much look forward to everything you have coming our way.
You can find more info on Stephen Manley at the links below.