Bilingual French-born actor and music composer Stephen Manas is set to make his US television debut co-starring opposite Jason Sudeikis in the upcoming Apple+ comedy series “Ted Lasso.” Only acting for a few years, Manas is a rising star who is ready to take on Hollywood.
Written, produced, and starring Saturday Night Live alum Jason Sudeikis, the Apple+ comedy series “Ted Lasso” is based on the popular ‘Coach Ted Lasso’ character Sudeikis played in NBC Sports videos several years ago, an idealistic – and clueless – all-American football coach hired to manage a struggling London soccer team in the top flight of English football – despite having no soccer coaching experience at all. Manas co-stars as one of the team’s soccer players ‘Richard Montlaur,’ a French footballer who struggles to understand the thick American accent of his new coach. While the series is filled to the brim with physical comedic scenes, at the heart of it is a message of teamwork and hope.
Manas grew up in the small French town of Saint-Germain-en-Laye in the suburbs of Paris. With a ski teacher mother, he found a love for skiing and outdoor sports at a young age. Music also heavily influenced his life and he developed a skill for playing numerous instruments including the clarinet, piano, and saxophone. It wasn’t until the first Harry Potter film came out that he fell in love with cinema, watching it over and over again. At the age of 17, he moved to Lyon, France for marketing and business school. Shortly after the move he was discovered on the street for acting and got his first taste of the entertainment world when he was cast for a small part in an independent film – falling in love but not quite yet knowing how to break into the industry. After school he took a corporate job in marketing that he hated and when a talent agency based in India cold-called him, he jumped at the chance to work in film again. He made the move to India where he immersed himself in the Bollywood industry, building his acting resume. After two years of living and working in India, he returned to France in 2018 to tap back into French cinema.
While in France, he booked the lead role in the award-winning short film OUT OF FRAME/ HORS CHAMP, for which he also won numerous acting awards including “Best Performance of Fest” at the Actors Awards Los Angeles, “Best Actor” at the Alternative Film Festival, and “Best Actor” at the Top Shorts Film Festival. He was also cast in the film LA BONHEUR DES UNS (A FRIENDLY TALE) opposite well-renowned actor Vincent Cassel (“Westworld,” BLACK SWAN), and Academy Award, Golden Globe, and SAG Award-nominated actress Bérénice Bejo (THE ARTIST). The film follows a group of lifelong friends whose loyalties to each other are unexpectedly tested.
When Manas is not working in front of the camera as an actor, he is composing music behind the scenes. With an outside-the-box almost Hans Zimmer-like approach to music composition, his work has garnered him some impressive projects including FAST & FURIOUS 8. Manas currently lives in France where he practices a spiritual life of meditation and gratitude.
StarCentral Magazine recently caught up with Stephen to discuss his journey as an actor and here’s what went down:
Can you tell us more about yourself? How did you get started in the entertainment industry?
It all happened by chance for me. When I was 16, living in France, there was a film shooting where casting directors were looking for locals to be extras. I wasn’t really interested in appearing in front of a camera but my friends dragged me along and by fate, luck, or whatever it was, I ended up being cast for a role (and not just an extra). I was on set for one week and I LOVED it! My love for film developed from this opportunity and the energy on set – with the creative heads, technicians, and other actors – all came together to create and produce a goal. I truly love it. While on set, I had a great connection with a fellow actor, he was nice, we chatted and I told him that I would be moving to Lyon (France) and he suggested a talent agency I would later meet with.
I ended up stopping by that agency without an appointment. There were so many people in that office which made me curious as to what was going on. They were actually holding auditions for a big advertiser and the owner of the agency approached me to ask me who I was and what I was doing there. I told him my intentions and while he was trying to brush me off and advise me to come back tomorrow or wait there for an hour, the advertising client was observing the entire conversation and he ended up approaching me to audition. The next thing I knew, the client told the owner of the agency “it’s ok, I will pick him” (referring to me). And the next day, I was at my very first job, and it all started like this.
What do you like most about acting?
I love every aspect of my job but especially the mix of creativity and discipline. As an artist, a huge part of our job is to create, it goes for actors, and of course directors, scriptwriters and many others in the cinema industry. As an actor, there are many skills required – creativity, memorization, improvisation, persistence, and much more. We also need to disconnect with the matrix, to be adequate with our character, in order to have new ideas and new thoughts (all this you have to do without any drugs of course !) BUT, we also have to stay tuned…
We need discipline, there is a very tight schedule to follow, lots of lines to learn, a huge budget is involved and that’s where a team comes together to work, to keep you between the focus AND the unfocused. It’s what I like most, staying creative and focused with a proper team to offer the best results possible.
Can you tell us a little bit about your role in “Ted Lasso”?
I am playing a character named “Richard Montlaurd” and he is a football player. Jason Sudeikis plays Ted Lasso, a small-time college football coach from Kansas hired to coach a professional soccer team in England, despite having no experience coaching soccer.
Besides yourself, which actor/s in this series is going to blow people away?
Simple answer… absolutely ALL of them.
Trust me: Jason Sudeikis, Brendan Hunt, Hannah Waddingham, Brett Goldstein, Juno Temple, Nick Mohammed, Phil Dunster, etc .. all of them are so talented and were all so creative and fun to create a hilarious comedy. All have worked so hard and created amazing characters. It was impressive to be a part of such a family on set and many times, it was just too fun to keep it serious.
What’s the biggest challenge to taking on this role?
It was my first big international project as being the only foreigner. It can appear easy, but it is not that simple to adapt to a different language, environment and people are so fast. I was a little stressed at the beginning, to be honest. But thank God, all the team and the cast welcomed me in the best way possible. They gave me a warm welcome and made me feel comfortable as soon as they met me. I am so lucky I ended up with this cast and team.
Photo credit: Claude Pocobene
If you could play any other character in this series, who would it be?
The same one, they made it perfect for me. I couldn’t fit better for another character. In fact, I almost feel that I would like to change my name to Richard Montlaurd.
What has been the most memorable experience of your career so far?
Definitely shooting this show “Ted Lasso”. I will always remember this project; it was totally amazing, and I felt the project from the first to the last day. In a different way, my first trip to Asia was also a memorable experience in my career. It was very hard to live there but I learned so much about myself and life in general.
Who has been the most interesting person(s) you’ve met so far?
I have met so many interesting people in my life. Technically, everybody is interesting, you just need to get to know people a little deeper sometimes. It is very rare to meet someone and having nothing to learn about them or finding nothing interesting.
While working on the set of Ted Lasso, I spent a lot of time with almost everyone, cast, crew, production, they all had so many interesting things to share with me, thus I have so much from everyone, and shared endless laughs.
Everyone is interesting in the universe of cinema.
How active are you on social media?
I am not really active on social media, to be honest. I have lived the very emergence of social media, Facebook, Instagram, and all, it was pretty fun at the beginning but now, I kinda find their overuse dangerous. I share a little here and there, sometimes, the minimum I guess.
When I lived in India, social media was a big deal, you often get to be cast accordingly to your number of followers even for a small role. So you need to be active 24/7 … sharing every second of your life, always looking happy, it can’t be healthy, at least not for me.
I share a little, I keep my friends, family and fans posted if they are interested, but don’t expect to see a story every day on my Instagram or Facebook page.
What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.
Ted Lasso again and again! (laughs)
The truth is, I don’t have plans, I don’t have a business plan for my life all written down with specific objectives like a company. I believe in the journey. We cannot plan everything I believe, otherwise, we all would all follow the exact same path. How could I have planned to be with Jason on Apple TV+ in Ted Lasso? I have “dreams”, yes, “goals”, yes but the word “plans” doesn’t work for me! (laughs)
As a goal and dream: the USA. Having a roof to stay at in L.A. Working in Hollywood, but still feet on the ground always. This is definitely an experience I would like to live and a dream to achieve. My other goal was to work with an American production and cast, which is accomplished now thanks to Ted Lasso!
Tthe ‘LIGHTNING FAST’ Round:
Last good movie you’ve seen: Joker (just perfection)
What do you consider beautiful and why? Nature, flowers, and animals. It simple, it is raw/pure, true peace … it is just, beautiful.
What haven’t you done yet that you wish you could? I want to see (with my owns eyes) the 8 wonders of the world, natural and man-built ancient and modern (which is 24 wonders or so).
Complete this sentence: “If I had no fear, I’d…” Look at a huge hairy spider in the eyes and say … I ain’t afraid of you anymore. Haaa I can’t think about it… No way!
What is the one “flaw” you wouldn’t change about yourself? Naiveté. I must be a little naïve as I trust too much which, in this industry, has consequences as you can imagine. I lost a tremendous amount of time with the wrong people, but it was part of my journey I guess, I have learned a lot. If I hadn’t been naïve, I wouldn’t have believed in myself when no one else would … so thank God I was naive enough to pursue my dream, no matter what!
Truth is “you are your best friend first”, keep this in mind, always love yourself and keep a beautiful bond with your inner child.