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Taryn Manning talks ‘Last Call’ and the healing power of music

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Actress Taryn Manning made an indelible impression on viewers as Tiffany “Pennsatucky” Dogget through seven seasons of the Netflix series “Orange is the New Black.” Manning says she loved being part of that show but was ready for new challenges when it wrapped two years ago, and she didn’t have to wait long. Manning currently has 10 film projects in the pipeline, either shooting now, or in pre- or post-production, and a new film in theaters and on-demand with the indie comedy-drama “Last Call,” directed and co-written by Paolo Pilladi.

“Last Call” co-stars Manning as Ali and Jeremy Piven (“Entourage”) as Mick. Friends since childhood, the pair lost contact when Piven’s character moved away from his suburban Philadelphia neighborhood to become a real estate developer. When he returns to tend to a family crisis, they reconnect as Piven decides to stick around to help resuscitate his family’s bar which serves as the neighborhood watering hole.

Manning and Piven’s co-stars in “Last Call” include Bruce Dern (“Coming Home”), Zach McGowan (“Shameless”), comedians Jamie Kennedy and Cheri Oteri, and Jack McGee (“Rescue Me”).

During an interview with The Maine Edge, Manning shared some behind the scenes tales from the shooting of “Last Call,” she discusses her passion for making music, and explains why it’s probably for the best that “Orange is the New Black” ended when it did.

The Maine Edge: Tell me a bit about your character. Who is Ali and what is her story?

Taryn Manning: Ali has never really moved out of her town. Mick moves on to the big city and comes back to try to revive their local bar. You can tell Mick and Ali have a close bond and there are some feelings there from the past. She’s definitely someone who can give it to him straight and doesn’t hold back. They’re close like a brother and sister but there’s kind of a crush situation (laughs). I think the combination of life and timing help them to see each other a little differently. I think there is something brewing that was different from what it was through their friendship.

The Maine Edge: A number of your co-stars are very adept at working on the fly in the moment. Did the actors have the green light to veer off script and work up a little improvisation?

Taryn Manning: Oh yeah, definitely. It’s always fun as an actor to get people off script and to have the directors’ and writers’ permission to do so. It’s what we’re trained to do. There was a lot of playing with the script, especially with the guys in the bar scenes (laughs).

The Maine Edge: Bruce Dern seems like a fascinating guy. What was it like to work with him?

Taryn Manning: Oh, he’s so fun. Everybody had such a great experience with Bruce Dern. Talk about a fun scene partner, he’s truly present and always listening which lends itself to the best improv. He also has hilarious stories about everybody’s he’s ever worked with in every town he’s ever shot in (laughs). He knows a little bit about everything.

The Maine Edge: Your transformation on “Orange is the New Black” was pretty amazing. Were you ready for that show to end when the time came, or would you have happily signed on for another season or two?

Taryn Manning: It was definitely a transformation, or lack thereof (laughs). Some days I feel like I just rolled out of bed for that character, metaphorically I mean (laughs). I feel like I could have gone for another season or two. It was such great writing and such a wonderful group of people that came together at the right time. We made magic but all good things must come to an end and maybe it’s better that we went out on a high note. I’m just grateful for the opportunity.

The Maine Edge: I was happy to discover that you are very involved in music, with a solo career and as part of Boomkat with your brother Kellin. Did you write any songs last year during your lockdown?

Taryn Manning: Oh yes, it would have been almost criminal not to have written songs with all of that time off. There is so much bubbling inside of me. I’ve been writing songs and playing guitar since I was a teenager. Music balances out my acting career and all of the stuff that comes with it. I get to go home at the end of the day and play music, and it makes me feel a lot better sometimes about things I don’t understand. Music is very healing. It’s funny that you asked that question because I’m getting ready to go and record a bunch of the songs that I’ve been writing, and I plan to release some new stuff soon.

Last modified on Wednesday, 14 April 2021 09:48

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