Manifest: Matt Long and J.R. Ramirez on Season 2 and Season 1’s Big Cliffhanger

NBC’s Manifest stars Matt Long and J.R. Ramirez admitted it’s extremely difficult to talk about the show’s upcoming second season without giving away any spoilers. Neither wanted to spoil the experience for fans of the show, yet Long and Ramirez also wanted to talk about what’s happening with their characters while doing interviews at the 2019 New York Comic-Con. It was a tough balancing act of teasing without revealing key details, but they managed to pull it off.

Season one ended with a big cliffhanger that left the fates of both characters unknown. And just because they were teamed up for interviews to discuss the new season doesn’t necessarily mean either of their characters survived. Long was quick to point out the series loves to toss in flashbacks, so he or Ramirez could have been the victim of the shooting at the end of Manifest’s first season.

NBC’s Manifest returns for season two on January 6, 2020.

Who gets shot?

Matt Long: “He does.” (Pointing to J.R.)

J.R. Ramirez: “This guy.” (Pointing to Matt)

Matt Long: “We can’t really tell you.”

J.R. Ramirez: “Somebody does.”

Matt Long: “That question is answered immediately in the first episode.”

J.R. Ramirez: “We pick up exactly where we left off this year.”

And because you’re both here, we can assume you both live. Right?

Matt Long: “There’s a lot of flashbacks on our show so it could be… It also could be that they’re just throwing you…what is it? A red herring. Didn’t they do that with Game of Thrones? They would fly the actors in that weren’t in it just to walk around and hang out on the set, that weren’t even in the scene.”

So, you’re saying that’s what’s happening here?

Matt Long: (Laughing) “I don’t know. I don’t want to ruin anything.”

Do they tell you in advance where your character’s going or are you finding out along with the audience?

Matt Long: “Some things. I feel like they don’t… I mean, when it came to that, they did tell us about what happens. Jeff (Rake) said, ‘Listen guys, this is going to happen.’ But then he told us the aftermath as well. So, we all knew.”

J.R. Ramirez: “We don’t even know what’s happening – we’re halfway through the season and we don’t even know what’s happening in the later half.”

Matt Long: “I mean, if you ask questions, they’ll usually tell you things. But I don’t want to know.”

J.R. Ramirez: “Yeah, I don’t.”

Matt Long: “Because the character doesn’t know and it’s more fun and organic if you’re finding out along with the character. You know what I mean?”

J.R. Ramirez: “I will say though, right about the time you came around last year I got to a place where I felt like there’s so much going on and so much I didn’t know, I remember talking to Josh (Dallas) about it. I told Josh, ‘I feel like I’m floating a little bit because I have no idea who these people are and what we’re doing.’ He’s like, ‘I just had to talk with Jeff about it, too.’

So, around episode 10 I told him, ‘Maybe I could have just a little outline of what’s to come. Just a little bit, because there’s a lot happening.’”

And it might make you question your acting choices if you don’t know for sure.

J.R. Ramirez: “Yeah, sometimes you feel like that.”

Matt Long: “If it’s something that informs you as a person in the past, then absolutely. But I feel like I’ve been really lucky because they’ve written a lot of really great backstory for Zeke in the first season. And then there are flashbacks so everything I’m saying qualifies for that. There are some other things coming up too from Zeke’s past that I’ve just been really lucky. Very grateful.”

Manifest Matt Long J.R. Ramirez
Matt Long and J.R. Ramirez of ‘Manifest’ at the NYCC (Photo by: Cindy Ord/NBC)

Can you talk about balancing the extraordinary circumstances while grounding it in a human story?

Matt Long: “I think what I’ve just talked about has helped me big time. They’ve had to deal with more supernatural stuff than I had to. I mean, I was in the cave and I had to deal with the callings, but they’ve all been there before Zeke so I feel like Zeke took some solace knowing that they know more about what he’s experienced because they’ve already experienced it.”

J.R. Ramirez: “I found it to be really difficult for me in the beginning to humanize this person, get some sense of what (he’s about). Kudos to the writing. It’s no one’s fault it happened, obviously, but it’s five and a half years; people move on. In this circumstance it’s kind of unimaginable what someone would do.

I had a hard time kind of balancing not coming off as a bad person because of the sense that he was married and his wife came back. What the heck do you do in those circumstances, you know? And then he’s forced to work with this person every single day. The stakes became very high.”

Is that fun to play?

J.R. Ramirez: “Amazing. Absolutely.”