The 2018 San Diego Comic Con marked Melissa Roxburgh’s first visit to the sold-out pop culture fanfest and she enjoyed herself as part of the cast of NBC’s new dramatic series Manifest. Roxburgh participated in her first Comic Con panel as well as roundtable interviews in support of the series which has been compared to Lost.
Manifest focuses on a plane full of passengers who take off on an ordinary flight only to discover five years have passed by the time they land. The passengers are the same ages they were when they boarded the plane, and they don’t have any knowledge of what happened or where they’ve been for that five year period which to them only felt like a couple of hours.
Roxburgh discussed her character, the premise, and what viewers can expect when they tune into Manifest on September 24, 2018 at 10pm ET/PT.
Melissa Roxburgh Manifest Interview
What was your first impression of the script?
Melissa Roxburgh: “Manifest was actually the first script that I read for pilot season. I read it and I was blown away. It was something that I had not read before in a script, but I was still kind of attached to another show. I was like, ‘Whoever gets this they’ll have a blast. I wish them all the luck.’”
Can you talk about your character?
Melissa Roxburgh: “I play Michaela Stone. She is Ben’s younger sister. She has gone through a bit of a tragic past. She accidentally killed her best friend in a car accident and through that has dealt with an onslaught of self-loathing and feeling worthless. So when the plane comes back, she’s kind of forced to face those things and deal with it, which she doesn’t feel like she’s ready for.”
What drew you to the role?
Melissa Roxburgh: “She’s a tragic character but she’s also really strong. She’s knows who she is. She’s just dealing with a lot. What I liked about Michaela is that she’s not a victim. She definitely has stuff that she’s dealing with, but she’s a very strong person through that.”
Are we going to flash back to the accident and will we see why she blames herself?
Melissa Roxburgh: “Yes, you do. You get to see why she’s made the decision that it’s something that she’s taken on so heavily and feels the need to take responsibility for.”
The show is being compared to Lost. Is that fair?
Melissa Roxburgh: “Yeah. I mean it’s got the same thing where it’s a plane drama and it’s a mystery as well, so I really do hope people who liked Lost like our show. It’s pretty different in a lot of ways and to be quite honest I haven’t seen Lost. (Laughing) I’ll have to check it out.
I think our show is a bit more centered on family characters, the relationships between the characters.”
How much do you know about what happened during the five years the plane was missing? Are you finding out the same time as the audience?
Melissa Roxburgh: “I’m finding out at the same time, which I kind of want to keep it that way. That way I’m not like, ‘I know what’s going on.’ But, the mystery behind it I like it because it can go a million different directions. It can be spiritual, it can be science-based, it can be some weird wormhole. It can be anything, really. I want to be surprised the same time everyone else is.”
Do the characters have differing opinions of what happened?
Melissa Roxburgh: “I think what Jeff (Rake), our showrunner, does a really good job of is with everyone on the plane, everyone has a different idea of what it could be. With my mom being so religious, I’ve kind of taken that on like, ‘Maybe it’s God.’ Then Ben who’s very scientific he’s like, ‘Absolutely not. It’s got to be based in facts. That’s what it is. So, I think as more characters are brought in, it will bring in a different perspective of what happened to us, which is cool.”
In some of these mystery shows, the mystery is not fully explained. Is it going to be that kind of show or will we know what happened?
Melissa Roxburgh: “I don’t know. I don’t know. We’ll find out. I actually don’t know how it ends.”
Is there a moment or a scene that you’ve shot those far that you can’t wait for viewers to see?
Melissa Roxburgh: “I mean, the coming home scene is pretty cool. When I read it and when we shot it, it felt real. You know, the guy who plays my dad – Malachy (Cleary) is his name – I looked into his eyes and felt like I hadn’t seen my dad in five years. That was pretty cool. That one I can’t wait for you to see.”
What would you say is the theme of the show?
Melissa Roxburgh: “I think the overarching theme of the show is what would you do if you got a second chance at life. What decisions would you make? Who would you treat differently? Who would you run to if you got that second chance to make amends or to fix something? All these characters have gone through something before the plane and when they land they get that second chance to deal with it.”
Do we learn why it’s five years as opposed to some other time period?
Melissa Roxburgh: “I think that we will. Again, I’m going to be surprised by whatever that reason is. But I’m pretty sure it’ll all be explained by the end.”
If you had a second chance, what would you do?
Melissa Roxburgh: “You know, just the people that you go, ‘I’ll catch up with you later,’ and then you don’t. Grandparents, for one. I saw them at Christmas and I’ll call them in another year. Time is precious.”
How do you get into the mindset of your character since she has a tragic past?
Melissa Roxburgh: “You just think about all the people who have left your life. Like, my mom. She’s off in Vancouver right now and if she were to leave the world tomorrow I’d be devastated. You just kind of think of it like that.”
Are we going to learn about each of the passengers?
Melissa Roxburgh: “Absolutely. There are 191 of them so by episode two and three we’ve already kind of delved into two of the other people. I think each episode will split off into other passengers, which I think is really cool.”
Can you talk about working with the cast? What’s it like on set?
Melissa Roxburgh: “Sure. Josh Dallas is pretty much my older brother in real life now. He’s taken that on. Everyone gets along really well. We’ve kind of created the family dynamic that’s happening on screen as well.”
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