Two things happened this week. High-profile miniseries Nine Perfect Strangers was released on streaming and Manny Jacinto turned 34.
Jacinto was in Australia this time last year, celebrating his 33rd birthday in Byron Bay during the production of the series about emotionally damaged guests at a wellness resort, so the timing of the release with his birthday feels like the perfect bookends to this adventure.
Best known as the loveable dummy Jason Mendoza on The Good Place (and also seen in miniseries Brand New Cherry Flavour and soon in the upcoming Top Gun: Maverick), Nine Perfect Strangers is a dramatic turn for the star.
His character Yao, a reserved wellness resort host, couldn’t have a more different energy to the goofy, kind-hearted, breakdancing Floridian.
Over zoom, Jacinto’s energy was something else altogether. He oozed intellect and thoughtfulness, as well as a jovial, humbled warmth present in so many Canadian celebrities – and those famous cheekbones are just as penetrating without professional photographers to light the scene.
He chatted with news.com.au about his experiences working on Nine Perfect Strangers, of sharing scenes with the likes of Melissa McCarthy and Michael Shannon, trying – and failing – Byron Bay’s favourite pastime and getting intimate onscreen with Nicole Kidman.
What was it like shooting Nine Perfect Strangers in Byron Bay?
Byron is a unique town. So many people walking around bare foot on the streets.
Most of them are Hemsworths.
Yeah, exactly! Just people walking around barefoot everywhere, in grocery stores, and it’s like, ‘this is cool’. I tried it out and only lasted maybe a few hours before I started getting callouses. I was like, ‘this isn’t for me, guys’.
Byron is very peculiar and beautiful. It has its own little nooks, like the secret beaches, and the people are super cool and chill and they’re all very much about health and mindfulness.
Which is where the show jumps in, set at a wellness resort in paradise.
Definitely. It was the perfect place because I was able to own my character Yao and practice what he preached.
Did you introduce yourself to some new wellness therapies while you were there?