François Arnaud talks about what it’s like playing a charming psychic on the fringe...
YOU WERE CAST RELATIVELY LATE. HAS MANFRED EVOLVED FROM AUDITION TO SERIES?
Yes, four other main cast members were cast but they didn’t have their lead. They flew me to LA to screen test. We explored different avenues where Manfred would be more or less comedic. Unlike other shows I’ve done, in this role I’m allowed to be very sensitive and emotional and goofy. I get to be the doofus. He’s cool but not so clean-cut. Even my hair is what it wants to be, which is a first for me. Usually everyone is trying to tame the beast with producers disagreeing about it. Here they let it be crazy.
WHERE DO MANFRED’S POWERS COME FROM?
Manfred comes from a long line of gypsies from Eastern Europe. In fiction, I guess, psychic powers are passed on through blood but they often skip a generation so he got powers from his grandmother. His powers go beyond anything that he imagined. He didn’t have access to them before but faced with saving the world, they come to him.
SO, WHAT’S IT LIKE SWALLOWING A GHOST?
[Laughs] I like how far they went with it. In subsequent episodes, it’s even more brutal. It takes a toll on Manfred’s body for days and weeks. We explore his addiction to painkillers because of it. It’s not just a trick. In episode nine, we even see a younger Manfred trying to cope with the beginnings of his power and how it affects other people.
IS MANFRED, THE LONER, A QUICK CONVERT TO MIDNIGHT’S CHARMS?
He does run away a few times but the sense of community he finds in Midnight is a positive thing in his life. He’s been on his own for a little too long. There’s also a love story with the brilliant Sarah Ramos (Creek) who is smart and brings a great spark to a character who could be Strawberry Shortcake sweet.