It is hardly a surprise that Byron Mann has found himself in another cult classic; he has been in Street Fighter, Dark Angel, Arrow, and so much more. When we asked about how he felt about being a part of so many beloved shows, he stated, “You just never know how a series will turn out. You never know when you’re [filming] it that it will become such a big hit.”
In fact, he says a lot of the things that he has done were just like that. “Like when I was working on Dark Angel,” he continued. “Jessica Alba was like a 19-year-old kid that no one knew yet. No one knew that it was going to be a cult favorite. And in my opinion, I think it’s the best environment to work in, because there’s no pressure. You’re just focusing on creating something good.”
While Hell on Wheels already had a cult following when he joined, he feels fortunate enough to have come onto the show fresh without much pressure. Below, he tells us more.
Cliché: How does it feel being in a western drama?
Byron Mann: I have never done a western series before, so it is all slightly new to me. We have a town called Truckee that they built up in Calgary. Everyone is dressed up as though we are in 1866 and it’s not like anything that I have ever done before. It’s a nice change for me.
You have been on so many great films and television shows. What is one of the roles people ask you about the most?
Street Fighter, no kidding. I don’t know if you have ever played the Street Fighter game before, because I haven’t. When we were making the movie, it was the first video game to become a live action film. In fact, I hadn’t even realized that it was a video game until we got closer to filming. So, it was one of those things where there was no real pressure. We were just trying to create a good movie, and it may not have come out great, but it was an entertaining movie. So through the years, especially the last four, people have been asking for interviews about Street Fighter. It’s become this cult favorite, for whatever reason. It’s very perplexing to me.
While you are known for your action roles, you have done a number of psychological/thriller driven features, such as Jasmine. How do you like working on those kinds of films?
It doesn’t really matter to me much what genre I do. I just look for good stories and hopefully good directors, and in the case of television, it’s good producers. That’s it. It doesn’t matter what genre I do. It could be comedy, action, or thriller. All that matters is that the script is well-written.
Since you have done so much work in television and movies, can you tell us what has been one of your favorite moments on the set?
Hell on Wheels is probably one of them. I remember the first day on the set, I had to shoot in the saloon. It’s my first scene and I get to play poker with Anson Mount (who plays Cullen Bohannan). In the scene, I have to quote King Lear from Shakespeare. This is my first day and it was all so surreal. I had never expected myself to be on a western set in 1868, quoting Shakespeare while playing poker and drinking gin.
Another memorable moment for me had to be when I was filming The Man with the Iron Fists. That was directed by RZA. Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu were in it. I remember being in China with all those people on set and seeing these names appearing in the title credits and thinking, “Wow, I got to work with all these people.”
You are also in the movie The Big Short, which has a limited theatrical release on December 11, followed by a nationwide theatrical release on December 23. Can you tell us what it was like working with Brad Pitt, Christian Bale, and so many great actors in one film?
Most of my scenes are with Steve Carell, and Adam Mckay is the director. He has done Anchorman, Anchorman 2, and Stepbrothers, so it was a fun, improvisational set. The film deals with a heavy subject matter—the prime mortgage crisis of 2008—but it was done with a little comedic touch to it. I’m really looking forward to it coming out.
Hell on Wheels may be coming to an end next summer, but Byron Mann isn’t feeling the heat. Instead of feeling pressure or stressed, he says that filming the final season is a lot like Christmas. When asked if it was a bittersweet experience to enter the series in its last season, he said, “It’s a Christmas gift and a Christmas ride in the sense that it’s really fantastic writing, has fantastic actors, directors, and producers. I get to play an amazing character and I get to do this for the whole season. So, it’s not bittersweet at all. It’s all sweet.”
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Byron Mann Interview: Photographed by Alex Law