Mike Manning is a familiar face, having appeared in dozens of television shows and films, and he’s always busy as producer and writer, as well. Last month Mike was introduced as Charlie on Days of Our Lives, and he’s settled into Salem just fine. In addition, Mike also shares the screen with other high profile actors from daytime in the multi Daytime Emmy Award winning The Bay, where he plays Caleb. So while he keeps busy, it’s cool that he took the time to let HollywoodHI get into his head and find out just what’s going on.
How long before you began taping at DAYS did you know you had the job?
Mike: I found out three days before everything shut down earlier this year that I got the role on DAYS, so I basically spent all of quarantine wondering if I still had a job or not on the show when things opened again. It was torture. And I couldn’t really tell anyone!
Were you shocked at the pace daytime soaps have?
Mike: Every person I know that has been on a soap told me ‘the pace is fast.’ I would say ‘yeah, yeah, I’ll be fine.’ … It’s faster than I thought it would be. It definitely took some getting used to, but everyone has been so supportive and professional that I never felt like I couldn’t keep up. It’s almost like live theater – you rehearse and shoot and hope for the best. It’s like a trust exercise with your scene partners.
You already had friends at DAYS from The Bay and other jobs?
Mike: Yes. Every time I work on a new show, I feel like the new kid in school for the first few days. Luckily when I started DAYS I knew Mary Beth Evans and Brandon Beemer from working on The Bay. Lucas Adams and I were also friends, so I felt more comfortable right away. I’ve met a lot of great people on The Bay these past several years.
How have you held up during Covid-19?
Mike: Covid-19 hasn’t been great, but I’ve tried to make the most of it. I’ve been spending more time outdoors, hiking with my dogs, trying to stay busy. I definitely miss how things used to be before masks, tests, restrictions.
What have you learned about yourself, these past several coronavirus months?
Mike: I learned that I really value and miss quality time in person with friends and family, really miss traveling, actually enjoy cooking, would go crazy if I were stuck in the house for too long, am ok wearing nothing but sweatpants most days, and that juggling is harder than it looks.
What are you most looking forward to when things get back to normal?
Mike: I’m most looking forward to seeing my family. I have two new nieces that were born in the last three months and I haven’t been able to see them. I get pictures and videos and can’t wait to meet them in person. I love being an uncle!
Have you taken a social distance trip out of town?
Mike: I did go to Florida, but it wasn’t for fun. It was for my grandmother’s memorial. I was close with my grandmother, so losing her this year was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to go through. I miss her every single day. But I know she’s still with me.
Have you found any new hobbies or projects to work on during this time?
Mike: I’ve actually started doing yoga. I used to say, ‘yoga is easy, it’s not even a workout.’ I was so wrong. It’s been a really great way for me to stay in shape while the gyms have been closed. I do it almost every day and I really like it. I also now watch a lot of Food Network and sometimes try to cook like Bobby Flay. He’s a food wizard.
What is your favorite vacation spot?
Mike: I love traveling. There are so many places I still want to visit. So far, I think my time scuba diving in Belize has been my favorite. And Bali. They have good diving too. And Australia. I could go on and on.
Is there any place you’ve always wanted to visit, but haven’t?
Mike: Yes! Columbia, Fiji, Ireland, Israel, South Africa, Japan, Peru, the Maldives… I’d go as soon as possible.
What do you miss more, live sporting events or going to movie theaters?
Mike: Oh man.. I think if I had to pick one, I’d say I miss live sporting events more, but I miss both.
What was scary as a kid but doesn’t scare you anymore?
Mike: The idea of ghosts used to scare the hell out of me. I made the mistake of watching The Sixth Sense as a kid and would always think I heard whispers from creepy ghosts at night in the dark. Now, the idea of loved ones sticking around is comforting, not scary.
What brand names are you most loyal to?
Mike: For workout gear I like Under Armor and Nike. I’ve worn them for so long and they make quality stuff. For clothes I usually go to Zara or H&M. They have a lot of the stuff I like. I’m someone that if I buy something, I’ll wear it for years. I’ve had my favorite t-shirt for 12 years and I swear I’ll wear it until it falls apart.
What was your first childhood brawl about?
Mike: The first fight I got into as a kid was with this guy at an arcade I used to go to when I lived in Colorado. I would go there with my brother sometimes after school or on the weekends. This kid tried to steal my tickets and I punched him in the cheek. My dad had to come pick me up. He wasn’t happy.
Who has been your hero?
Mike: My grandpa. He would always say, ‘With everything in life, leave things better than you found them.’ I try to apply that to everything I do – from friendships and relationships, to fixing something that breaks. If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well. Otherwise, why waste your time?
What is the greatest indulgence you allow yourself?
Mike: I don’t really like candy. I’ve never had a sweet tooth. But I love anything with peanut butter. I love salty or savory foods.
Who is the last famous person you’ve met?
Mike: Before the world shut down, I went to a charity fundraiser and sat next to Leonardo DiCaprio. I spent the evening talking to him about his environmental documentary Before the Flood, and then told him about a documentary I produced about homeless youth called Lost in America. I have a production company and a lot of the things I make are geared at teaching people about issues I think are important. After the event Aerosmith played and I was right by the stage. It was a great night.
What’s the last song you caught yourself singing… in the shower?
Mike: I have music ADD. I like rock or hip-hop in the car, dubstep when I work out, piano when I’m learning lines or concentrating, and then country music while I’m in the shower. So… probably Walking in Memphis by Marc Cohn.
Who makes you laugh?
Mike: In terms of comedians, my favorites are probably Iliza Shlesinger or Kevin Hart. I’ve seen them both live and my face hurt the next day from laughing so hard.
What quality do you like most in a friend?
Mike: I’d have to say honesty. If you don’t have trust with your friends, they’re not really your friends. I’m lucky to say I have a great group of friends. We all help and support each other.
Best advice your mother ever gave you?
Mike: I was born really premature and a lot of people didn’t think I was going to make it. From a young age my mom would say, ‘You were a fighter. You’re here for a reason. Don’t waste it.’ I think I’ve always expected a lot if myself because of that. I’m thankful she’s always pushed me.
You get one phone call to anyone – who is it to?
Mike: God. I’d start the conversation off with, “Hey God, great work and all, I’m super grateful. You got five minutes? First question, why mosquitos?”
Most people consider it a job they couldn’t or wouldn’t do, but you’d like it?
Mike: I love horses and the outdoors. I think if life were different, I’d have ended up on a ranch or as a cowboy. I know it’s a tough life, but that’s something that’s always fascinated me. Or I’d be a scuba diving instructor. I love the ocean and am a certified diver.
What is the biggest event you’ve attended?
Mike: Coachella. Yeah, I’m a Coachella guy. I love it.
What’s one event you wished you hadn’t missed?
Mike: I wasn’t there with my family this summer when my two nieces were born. I’m pretty bummed about that. Stupid Covid.
What do you think is your best quality?
Mike: I have so many, but my best is probably that I’m so humble. Kidding. I’d have to say I am a very curious person. I’m someone that will talk to random strangers while traveling or whatever and have made good friends that way.
Have you changed your workout routine these past few months?
Mike: I used to go to the gym a lot. If I skipped a week, I’d start to get grumpy or anxious. With Covid-19, I do a lot more home workouts and yoga and outdoor things like hiking or surfing. I almost prefer my home workouts now, rather than having to drive to a gym and wait for machines that are being used.
Are you a great cook?
Mike: I’ve definitely gotten better over this past year. Part of my quarantine watch list was Beat Bobby Flay on Food Network and it’s inspired me to try new recipes and techniques for cooking. I still have a long way to go, but cooking used to be something I hated. Now it’s something I look forward to.
What is a strange specialty that you’ve acquired?
Mike: One weird thing about me that a lot of people don’t know is that when I was younger, I worked as a handful of characters at Disney World in Florida. I was Buzz Lightyear, Pluto, Eeyore, Rafiki and a few others. I still know all the signatures. I also did the Christmas show where I was a dancing hippo and toy soldier. Those were fun times.
How do you think/hope your friends describe you to their friends who haven’t met you?
Mike: They’d say, ‘Mike… uh, has a lot of energy, but you’ll get used to him.’