(Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Marriott Hotels)
Camryn Manheim is one of those trained pros whose appearance in a film or TV show is enough to inspire happy anticipation. Many of us recall her as the tough yet sensitive criminal defense attorney Ellenor Frutt on TV’s The Practice. We’ve also seen her on Extant, Person of Interest, Harry’s Law, and Ghost Whisperer, where she consistently delivered solid performances. But right now in theaters and On Demand, you can see her in the films Return to Sender and the Certified Fresh Cop Car. Also, you can see her in the Deaf West Theatre revival production of Spring Awakening on Broadway (previews begin Sept. 8). When discussing her favorite films, she, like the rest of us, had difficulty narrowing down her significant list. So the films mentioned here are just a small sampling of her favorites.
One of the first ones I remember my jaw being on the floor. You know, that idea of who’s running the asylum [laughing]? And who’s really crazy and who isn’t? It was a spectacular film to me. Jack Nicholson — it was my first [time] being introduced to him in such an unbelievable way, and he didn’t seem like he was acting to me. He seemed like a crazy man. And he wasn’t acting, because I’ve subsequently met him and he is a crazy man! All the characters were — you know, I don’t need to say it. One of my favorite films. And I’ve always wanted to play Nurse Ratched.
Life is Beautiful
was a very big deal for me. Coming from a Jewish intellectual family, and also a family who was in love with the arts — and my sister’s an artist, and I’m an actor. Just mixing your brilliance with your imagination — just blew my mind, and I was fully swept up in the fantasy of Roberto Benigni
and what he was able to accomplish in that story. I thought it was beautiful.
One of my favorite newer movies. It’s always been my favorite, but I don’t know how to tell you why. It was brilliant. And it was brilliantly acted and I was entirely taken by surprise, and I was in love with Tim Robbins. I was just in love with Morgan [Freeman]. I loved them so deeply. I loved them heated so deeply that — I can’t speak eloquently about it, Kerr. I love to watch movies and I don’t sit around and take them apart, you know?
I kind of felt like it was just so complicated, finding yourself torn between a girlfriend and the mother was just so shocking to me, and so complex. I remember watching it, just being jealous I wasn’t involved in something so complicated and real — things that were never talked about. It felt so taboo at the time. It felt so brave. And I wanted to be in movies like that. That was a long time ago. I need to re-see that. Talking to you is making me want to revisit these movies.
I loved Primal Fear
. It was my first introduction, I think, to Edward Norton
. I don’t know what he was in prior to that. I love these complex storylines of scandals of the church and the greed of Richard Gere
and then, of course, obviously that they fooled us for so long. I really fell down the rabbit hole and it turned on a dime and blew my mind. Frickin’ Edward Norton is such a genius. I hate to say this but I get jealous very easily [laughing
]. If it’s a fantastic movie, or fantastic director or fantastic actor. Like, doing this play [Spring Awakening
on Broadway] I remember [when seeing the original Los Angeles production] saying, “I’m jealous I’m not in it,” and that’s the biggest praise I can give. Honestly, I think Edward Norton is one of the best of our generation. I’d like to call myself in his generation.
Return to Sender and Cop Car are open in limited release and On Demand.