Welcome to ACTING UP. This is the eighth installment in a regular Casting Networks feature designed to call attention to standout roles and performances in television/streaming and film. It will spotlight work in projects that have recently been released as well as work in projects being released that same week. The column will also tell you how those actors and actresses got to where you see them now. Read up and watch these performances as your weekly in-home acting class.
Eighth up: Jake Manley, who stars in the supernatural horror series “The Order that premiered Thursday on Netflix; and Charlotte Beckett, who costars with Lindsay Lohan in the action horror thriller “Among the Shadows” that hit theaters on Wednesday.
THE PERFORMER: Jake Manley
THE SERIES: “The Order” on Netflix
THE PERFORMANCE: Manley – complete with dimpled chin – is the essence of hunky cool in “The Order” as Jack Morton, a young guy who gets accepted to what appears to be the strangest institution of higher learning of all time: A place called Belgrave University where the fraternity pledges tend to get seriously injured or killed while performing occult-style rituals.
Jack is out to avenge his mother’s death, and he has a spooky partner in crime in his Grandpa Pete (Matt Frewer of “Max Headroom” fame). Everybody at this university tends to talk in circles about weird secret societies and blue roses, but Manley acquits himself well as a kind of poor man’s Johnny Depp.
“This is insane! I did not sign up for this!” Jack insists at one point. Except that he’s wrong; he actually did sign up for it. In blood. “Who wouldn’t want unlimited power?” he asks rhetorically at one point. Certainly not him.
“If I were you,” he emphasizes to some schoolmates at one point, “I’d be doing everything in my power to make sure that townie doesn’t get in.” Yes, he said “townie.” It’s like a small town in Hell. “But the one to watch out for,” Jack adds, “is the Screaming Lady. Her ghost still wanders the hall.”
The guy sure knows a lot for a punk freshman. But he’s got the brooding charmer vibe down cold.
THE CAREER: Manley’s career is about to explode – in a good way. He in fact has six projects dropping in 2019. Besides “The Order,” they include he high school tech drama “TMI Crossing the Threshold”; the indie thrilled “Hotwired in Suburbia”; the Canadian drama “Brotherhood”; the family drama “A Dog’s Journey” from beloved canine novelist W. Bruce Cameron (premiering in May); and the WWII docudrama “Midway” coming in November from director Roland Emmerich.
Not too shabby for a guy still passing for a teenager (though he’s actually 27).
THE PERFORMER: Charlotte Becket
THE FILM: The indie feature “Among the Shadows”
THE PERFORMANCE: Beckett, a product of the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts (LAMDA), portrays Kristy Wolfe, a private eye looking to unravel the murder of her uncle in this creepy low-budget thriller. Did I mention she also descends from a long line of werewolves? And that she headlines alongside none other than Lindsay Lohan?
In fact, Lohan portrays a vampire to Beckett’s werewolf, giving her a role to really sink her teeth into. It also turns out that Lohan’s character, Patricia, also married a werewolf. Talk about your mixed marriages. It sets up the following conversation:
Kristy: “Why would a vampire marry a wolf?”
Patricia: “Because I love him.”
Kristy: “What makes you so sure the killer you’re looking for is one of us, and not one of you – and by you, I mean vampire?”
Patricia has no response to that. But it’s just as well.
Beckett turns in an earnest, sassy performance as the wolfy investigator, following a script that allows her to drolly utter things like, “Someone out there knows I’m dealing with some very unpleasant people” and “Every so often, something occurs to tip the scales. This is where it gets complicated.”
THE CAREER: While “Among the Shadows” is Beckett’s choicest role to date, she also has a part in the forthcoming indie feature “Nicole & O.J.” that’s currently shooting. The British actress doesn’t play Nicole but someone named Karen Crawford. (Charlotte Kirk portrays Nicole Brown Simpson.)
Beckett also appeared in the Polish indie crime drama “Olive Green” in 2014 and in an episode of Showtime’s “Penny Dreadful” in 2015.