From cab driver to convenience store owner to doctor to “The Wolf of Wall Street,” Rizwan Manji now takes his talent to the third season of “Mr. Robot.” Although we weren’t able to get some spoilers of what’s to come for the rest of the season, we did discuss past roles, worst auditions and the biggest “pinch me” moment of his career so far.
How did you get your start in acting? When did you know you wanted to be an actor?
In middle school I was cast in the comedy “Final Curtain.” When I got that first laugh, it was like a drug. I knew then and there what I was going to do the rest of my life.
What is your worst audition story?
I have so many. At one of my first theatre auditions, the producer was asleep. At another, a well-known off-Broadway director – at the time directing a play about Muslims – asked me how I could be a practicing Muslim and still be an actor. I remember asking him, “What do you mean?” One more. Once, I was asked by a casting director to be more Indian. At first I had no idea what she meant. I mean, I’m 100 percent Indian, how can I be more? I finally realized she was asking me for a thicker accent.
What can you tell us about your role on “Mr. Robot”? We know his name is Norm and that he is Dominique DiPerro’s new partner?
That is all I can say if I don’t want to get sued.
How did you prepare for the character? Do you share any similarities?
Similarities? None. This character had so many props and I am so clumsy. They had me holding props, talking and moving all at once. The fact that I was able to do it is what they call real acting.
Rapid fire: With each of these shows, can you tell us either one memorable moment you had/have had and/or something you took/you’ve taken away from the project?
The Wolf of Wall Street? I am always wearing the hoodie Leo gave us as gifts.
Paterson? Rehearsing with Jim Jarmusch for “Paterson” via Skype was surreal.
Outsourced? I met some of my best friends on that show.
Schitt’s Creek? Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara. Need I say more?
The Magicians? The show is a rollercoaster of craziness. I love every minute of it.
What do you look for in a role? Have you become pickier as your career has progressed or more open?
I do anything for $12.
Do you feel like you have been typecast during your career? How does that make you feel and do you think it’s getting better?
For the longest time my trajectory was moving in the right direction: from cab driver to convenience store owner to doctor. I thank those casting directors who have broadened my horizons and who, in the last seven years, have cast me in shows like “The Magicians,” “Mr. Robot” and films like “Paterson.”
Working on movies and television is there one you prefer over the others? What are the pros and cons?
Whichever pays me more.
What are you working on that we can see you on in the near future?
I have a show in development about a Muslim guy who becomes mayor of a major city.
Is there something you haven’t done yet that you really want to pursue?
An actual medical degree. Honestly, I have played so many doctors someone should give me an honorary doctorate.
What has been the biggest “pinch me” moment of your career so far?
Being in a room with Martin Scorsese, Jon Favreau, Steven Spielberg and Rob Reiner while shooting “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
More zeroes to my bank account.