‘Manifest’: Josh Dallas Talks Ben’s Rage, ‘Full Circle’ Ending That’s a ‘Beginning’ & More

Josh Dallas in 'Manifest'
Spoiler Alert

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for all of Manifest.]

“I haven’t been referring to it as an ending. In terms of Ben, I think of it as a beginning,” Josh Dallas says of the series finale of Manifest.

In order to survive the Death Date, Ben had to do something that may have at once seemed impossible: forgive his wife’s murderer (Holly Taylor’s Angelina). The passengers once again boarded Flight 828 as the Death Date arrived, and after facing their own judgements (and stopping the apocalypse), eventually stepped off it to find themselves … in New York, on April 7, 2013, as they would have if they’d landed as planned, with their memories of what they experienced. And that meant for Ben that Grace (Athena Karkanis) is alive, as is Cal (a kid again) after sacrificing himself.

Here, Dallas opens up about the series ending.

Talk about finding out about that finale and how it would end.

Josh Dallas: I didn’t find out until maybe two weeks before we started shooting how it was going to end when I got that script. Because all along I’ve been telling Jeff [Rake] not to tell me anything and I wanted to discover it as we went along. So I didn’t how it was going to end. And it was super, super emotional for me. There are things in the ending that I think is terrifying, surprising, and emotional, but we did a final readthrough of the last episode and they filmed it. And I’m dreading it coming out because I was a mess, Meredith. I was crying. Don’t ever let ’em tell you the boy don’t cry. Because It was one of those ugly, really gut wrenching cries throughout the reading.

There were just so many different things going on all at once. I was saying goodbye to this character, to these characters, to the story, but I was also saying goodbye to this group of people who I’d been so close with for five years and it was all sort of bittersweet and very emotional. But yeah, I think the ending is great. I think it’s interesting because we talk about, “Oh, finally we’re going to get answers, finally we’re going to get answers.” And we do get answers about a lot of things. We don’t get answers about everything, but it somehow doesn’t matter in many ways. It’s more about the sort of overall humanity of these characters that really matters. And that’s what I love most about it.

Talk about filming that ending. You’re stepping back into 2013 Ben’s life, but he has all these memories. He’s reuniting with people who have been dead.

It was wild. It is always great seeing Athena and always love, love having her as my scene partner, so having her back was extraordinary and extraordinary for the character, for Ben to see her there alive and well and just like she was the day that we left all those years ago. It was emotional and it comes full circle, but it’s also a beginning and it was great.

Athena Karkanis and Josh Dallas in 'Manifest'


My last day on that set, my last day filming Manifest was shooting with her at the baggage claim, and she asks, “Are we alright?” I can’t remember exactly what Ben says, but it’s like, ”Yeah, we’re more than OK.” And I just think it’s such a beautiful end for these characters and what they’ve gone through and this idea of a second chance and being able to go through life again, but with the knowledge of what they’ve been through. And I think that’s just such a beautiful idea. They have the knowledge of what they’ve been through, but also I think it was such a great choice on Jeff Rake and our brilliant writers that they made to have Cal not remember because he gets his childhood back, which he never, never, never had.

For Ben, this is all a miracle, right? Because he has Grace and Cal back. He’s already planning to get Eden back. He drops that on Grace — by the way, we’re going to have another kid.

Yeah. [Laughs]

Is there anything he misses that you think he might not be able to get back?

No, I don’t because he’s gone on such a journey, he’s gone on such an evolution in terms of character from the pilot to the end, and he’s gone from skeptic to believer and having many identity crises along the way. And I think up until the very, very end, it doesn’t quite click for him until he decides to save Angelina and bring her onto the plane. I think it’s in that moment it all comes together for him, which is why Angelina is such an important character, not only to the story, but to Ben Stone’s character. She really pushes him in many directions, but then ultimately pushes him to see the light, I guess you could say.

Heroes and villains in my mind are the same. They come from the exact same place always in stories, and usually that’s a place of pain, except the villain is about, “Well, I’m going to make sure everyone else can feel this pain and experiences this pain.” And the hero goes, “Well, I’m going to do whatever I can to make sure that nobody else has to feel this pain.” I think she sort of really opens his eyes to that, particularly in those final moments, and is just such an important character for him.

Speaking of Angelina, could Ben at any time, perhaps other than right after Grace’s murder, have pulled the trigger and killed her or not forgiven her?

Oh yeah. I think there are many. When he plunges that syringe into her. There are so many moments where he just wants to get rid of her and kill her and have all of that rage that he has inside and all of that sadness and all of that complexity that she’s part of, he wants her to feel it. He wants her to feel what he’s going through. He wants to go down that villain road and he fights it every time.

Holly Taylor and Josh Dallas in 'Manifest'


But he comes very close in many situations with her, particularly this last season and in Part 2. And I think that’s part of his sort of identity crisis that he goes through because he’s always wrestling in his mind his intentions of why he’s trying to lead this group and is it really for the greater good or is it just for his family? Does he just want to save his own ass and his own family, or can he open his heart and open his mind and his eyes to the greater good, the greater world? I think it’s something that he wrestles with, and I think Angelina helps him get there and helps him make a decision by the end.

I’ve loved Ben and Grace together since the beginning, so I was happy to see them together at the end. Do you think she’ll believe him when he tells her what happened? Because that’s a wild story to tell someone.

I think she will ultimately, and I’m glad you’re on Grace and Ben’s side. She is his true love and I think forever and always has been his eye of the hurricane where it’s calm and where he can think and where he can figure things out and where he finds hope, and yeah, I think eventually she’ll believe him, but I think it’ll take some doing.

There was very briefly Ben and Saanvi (Parveen Kaur), and how you explored that was well done and the only way it could have been given their love for others. Did who Ben was at that time need to explore that?

Yes, absolutely. And I think for both those characters — I don’t want to speak for Parvin, but the way that I always saw it and we talked about it, Parveen and I, that Grace will always be Ben’s true love, but Ben and Saanvi are cut from the same cloth. They are great, great friends and have a deep, deep love for one another, and in many ways a great friendship is just as valuable as true love.

And I think these two characters, these two people find themselves in a moment and time with what they’ve been through and everything that’s going on, that they need to find comfort for a moment outside of everything to feel something for just that moment that isn’t connected to all the madness that’s swirling around them and to feel faith and to feel loved and to feel something, and I think they provide that for each other. I think they’re both hungry and — desperate’s not the right word, but it’s the right energy for it. They needed a connection that was outside of everything, to feel OK, to feel good, and to feel safe. I think they absolutely are wildly attracted to one another and also deep, deep friends. And I think it made sense for them to explore that for a moment in time so they could get out of their situation even if it was for a brief moment.

What do you think is next for Ben, both professionally and personally? Because he just had all this experience co-captaining the lifeboat, so I don’t see him teaching after that.

[Laughs] Like I said, I don’t think it’s an ending for Ben. I think it’s a beginning. I think it’s a rebirth and he is fundamentally changed as a person, and I don’t find him teaching anymore, I totally agree with you. I’m not for sure what he will do after this, but I would be interested to find out.

But what I am excited about and happy about for him and for a lot of the other characters is that they do get to go forward again with a second chance, but with the knowledge of what they’ve been through. And I think what Jeff Rake and our brilliant writers have done so well is reflect this idea of humanity and what that means and what it means to understand the other and understanding where the other is coming from in order to move forward and to have an open heart to the world around you. I definitely think that Ben Stone will go forward with that idea, and I hope that he lives his life again with that knowledge and that experience. Yeah, I think the writers did a brilliant job of that and that’s really needed in our society today, is understanding of the other.

How will you remember Ben?

Tortured. [Laughs] I will remember him as a good man who was always searching.

How do you want Ben to be remembered?

I want him to be remembered as a guy who figured it out, who figured out a better way to live. It wasn’t easy and nothing ever is, and it’s only when you walk through the fire do you come out the other side with confidence and knowledge. I want him to be remembered as a guy who walked through the fire and came out the other side better.

He definitely did.

[Laughs] He really did, literally.

Did you take anything from set?

I have Ben Stone’s glasses.

Manifest, Streaming now, Netflix