‘Manifest’: Melissa Roxburgh Talks Finale Reunion & Not Wanting ‘Lost’ Reaction
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for all of Manifest.]
“I’m so curious to see, because with Lost, it was so all over the place. Well, everyone hates it. So I’m hoping that we have some people who love our show and how it ends,” Melissa Roxburgh says of fans’ reactions to the end of Manifest.
We can’t help but think of the Lost finale with how the NBC-turned-Netflix series signed off with the arrival of the Death Date: Flight 828, after the passengers boarded the plane, faced their judgments, and stopped the apocalypse, landed as it should have in New York on April 7, 2013. Michaela (Roxburgh) gave Jared (J.R. Ramirez) he’d been waiting for (along with the ring), and though he didn’t know it, pointed him in Drea’s (Ellen Tamaki) direction. (After all, they have to have Hope.) Then, remembering Zeke (Matt Long) was still alive and at the airport, she ran out to his taxi and teased him with quit the story to tell.
Here, Roxburgh opens up about the end of Manifest.
How did you find out that ending?
Melissa Roxburgh: We actually didn’t find out until we were shooting it because just the way that we were shooting it and the scheduling and everything, we didn’t get the script until we had already done, I think, two scenes of it. So we were all like, where does this tie in? What happens? And I think Jeff [Rake] wanted to give that to us as a gift at the end as well. just a nice surprise for all the cast in how we ended.
What was your reaction to it?
To be in Jeff’s shoes as far as ending a show with so much mythology and so many twists and turns, the pressure to end that in a specific way was probably immense. So I think that the way he ended it was really poetic. I thought that he did a really good job of keeping it mythological but also making it emotional and just familial.
Talk about filming that ending and being back in 2013 Michaela’s life while she knows everything that’s happened and the rest of her family is there.
Yeah, so there’s these sneakers, they’re Golden Goose sneakers. I remember I didn’t know what the brand was when I first started the show, and I wore them in the pilot and the costume designer was all excited about these shoes. And then I didn’t see them again until that final episode. And it was kind of just finding an old shirt from elementary school back in your closet and being like, “Oh, I love that shirt.” And so it kind of felt the same to put the old wardrobe back on and just kind of feel like I was transported back in time.
Then there’s that reunion with Zeke.
Weirdly, that was the hardest scene to film because I was like, “How do I not come across a complete creeper in getting in this man’s taxi and yet do the scene in a way that makes it still romantic and whatever?”
Do you think he’ll believe her when she tells him everything?
Weirdly, I do. I weirdly feel like he’s got nothing left to lose at this point. So he’s like, “If there’s some stranger getting in my taxi telling me that everything’s going to be OK, I’m going to take it.” … They’ll still have to overcome the same emotional challenges, but definitely not the same mythological, sci-fi challenges. I think that Michaela knows how to handle him as well, and she’s got that history even though he doesn’t, so I think they’ll be OK.
Do you think Michaela needed that time to explore what could have been with Jared in the way they did for the two of them to let go of each other, even if he doesn’t remember that?
Of course, but I also don’t think that they have let go of each other. I think that second chunk of this last 10 kind of explained that no matter what they go through, they’re always going to love and have each other’s backs. So I think romantically she knows that she’s not the right fit for him as far as children and all that stuff go, but the love is not lost. And I like the way that they end it for that reason.
I loved Michaela and Drea’s friendship. I think that was so well done.
Oh, it’s amazing.
And now they’ll still be in each other’s lives, likely through Jared at first since Michaela can’t really go up to Drea and be like, “Hey…”
[Laughs] One hundred percent. So she won really again, she got her friend and she got Jared, but just in a different capacity. But yeah, I really like Drea-Michaela friendship, too, because Michaela’s lost a few friends along the way. She accidentally killed her first friend, and then the second one, Lourdes [Victoria Cartagena], didn’t love her in the end. So I think the fact that she was able to maintain, despite everything, the friendship with Drea is fantastic, even though Drea has no idea.
But I also like that their friendship remained about them and not about Jared, no matter who was with him.
Yeah, I know. Really every single character really became a big family in the end, which was really cool.
Do you think Michaela would’ve been able to let go of her guilt about Evie and forgiven herself without going through everything she did?
Who knows what door would’ve led where. But yeah, I think eventually she might have. But I do think that the whole point of this plane disappearing and coming back or whatever was to give this group of misfits a second chance in a more blatant way, and obviously a bit more of a traumatic way. But I think it was just very in their faces as far as what they needed to do to heal and move forward with their lives. So yeah, who knows what would’ve happened had they not gotten on the plane. I would like to think that they would’ve come to the same outcome eventually, but maybe not for 20 years, 30 years.
That scene of you standing on the roof was so good.
Oh, thank you. Yeah, it was interesting. That was actually the episode that I directed, so I had a hard time switching gears, so that’s really nice to hear that it turned out well.
How was directing?
Honestly, I loved it. I loved it so much and I want to do a lot more of that moving forward. It was fun to put on a different creative hat. And because we’ve worked with everyone so much, some of them since Season 1, it didn’t feel as difficult as I kind of imagined in my head. Everyone was really supportive and lent their knowledge in places that I didn’t have it.
What was your favorite scene to direct?
There’s a scene where Cal [Ty Doran] kind of realizes that the callings are all done and he can’t help anymore and he comes in to tell his dad, and Ben [Josh Dallas] gives the speech of “Go home to your families.” And I just kind of felt the emotions and it was kind of the end of Cal’s reign of being this conduit to the other side — well, we think so in that moment at least. So I just love that scene.
What do you think is next for Michaela? Just happiness and calmness?
[Laughs] I would really hope so. I hope they go on a vacation that maybe requires just driving, not flying.
Do you think she stays with the NYPD?
No, I don’t. I think that she saw the way that her department handled — and look, this is not a going to be an anti-police sentiment here — the passengers and didn’t love it, and so I think she’s got a different path ahead of her. What do I think that would be? Honestly, I think that she would get into some kind of social work. I think that her and Ben might quit their jobs as professor and police and just get into helping other people. I don’t think that they know anything else at this point.
How will you remember Michaela and the show?
Just with fondness, and I know that sounds so cliche, but I’m going to miss everyone. I’m going to miss going to work with everyone. I think the story ended at the right time, and sometimes we see shows that go on way too long. And I think we ended perfectly, and I think I’m going to remember the show as an amazing, amazing chapter of my life where I got to do good work and meet amazing people.
How do you want Michaela and the show to be remembered?
I don’t know. I don’t think that’s up to me. I think that it’s just a great show that went a good four seasons, and it was a fun ride. But other than that, that’s kind of up to the audience.
Did you take anything from set?
I definitely stole a lot of things, including socks pretty much every single day, which is not exciting at all. But Season I stole her necklace. There was definitely little bits and bobs and outfits that I took home with me.
Manifest, Streaming now, Netflix