Set in a world somewhat like our world, in a time quite similar to our time, “Maniac” tells the stories of Annie Landsberg (Emma Stone) and Owen Milgrim (Jonah Hill), two strangers drawn to the late stages of a mysterious pharmaceutical trial, each for their own reasons.
Annie’s disaffected and aimless, fixated on broken relationships with her mother and her sister; Owen, the fifth son of wealthy New York industrialists, has struggled his whole life with a disputed diagnosis of schizophrenia. Neither of their lives have turned out quite right, and the promise of a new, radical kind of pharmaceutical treatment—a sequence of pills its inventor, Dr. James K. Mantleray (Justin Theroux), claims can repair anything about the mind, be it mental illness or heartbreak—draws them and ten other strangers to the facilities of Neberdine Pharmaceutical and Biotech for a three-day drug trial that will, they’re assured, with no complications or side-effects whatsoever, solve all of their problems, permanently.
We sat down Maniac star Billy Magnussen, to talk working with Jonah Hill, director Cary Fukunaga and our favorite past time listening to Carrie Underwood.
The Knockturnal: Your character is offbeat, a little weird. What did you love about him?
Billy Magnussen: Is he offbeat and weird? I think he is more of a Waspy, kind of like businessman that is very straight-laced.
The Knockturnal: But he’s kinda quirky though.
Billy Magnussen: I think I’m just quirky.
The Knockturnal: That’s true.
Billy Magnussen: Oh, thanks. Yeah. What’s the character’s name in the play? In this one? Jeb!
The Knockturnal: Talk about working with Cary Fukunaga the director.
Billy Magnussen: Honestly it’s just a sheer joy. I think he is a man of collaboration and just a visionary. We collaborated and just made this beautiful world and I got to play in and just throw ideas out and we’d come out with the best… you know, you always want to work with someone who wants to shoot the best idea. The best thing should be shot. And the best story should be told. So if you’re limiting yourself in one direction, I think you could stumble. You know art is a blossoming thing. So, he’s very open with exploring and making it the best it is.
The Knockturnal: Well you mentioned Carrie Underwood earlier, but you got to do a little bit of singing.
Billy Magnussen: I did do some singing in this.
The Knockturnal: You got to work with Jonah quite a bit on this. How was that?
Billy Magnussen: I really enjoy Jonah’s presence and being. He is such a unique, kind individual actually. I really found him enjoyable and very focused and very driven in working with this project.