Interview by Jana Letonja

Josh Dallas continues to make his mark on film and television audiences around the world. He’s most known for his role as Prince Charming in ABC’s series ‘Once Upon a Time’ and as Ben in Netflix’s ‘Manifest’, which recently aired Part 1 of the fourth and last season. Part 2 of Season 4 will premiere soon.

Josh, you’re one of the leads in Netflix’s ‘Manifest’, which just recently aired Part 1 of its fourth and final season. Part 1 ended with a shocking death and an uncertain future. What can the viewers expect from the final 10 episodes of the series?
I I wish I could say that part two was all smooth sailing for our characters, but that would be a lie. Things are gonna have to get much worse before they get better. There are some hopeful and beautiful moments along the way, but the path is not gonna be easy or clearer. And there are many more twists and turns as it leads us to our super emotional and super surprising series finale.

I mean, with TV it’s always like that. Things always have to get worse before they start getting better because otherwise it would be boring.
Exactly. We don’t wanna watch a show where everybody’s happy all the time. We gotta see some struggle. I think that’s probably human. We want to see the struggle and we want to see someone transforming and learning from that and overcoming or changing or not, but we want to see a journey. And I think that’s certainly what these characters are on.

The series is about the passengers on Montego Air Flight 828, which experience a brief period of severe turbulence while traveling from Jamaica to New York City. When they land in New York, they learn that over five and a half years have passed while they were in the air, and they have to face the fact that their lives are not the same as they were. How was it being a part of this series and this story for you?
Oh, wow. It’s been nothing but happiness and joy, not only for the family that I gained on set, but for the family I gained through the fans. The fans of this show have taken this show on with their whole hearts and these characters on with their whole hearts. They’re so engaged in the story and with the characters and that makes it all worth it. I can’t wait for them to see this final chapter.

How would you describe your character Ben has changed, grown and evolved over the course of four seasons?
Ben has done a complete 180. He went from skeptic to believer and he was faced and forced to engage with the world in a way that he had never done before, or a way that he was never conscious of before. And that gave him a deep understanding that we’re all in this together and it’s all connected. I think he changed completely from where he was at the very beginning. A tough road to get there and really tough lessons to learn along the way, but I think by the end, it’s all been worth it for him as a character. I think the only way that we can learn and grow, and the only way that we can gain confidence is by walking into the fire. I don’t think you gain confidence before you walk into the fire. I think it’s only after. And these characters definitely do that.

You also made your directorial debut in the 7th episode of Season 4. How was it being both in front of and behind the camera at the same time? It was a great challenge and one that I learned a lot from. And the main thing I learned was that it’s about preparation in that situation, to be as prepared as possible as the director. And that’s knowing what I wanted from the scene, knowing how I wanted to tell the story visually, knowing what we needed from our characters at that particular time. And then once I had all that preparation as much as I possibly could, I could jump in front of the camera as an actor and be in flow, because I knew that the director had our backs and I knew that the director knew what was going on. So I think as far as directing, it was all about preparation for me and knowing it as well as I possibly could from every single angle that a director needs to know. And then I could be free as an actor in front of the camera.

Will we see you directing more in the future?
Yes, yes and yes. I really hope so. It feeds a different part of my creativity that acting doesn’t. Acting absolutely informs it, but it feeds something slightly different. And I love the 360-degree view of the story that you get to have as a director, that you have to have as director. As an actor, your role within the story, within the machine of making a TV show or a film can be somewhat singular, your world is sort of smaller. But as a director, you get to hang out with the entire tribe of creative. And that was my favorite part, the mass collaboration where I am collaborating with hundreds of people about one little moment and we all came together to create this one little moment. That was the most satisfying part of it for me. I loved it. I can’t think of a more collaborative art process than making a film. It was exhilarating and amazing and yes, I hope to do a lot more of it.

Most people know you as Prince Charming from ABC’s hit series ‘Once Upon a Time’, which concluded its run after 7 seasons in 2018. What are your favorite memories from this show? How has it impacted your career?
It’s impacted me in so many ways. It was my first television series. We did something like 156 episodes of that show. And it’s where I really learned how a set works, what everybody’s job is on a set, how to be on a set, I learned how to pace a day on a set. It’s where I started to learn technically how to work with a camera as an actor, which is a skill. It’s where I made lifelong friends, best friends. It’s where I met my wife, It’s where I had two kids. I had two baby boys on that show. It’s impacted me hugely and I owe a lot to it. Plus I got to be part of an extraordinary creative story. Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz came up with this idea of saying “Well, here’s these iconic characters that we all know and love, but here’s what you don’t know about them”. And I got to be part of that extremely special idea that those two guys created. I’ll always be grateful for it and I’ll always look on it fondly and remember it with just huge love. I’m reminded about it almost every day when I look at my wife, when I look at my kids. This is the house that ‘Once Upon a Time’ built. In many ways it created my life, which is pretty extraordinary and special.

At 16 you received the Sarah Exley Scholarship, a full-ride scholarship given to one American student every three years to study acting at the prestigious ‘Mountview Conservatoire for the Performing Arts’ in London. What are the biggest things that you’ve gained from this experience?
Well, first of all, it got me out of the United States. I grew up in Northern Kentucky, Southern Indiana and I had barely been out of those states, let alone the country. So I was able to see the world and experience Europe. And I was exposed to so many things that I otherwise never would’ve been, which I think only enriched my life in so many different ways. I ended up living there for 13 years. I loved it so much. As far as ‘Mountview’, the school, I learned an incredible work ethic. I think that’s one of the main takeaways from going to a conservatory kind of program in classical theater. I was exposed to the greatest theater companies in the world in London. I got to see some of the greatest theater artists ever. I was exposed to playwrights that I didn’t know before and reading plays and learning how to read and learning more about the craft of acting. A real work ethic was definitely a huge takeaway from my time there.

You said you lived there for 13 years. What made you go back to the States?
I did theater in London for a long time and worked at some of those great theater companies that I always sort of revered and loved. And then I started doing more TV and film as a younger actor. And it just sort of led me back to the States, to LA, to Hollywood and I realized that working in TV and film was something that I really loved. Hollywood seemed to be a place that all actors come to eventually. And it gets hooked in you. So, a film led me back here. I got a ‘Marvel’ movie, ‘Thor’, and that brought me back to the United States and I haven’t left.

What do you see as the biggest challenges in the world right now and how do you believe they could be approached?
It does seem that the world’s biggest problems are interconnected now more than ever. We had the pandemic, we have economic crisis, we have racial injustices, we have climate change. I think we need government leaders and activists that have bold ideas and new ways of thinking and for all of us to do our part, because in a very manifest way and what ‘Manifest’ has taught us, it’s all connected. We all need to do our part for sure, but we need leaders that have new, bold, exciting ways of thinking about these things.

As a father of two little boys, how do you balance your family time and work?
It’s challenging and we don’t always get it right, that’s for sure. But I know it’s about constant communication, flexibility and absolute consistency with those two things. And having a partner like Ginnifer Goodwin, because she makes it all better.

So now that ‘Manifest’ is ending, what’s next for you in your career?
There’s a couple things that I can’t talk about right now that are very exciting. I guess I’ll talk from a hopeful standpoint. I hope much more directing and I hope more characters and worlds that we all want to engage with and find super entertaining.

Talent Josh Dallas @joshdallas
Photographer JuanKR @juankr_
Stylist Odile Iturraspe @odileiturraspe
Groomer Eddie Cook @eddie_cook
Producer Rocio Valenzuela @roxivalenzuela
Editor Timi Letonja @timiletonja
Cover design Arthur Roeloffzen @arthurroeloffzen