Delaware actor finds success after clowning with Tom Hanks in ‘A Man Called Otto’

After starting in local theater, Newark actor Julian Manjerico got his big break alongside Tom Hanks in the new film "A Man Called Otto."

A close-up of a man who is smiling.

Delaware actor, Julian Manjerico, who played Beppo the Clown on "A Man Called Otto." (Courtesy picture of Julian Manjerico)

For your first Hollywood role, you can’t get much better for a scene partner than Hollywood legend Tom Hanks. That’s the experience Delaware’s Julian Manjerico got in his first film role opposite Hanks in “A Man Called Otto.”

After getting his start in small Delaware theater productions, the 25-year-old Newark native made his Hollywood debut in a small role as Beppo the Clown. In the movie, Beppo works in close collaboration with Otto Anderson, played by Hanks. Beppo upsets Anderson when the clown does a failed magic trick.

It’s a long way from one of his first acting roles as a turtle in kindergarten.

“They gave me a brown blanket and they told me to hibernate,” Manjerico recalled. “As I snored, a lot of kids started laughing. And I was like, ‘Oh, that’s interesting.’”

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It’s a moment that serves as the foundation of his acting career. “That memory has always stuck with me, that’s my go-to when I first got the acting bug.”

With his parents’ full support, he was able to work with local performing organizations like the Delaware Children’s Theater, Wilmington Drama League, and All-State Theatre.

“All these communities, you know, were training me how to do things with performing,” he said.

He attended Caravel Academy during his elementary and middle school years. In high school, he explored lacrosse, where he “started trying to act like I didn’t like theater.” He realized athletics were simply not for him and transferred to Elkton High School, in nearby Maryland. He went on to Boston University, where he graduated two years ago.

Since college, he’s been working closely with his manager, who provides him audition suggestions. Manjerico took the audition for Beppo even though he didn’t exactly fit the casting description from Sony Pictures.

Posters for a movie premiere of "A Man Called Otto"
Delaware actor, Julian Manjerico, who played Beppo the Clown on “A Man Called Otto.” (Courtesy picture of Julian Manjerico)

“What’s funny is, the description of the role for the movie was ‘only real professional clowns.’ Like, no actors. We just took a chance and I just lied and we got in the room because of that, which was great,” he said.

“I lost my mind,” he said after stepping foot onto the film set. “The third day, Tom Hanks showed up and I was absolutely, you know, shaking. It was an out-of-body experience. But he was so, so nice on set. He was great.”

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One moment especially stood out. “I was just waving my hand around. And then I like, say to him.., ‘blow.’ And he did it. It was something where it was amazing, where it was just two people interacting and playing and going along with each other’s takes on what we think the scene should be.”

Manjerico said it felt like reliving his childhood. “It gave me permission to kind of just tap into like me when I was a kid, you know, just doing what I knew would be funny, like clowning.”

“Every human is capable of having another person feel something because we do it every day. You know, it’s just how we choose to do it,” he said. “Feeling that connection with someone in the audience… being able to just do that is just recreating humanity on stage, which is what I think, at its core, acting should be.”

While he enjoyed clowning with Hanks in a comedic role, he’s hoping to try a variety of new roles in the future. “I realized, I like doing comedy because people gave me opportunities to do it.” He added that maybe his next role will be “like an incredibly dark, intense drama.”

This year he intends to tackle other goals like getting into voiceover work and animation.

Saturdays just got more interesting.

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