With her modest but pivotal role as Nola, pimp Terrence Howard's cornrowed pro in Hustle & Flow, Taryn Manning made folks sit up and notice. Now she's front and center in Oxygen's Banshee (premiering Saturday at 9:45 pm/ET), playing a tough-talkin' babe who steals cars with the greatest of ease. Alas, on one fateful night, she boosts the wrong ride, shifting into gear a deadly tale of revenge. TVGuide.com gave Manning a call and caught this "tough gal" just as she was hollering down the hall to Mom.
TVGuide.com: What are you talking to Mom about?
Taryn Manning: She's filling out some thank-you cards. [Laughs] My business manager recently went above and beyond the call of duty, so....
TVGuide.com: First off, I want to commend you on your work in Hustle & Flow.
Manning: Oh, thank you!
TVGuide.com: A lot of your fans feel your performance may have been overlooked in the larger scheme of things. Were you just happy to be a part of such an acclaimed ensemble?
Manning: Yeah, I feel a little bit like I was [overlooked], too, but it's all about timing. I guess it wasn't my time to reap those kinds of benefits. Regardless, to work with all those other actors was great. The whole experience has definitely boosted my career.
TVGuide.com: Speaking of boosting, did you surprise yourself with how convincingly you played Banshee's unapologetic car thief?
Manning: [Laughs] That was a total character. I've never stolen a car, I swear!
TVGuide.com: What's the worst thing you've stolen? Young boys' hearts?
Manning: Yeah, a couple of those... and maybe a lipstick or two, when I was 13, from Target.
TVGuide.com: Did you learn any car-thief tricks?
Manning: Yeah, totally! I learned how to do the slam-jam thing to break the lock, and how to hot-wire. It was awesome putting the two wires together and having the engine start.... Did you see Banshee? Did you like it?
TVGuide.com: I liked the mood of it. Actually, I was a little bit scared to call you because you seem like such a badass.
Manning: [Laughs] Well, it's fun to act!
TVGuide.com: Your karate/kickboxing skills obviously came in handy.
Manning: That was all me I did all my own stunts. There was a stunt girl there, but I'm very athletic and we were on such a time crunch, so I was like, "Let's do it!"
TVGuide.com: Were your mad skills a happy coincidence or one of the reasons you got the role?
Manning: Oh, that was a total happy coincidence. I know some of the girls who were going after the role, and they don't have those skills. The producers were definitely pleasantly surprised.
TVGuide.com: Plus, Julia Roberts is just too tall.
Manning: Yeah, and Meryl Streep had a movie, so it was me!
TVGuide.com: Is it all fun and games playing a girl with such an edge, or does it weigh on you afterwards?
Manning: It's fine, because I'm able to shut it off a when I go home at night. If I were to play a role like Charlize Theron's in Monster, that's another story. I definitely put on a whole physicality thing with Sage, like I made her walk kind of tough and her talk tough, and that would spill over into my night. The thing with Banshee is, the script was amazing. I was like, "I wish this was a feature film!"
TVGuide.com: Having worked with Britney Spears on Crossroads and Eminem on 8 Mile, does that tend to make you especially sympathetic when their names pop up in tabloids?
Manning: I became a little better friends with Britney because I worked with her every day, and Britney, back then, I think enjoyed the attention a little more than I think she does now. I don't know if that whole situation is that healthy. Whatever. But Britney's great. She's a very cool girl, very humble, very gracious.... Eminem's awesome. He's very private and stays out of those [magazines], but Britney gets chased. I've seen it, and it's not cool. Her life is totally at risk. I mean, she's got people that watch her all through the night.... She's hit that superstar status.
TVGuide.com: I see you have some movies on the radar. The Breed with Michelle Rodriguez....
Manning: That will probably come out a little later in the year, probably after summer.
TVGuide.com: And in Weirdsville, you're playing a corpse?
Manning: Basically, yeah! [Laughs] But then I am reawakened by this cult séance. It's a kooky, weird movie, but I got to work with two incredible actors, Wes Bentley and Scott Speedman. I know that Wes is very picky and doesn't do a lot of movies, so when I found out he was in this, I was like, "Oh, my god." My part isn't big, but it's interesting. This movie could easily get a huge cult following. And I've got this other cool indie called After Sex, which is seven different short films within one. It's this awesome cast with these funny vignettes about sexual endeavors of different types. My character is a bit of a con artist - she's an actress pretending to be an escort. And she just doesn't stop talking!
TVGuide.com: If you could eliminate one of your peers from the competition so you could get more roles, who would it be?
Manning: [Laughs[ Oh, goodness....
TVGuide.com: Is Brittany Murphy among those stealing your thunder?
Manning: There are three, but I don't want to name them, because what if they read this and, like, hated me? I don't want to be that girl. But I've got three of 'em on my list, I sure do!
TVGuide.com: What's going on with your music?
Manning: I'm recording my solo record, and it's hot. I performed recently at a Samsung party, and people were digging it.
TVGuide.com: What's your sound?
Manning: It's soulful rock, with a twist of pop.
TVGuide.com: Taryn Manning is in the Soul Patrol?!
Manning: Hey, I'm not saying he's my everything, but I'm glad he won!