This enabled Mann to fully devote himself to his work, much of which consisted of the time-consuming practice of gathering seemingly insignificant descriptions and minute observations of the world around him.
Quite in keeping with the psychologically mature realism of the Russian writer Tolstoy, whose works he had come to admire, Mann refused to follow what he considered the exaggerated pathos and flights of fancy of the expressionists of his day.
"We kind of decided the roles were ours before our director had," he says of co-star Olivia Cooke, now a close friend.
Mann has long been a household name, but since the newcomer's breakout performance as an awkward high school wallflower in last year's Sundance-winning film marks the formative coming-of-age moment.
What goes through your mind when you wait out those long auditioning periods? We had also done it so many times during auditions that we didn't rehearse it while filming.
We wanted to lay it all out there in the first few takes and keep it fresh.
But the match wasn't as obvious to director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, who called Mann back for seven auditions and came just short of telling him to forget about it before handing him the lead.
"Olivia said she felt like she was cheating on me," Mann laughs.
The movie was set in the '80s, and the pace was really fast. Next, I want to do something a bit darker and more grown up. HB: Does it annoy you that you're not the first Thomas Mann to appear in a Google search? The coolest thing that happened to me was that Thomas Mann—as in -century novelist. TM: Not to put that on anybody and be like, "You're my mentor, now," but I have befriended some more veteran actors. He has good advice and has worked with a lot of great people.Emma Thompson, who I worked with on , is so wise about the industry and how to find yourself as an artist and not get lost in all the bullshit. HB: Are there any actors or directors you're dying to work with?TM: There's obviously the greats, like Scorsese or Thomas Henderson or the Coens.I'm not saying acting should be therapy, but it was definitely a cathartic experience creating something I'm truly proud of that hopefully people will watch for a long time. TM: We had dinner a couple of times throughout the audition process and kind of decided the roles were ours before our director [Alfonso Gomez-Rejon] had. We were already hanging out and discussing the parts, hoping that we'd get them together. HB: Do you often feel that level of confidence in auditions? I think we're going to be friends for a long, long time.
HB: Who are some of your other closest acting friends?Under the influence of their estheticism, he began to lower the shield of protection which he had held around the traditional social and political order of his own upper middle-class milieu.