Manny Jacinto Was In Awe Of Nicole Kidman In 'Nine Perfect Strangers' [Interview]

In Nine Perfect Strangers, no one is entirely what they seem. The new Hulu drama has a mysterious air to it, as nine people enter a wellness retreat in the hopes of healing their individual traumas. The more we learn about each character, the more complex they become — but this isn't just the case for the guests. Running the Tranquillum House wellness retreat is a Russian woman with her own hidden depths, Nicole Kidman's Masha. At her side are dedicated employees, Yao (Manny Jacinto) and Delilah (Tiffany Boone).

As the series progresses, Masha's guests aren't the only ones going on emotional journeys. By the end of the 10-day retreat, we can expect transformations for the guests, the staff, and maybe even the woman in charge.

This seems even more true after a chat with Manny Jacinto, who hints that Yao is more than a quiet Tranquillum staff member.  Below, Jacinto discusses being in awe of Nicole Kidman and delves into Yao's complicated history with Masha.

Spoilers for the first two episodes of Nine Perfect Strangers.

I want to start by asking about your character's relationship to Masha. She's just a really mysterious presence and we see her have a lot of power over the guests. Do you also think that's true for Yao?

Yeah. I mean, especially when Nicole Kidman is playing Masha. I don't know if it's Manny just being in awe of Nicole Kidman or Yao being in awe of Masha. But yeah, she definitely possesses a lot of power, but she's also coming from a standpoint of already being in this higher place or this greater sense of hierarchy because you have these people that are looking to be safe. You have these people that are looking to improve themselves. So when people are in a state of vulnerability and looking for a pat on the back, a person like Masha can have a lot of power over them.

The resort's also a really emotional place, especially for the guests. Do you think that Yao himself is having an emotional journey being there? And how would you describe that?

Oh yeah. I mean, absolutely. I mean, the thing is, is he can't show any of it because he has to keep it together for everybody and keep a straight face because he's the calm one, the guy with a moral compass. But he's definitely dealing with emotions in regards to the love triangle. How does he balance, how does he tame the push and pull of Marsha, of his devotion to Masha and his love for Delilah? A lot of emotions are taking place, but I think for Yao, he has to keep it down. He has to keep it together.

So one of the guests has a theory that she picked them all because of how their trauma complements each other.

Yes.

Do you think she had that insight when she was picking her staff members? What do you think she's hoping Yao contributes to the dynamic there?

That's a great question. Yeah. I would hope that Yao was aligned with Masha just through happenstance. But you never know with this lady. You never know if she did some magic voodoo stuff to try and just get him on board. You can't put her past that. I mean, I'd like to think that Yao and Masha are connected just intrinsically through their circumstance, through Yao saving her life. But who knows? Not to tease anything or spoil anything, but who knows if Marsha had maybe some other manipulations that could have occurred in the background?

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The first three episodes of Nine Perfect Strangers will be available to stream on Hulu on August 18, 2021. The remaining five premiere weekly on Wednesdays.