Luke Kirby plays a bipolar man who falls in love with a bipolar woman – played by Katie Holmes – in Paul Dalio‘s Mania Days.

Luke Kirby Exclusive Interview

Dalio, who has bipolar disorder himself, was heavily instrumental in helping Kirby find out who his character Marco is, and how he needed to portray him in the movie. While the director guided Kirby to the most authentic version of Marco, he also gave Kirby freedom to explore the role.

“The story is so personal to Paul. You know, he has so much to say about his experience, his life experience. I really felt comfortable with that, with him, and just the fact that he was so giving and open to sharing that with me was sort of my real place to kind of start and leap and he sort of,” Kirby told uInterview in an exclusive interview at SXSW. “He allowed me a great deal of freedom to kind of search through that, and he also was a great barometer for, you know, whether or not what I was doing felt kind of you know, legitimate to him.”

Kirby was also able to draw from his own experiences to understand what it might be like to be a manic depressive in a lengthy streak of mania.

“I feel like with the work that I do, it kind of takes you to a heightened state a lot of the time. I can kind of relate in a sense of how one can believe that what they’re doing is transcending something, and therefore very important,” Kirby said, adding, “I think that there’s just a lot of things that we, that everyone, can relate to about what it is to feel like the stars are aligned for you. I can get the argument to try to maintain it. The problem is that the guarantee of being manic is that there’s the fall after. Just scientifically, the brain just actually gets hurt by continuing that pattern.”

In Mania Days, Kirby’s character Marco meets Holmes’ character Carla while they’re both in the midst of a stay at a psychiatric hospital. Quickly, the two find themselves in an intense love affair. According to Kirby, he and Holmes developed a close friendship while fleshing out their characters’ and their unique relationship.

“We just got to know each other over the course of making it and we sort of developed a kinship over the challenges of trying to flush out these lives and maintain the humor around it too, and that’s what made it somewhat sane,” Kirby said. “[Katie] is capable of great focus also, so that’s just a great thing to be able to key into. It’s infectious and fun.”

Mania Days does not yet have a national release date.

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Q: Where is your character at the start of the film? -

In the movie, I play Marco. He’s a young man living in New York. He is bipolar. And, when we meet him, he’s in a sort of heightened manic state. And we sort of, in the story, watch him go through the ups and downs of that life. And he falls in love with a woman, who Katie plays. And they sort of, you know the way love is, they sort of heighten each other’s realities. Because she also is bipolar, that heightened reality is extreme. And they sort of unleash new worlds to each other. We see the great beauty that goes with that and also the huge disappointments.

Q: How did it feel to play someone with manic depression? -

I feel like with the work that I do it does, it kind of takes you to a heighted state a lot of the time so I can kind of relate in a sense of how one can believe that what they’re doing is transcending something, and therefore very important. I think that when you have a lucky streak in life it feels good. I think that there’s just a lot of things that we, that everyone, can relate to about what it is to feel like the stars are aligned for you. And I think a lot of the times mania sort of works that way. And so I sort of, I can get the argument to try to maintain it. The problem is, clinically, with it is that the guarantee of being manic is that there’s the fall after. Just scientifically, the brain just actually gets hurt by continuing that pattern.

Q: How did you try to capture the manic depressive states of your character? -

I don’t know. I mean you know working with Paul was sort of the real key in. The story is so personal to Paul. You know, he has so much to say about his experience, his life experience. I really felt comfortable with that, with him, and just the fact that he was so giving and open to sharing that with me was sort of my real place to kind of start and leap and he sort of, he allowed me a great deal of freedom to kind of search through that, and he also was a great barometer for, you know, whether or not what I was doing felt kind of you know, legitimate to him.

Q: How was working with Katie Holmes? -

You know, I think we just got to know each other over the course of making it and we sort of developed a kinship over the challenges of trying to flush out these lives and maintain the humor around it too, and that made it somewhat sane. And just having, you know she’s capable of great focus also, so that’s just a great thing to be able to key into. It’s infectious and fun.