S.T.A.N. the 'Man'? JP Manoux is TV's Latest Android

One can’t help but feel a touch of irony when talking to JP Manoux. He’s calling while he’s in a computer repair store.

“I’ve got this old Powerbook,” Manoux admits. “I guess I’m lucky it’s lasted as long as it has. I just want to squeeze a little more life out of it…and here I am thinking, I’m playing a state-of-the-art android on Aaron Stone.”

Not that you haven’t seen Manoux’s face before. He’s done a ton of character roles ranging from being a demon on Charmed through playing both Curtis and Mr. Hackett on Phil of the Future. You might have even heard him more than that, having a long resume as an animation voice actor.

“I was really lucky to take over David Spade’s part [as Kuzco in Emperor’s New Groove],” he said. “They got back just about everyone from the original cast of that movie, but he felt he wanted to move on to other shows. That was a wonderful few seasons. The same for The Replacements. I was also one of the California pigeons in Bolt. I think we stole the show, especially the New York pigeons. I wish I could do more animation, but now I’m shooting in Canada.”

Actually, it was his work on Phil that landed him the part of S.T.A.N. For those who haven’t checked the show yet, the show revolves around a teenaged hero, Charlie, who’s a master of a MMO video game. Like the film The Last Starfighter, what he finds out is the game is actually a recruiting program. The only difference is it’s for, at least for now, earthbound superspies instead of space captains. Naturally, there’s also an evil conspiracy out to destroy all that good and decent on planet Earth. S.T.A.N. must train Charlie in how to stop them, without getting the boy killed along the way.

“I come from an improv comedy background,” says Manoux. “After I did Phil of the Future, it got me to thinking I’d like to do another show for kids. So when they started Disney XD, which is really designed because most boys don’t think the girl-centric Disney Channel is just not for them anymore. Aaron Stone is really pretty ambitious production-wise, especially as it’s aimed for kids.”

Manoux doesn’t deny he drew from another famous past TV android kids might know of either.

“When they told me I was going to play an android, well I was such a big fan of Brent Spiner’s Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation, I was very excited to do my own take on that. I’m not trying to do the stone-faced quality of his character, but I’m certainly trying to bring in the optimistic quality. Both S.T.A.N and Data are logical, but also hopeful. I’m just trying to take that a little further than he did. S.T.A.N. is not just hopeful, he’s darn right happy to exist. I’m grateful I just don’t have to wear those darn gold contact lenses like he did. I also don’t have to slick my hair back, because I don’t have none.”

From there, Manoux naturally adds his own spin on the matter.

“I throw in my own physical comedy sensibilities,” says Manoux. “At my audition I threw both of those together. It also didn’t hurt they were familiar with my work on Phil of the Future. So they thought I was the right combination. As the series progresses he’ll have to explore himself further. You will find out he is frustrated with the part of him that isn’t human. As he will eventually point out, he’s not a cyborg. He’s an android, and in this series there really is a difference. I think the more time he spends in Charlie Landers' world, the more he’ll want to fit in. He’ll want to feel emotions the same way as the kid he is responsible for.

"I also heard our creator, Bruce Kalish, mention at New York Comic Con that they’re toying with the idea of a love interest for S.T.A.N. I think that will be really fun to play. That brings to play the frustrations, being he doesn’t have any idea about how to date, much less fall in love. In the end Charlie will have to be a mentor to me.”

It seems the New York Comic Con also jazzed Manoux up considerably.

“We were there during their kids block and a lot of parents brought their 8-9 year olds,” says Manoux. “They all dug it and that felt good. The parents thought we were really cool while the kids wanted to know how I took my head off. Our villains are intense, but I think what the kids really got off on was how we could run off the sides of buildings, shooting zip lines, things like that.”

One thing Manoux says also helps the show is his co-star, Kelly Blatz, as the lead of Charlie/Aaron Stone.

“He’s just fantastic,” Manoux admits. “I can not think of a more ambitious thing to take on than his role. The guy does have some credits, but he’s never had quite the work load this show presents him with. I mean in a day we may do nine scenes, and he’ll be in eight of them. That’s long hours and really tough for even the most seasoned of us.”

As the series is a high-torque action show, Manoux also has lots of praise of the stunt team.

“Our stunt performers are very gifted in Le Parkour running,” he said. “They're called Fast Motion and are out of Montreal. These guys, all they need are a good pair of tennis shoes. Then they could do anything. My double is an ex-Cirque du Soleil guy. His acrobatic abilities are phenomenal. He makes me look really, really good.”

Apparently it’s looking good enough that Disney is putting a lot of promotional muscle behind the show. Of all the new series showing up on their newly christened XD channel, it’s getting one tremendous push.

“It’s a show we worked so hard on, so it feels real good to be getting this huge marketing push as well,” says Manoux. “I personally don’t think we’re going to win that many 16-18 year olds right off the bat. We’re likely to really delight the 10-14 year olds, and then we’ll get their older brothers and parents are sitting there watching with them. It’s a real next step for kids."

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