When the credits for Monday's new episode of Manifest name both Curtiss Cook and Curtiss Cook Jr., it is not a coincidence.
The second episode of the series, titled "Reentry," features the heartwarming reunion between Montego Air Flight 828 passenger Radd (Cook) and his now 18-year-old son — played by Cook's real life son.
Cook, who brings the concert violinist fans first met briefly in the pilot episode of NBC's new mysterious drama, recently spoke to PopCulture.com about the opportunity to play his character's emotional journey alongside his real son — even calling it "a gift from the Gods."
"I told him to put in the work and he did," Cook told PopCulture.com in a phone interview on Thursday, Sept. 6 when talking about motivating his son through his audition process. "I got one of the greatest gifts I could imagine. Even now I can feel myself welling up a bit. It was really special."
Cook revealed that Radd was in Jamaica for a one-night performance with the Jamaica Philharmonic, and left his then 13-year-old son in the care of a neighbor as he was supposed to be back from his trip the next day. With the flight from Jamaica to New York mysteriously landing five years after it took off, Radd's son is now 18 and in jail.
As he desperately attempts to find his son, Radd's newfound abilities after the plane's landing connects him to one of the other passengers for help.
"In this episode, he has the urge to play this song [with his violin], and the other passengers have also been hearing the song, thus bringing him and Ben (Josh Dallas) together to figure out what has happened to his son," Cook said.
Cook promised that the scenes featuring Radd's reunion with his son would come with much emotion, intensified by the fact the father-son duo is portrayed by a real life father and son.
As to how they both got to be cast in their roles together, Cook gave credit to casting direct Julie Schubert for the idea. After the Manifest pilot had been cast and shot, Schubert had the idea to bring Cook's son Curtiss Jr. to audition for the role of his on-screen son for episode 2.
"I told her, 'I just got chills all over the side of my body,'" Cook said, recalling how he felt at the time. "It wasn't for sure yet, but just the idea of it gave me chills."
After as many as three auditions, Curtiss Jr. was cast in the role, and — holding back tears — Curtiss opened up about the "special" day he shared with his son working together on the Manifest set.
"I was such a proud dad at the moment seeing his work, and in those scenes... There's some crying going on," Cook said. "It was very easy to allow that emotion (in the scene to come through) because looking at his eyes... he was the one who made me a father, he is my first son. I'd just think, 'Oh my God, this dude is right here across from me, on NBC, on a network television show, playing my son. This is a miracle!"
Cook was delighted once again, he revealed, when he found out the episode would be airing on Oct. 1 — one day before his birthday.0comments
"All of this is falling right on my lap," Cook said. "I'm with my son, the day before my birthday on NBC, [on] a network television show. How much more can [I] ask for?"
Tune in for Radd's emotional reunion with his son as Manifest airs its second episode Monday at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.