Hundreds of students piled into the Glenbrook Gymnasium on March 4 to watch Castleton alumni Henriette Mantel introduce her 2005 film “An Unreasonable Man.”As a student at Castleton, Mantel lived in Morrill Hall as an American Studies major. She explained the major allowed a wide range of topics.
“Basically (I could) take every class I wanted to take and then make it into a major,” Mantel said.
And like many students, Mantel said she really had no idea what she wanted to do after graduation.
Since graduating from Castleton in 1976, Mantel has become an accomplished actress, comedian and film writer.
But before that, she held other jobs.
For several years after graduation, she waited tables at a ski resort. Soon she went seeking a job, writing letters to three of her idols, including public-interest lawyer Ralph Nader.
Nader happened to be the one to respond.
“He told me it was because of my return address,” said Mantel. “His favorite grade-school teacher had been from Vermont.”
From there she went on to do many other big things, acting as the role of Alice in the “Brady Bunch” film, and performing in an episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “Sex in the City.”
She would later cross paths with Nader yet again.
After the 2000 presidential election, Mantel said that comedian Andy Kindler got right into her face and told her that Nader was ruining the country. It was then she realized someone had to do something to change this general opinion.
She chose to be that someone.
Mantel would then direct the film “An Unreasonable Man,” which takes a glimpse into the life of Nader, showing how without ever holding public office he was able to develop such a vast legislative record.
The film also offers different perspective as to why Nader is often blamed for Al Gore’s controversial loss to George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential election.
Although the 122-minute film left the cramped students in Glenbrook a bit antsy near the end of it, many found it educational and interesting.
Castleton freshman Ethan Garhartt, a supporter of Ralph Nader, said that he really enjoyed the political aspect of the film and the fact that it explored the “political development of Ralph very well.”
And even those who were not as passionate about the film enjoyed listening to Mantel.
“She saved the show during the question and answer session with her sarcasm and energy,” said freshman Jacob Ferry.
During this question and answer session, when asked if she liked Castleton and how it had prepared her for life, Mantel provided a brief anecdote explaining how one of her male friends was dropping her off in front of Morrill Hall.
She told him to bring her inside, and although he was “not under the influence,” he drove straight through the front doors.
“That cost a lot of money to repair,” said Mantel, laughing. “I loved Castleton.”
“Castleton taught me that I could be good at things I like and that I should stay away from things I don’t,” she said. “I have learned that if you have a story to tell- tell it.”
“People are going to tell you that you shouldn’t tell it, but if you have one: tell it,” Mantel said.