Over the course of an acting career spanning over three decades, Manoj K. Jayan has breathed life into several memorable characters in Malayalam cinema, underlining time and again his versatility as a character actor. A three-time winner of the Kerala State Film Award for Second Best Actor, Manoj has appeared in around 200 movies across all major South Indian film industries. Some of his best known roles include Kuttan Thampuran from the musical drama Sargam (1992), Digambaran from the dark fantasy film Anandabhadram (2005) and Thalakkal Chanthu in the historical drama Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja (2009).
Manoj made his feature film debut with a minor role in the 1986 movie Ente Sonia, and rose to prominence courtesy of his performances in movies like Perumthachan (1990) and Kudumbasametham (1992). However, it was the musical drama Sargam (1992) which marked a turning point in the actor`s career. Manoj`s portrayal of Kuttan Thampuran, an epileptic with a fierce temper, earned him praise from all quarters and won him the first State Film Award of his career. Following this, he started appearing in leading roles as well. Chamayam (1993), Venkalam (1993), Pidakkozhi Koovunna Noottandu (1994), Churam (1997) and Kannur (1997) were some of Manoj`s notable movie credits as a leading man in the 1990s.
The prolific actor continued to deliver impressive performances in Mollywood in the 2000s as well, and ventured into Kollywood and Tollywood through movies like Dhool (2003), Thirumalai (2003), Thirupaachi (2005), Souryam (2008) and Villu (2009). In 2010, Manoj`s portrayal of the tribal leader Thalakkal Chanthu in the historical drama Pazhassi Raja won him the second State Film Award of his career. Other notable acting credits include Sukrutham (1994), Valliettan (2000), Ravanaprabhu (2001), Kaazhcha (2004), Big B (2007) and Thattathin Marayathu (2012). The black comedy-thriller Neram (2013), the bilingual anthology film , Solo (2017) and the romantic drama My Story (2018) are among Manoj`s significant acting credits in recent times. His 2019 releases include 18am Padi, directed by Shankar Ramakrishnan and Ganagandharvan.