Before directing his first feature film, Reinaldo Marcus Green's life could have gone down multiple paths. There was baseball in his teen years, then teaching elementary school students, then going to work on Wall Street, then helping his brother and other filmmakers with their movies. But it was a short film of his own made with a cop friend that led to an impassioned discussion between the two of them, which provided the impetus to make Monsters and Men. Reinaldo takes Marc down all of these connected routes ending with a film that asks difficult questions and doesn't provide easy answers. This episode is sponsored by TurboTax Live and the New York Times Crossword App.
Kyle Dunnigan was saved from a midlife crisis by Instagram. He explains to Marc how he bent the social media platform to suit his comedy as they both discuss the challenges of facing down middle age. Kyle takes Marc all the way back to when he was a young song-and-dance-man in high school who got suspended for doing a stand-up routine at the talent show. Kyle also talks about the conditions surrounding his high-profile writing jobs, first writing on Sarah Silverman’s show after the two of them had broken up and then being in the middle of a joke-stealing controversy while writing for Amy Schumer. This episode is sponsored by the New York Times Crossword App.
Topher Grace is at a point where he’s only going to make what he wants to make. Not all actors can afford that luxury, but Topher tells Marc that working on That '70s Show for seven years taught him more about acting than any school, working with Ashton Kutcher taught him about being fully committed to everything you do, and working with auteurs like Steven Soderbergh, Christopher Nolan and most recently Spike Lee taught him you don’t have to compromise your vision. Topher and Marc also talk about the difficulty of playing a person for whom you have no empathy, as was the case with David Duke in BlacKkKlansman. This episode is sponsored by Stand-Up Month on Comedy Central, Squarespace, SimpliSafe, and Carnival Cruise Line.
Fahim Anwar's path to show business went through Boeing. It's not the most traditional route to Hollywood success, but it was necessary for a son of immigrant parents who did not approve of his standup comedy pursuit. Marc finds out about those early days in Seattle when Fahim was engineering by day and secretly doing standup by night. They also talk about comedy attire mistakes, experimenting with drugs later in life, and Fahim's new sketch comedy project, Goatface. This episode is sponsored by Squarespace, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and YouTube Music.
Michael Diamond and Adam Horovitz deal with many of the typical challenges of middle age, but they’re still deeply in touch with the alter egos they created four decades ago: Mike D and Ad-Rock. They tell Marc about running wild as kids in late-70s/early-80s New York City, meeting their bandmate Adam “MCA” Yauch, collaborating and then falling out with Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons, the differences between opening for Madonna and opening for Run-DMC, and the honest self-reflection prompted by the music and style of their early years. This episode is sponsored by Springsteen On Broadway: The Complete Live Performance Album, Holmes & Watson, Stamps.com, and Squarespace.
Maggie Gyllenhaal grew up with filmmaker parents but didn't really feel like her family was in show business. That disconnect has helped her in her work and life, like when she performs with her husband, Peter Sarsgaard, or when she turns to her mother for screenwriting advice. Maggie and Marc also talk about the sexual politics of The Deuce and how they match up with the Hollywood today, her relationship to poetry and how that factored into her performance in The Kindergarten Teacher, what she learned about herself making Secretary, and what kind of support system she shares with her brother Jake. This episode is sponsored by Omaha Steaks, YouTube Music, 23andMe, and the New York Times Crossword Puzzle App.
Jeff Daniels has delivered great performances in films, plays and TV shows for more than 40 years but he thought a true “dream role” had eluded him. Until now. Marc talks with Jeff in the midst of rehearsals for Aaron Sorkin’s adaptation of To Kill A Mockingbird on Broadway, in which Jeff plays Atticus Finch. Jeff explains how he applies his Midwest work ethic to acting, why he sustains his own theater company in Michigan, and what he learned about the job of acting from people like James Cagney, Clint Eastwood, Jack Nicholson, and Debra Winger. This episode is sponsored by Spotify, Holmes & Watson, SimpliSafe, and quip.
Ted Alexandro is a comic who believes deeply in social responsibility. Whether it’s responsibility to his fellow comics as he fought for better pay from clubs, or to his fellow citizens as part of the Occupy Wall Street movement, or to his audience as he wrestles with effectively addressing the Trump Era on the comedy stage. Ted talks with Marc about the evolving nature of a comedian’s role in the culture, how his experience as an elementary school teacher prepared him for standup, and why he felt it was necessary to do material at the Comedy Cellar that was critical of Louis CK’s return to the Comedy Cellar. This episode is sponsored by Funny or Die's No Activity on CBS All Access, Omaha Steaks, Molekule, and YouTube Music.
Tim Blake Nelson might be a familiar face due to his indelible character roles in many films, but that didn’t stop him from defying just about all of Marc’s preconceptions about him. Marc had no idea, for example, about Tim’s Jewish upbringing in Tulsa, or that his family escaped the Holocaust and became oil drillers in America, or that Tim tried his hand at stand-up in the 80s, or that he studied the classics in hopes of becoming a professor or an archeologist. They talk about all of that stuff and a lot about the Coen Brothers, too, particularly their new movie with Tim, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. This episode is sponsored by The Shivering Truth on Adult Swim, Spotify, SimpliSafe, and Stamps.com.
Jeff Tweedy doesn’t spend a lot of time reflecting on the past. But he awakened a whole lot of it while writing his new memoir. That means he has fresh thoughts on his mind about Jay Farrar, Uncle Tupelo, the early days of Wilco, and coming into his own as a musician and producer, which is on display in his new solo album, Warm. Jeff also talks with Marc about his experiences with mood disorders, painkiller addiction, parenthood, and converting to Judaism. This episode is sponsored by YouTube Music, Nightflyers on SYFY, YouTube Music, Quip, and the New York Times Crossword App.