When Bruce Dern showed up at The Actors Studio, Lee Strasberg told him he was going to be their Frankenstein Monster and Elia Kazan told him “you’re not into acting, you’re just into being.” But they also told Bruce he would never be a leading man and no one would know who he is until his 60s. It was the start of a career that spanned hundreds of movies, TV shows and plays, and shows no signs of letting up. Bruce goes through all of it with Marc, including his experiences working with legends, shooting John Wayne in the back, being friends with Jack Nicholson, and finally becoming that leading man with a breakthrough performance at age 79. This episode is sponsored by Vital Farms and Stamps.com.
When Marc first saw Edi Patterson on Vice Principals, he knew she was the kind of performer who can’t possibly stifle who she is. It turns out her raw, comedic intensity was born in Texas oil-refining country, where she was an anxious, sensitive kid who was in a full-blown existential crisis in fourth grade. Edi tells Marc how she figured out how to fake confidence, how she owes a lot of her growth to an actor from Hogan’s Heroes, and how she wound up collaborating with Danny McBride on shows and movies, including their latest series together, The Righteous Gemstones. This episode is sponsored by Spotify, SimpliSafe and BetterHelp.
Unlike Marc, Dale Beran was immersed in internet culture for most of his life. He considered himself an artistic, creative person with aspirations to become a writer. But what Dale discovered in the online communities he frequented was a disconnected, nihilistic disposition that evolved from meme creation to activism to alt-right and white supremacist ideologies. Dale thoroughly documents the online worlds that created a culture of toxic trolling in his book It Came From Something Awful, which provides a major piece of the puzzle to understand what happened in the 2016 election and what is happening to youth culture in America. This episode is sponsored by The Comedy Central Roast of Alec Baldwin, Squarespace, and Bombas.
Legendary blues guitarist Buddy Guy had many insecurities about performing and they didn’t really subside until musicians like Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck would tell him how big of an influence he was on them. Buddy tells Marc about is humble beginnings, growing up in Louisiana to sharecropper parents, picking cotton for small amounts of money. His high energy performances, inspired by Guitar Slim, helped Buddy stand out among his peers, but respect in the industry was hard fought and late coming, with his breakout record arriving when Buddy was in his 50s. This episode is sponsored by Starbucks Tripleshot Energy and Ben & Jerry's.
Betty Gilpin’s performance on GLOW has brought her critical accolades, Emmy nominations, and personal fulfillment. So why does she feel like she’s constantly running from a monster that is snapping at her ankles? Part of it is she lost a certain degree of invisibility as a performer and as her visibility rises the job gets harder and weirder. Betty and Marc discuss the strange out-of-body experiences of talk shows and junkets, and how learning to fight for yourself becomes a critical survival tool. Betty also deploys an elaborate metaphor for life that involves vestibules, Patti Smith, soil and brain scrolls. This episode is sponsored by Anchor (anchor.fm/wtf), Spotify (spotify.com/drive), Google Fi, and BetterHelp.
David Shields is always looking to push the form forward, whether it’s by way of his writing, his filmmaking or his thinking. Using collage-style prose and film techniques to help draw connections, David intrigued Marc with what his art says about the world and our place in it. So the two of them had a talk about some of David’s recent work exploring war, journalism, race, masculinity, Donald Trump, and football player Marshawn Lynch. Both David and Marc try to find the connections, in the work and in their separate lives. This episode is sponsored by Squarespace, NHTSA, and Ben & Jerry's.
Patricia Clarkson came to show business by way of New Orleans, where exposure to all manner of public figures who were equal parts good and bad may explain why she never judges the characters she plays, even if they’re monstrous. That’s true of her Emmy-nominated performance in Sharp Objects and her stage performance as Blanche DuBois, a role Patricia says she had to survive. She also talks with Marc about working with Brian DePalma and Clint Eastwood in her first two films, struggling in Hollywood in her 30s, and feeling like actors her age are now having a heyday. This episode is sponsored by The Righteous Gemstones on HBO, Stamps.com, and Starbucks Tripleshot Energy.
From Episode 930, Marc's conversation with actor Peter Fonda about childhood trauma, Easy Rider, and talking George Harrison down from a bad trip. Peter passed away on August 16, 2019.
Stephen Root grew up moving all over the country because of his dad’s job. Being uprooted all the time meant he was shy and quiet without too many friends. Fortunately, shy, quiet people are good observers. Stephen tells Marc how he was able to channel this childhood disposition into his acting and each opportunity always led to something else. Shakespearean acting helped him play a Klingon on Star Trek. Working on King of the Hill led him to a table read of Office Space. Stephen even sees Newsradio as paving the way for his work on Barry, for which he received his first Emmy nomination. This episode is sponsored by The Righteous Gemstones on HBO, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Ben & Jerry's, and Starbucks Tripleshot Energy.
Bashir Salahuddin is having a moment. He has two new shows out that he co-created and stars in, South Side and Sherman’s Showcase. He’s back in the third season of GLOW. And he’ll be in Top Gun: Maverick next year. But despite all this, Bashir tells Marc that he still struggles with the business aspect of show business. They also talk about his upbringing in Chicago, working with his comedy partner Diallo Riddle, writing for Jimmy Fallon, and dealing with a case of impostor syndrome while working with Tom Cruise. This episode is sponsored by Lights Out with David Spade on Comedy Central, Spotify, Good Boys from Universal Pictures, and Starbucks Tripleshot Energy.