Aida Rodriguez wanted her first HBO special to be more than a comedy show. She wanted to depict the parts of her past that are foundational to her comedy. So that’s why she filmed a short documentary about her visits to Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, as she reunited with the father she hadn't seen in 40 years. Marc and Aida talk about how she got comedy material out of a life story that included being kidnapped twice, finding herself raising her children without a home, and breaking into the business later in life.
Guillermo del Toro believes in one universal truth: We all get to a moment in our lives when we see ourselves for who we really are. That belief not only guides his own life, it guides the characters through his many films. Guillermo and Marc talk about how he takes on the dark forces of the world in his movies, including his latest, Nightmare Alley. They also discuss his friendship with fellow Oscar-winning directors Alejandro González Iñárritu and Alfonso Cuarón, his expansive collection of oddities, and his strong identification with outsider characters and monsters.
Despite multiple Oscars and billions of dollars in box office returns, Peter Jackson still has the same interests he had when he was 10 years old: First World War airplanes, monster movies, using his Super 8 camera, and The Beatles. Peter tells Marc what it was like to be entrusted with more than 60 hours of Beatles footage to make the new documentary Get Back, why he was filled with dread when he started the project, and why he was surprised by what he found when he went through the footage.
At one point, Chan Marshall was in a band called Cat Power. But it’s appropriate for someone like Chan, who had to be self-reliant almost from birth, that she’d adopt the name as her own once the band dissolved. Chan and Marc talk about her rebirth as Cat Power, the Atlanta music scene in the early ‘90s, carrying trauma throughout her life, and finding out that making music grounded her in something real for the first time. They also focus on her eclectic collections of cover songs as she prepares to release another album of them.
Halle Berry wasn’t supposed to be in the movie Bruised. And she definitely wasn’t supposed to direct the movie Bruised. Then she wound up being in it and directing it, but no one wanted to take a chance on it. Now it’s such a hit for Netflix that they’ve signed her to a multi-picture deal. Halle tells Marc what it took to get to this place in her life and career, transcending her childhood of abuse to create a portfolio of performances where she breathes life into broken people.
Still only in his early 30s, Jesse Plemons has already delivered a laundry list of indelible performances in everything from Breaking Bad to Friday Night Lights to Black Mass, working with directors like Paul Thomas Anderson, Martin Scorsese and now Jane Campion in The Power of the Dog. Jesse tells Marc how a humble kid from Central Texas cultivated an acting career that would be the envy of any performer. They also talk about what it’s like for Jesse to act opposite his wife, Kirsten Dunst.
Jennifer Hudson didn’t start singing with her eyes open until she was 19 years old. That’s not a metaphor. Jennifer tells Marc how she was so afraid to sing in public, the only way she could do it was by closing her eyes. They talk about what it was like to finally feel brave enough to open them and the doors that also opened up when she did. Jennifer explains the centrality of church in her life, how faith helped guide her through unspeakable tragedy, and why she got Aretha Franklin’s blessing to portray her in the movie Respect.
Benedict Cumberbatch is a busy man. When he’s not holding the Marvel Universe together as Doctor Strange or making prestige dramas with celebrated directors, he’s flying between the U.S. and the U.K. to raise a family. Benedict and Marc talk about his latest projects, The Electrical Life of Louis Wain and Jane Campion’s The Power of The Dog, as well as his early life as the child of two working actors. Plus a lot of talk about cats.
Bill Pullman’s upbringing in rural Western New York prepared him for a multifaceted life, since he always had to keep his options open. So aside from being an actor, Bill’s also been a theater teacher, a rancher, a fruit grower, even a traveling Shakespeare performer in Montana. Bill and Marc talk about how he incorporated dream analysis into his performances in both David Lynch’s Lost Highway and his current show The Sinner, why Spaceballs was actually a great crash course in movie acting, and what’s the root cause of the timeless Pullman-Paxton confusion.
WTF takes over the historic Paris Theater in New York City for the first live audience episode of the show in more than six years. Marc is joined by film critic and historian Jason Bailey, author of the new book Fun City Cinema. They get into what the movies tell us about New York and what New York tells us about ourselves. Marc and Jason go over this history of movie making in NYC, including a deep dive into The Taking of Pelham 123 from Jason’s Fun City Cinema podcast.