Barry Jenkins is grateful that he’s been able to harness the tools of filmmaking in order to tell the stories of his ancestors. Barry and Marc get into all the details of making the ten-part series The Underground Railroad and how Barry differentiates between the projects he’s made with his head and the ones he’s made with his gut. The also talk about Moonlight, bringing James Baldwin’s words to the screen, and why it was important to have an on-set counselor for this recent undertaking.
When Liesl Tommy got hired as a first-time feature film director to make the new Aretha Franklin movie Respect, she knew there were 100 reasons why she couldn’t screw it up. Marc and Liesl talk about their experience making the film together and Liesl explains how she’s no stranger to uphill battles. From growing up under apartheid in South Africa to being an outsider as an immigrant in America to making her way around the world as a theater director, Liesl’s path to Respect is anything but a traditional Hollywood story.
Marlon Wayans and Marc spent their time on the set of the movie Respect cracking each other up and that dynamic continues in the garage. It's a situation that's familiar to Marlon, growing up with nine funny siblings and hanging around legendary comedians since he was a kid. Marlon also talks about accessing his serious side in films like Requiem for a Dream and harnessing the grief over his mother's death when he got back on the stand-up stage.
Sterlin Harjo is relishing the opportunity to depict Native lives and stories on mainstream television with his new FX comedy series Reservation Dogs. But it’s not like entertainment industry was a wide open door for Indigenous filmmakers like himself. Sterlin tells Marc about the DIY beginnings of his film career, the formation of his sketch group The 1491s, his friendship with Taika Waititi, and why he feels he’s standing on the shoulders of artists like Charlie Hill, Gary Farmer, Wes Studi and others.
Tom McCarthy approaches his films like a journalist, even when he’s creating a work of fiction. Just as a reporter discovers facts about their stories, Tom’s years of research help him unearth truths about the characters he’s creating. Tom and Marc talk about how this played out in the process of making movies like Stillwater, Spotlight and The Station Agent. They also talk about how Tom’s devout Catholic parents reacted to him making a movie about the deep rot within the church.
Marc is concerned about the erosion of critical thinking as a broad part of American society. So who better to talk criticism than a person who makes his living doing just that? A.O. Scott brings his expertise as the film and culture critic for the New York Times to this conversation about how we need to be in dialogue with culture and art amidst increasing polarization and the oppressive power of the algorithm. They talk about movies, books, comedy, comic books and all the things we benefit from looking at with a critical eye.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s long career in show business has left him with a keen sense of the problems caused by the constant bombardment of media and technology in our lives. Joseph tells Marc how he was able to channel some of his anxieties about how we’re navigating the modern world in his new series Mr. Corman. They also talk about his life in New Zealand, growing up on the screen, and why he hopes his company HitRECord can take the edge off social media.
Lindsey Buckingham wasn’t going to let anything - from the pandemic to major heart surgery - stand in the way of finishing his new self-titled solo album. But it was in part his work on the album and the planning of a live tour that led to Lindsey being ousted from Fleetwood Mac after nearly 45 years. Lindsey and Marc talk about being part of the band’s most successful lineup, his evolving relationships with his bandmates, and the creative goals he continues to work toward in his solo career.
Matt Damon's continuing presence and popularity in American films can be summed up in four words: He loves to act. Matt tells Marc how he made the most out of working with icons like Clint Eastwood, Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, Jack Nicholson, Denzel Washington and many more. He also talks about teaming back up with Ben Affleck for their first screenplay since Good Will Hunting and making his latest film, Stillwater, with Tom McCarthy.
Sovereign Syre and Marc have been friends for several years, sharing career paths in comedy, podcasting and writing. Now, as she ventures for the first time into the fraught process of pitching and selling a television pilot, Sovereign and Marc talk about her life leading up to this moment: Her painfully shy early years, her turbulent home life, her academic exceptionalism, her years lost to drug addiction, her entry into the world of adult entertainment, and the leap of faith she took to exit that world.