Wendell Pierce isn't doing a lot of acting during the pandemic, but he's keeping busy. He's spending more time with his 95-year-old father in New Orleans, he’s hosting radio shows on a local station he bought, and he's helping to figure out the future of live theater. Wendell and Marc talk about his time on The Wire and the unique way he experienced that show. They also discuss what he learned playing Willy Loman last year and how Led Zeppelin and jazz helped him become a better actor.
Toni Collette might be the first actor to tell Marc that, yes, she does learn about herself through the characters she plays. That's a lot of learning, considering the wide range of characters Toni has played over the years. Toni and Marc talk about how she grew into herself while starring in movies like Muriel's Wedding, The Sixth Sense, Hereditary and now in Charlie Kaufman's latest, I'm Thinking of Ending Things, a movie that left Marc asking a lot of questions (which he'll try to get Toni to answer).
Even in the face this year, Martin Short remains an optimistic guy. Maybe it’s because he’s had a career he loves, or maybe it’s his mild-mannered Canadian disposition, or maybe it’s because he suffered through a lot of tragedy as a kid. Martin and Marc try to figure it out, and they also talk about his live shows with Steve Martin, the difference between doing SCTV and SNL, why Martin considers 80% of his career to be a failure, and why believes that a 20% success rate is high for a career in show business.
One year ago, Marc used the Labor Day episode of WTF to find out why so much bad stuff in the world gets birthed in the darkest corners of the internet. A year later, it's only gotten worse. Marc talks with comic artist Matt Furie about how his creation, Pepe the Frog, was appropriated by online racists and Nazis, and Arthur Jones explains why he made a documentary about Matt's quest to reclaim Pepe. Also, Andrew Marantz from The New Yorker joins Marc to help draw the line from Pepe to QAnon and other fanatical online behavior.
J.K. Simmons faced a tough balancing act when his lifelong nonchalance about awards for acting came up against him becoming the runaway favorite to win an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. J.K. and Marc talk about how he reconciled that contradiction with help from Jason Reitman and how his late-blooming Hollywood career helped him maintain perspective. They also talk about his time on stage in Seattle, Broadway and regional theaters across the country, his fear of being typecast when he was on Oz, and the big shift that happened when he made Juno.
Chelsea Peretti joined Marc in the garage more than ten years ago on a very early episode of WTF. Since then she became a writer for Parks and Rec, played Gina on Brooklyn 99, got married to Jordan Peele, and became a mom. Now she’s catching up with Marc about coffee, creative satisfaction, overcoming her fear of commitment, raising a toddler while sheltering at home, and the coping strategies of the pandemic era. They also talk about her first lead role in the new movie Spinster.
It’s been 20 years since Marc demanded that someone “lock the gates” on Billy Crudup and the rest of the band in Almost Famous. Now that both of them are older and wiser, Billy and Marc discuss the simultaneous drudgery and privilege of acting. They also talk about why Billy often opted for roles in the theater over roles in movies, why he thinks he wasn’t destined to be a Hollywood leading man, and how he’s settled into a career as a character actor by virtue of only taking the parts he finds interesting.
Whether it’s Gus from Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul or Buggin’ Out from Do The Right Thing or Moff Gideon from The Mandalorian, Giancarlo Esposito’s characters always leave an indelible impression. Perhaps that’s because Giancarlo spent a lot of his life reflecting on his own character and where he belonged. He talks with Marc about growing up as the son of an Italian carpenter and a Black nightclub singer, trying to figure out where he fit in. They also talk about life lessons Giancarlo received from George C. Scott and Spike Lee.
A lot is going on for Kieran Culkin right now. He’s a new dad, he has an Emmy nomination, he’s dealing with life during the pandemic like the rest of us. But chaos is familiar to Kieran, who grew up in a railroad apartment with six brothers and sisters, all of whom were pushed toward show business by their father. Kieran and Marc talk about that childhood environment, why Kieran and his brothers love pro wrestling, and how he established himself as an actor, including in his role as Roman Roy on Succession.
Kerry Washington has a lot to talk about with Marc, but it’s appropriate that they spend the first portion of their conversation singing the praises of Lynn Shelton. Kerry talks about what Lynn brought to Little Fires Everywhere, but they also discuss how the treatment of race was different on the show than it was in the book and why that adjustment was so important to Kerry. She tells Marc about her childhood in the Bronx, her feeling of being “the other” in high school, and her determination to tell stories that amplify voices that are otherwise unheard.