Billie Jean King is forever remembered as the winner of the Battle of the Sexes, but the battles she fought for equal pay and non-discrimination are still reverberating today. Billie talks with Marc about her realization at 12 years old that she needed to fight for equality, her founding of the Women’s Tennis Association, and her advice for today’s players. They also talk about the mental and emotional toll of sports for all athletes, which were compounded for Billie as she struggled with her sexuality and suffered from an eating disorder.
Ever since Marc and Kimmy Gatewood said goodbye to each other and their fellow castmates on the set of GLOW, the world has been in a constant state of flux. Marc and Kimmy spend some time catching up and dive into the details of Kimmy's experience directing her first feature film, Good On Paper. They also talk about Kimmy's improv history, her studies of Samuel Beckett, her partnership with Rebekka Johnson, and their early days of podcasting as The Apple Sisters.
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.