Cover image of Off Camera with Sam Jones
(1157)

Rank #53 in Arts category

Arts
TV & Film

Off Camera with Sam Jones

Updated 5 days ago

Rank #53 in Arts category

Arts
TV & Film
Read more

Off Camera is a podcast hosted by photographer/director Sam Jones, who created the show out of his passion for the long form conversational interview, and as a way to share his conversations with a myriad of artists, actors, musicians, directors, skateboarders, photographers, and writers that pique his interest. Because the best conversations happen Off Camera.

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Off Camera is a podcast hosted by photographer/director Sam Jones, who created the show out of his passion for the long form conversational interview, and as a way to share his conversations with a myriad of artists, actors, musicians, directors, skateboarders, photographers, and writers that pique his interest. Because the best conversations happen Off Camera.

iTunes Ratings

1157 Ratings
Average Ratings
1044
68
20
12
13

Dear Sam,

By schmidtyNIDAHONOHICK - Nov 28 2019
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I really enjoy you! You’re a fantastic interviewer and seem like a great dude. You were docked one star because of your relationship with Dax Shepard and Kristen Christ Bell...they are the absolute worse people I can think of in the Western Hemisphere. I’ll throw the sidekick Monica in too. Please keep setting such a great example for all of us. You guys embody success and happiness. 🍆💦🥛💋😤🕯 -Les Couchon- 💄🐷🍒👠

A space for Artists

By Tamisha Francois - Nov 07 2019
Read more
Much needed space for expression and insight.

iTunes Ratings

1157 Ratings
Average Ratings
1044
68
20
12
13

Dear Sam,

By schmidtyNIDAHONOHICK - Nov 28 2019
Read more
I really enjoy you! You’re a fantastic interviewer and seem like a great dude. You were docked one star because of your relationship with Dax Shepard and Kristen Christ Bell...they are the absolute worse people I can think of in the Western Hemisphere. I’ll throw the sidekick Monica in too. Please keep setting such a great example for all of us. You guys embody success and happiness. 🍆💦🥛💋😤🕯 -Les Couchon- 💄🐷🍒👠

A space for Artists

By Tamisha Francois - Nov 07 2019
Read more
Much needed space for expression and insight.

Listen to:

Cover image of Off Camera with Sam Jones

Off Camera with Sam Jones

Updated 5 days ago

Read more

Off Camera is a podcast hosted by photographer/director Sam Jones, who created the show out of his passion for the long form conversational interview, and as a way to share his conversations with a myriad of artists, actors, musicians, directors, skateboarders, photographers, and writers that pique his interest. Because the best conversations happen Off Camera.

57. Kristen Bell

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Kristen Bell’s early career dream was not singing or acting. She wanted to be a Disney princess. So tread carefully, karma-deniers. We put her self-described mix of “bubbles and rainbows and sunshine” at a good 90 percent of her DNA, but it’s that little ten percent that may reveal the most about her. A lifelong struggle with depression and anxiety will either stunt you, or help you take a good look at yourself and make some life-defining decisions. It can make you a good actor, too. Coming up, the emotions Bell felt she couldn’t express in real life lent nuance and believability to characters across the good-to-bitchy spectrum. In a candid and funny conversation, Bell shares personal and professional challenges, the surprising things that bring her joy now, and why everyone needs Veronica Mars as their imaginary friend. She also explains why she married a hillbilly from Michigan. That would be Dax Shepard, who wasn’t with us. . .or was he?

Apr 07 2016

1hr 1min

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05. Robert Downey Jr

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“Moral certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority. The more uncivilized the man, the surer he is that he knows precisely what is right and what is wrong. The truly civilized man is always skeptical and tolerant, in this field as in all others. His culture is based on ‘I am not too sure.’" -H.L. Mencken

Henry Louis Mencken and Robert Downey Jr. did not cross paths in life (though it’s fun to imagine that conversation), but the essayist’s quote is an apt description of the actor’s approach to life. Downey’s restless intelligence is reflected in his ability to express several contradictory points of view simultaneously, making sense all the while. He can be direct one moment and elusive the next, often spinning off on seemingly unrelated tangents. But like watching a juggler on a wire, being in Downey’s presence is a riveting experience.

For someone who almost from the outset was deemed “the greatest actor of his generation”, the majority of Robert Downey, Jr.’s career has been filled with big commercial flops, “critically acclaimed” flops, very public struggles with drugs and more than a little jail time – all of which have landed him squarely in some of the biggest blockbuster films in recent history. It’s an unlikely hero story, but then Robert Downey Jr. is an unlikely hero.

With the release of the final film in the Iron Man trilogy, it’s ironic to contemplate that the studios also didn’t see him as a hero, least of all an action hero. Downey disagreed. At once supremely convinced of his own talent and extremely humble, he fought hard for the role of Tony Stark when the studio flatly refused to even let him audition. He prepped intensely, though for other roles he admits he’s just as likely to wing it.

Downey is an enviably comfortable resident of the gray area we all inhabit. He is (somewhat) remorseful about his jail time but without resentment towards the upbringing that arguably introduced him to the lifestyle that led him there (“I choose to see it in a positive light.”) His years in the industry have left him clear-eyed and cynical about the business; yet he remains full of enthusiasm and curiosity about his art, and he’s deadly serious about bringing the best of himself to the set every day. He’s an obsessive analytic who’s inclined to let his gut make most of his decisions. On any multiple-choice personality test, Robert Downey Jr. is ‘all of the above.’ Maybe that’s what keeps us watching.

Nov 23 2013

1hr 11mins

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15. Matt Damon

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When a kid tells you he wants to be an actor and starts holding regular meetings in the high school cafeteria with his “business partner” it’s kind of cute. When they establish a joint bank account to fund New York audition trips and the occasional arcade game, well call it naive. Unless you are Matt Damon and said business partner is Ben Affleck, then call it a no Plan B laser like focus on a goal. One that spawned the Academy Award winning script for Good Will Hunting. What started as an attempt to write themselves into acting jobs garnered Damon not only accolades but also some early lessons about fame, career choices, and the industry he was determined to be a part of. It also enrolled him in a 20 year on the job master class with the best film makers of our generation including Martin Scorsese, the Coen Brothers, Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood, Steven Soderbergh, Francis Ford Coppola, and Gus Van Sant. Along the way he also developed an uncanny ability to disappear into any character and become someone believable different in every film. So what could possibly be next? Damon tells Off Camera why no matter what it is, it will be something that he absolutely loves. So pull up a chair and listen in.

Nov 04 2014

1hr 15mins

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176. Dax Shepard

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It’s been 140 episodes since Dax Shepard last sat down with me, and a lot has changed since—he directed a film (ChiPs), started Armchair Expert, which is one of the best and most popular podcasts of 2018 (after stealing all of my secrets, of course), and learned a lot about what truly makes him happy in the process.

In fact, his entire podcast is inspired by his fascination with true happiness.  “A lot of us go through life thinking, ‘I would be happy, if…’ ‘I would have self-esteem, if…’ ‘I would know contentment, if…’ But those are illusions that most people don’t get to find out are illusions.”

Dax had the dubious honor of learning that lesson first hand. Early in his career, he had all of the status markers and money that he thought would make him happy, but none of that prevented him from reaching one of the lowest points in his life, magnified by his demoralizing addiction to alcohol and drugs. Huddled in an airport bar, sucking down Jack and Cokes, Dax took a moment to evaluate his situation. “My whole life I thought, ‘Man, if I had a million dollars…’ Well, I had a million dollars, and I couldn’t get on a flight to fly 35 minutes from San Francisco to L.A.” It’s with that wisdom that Dax asks his celebrity guests, “You’re rich, and you’re famous. Did it cure all of the things you thought it would?” In general, it doesn’t.

Dax’s honesty is contagious—he brings it out in his guests and the people around him. It seems like his superpower is curating human vulnerability and talking frankly about the messiness of life, and that’s why he’s one of my favorite people to talk to.

Dax joins Off Camera to talk about the misnomer that is "rock bottom," the magic osmosis that makes his marriage with Kristen Bell work so well, and why you shouldn’t compare yourself to your neighbor’s seemingly perfect life.

Jan 31 2019

1hr 2mins

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36. Dax Shepard

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Actor, writer, director, thrill seeker, and comedian Dax Shepard joins Sam to talk about risk, both the real life kind on a motorcycle and the kinds he took to become the actor, father, and husband he is today. He also shares the gift of perspective and gratitude that he’s learned from his “current wife” Kristen Bell (his words folks). Pull up a chair and listen into this honest and revealing conversation.

Sep 07 2015

1hr 20mins

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26. Will Ferrell

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Just mention Will Ferrell’s name or glance at a picture at him and chances are you are already smiling. But the really funny thing is that it’s not necessarily because his best known characters are so gosh darn lovable, you see Ferrell never bought the conventional movie truism that comedic leads have to be likable and he went on to prove it perhaps most pointedly with the iconic Ron Burgundy. In fact, he doesn’t even think comedy has to particularly funny to be hysterical. While working a number of regular jobs like valet and bank teller, Ferrell did stand-up in small comedy clubs. Clinging to his father’s surprisingly helpful advice that his ever making it would be a long shot, it was just that take it or leave it approach that allowed him to pursue his unique comedic style free from the angst that might have otherwise crushed it. It might also explain a small sadistic streak that underlies his performances. If you don’t like what he’s doing, sit back and enjoy it anyway, or else. In Sam’s chat with Will, he describes his stomach churning, knee buckling Saturday Night Live audition and the even more daunting experience of joining the legendary show at one of it’s lowest points. He also shares his writing process, stories behind some of his best loved impersonations, and his long and sometimes perplexing film resume.

Apr 20 2015

1hr 18mins

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200. Robert Downey Jr. 2

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Good old Robert Downey Jr. is back for a second time, and his career has gone quite well since his last appearance, on episode 5 of Off Camera. It is now our 200th episode, and Robert is here to remind us that great conversations should be unconventional, surprising, and sometimes just downright weird. Check, check, and check.Since the last time he was here, Robert’s Iron Man legend has grown exponentially—thanks to the massive success of Marvel’s Avengers franchise and the recent release of the final installment, Avengers: Endgame.  But if we rewind the tape, Robert’s journey on the project, like director Jon Favreau’s, started at a low point. “We were two people who had a film we were passionate about come out on the same weekend and bomb. His was Zathura, and mine was Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.” Their mutual comeuppance led to a creative bond, a big brother relationship. As Robert explains, “If that kind of synergy happens when you’re doing a movie, it’s going to be great. End of story.”Finding people who encourage and legitimize his creativity has been a theme for Robert, who despite moments of personal turmoil, possesses a deep-seated work ethic. Growing up, he was “Bob Downey’s kid,” the son of a groundbreaking, counterculture filmmaker, whose view of the industry was the following: “Anybody can act. Few can direct, and nobody can write.” Talk about humble beginnings.Robert joins Off Camera to talk about quitting (not getting fired from) Saturday Night Live after a year, why he thought (and still thinks) he could write a better script than William Goldman, and the great life advice he got from Figueroa Slim in jail.

Jul 18 2019

1hr 5mins

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146. John Mulaney

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It all started with Ricky Ricardo and I Love Lucy. That's when young John Mulaney discovered the appeal of life in show business. Add his love of "everything funny" and some outrageous childhood experiences to the mix, and it's no wonder John became a comedian, even if it's an unexpected choice for the son of two lawyers.

John had a knack for wordplay and joke rhythms as a kid, but he started fleshing out his skills when he joined Georgetown's improv troupe, a breeding ground for comics like Nick Kroll and Mike Birbiglia. Discomfort and anxiety plagued John early on, but joining Birbiglia's standup tour helped him overcome the awkwardness of being on stage. As John says, "Mike absolutely turned me into a comedian. The tour was life-changing; I wanted to do standup every night after that."

John also spent six seasons as a comedy writer for Saturday Night Live, and he was the brains behind fan-favorite sketches and characters like Bill Hader's Stefon. The job came with a lot of responsibility, but John loved it. He says, "I was like a producer of live TV at 25. Once my sketch was picked, I would go around to every department, discussing with them how it would look, the costume, set, everything you were hoping for."

These days, John's making us laugh with his standup. His Netflix comedy special John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous at Radio City offers a hilarious glimpse of his childhood and family life. When he's on tour, John spends his nights onstage talking about the things that make him absolutely crazy or delight him. Looks like his Ricky Ricardo dream lives on.

John joins Off Camera to discuss mining his life for comedy, why the best approach in life is one without expectations, and why we all need a little bit of Street Smarts in our lives.

May 17 2018

1hr 4mins

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138. Bill Hader

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As a high school kid growing up in Oklahoma, Bill Hader received a progress report from his French teacher that had remarkable foresight: “Bill is very funny in class. He’ll probably be on Saturday Night Live one day. He has a 37% in class though. He will not be speaking French.” Bill had a natural gift for doing voices and impressions, and years later, he would indeed join SNL. For eight years, he brought memorable characters to life, including fan-favorites like his exasperated Vincent Price, the lecherous Italian Vinny Veducci, and Weekend Update correspondent Stefon. As one of the most talented cast members on the show, it’s hard to believe Bill when he tells me that it was never his dream to be on Saturday Night Live. After his eight-year stint on SNL and roles in a number of films (The Skeleton Twins, Trainwreck, Inside Out), Bill’s finally realizing his dream with Barry, his upcoming HBO show about a hitman who really wants to be an actor. Bill directs, writes, and stars in the show, and because he favors truthfulness over funny gags, it’s one of the most unique shows on television: “In comedy, it’s so easy to come up with gags and little bits. It’s a lot harder to make a person’s emotional journey make sense.” Bill Hader joins Off Camera to discuss storytelling in Barry, struggling with anxiety on SNL, why he waited so long to pursue his dream to become a filmmaker, and why everyone in town thought he was on drugs in high school.

Mar 22 2018

1hr 1min

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168. Matt Damon

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For those of you watching this week’s Off Camera episode, do not adjust your sets…that is me sitting across from Matt, humiliatingly dressed head to toe in a Red Sox uniform, having lost a bet to Matt when my beloved Dodgers lost in the world series for the second year in a row. And for those of you listening or reading, well, just imagine my shame.

For as long as Matt Damon can remember, he wanted to be an actor. So much so that he started his college essay with those very words. But before all the accolades and success, Matt was just a kid from Cambridge, MA who loved playing sports and watching movies. His chances of becoming a pro athlete came up short (both literally and figuratively), but he was determined to make a career out of acting after the seed was planted by an influential theater teacher and nurtured by his best friend and fellow cinephile Ben Affleck.

They had no road map for success, but Matt and Ben had an advantage over their teenage peers—they just wanted it more. They took the train from Boston to New York regularly for auditions, using money drawn from their communal acting bank account to cover expenses. Eventually, one of those auditions turned into a small part in the 1988 Julia Roberts feature Mystic Pizza, but Matt’s “big break” proved to be elusive. He auditioned for the eventual Academy Award winner Dead Poets Society but was rejected in favor of Ethan Hawke, and the cruel reality of the industry smacked him in the face when he was working at the local movie theater the following summer: “I went from the possibility of being in this great film to the guy tearing the movie ticket and watching people come out crying because they’re so moved. That’s the range in this business.”

So Matt and Ben decided to take fate into their own hands and write a great film that they could both star in. That was how Good Will Hunting and the acclaimed acting careers of Matt and Ben came into being. It’s been 20 years, and Matt’s career is still going strong.

As our first two-time guest, Matt joins Off Camera to talk about his acting mid-life crisis, the gamble that almost cost Matt and Ben Good Will Hunting, the invaluable wisdom he’s gained from directors, and why the Boston Red Sox and specifically Fenway Park carry so much significance for him.

Nov 15 2018

1hr 7mins

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210. Jeff Bridges 2

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Jeff Bridges is back again, and this time, the legendary multi-hyphenate is joining me because he’s just released a new photography book titled Jeff Bridges: Pictures, Volume Two. Composed of behind-the-scenes photos taken throughout his career, the book is a wonderful representation of the magic and mystery of filmmaking.Despite so many years of experience, Jeff approaches every new artistic project with a "beginner’s mind." Whether he’s prepping for a new role, writing songs, painting, or taking photos, getting down to work is how Jeff staves off his self-critic. “We’re often looking for passion and where to find it, but it doesn’t come out of nowhere—passion is the fire you get when you rub sticks together.” It’s this passion that drew me to Jeff many years ago, and it’s why I’m excited to see what he’ll work on next.Jeff joins Off Camera to talk about his fear of making decisions, what he’s learned after 42 years of marriage, and why you better have a safe word or you might end up in the hospital.

Oct 24 2019

1hr 9mins

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07. Dave Grohl

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Being a bona fide badass is the price of entry for a career in rock and roll; and if you ask Dave Grohl, it’s the key ingredient for just about anything worth doing. His approach to life has fueled the Foo Fighters’ 20 year,11 album career and garnered him a following of very stoked rock fans, many of who gathered at this year’s SXSW music conference to hear Grohl’s keynote address. The hipsters, rockers, start-uppers and next-big-thing developers packing the room were no doubt curious to hear how one goes about dropping out of high school, rising to fame as the drummer in Nirvana (a small Northwest act you may have heard of), and then go on to lead one today’s few remaining true rock bands? For Grohl, the answer’s pretty simple: figure out who you are and what inspires you and don’t look back – develop that individuality by working as hard as you can at what you love. That clarity of approach drove not only his Nirvana/Foo Fighters trajectory, but numerous musical side projects like Queens of the Stone Age, and Them Crooked Vultures. And most recently, a new artistic title: documentarian. He didn’t know anything about the film making process except what he needed to know most: Passion for your subject is sine qua non; and not one to do anything without it, Grohl didn’t question himself. Nor apparently did Rick Springfield, Neil Young, Stevie Nicks, Paul McCartney, and Tom Petty, all subjects of Sound City, his fascinating documentary about the people behind the studio that launched an amazing roster of legendary music acts. For a guy who admits to still feeling like a 13 year old and dressing like a 17 year old, Grohl has something to teach all of us…and shares it with Off Camera in one of our most inspiring interviews to date.

Nov 26 2013

1hr 21mins

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50. Aubrey Plaza

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When the notoriously poker-faced Aubrey Plaza says that she’s wanted to be an actor since she was 13 and thus isn’t surprised it’s happening, or that perhaps the universe responded to her acting daydreams, you have to wonder, does she really mean that? Understandably, Aubrey Plaza used to hate the word “deadpan,” as associated as it’s become with the detached, almost unreadable delivery she’s cultivated as characters like Julie Powers in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Darius in Safety Not Guaranteed and perhaps most famously, Parks and Recreation’s wryly impassive April Ludgate. Then her Ned Rifle director Hal Hartley cast the term in a different light: maybe it occasionally serves a character to drop lines with a certain lack of personal involvement. Though no one expects much from a zombie in the way of emoting, The Guardian said of Life After Beth, “…Plaza steals the show with one foot in the grave, her rotting heroine ricocheting between adolescent snarkiness and cadaverous rage…” When you think about it, it takes a certain amount of equanimity to put a line out there and let it sit without telegraphing what we’re supposed to think about it or how we’re supposed to react. If that means viewers remain a bit off balance, all the better to hold our attention while we supply our own context. But back to those comments. She was (we’re pretty sure) quite sincere, though Plaza herself likely had more to do with moving her career along than the universe. Philosophically, she seems to fall somewhere between fatalism and determinism. When her mom introduced her to Saturday Night Live, young Aubrey decided it was her dream job. When she looked up cast member bios and saw standup comedy as the common thread among her idols, she went promptly into improv, and later actually interned at SNL. Shortly after, she started growing the career she’s still building today with drolly arresting roles in films like Funny People and About Alex and The To Do List, often playing younger, still-at-that-awkward-stage characters. Perceptive viewers of her arc on the recently-ended Parks and Recreation might have noticed Plaza’s very intentional efforts to add layers and different choices to April Ludgate,  without any overreaching departures from the essence of her character. Now able to poke her head up take a look around after six seasons on Parks, Plaza plans to continue her attempt “…to be considered a well-rounded actor, not a weirdo.” That starts next year with Dirty Grandpa and Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates. Given her peppy, workmanlike embrace of masturbation (The To Do List), doll parts (Playing It Cool), and, um, quirky guest appearances (any number of talk shows), she’s demonstrated she’s unafraid to attempt almost anything, including being herself – no small feat in her line of work. If part of the outrageousness allows her to remain a bit of an enigma, we can live with that. What we most want to see is what Plaza does next, because if there’s one thing that’s obvious, the woman’s capable of almost anything.

Jan 14 2016

1hr 3mins

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37. Jake Gyllenhaal

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Jake Gyllenhaal has become somewhat synonymous with beyond-brutal physical transformations for movies like Nightcrawler, and more recently (and even more brutally), for the role of boxer Billy Hope. But after crying three times over a first-draft script for Southpaw, he knew it was worth taking some punches for. He’s no masochist, but calls any work needed to tell the story of characters that fascinate him a joy. Gyllenhaal is the kind of actor who knows not only that his character bears a certain scar or walks a certain way, but why. He’s become known for going deep, and seems embarrassed and proud in equal parts about how seriously he takes his work; the same guy who’ll spend five months in a boxing ring or memorize an entire script just to sound as robotic as Louis Bloom will also tell you the best analogy for acting is Super Mario Brothers. Level One, to be specific. Though much has been made of his on screen metamorphoses, his most profound change in recent years is one we didn’t realize we were seeing. After coming to wide attention and critical acclaim in films like Donnie Darko and Brokeback Mountain, he found himself in the enviable position of being very young and very successful in Hollywood. That’s when everyone in the business will tell you exactly which projects and path will guarantee you a lucrative career. And that’s when Gyllenhaal stepped back and decided it was time to listen to his own voice about what he wanted to do and what his work would say about him. The results are sometimes perplexing (Enemy), or darkly comic (Nightcrawler), but always worth watching. And for Gyllenhaal, richly rewarding – the spoils being the experience, worldview and friendships he takes with him from every role. From Southpaw, he learned that a mere five pounds of pressure is all it takes to knock a guy’s brain against the side of his skull and put him down, if you know just where to land it. It’s the kind of instinct that told him just how to play one of the most touching and terrifying scenes in that film, and the same instinct that now guides the career he’s designing for himself. In this episode, Gyllenhaal discusses his work ethic, how he chooses and prepares for roles, and why he’d like to see someone else take a shot at playing them – really. It’s an esoteric conversation, but don’t worry; you’ll love it even if you’re not into Talking Heads, Bruce Springsteen or Wild Geese.

Sep 24 2015

1hr 4mins

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129. Neil Patrick Harris

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Step right up to the Neil Patrick Harris Show! He acts! He sings! He dances! He writes! He hosts! He magics! But the showman behind the curtain is… pretty much the guy you’ll meet here. And that’s okay – now. In the public eye since age 15 and saddled with an unshakeable teenage M.D. alter ego, he was unsure of who he was, and unable to stop worrying whether people thought whoever that might be was a jerk. He sought help in a forum most celebrities would do anything to avoid, but NPH likes challenges. And once he felt free to embrace them full-throttle, it opened up roles from über-bros to an East German rock star with something to teach him about self-acceptance. As it turns out, though, the kid who never wanted to dance in public is still a misfit. But now that kid’s a storyteller who’s out to convince us that’s the best possible thing you can be.

Dec 21 2017

1hr 6mins

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188. Seth Rogen

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Believe it or not, the origin of Seth Rogen’s incredible acting, writing, and producing career traces all the way back to Bar Mitzvah class in Vancouver. That’s where twelve-year-old Seth met Evan Goldberg, a fellow movie enthusiast who loved writing just as much as Seth did. A creative partnership between the two began instantaneously, and they started writing what would become Superbad, inspired by their own high school escapades, by the time they were thirteen. “We always wondered if our very specific high school experience would be relatable to other people, because we were just writing what happened to us as Jewish Canadian boys in Vancouver. It seemed pretty niche.” Of course, it became one of the most successful movies about high school of all time.As his writing career post-Superbad took off, so did his acting career. Within the span of a few years, he became the face of American comedy, working on hit films like The Pineapple Express, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and Knocked Up. In fact, he had so much success over that span of time, he just assumed that was how the business worked: “I didn’t appreciate how miraculous that streak was. At the time, I was like, ‘Oh, great. You make a movie. It turns out great. Everyone loves it, and you make tons of money. Perfect.’”Eventually, he learned that wasn’t always the case—and as the movie budgets got bigger, so did the stakes, with more creative pressure and input from studio executives. It took one bad experience as a studio’s most expensive movie for Seth to realize that it was more important for Evan and him to maintain their artistic freedom than make the highest profile movie. To this day, he holds onto that philosophy and it’s why he still loves making movies, including his newest film Long Shot, a political romantic comedy starring Charlize Theron and himself. “When Evan and I make a movie like Long Shot, and we’re able to sit in a theater and watch the audience laugh at and feel what we hoped—it’s really gratifying. It means they’re invested in the same things we are.”Seth joins Off Camera to talk about why moving to Los Angeles for a role in Freaks and Geeks was his version of going off to college, how he and Evan turn an idea into a full-fledged movie, and why saying no to a role on a CW sitcom early in his career wasn’t a hard choice at all.

Apr 25 2019

1hr 11mins

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72. Mindy Kaling

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Ever since banging out plays on her mom's typewriter at age six, Mindy Kaling wanted to be a comedy writer. That line of study wasn't on offer at her college, but Dartmouth taught her at least two things: If you hole up in your dorm and deconstruct Woody Allen films, you discover what works. And, in a town where there's nothing to do but drink and sled, almost any crazy play you writer can pack a theater. It can also launch your Hollywood dream career quicker than you ever imagined. But when the first show that hires you is getting creamed, and someone else is cast in the pilot you wrote for you, about you, and named after you, well, that's when you see what you're really made of. Here, Kaling plays herself in a conversation about that first fateful play, race and gender in comedy, and why it's totally cool to love your parents.

Oct 06 2016

55mins

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97. Jenny Slate

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If you want to know about Jenny Slate, you could see her standup, TV shows (Married, Girls, Bored to Death), or movies (Obvious Child, Gifted, My Blind Brother). But at the heart of her work and her identity as an artist is a child - a beautiful, eccentric, wounded, wishful girl who saw a garden and wanted to live in it. Slate knows its a metaphor, but like all good allegories, it carries a lesson: Find what is precious to you and about you, then guard and cultivate it with everything you have. Water your garden. Pull the weeds. And don't forget to sit in the sunshine for a while when you're done. We talk about the experiences that shaped her as an actor, her creative process, and the accidentally appropriate Marcel. But mostly, we talk About the House.

Apr 06 2017

57mins

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160. Elizabeth Olsen

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It’s safe to say that Elizabeth Olsen didn’t have a normal childhood. As the other sister to the Olsen twins, Elizabeth Olsen had a front row seat to her sisters’ experience in the spotlight, media circus included, and she also witnessed what it was like to be a working actor—something she wanted to be but was embarrassed to admit. “I had this fear that people would think I didn’t earn or deserve the things I worked for because of who I was naturally associated with.”

The nepotism critique motivated her to prove her worth, but that turned out to be the easy part. Elizabeth’s a hard worker by nature. After all, you don’t get dubbed NYU’s notorious “Rehearsal Nazi” for nothing. And very soon, people started taking notice, and Elizabeth started getting roles, including the one that led to her breakout performance in Martha Marcy May Marlene. Since then, Elizabeth has conquered the world of independent film (Wind River, Kodachrome, Ingrid Goes West) and the blockbuster world of Marvel’s Avengers franchise as superhero Scarlet Witch.

Elizabeth is the kind of actor who loves the work and the craft, and she’s also the kind of artist who wants to take risks. In her newest project, Sorry for Your Loss, a Facebook Watch series that explores grief, she plays a widow trying to piece her life back together—not easy subject matter, but as you’ll see, Elizabeth will rise to any challenge thrown her way.

Elizabeth joins Off Camera to talk about the biggest lesson she’s learned from her family, why she may be one of the few actors who likes to audition, and why she’s the most Zen type A person you’ll ever meet.

Sep 20 2018

58mins

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64. Keegan-Michael Key

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Keegan-Michael Key doesn't encourage people to make decisions out of fear, but it did work for him-at least for a while. Fear of being left behind and not accepted made him decide that making people laugh could come in handy some day. And fear of uncharted artistic territory resulted in a U-turn towards a career he never could've imagined for himself. Yet this is a guy who somehow found the confidence to turn down his second shot at Saturday Night Live-most sketch comics' very reason for existence. Now, as the lead in Don't Think Twice, he gets to flex new acting muscles, or perhaps better put, give the old ones a rest. Keegan's insights about nature versus nurture, code-switching, and decision-making are worth the read alone, but you'll be completely sucked in by his observations on the high-wire act that is improvisational comedy. It's a world we rarely get a good look inside of, and one that becomes more fascinating the more you explore it. To unravel its mysteries, you can go see Don't Think Twice, or read this issue. We hope you'll do both.

May 26 2016

57mins

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216. Jenny Slate 2

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I’m really happy to have Jenny Slate back again. She’s smart, funny, and charming, and she’s refreshingly honest about her struggles as an artist and human being. Every time I find myself in conversation with her, I feel inspired and joyful. She’s just released a Netflix special called Stage Fright, which is part standup, part documentary, part confessional, and wholly original. And she’s also released a new memoir called Little Weirds, which is probably the most esoteric and private book to ever land on The New York Times bestseller list. Bottom line, Jenny is an unapologetically human artist, and she is at the height of her powers.

Jenny had to do some soul-searching over the past few years. Divorce, the public spotlight, and emotional turmoil were inhibiting her creativity, and as she depicts in her memoir, she had to work through some of that “gloop.” Writing Little Weirds led to a maturity and self-assuredness that helped her reach not only new creative heights, but also to find peace and happiness within herself. She inhabits an interesting space between creating entertainment and soul-searching. As Jenny says, “I don’t think that there will be a world in which I don’t try to be funny and add levity to reality, but the most important thing for me as an artist and the only constant is, ‘Openness until death.’ Stay open until you’re terminal.”

Jenny joins Off Camera to talk about losing her creative spirit in the woods of New England, freaking out after she bombed the Stage Fright rehearsal, and the psychological and creative benefits of dressing monochromatically for a couple weeks.

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Dec 05 2019

1hr

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215. Tracy Letts

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The first time Tracy Letts participated in a community theater play, he knew he found something special. At school, Tracy was shy and had a hard time connecting with his peers, so when he discovered the comradery surrounding the theater, he finally felt embraced by a community. His talent for acting came later, when his father, also an actor, taught him the power of speaking simply rather than proclaiming. As Tracy says, “I went onstage, and I said my lines simply and truthfully. It was my first real acting lesson. Speaking truthfully in a room has great impact—everyone can feel it. After that, I was hooked.”After graduating from high school, Tracy was eager to start his life and decided against going to college. He landed in Chicago, which had a rich and booming theater scene. When he wasn’t auditioning, he filled his free time writing, a passion of his ever since he was young. Killer Joe, a play about a brutal and murderous family in Texas, was Tracy’s first attempt, and it became a massive success.In the years since, Tracy has continued to write and act. He won a Pulitzer Prize for his play August: Osage County, based on his own family, and in addition to his acting work on stage, he’s been in a number of projects on TV and in film, such as Homeland, Lady Bird, and most recently, Ford v Ferrari. There’s an empathy that suffuses all of Tracy’s work, and it all stems from his desire to achieve self-acceptance. As he says, “It’s hard to give yourself a break, isn’t it? You can’t just decide to do it. It’s not an act of will. It takes actual work, whether that means getting sober, getting into therapy, writing or acting in plays, or paying attention and really listening to other people.”Tracy joins Off Camera to talk about working with his father in August: Osage County, how theater provokes vulnerability, and why his career trajectory basically comes down to chasing a girl.

Nov 28 2019

1hr 2mins

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214. Josh Gad

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Josh Gad was drawn to acting ever since he took the stage as The Simcha Machine in Beth Shalom Academy’s kindergarten play. Onstage, Josh felt euphoria, but at home, he struggled with his parents’ divorce. Luckily, he found an escape through watching and performing in theater. Josh vividly remembers the first time he saw a professional play, sitting in the nosebleeds, and watching breathlessly. “What finally took me over the edge was going to New York City and seeing Topol in Fiddler on the Roof. I was sold. Sold. ‘I’ve got to do this.’”In addition to his dream of performing, Josh had an innate talent for making people laugh. Humor was how eased his mother’s pain after divorce, and it also helped him diffuse social tension. Josh explains, “One time a kid called me fat in front of a group of people, and instead of kowtowing, I started reciting a monologue from My Cousin Vinny to the point where the guy was like, ‘What is happening right now?’ Everybody was laughing at him, and I turned it into an opportunity to take the weapon out of his hands and make it my own.”For college, Josh went to conservatory at Carnegie Mellon, but getting work after graduation wasn’t easy. The cycle of auditioning and rejection was depressing, especially when his agents sent him on auditions against the likes of Nick Lachey. “Had my agents even seen my headshot?” Josh jokes. After a couple of years, he almost quit, but he finally got his big break as the lead in the Broadway show The 25th Annual Putnam Country Spelling Bee. In the years since, Josh has done work in a wide range of projects onstage and onscreen, including The Daily Show, Book of Mormon, The Comedians, Frozen, and more.Josh joins Off Camera to talk about the way voice acting taps into his childhood, the worst night he’s ever had on stage, and missing his calling as an opera singer.

Nov 21 2019

1hr 5mins

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213. Noomi Rapace

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When Swedish born Noomi Rapace booked the lead in the original film adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, it changed her life, both personally and professionally. It was a role she deeply related to, and her striking performance as the hard-edged, androgynous Lisbeth Salander garnered international praise and attention. That success brought her from Sweden to Hollywood, where she brought her intensity and fragility to Prometheus, What Happened to Monday?, Bright, and many more. She’s now in the new season of Amazon’s Jack Ryan, opposite John Krasinski.The honesty and spontaneity in Noomi’s performances can be traced all the way back to her childhood. Growing up, Noomi always felt different, especially compared to her reserved, Scandinavian family. As she says, “My heart was on fire. I had too much energy. I was too loud. My temperature was just different.”  Noomi fell in love with the profession at age seven as an extra in an Icelandic Viking film, and has pretty much not stopped working since. Seeking freedom and independence, she left home as a teenager. Though not educated, her ability to read people was her survival mechanism, and also served her very well as an actress. When she describes her philosophy of the craft, it’s clear why: “Acting is total freedom. Acting is paradise. Everything is allowed, and there are no rights and wrongs.”Noomi joins Off Camera to talk about losing herself in her characters, why vanity is the enemy of good acting, and about her rebellious and wild years as a “punk rock girl,” including the time she stubbornly tried to swim all the way from Denmark to Sweden.

Nov 14 2019

1hr 1min

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212. Lance Reddick

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When Lance Reddick was growing up, he was a shy and introverted kid. He was one of a handful of African-Americans at his school, so he never felt like he fit in, and his introverted nature made him an easy target for bullies. In the face of these struggles, Lance had to confront his own self-perception at an early age. As he says, “In order to escape the trap of trying to fit into places where people tried to define me or how they defined being black, I had to find a sense of myself that was independent of that.” That’s where the arts came in.During his college years, Lance discovered that he had a talent for music and acting. “When I was onstage and it was going well, I felt powerful, which was something I wasn’t used to feeling in front of a bunch of people.” Despite his natural talent for acting, he took a detour to pursue his first love—music. When that didn’t pan out, he found his way back to theater, got into Yale’s drama school, and the rest is history.His experience at Yale changed his life and his approach to the craft, and he’s been working as an actor ever since in shows like The Wire, Oz, Fringe, and most recently, in Amazon’s Bosch and Comedy Central’s Corporate.Lance joins Off Camera to talk about his most terrifying moment on stage, confronting systemic racism in the industry, and the time he serenaded his crush, only to get turned down in humiliating fashion.

Nov 07 2019

1hr 2mins

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211. Edward Norton

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For the past 25 years, Edward Norton has established himself as one of the greatest actors in his generation. His legacy includes roles in films like Primal Fear, American History X, Fight Club, and Birdman to name a few, and he’s the type of artist who constantly seeks to challenge himself. Take his new film Motherless Brooklyn, which he wrote, directed, and stars in. The noir-esque film is an incredible achievement for Edward, and it’s a direct product of all of his years of hard work and experience in the industry.For Edward, being an artist is more of a compulsion than a mere desire. As he says, “Most of us are one or two degrees away from obsession tipping over into a true condition and affliction. That’s how I feel about acting and writing.” Luckily, Edward has a creative place to put that obsession, and that creativity was inspired by the work of musicians like Bob Dylan and David Bowie when Edward was a teenager. The resounding message was: “The freaks are who you want to hang with.” So, Edward sought to find his own tribe of like-minded, creative people. It’s through that band of people that Edward got his first big role, and it also helped him fund and cast Motherless Brooklyn. As he says, “If I’ve got any collateral via what I’ve done, why wouldn’t I try to do something else? Why wouldn’t I try to swing for a story that I think I understand and say something?”Edward joins Off Camera to talk about identifying with his underdog character in Motherless Brooklyn, learning to put problems in perspective after his mother passed away, and why he has a hard time trusting anyone who actually enjoyed high school.

Oct 31 2019

1hr 4mins

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210. Jeff Bridges 2

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Jeff Bridges is back again, and this time, the legendary multi-hyphenate is joining me because he’s just released a new photography book titled Jeff Bridges: Pictures, Volume Two. Composed of behind-the-scenes photos taken throughout his career, the book is a wonderful representation of the magic and mystery of filmmaking.Despite so many years of experience, Jeff approaches every new artistic project with a "beginner’s mind." Whether he’s prepping for a new role, writing songs, painting, or taking photos, getting down to work is how Jeff staves off his self-critic. “We’re often looking for passion and where to find it, but it doesn’t come out of nowhere—passion is the fire you get when you rub sticks together.” It’s this passion that drew me to Jeff many years ago, and it’s why I’m excited to see what he’ll work on next.Jeff joins Off Camera to talk about his fear of making decisions, what he’s learned after 42 years of marriage, and why you better have a safe word or you might end up in the hospital.

Oct 24 2019

1hr 9mins

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209. Jake Johnson

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Jake Johnson’s made a career out of acting next to some of the top names in the business, and that’s exactly how he likes it. From his vantage point, he’s got the best seat in the house, watching people like Zooey Deschanel (New Girl), Tom Cruise (The Mummy), and Cobie Smulders (Stumptown) do their thing. All the while, he’s living out a dream that started when he was a kid, watching shows like Cheers and Roseanne and desperately wanting to be in them.Jake and his two siblings were brought up by their mother in a Chicago suburb. He wasn’t a great student, but he lit up when he discovered writing and acting in high school. “Back then, I was in a very tricky emotional place, but writing plays, I had total control, and I loved it.” Combine that with the praise he received from performing in the school sketch show, and he knew he found his thing.Now, Jake’s 41 and still doing it, and his favorite part of the work is getting to play within the world of make-believe. It’s why he’s drawn to the sets of filmmaker Joe Swanberg (Drinking Buddies, Digging for Fire, Win It All) and turned off by micro-managing directors who kill the magic and overshoot scenes. “I’m not here for your final cut. I’m here for right now—me and this other human being can act. Let us act, and get the camera out of here. Hide it, and let us go!”Jake joins Off Camera to talk about forging a relationship with his absent father, the rude awakening he got after dropping out of high school, and his stint as a degenerate gambler…luckily, he was saved by New Girl.

Oct 17 2019

1hr 1min

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208. Adam Devine

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When Adam Devine was in fourth grade, a bully turned the entire class against him, and it took Adam nailing his performance in that year’s school play for his social prospects to start looking up. One great scene made the entire audience laugh, and after the play, he was greeted by praise. “From that moment on, I realized that no matter what was happening in my life, I could be good at acting and that can be my thing.”The following year, Adam suffered a near fatal collision with a cement truck which broke most of the bones in his body. When he wasn’t relearning how to walk, he had plenty of time to himself to watch TV, movies, and old SNL clips. He began writing his own sketches and regularly calling in to the local radio station as his idol Chris Farley. By the time he recovered from the accident, Adam had taught himself how to write and had a natural instinct for comedy.When college came around, Adam opted to go to community college in California to pursue comedy instead of going to state school in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. It ended up being the right choice, because Orange Coast Community College is where he met likeminded creative friends Kyle Newacheck and Blake Anderson. They began writing and producing sketches together, and they eventually created the hit series Workaholics. Between acting, writing, and standup, Adam does it all. Right now, you can watch him in his Netflix standup special Best Time of Our Lives, the HBO series The Righteous Gemstones, and his new film Jexi.Adam joins Off Camera to talk about the value of relentlessness, practicing standup in front of an imaginary audience, and why a slap in the face might do you some good.

Oct 10 2019

1hr 8mins

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207. Beth Behrs

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Ever since three-year-old Beth Behrs saw Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music, she knew she wanted to become an actor. Beth’s perfectionist nature and her professional approach to the craft resulted in a driving ambition that got her into UCLA’s acting program and eventually led to her first role on network television as the co-star of the CBS sitcom 2 Broke Girls.Success wasn't the answer to everything though, and it brought its own set of challenges, like navigating the gauntlet that is being an actress in Hollywood. As Beth says, “We’re told so many different things in the media about how we’re supposed to be and act. When 2 Broke Girls began, I went from having no money and working as a nanny to being on a hit television show. At some point, the schedule, the pressure, and the anxiety from all of that started to break down my body.” In order to be the best actress she could be, she had to learn how to manage stress and take care of herself.Beth soon discovered the therapeutic power of meditation, nature, and horses. She got back in touch with her inner “theater kid in pajama pants”—the person she used to be before the overwhelming social pressures of Hollywood, and with her newfound wisdom, Beth wrote a book about self-care called The Total Me-Tox. She’s the first to admit that she still has plenty of work to do, so now, in addition to acting, she’s found a new calling. “I want to empower people to be who they are and be okay with that.”Beth joins Off Camera to talk about the C that derailed her acting degree, why she’s more comfortable in a character’s skin than her own, and the audition where she was told to “cry prettier."

Oct 03 2019

1hr

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206. Zach Galifianakis

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Zach Galifianakis had his big moment of success a bit later than most. Zach was a stand-up comedian with a small but loyal following, but when the massive hit comedy The Hangover came out, his life drastically changed. At 40 years old, Zach was unaccustomed to throngs of fans and perplexed by the attention brought by fame. As he says, “No one wanted to hear me speak or ask my opinion until I got into the movies. That doesn’t make any sense.”Zach’s down to earth approach to life likely originated with his family—a naturally funny and supportive crowd who encouraged Zach to follow his dreams of performing at an early age. After school, he moved to New York City to find an acting coach who could take him under their wing and provide an entrance into the business. Success wasn’t imminent though. As Zach says, “I worked for an uncle who managed a restaurant called Tequila Willie’s, where I had to wear a sombrero and pick up my tips off the kitchen room floor. Have you ever been on the kitchen floor on your hands and knees picking up quarters with a sombrero on? It’s very uplifting. Especially, when you’re still a busboy at 28.” Zach never found his long sought after acting coach but instead discovered stand up in the back of a burger restaurant, and never looked back.Even with his roles in big budget films, Zach continues to take on interesting, outside the box projects—whether it’s being a fake talk show host in the Netflix movie adaptation of Between Two Ferns or doing impromptu stand-up at a steakhouse in Pasadena. Over the course of our conversation, you’ll realize Zach’s honesty and modesty is as endearing as it is hilarious, as awkward as it is intimate.Zach joins Off Camera to talk about his favorite Between Two Ferns moment, his mission to take the piss out of “celebrity,” and why you should dress up as a witch and go find him on the streets of Venice if you want to have a nice ten-minute conversation.

Sep 26 2019

1hr 14mins

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205. Scott Aukerman

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Writer, director, comedian and podcast host Scott Aukerman is a very busy man. He is perhaps best known for his hit podcast Comedy Bang! Bang! which has been introducing audiences to the most talented comedians and improv artists for the last ten years. And that’s just Scott’s “side gig.” He’s written for movies and television shows, like Mr. Show, and more recently, Between Two Ferns, a wonderfully awkward talk show hosted by Zach Galifianakis which is now a full length Netflix movie. Even with all of his success, Scott still marvels at the fact that he gets to be silly and make other people laugh for a living. He wonders, “At what point will people figure out it’s all a scam?”He grew up with comedy in his bones and an affinity for David Letterman. In high school, he hosted a Letterman-inspired news show on his town’s public access channel. And in college he frequently turned serious, academic assignments into sketches, including a particularly memorable ballet performance which got him into trouble with his teachers. As Scott says, “I heard my whole life that I didn’t take things seriously enough, and I finally realized I should go into comedy.”Scott joins Off Camera to talk about Bob Odenkirk’s role in jump starting his career, his Between Two Ferns guest pitch/disclaimer, and how on the Between Two Ferns film, he was almost too afraid to talk to, let alone direct, David Letterman.

Sep 19 2019

1hr 13mins

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204. Andrea Savage

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If you haven’t seen Andrea Savage’s comedy series I’m Sorry, you should…just be prepared to laugh your butt off. As the creator, writer, and star of the series, Andrea does it all—which makes sense since the show is based on her own experiences being a comedian, wife and mom. But it is also a show about us. Andrea has found the universal truths of being a parent while being a working artist, and her observational powers reveal the absurdity and pathos in our own lives.For years, Andrea was stuck in development hell. She had a stable acting career with roles in Step Brothers, Episodes, and Veep, but true to her improv and Groundlings background, Andrea wanted to write and create as well. She was pumping out pilot scripts and selling them, but they weren’t getting made. As she says, “It was heartbreak after heartbreak of putting your all into a project, getting good notes, and then nothing. It was always the bridesmaid, never the bride.” When Andrea turned 40, the self-described “successful failure” decided to change her approach with I’m Sorry. She put together a crew with some help from her talented friends Judy Greer and Jason Mantzoukas, and she filmed her own pilot presentation.Andrea figured out that she needed to show her vision, because her story was nuanced and personal, not full of big jokes that jumped off the page. The approach worked like gangbusters. Her presentation became the first episode of the show and established her as a creator, showrunner, director, and a force to be reckoned with. As she says, “I literally just willed it to happen.”Andrea joins Off Camera to talk about why her writer’s room is better than therapy, why her lack of darkness makes her question her comedy bonafides, and her dedication to being a “joke shepherd.”

Sep 12 2019

1hr 12mins

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203. Constance Wu

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Before she became a household name from her work in projects like Fresh Off the Boat and Crazy Rich Asians, Constance Wu was a full-time waitress in credit card debt who was trying to break into the TV and film industry.Despite her BFA in acting, Constance struggled to get steady acting work for nearly a decade. Her love of the craft never wavered—no matter how tough it was to deal with the rejection. But times got so tough she finally had to ask herself, “Are you okay if you’re still waiting tables at 50 in order to supplement your income so you can do one or two plays a year?” Wholeheartedly, her answer was, “Yes.”Finally, when the creditors were stalking her, she got her big break. In 2015, she was cast opposite Randall Park in the groundbreaking and popular ABC sitcom Fresh Off the Boat, a hilarious look at life as an Asian immigrant in America. Another historic role followed with the film Crazy Rich Asians, which featured an entirely Asian cast. Most recently, she’s acting opposite J-Lo in the film Hustlers, a true story about a group of strip club employees who drugged and robbed their rich Wall Street clientele.Constance joins Off Camera to talk about how privileged she feels to have a voice in the discussion about racial diversity in Hollywood, why she still loves going to acting class, and she also reveals the joys of sucking at guitar.

Sep 05 2019

1hr 12mins

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202. Wyatt Russell

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Wyatt Russell was born into the film business as the son of Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, which can be a difficult way to grow up. But despite their massive success, Wyatt’s parents were a grounding presence who emphasized hard work. “They did a really good job of making us understand that what you get is earned, not given, and that there’s reward in earning it,” Wyatt told me. In light of that lesson and after an eye-opening trip to a hockey rink, Wyatt decided to deviate from the family way and forge his own path—he was going to be a professional hockey player.As Wyatt grew up, his NHL dream seemed more and more like a distinct possibility. He was a talented goalie, and his parents moved to Vancouver so Wyatt could compete with Canada’s best. Unfortunately, being born into a famous family brings its own unique challenges. “People were like, ‘Here comes this circus act from California. Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn’s kid wants to be a hockey player in British Columbia.’ I had to prove myself by putting my head down, not talking, and doing the work to become the best goalie in the league.” His promising hockey career lasted into his early 20s, but a spate of injuries led to the end of his dream and the end of his identity as a hockey player. Sitting on a hospital bed after a particularly brutal hip injury, Wyatt asked himself: ““What do I do now? I have no idea what I am.”Wyatt reflected on his love of film, and despite the perilous nature of the business, he decided to pursue an acting career. But in typical headstrong fashion, he wasn’t going to ask his parents or siblings for advice. He was going to do it his own way. After getting work in a number of films such as Cowboys & Aliens, We Are What We Are, Folk Hero & Funny Guy, and more, Wyatt discovered that he not only has the chops for the business, but that he actually loves it. Wyatt’s recently made the transition to television. He’s the lead in AMC’s Lodge 49, a weird and whimsical show about an ex-surfer named Dud, who finds himself on a vision quest after the death of his father.Wyatt joins Off Camera to talk about the uncomfortable reality of fame, the mentor who helped him discover his independence, and why the locker room is the best place to learn about male vulnerability.

Aug 29 2019

1hr 6mins

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201. Sam Jones 2

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Off Camera is back after a short summer break with all new episodes, and we’re kicking off the new season with a game of musical chairs. Writer, actor, and Saturday Night Live alum Jason Sudeikis takes over as host, and I take the hot seat for a change.The idea came to Jason while he was running on the treadmill a couple of months ago. Mid-exercise, he texted me to see if I was interested in celebrating 200 episodes of Off Camera by allowing him to interview me. I was incredibly flattered by the offer, but I’ve always gone off the assumption, “Who wants to hear about me?” As a director and photographer, I’ve spent most of my career behind the camera, trying to peel back the layers of the creative person in front of the lens. But as I thought about it, one thing occurred to me—I could for once see what it feels like in the other chair. And after seeing Jason make the rounds as guest host on talk shows like Ellen, it was clear I’m in good hands. Maybe too good, as it turned out. Jason surprised me with his thoughtfulness, deep research, and by connecting some dots in my own history that I had never thought about before. Dare I say I liked it?Jason and I sit down to talk about the similarities between multi-hyphenates and superheroes, how the smallest act of encouragement and praise can be the greatest gift for an aspiring artist, why we film Off Camera in a vast, white room, and more.

Aug 22 2019

1hr 3mins

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200. Robert Downey Jr. 2

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Good old Robert Downey Jr. is back for a second time, and his career has gone quite well since his last appearance, on episode 5 of Off Camera. It is now our 200th episode, and Robert is here to remind us that great conversations should be unconventional, surprising, and sometimes just downright weird. Check, check, and check.Since the last time he was here, Robert’s Iron Man legend has grown exponentially—thanks to the massive success of Marvel’s Avengers franchise and the recent release of the final installment, Avengers: Endgame.  But if we rewind the tape, Robert’s journey on the project, like director Jon Favreau’s, started at a low point. “We were two people who had a film we were passionate about come out on the same weekend and bomb. His was Zathura, and mine was Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.” Their mutual comeuppance led to a creative bond, a big brother relationship. As Robert explains, “If that kind of synergy happens when you’re doing a movie, it’s going to be great. End of story.”Finding people who encourage and legitimize his creativity has been a theme for Robert, who despite moments of personal turmoil, possesses a deep-seated work ethic. Growing up, he was “Bob Downey’s kid,” the son of a groundbreaking, counterculture filmmaker, whose view of the industry was the following: “Anybody can act. Few can direct, and nobody can write.” Talk about humble beginnings.Robert joins Off Camera to talk about quitting (not getting fired from) Saturday Night Live after a year, why he thought (and still thinks) he could write a better script than William Goldman, and the great life advice he got from Figueroa Slim in jail.

Jul 18 2019

1hr 5mins

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199. Scoot McNairy

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If Scoot McNairy hadn’t found acting, it’s possible he’d be mowing lawns for a living. Scoot grew up relishing the outdoors of his native Texas, and started his own landscaping company at age 13 to make some spending money. Towards the end of high school, he had some thinking to do about his future. Since he was dyslexic, college seemed out of the question, so one day, his father asked, “What is the one thing that you could do every single day, that would get you up and out of bed, that would make you want to go to work?” Scoot’s answer: being on a movie set.Aside from being outdoors, Scoot’s other great passion was watching movies. He was fascinated by the magic of it all. And as a kid who loved to take things apart, he wanted to know how everything worked. He decided to move to Los Angeles for film school but got relatively little out of it, and felt like he needed hands-on experience on a movie set. Scoot’s fastest way in was getting work as a background actor, also known as an extra. “I swear I learned more in two weeks as a background actor on The Practice than I did in the entire year I went to film school.”Background work turned to commercial work which eventually turned to acting in television and film—thanks to an acting teacher who politely kicked him out of class so he’d start auditioning for roles instead of compulsively going to class. Because of his unconventional education, he approaches his job from a unique angle, creating very real and emotional performances in projects like Halt and Catch Fire, True Detective, Narcos, and the upcoming Quentin Tarantino film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.Scoot joins Off Camera to talk about the dark place he had to live in to embody his True Detective character, how growing up with a learning disability helped him embrace failure, and why the only time his heart beats at a normal rate is on a motorcycle.

Jul 11 2019

1hr 6mins

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198. Ramy Youssef

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As the child of first-generation Muslim immigrants, Ramy Youssef grew up with a sense of practicality about his future. He was drawn to comedy and performing, but he saw no one who looked like him on TV. Add to that the fact that acting isn’t exactly a pragmatic career path in the first place. “I had parents who gave up everything to move to America, and I’m supposed to call them and say, ‘Hey, can you pay a bunch of money for me to study the Meisner technique?’ I didn’t have the balls to ask that question.”While in college, Ramy developed his stand-up and sketch comedy skills at UCB in his free time while studying political science and economics. He auditioned for a small role in the Nick at Nite series See Dad Run, and got the part, and decided to drop out of college and move to Los Angeles. That gig lasted for three seasons, and then Ramy got stuck in acting purgatory. According to audition feedback, he wasn’t good looking enough to be the lead; he wasn’t nerdy enough to play the nerd; and he wasn’t “ethnic” enough to play the ethnic guy. That’s when Ramy realized, “You never know where people are going to put you. It’s nice when you get to put yourself where you want to be.”Ramy took charge of his own destiny. He had writing skills, plenty of personal experience, and a unique cultural point of view. What he came up with was Ramy, his Hulu series based on his experience growing up in New Jersey and coming to terms with his Muslim faith. It’s being hailed as the first American television show to feature a Muslim family, but more importantly, it throws away Muslim caricatures and depicts rich and complex human storylines about family, faith, and cultural differences.Ramy joins Off Camera to talk about the moment his parents finally acknowledged he had “made it,” how puberty will be forever linked with global terrorism in his mind, and why stand up comedy makes everything else seem easy.

Jul 02 2019

1hr 9mins

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197. David Tennant

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When David Tennant was a child in Scotland, he spent his free time running around the back garden pretending to be characters from the TV shows he loved. In honor of his favorite show, Doctor Who, his grandmother knit him a multi-colored scarf to wear, just like his favorite Doctor, as he let his imagination run wild.During that time, David realized he wanted to become an actor—he just happened to live in a place devoid of actors. His parents were pushing him towards a more practical, stable career, but David was having none of it. “Becoming an actor was something I was very set on, and it was an idea that grew up alongside me as I began to understand more of what being an actor was. I never wavered from it.” At 17, David got into drama school, and the world opened up for him as he met like-minded people. His dream slowly became a reality.Between his work with the Royal Shakespeare Company, his work in shows like Broadchurch, and most recently, Good Omens, David has amassed a large body of work on stage and on screen. Of course, his biggest claim to fame in the U.K. was his role as the tenth iteration of the Doctor in Doctor Who. If fate didn’t get him that role, then perhaps it’s because he’d been preparing for it his entire life.David joins Off Camera to talk about the self-critic that always seeks to undermine him, why losing your anonymity feels a bit like being flayed, and the retirement speech he prepares as a backup in case he forgets his lines on stage.

Jun 27 2019

1hr 10mins

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