Rank #1: Ava DuVernay
A born storyteller and natural entrepreneur, Ava DuVernay has achieved many milestones: the first black woman to be named Best Director at the Sundance Film Festival (for Middle of Nowhere), the first to have a feature nominated for Best Picture (Selma), and the first to pilot a big-budget blockbuster, A Wrinkle in Time. She created the hit series Queen Sugar and directed the powerful Netflix miniseries When They See Us. How she found time in her schedule to chat with Leonard and Jessie we’ll never know, but they discovered that aside from her great achievements, Ava is equally happy to talk about her early inspirations and lifelong love of movies.
Rank #2: Bill Hader
One of the funniest performers around, Bill Hader is also a movie savant, as knowledgeable as he is enthusiastic. Now he’s starring in an HBO series called Barry that allows him to fulfill a lifelong dream to direct. Leonard and Jessie interviewed him in front of a live audience at South by Southwest and had a ball, as you will tuning in.
Rank #3: Mel Brooks
Leonard and Jessie spend quality time with the one and only Mel Brooks, who’s as spry as ever and bursting with great stories. He reveals the name of the funniest comedy he ever saw, talks about Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, and The Producers, and explains how he and his pal Carl Reiner screen movies together almost every night. You don’t want to miss this one.
Rank #4: 36 Movie Walkouts, Alan Smithee Films and Beyond!
Rank #5: Edgar Wright
Edgar Wright is the ultimate fanboy-turned-filmmaker. He has parlayed his love and knowledge into a thriving career, from Shaun of the Dead to Scott Pilgrim and The World’s End, with Baby Driver on its way to theaters soon (after a sneak preview at South by Southwest). He’s as articulate as he is passionate, and shares his enthusiasm for movies with Leonard and Jessie.
Rank #6: Jonah Hill
Get ready to meet a new Jonah Hill—a serious writer-director who has poured his heart and soul into his debut feature film, mid90s, which is playing the festival circuit and opens in theaters in late October. After several years of writing and research (and input from such august filmmakers as Martin Scorsese), he is unveiling his “baby” to the moviegoing public. That’s what brought him to Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas where Leonard and Jessie spoke to him before a live audience. Just as he progressed from broad comedy to Oscar-nominated performances onscreen, he’s tackling something new and exciting in this latest adventure.
Rank #7: Amy Adams
With five Oscar nominations under her belt and two terrific new movies (Arrival and Nocturnal Animals) Amy Adams could be forgiven for having an outsized ego…but that’s not the case. She’s charming and down-to-earth, as you’ll hear when Leonard and Jessie discuss her exceptional career. Want to hear about working opposite Meryl Streep—or playing a slut in her debut movie Drop Dead Gorgeous? Tune in to this lively conversation.
Rank #8: Vince Vaughn
Moviegoers fell for Vince Vaughn the moment they saw him in Swingers. That was twenty-one years ago and he's still going strong, tackling a dramatic leading role in Brawl in Cell Block 99. It debuted at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas, and that's where Leonard and Jessie interviewed him before a live (and lively) audience. Whether you think of him as that guy from Old School and Wedding Crashers or appreciate his smarts and versatility, you'll enjoy this delightful conversation.
Rank #9: Jenny Slate
Jenny Slate is smart and funny in equal measure. She’s made her mark on television (on shows ranging from SNL to Parks and Recreation), movies (the award-winning Obvious Child), the Internet (with her creation Marcel the Shell with Shoes On) and even the New York Times best-seller list (thanks again to Marcel). Leonard and Jessie discuss her new movie Landline and a wide range of topics relating to comedy, careers, and real life.
Rank #10: Lesley Manville
Most people know Lesley Manville for her Oscar-nominated performance as Daniel Day-Lewis’s sister in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread or her many films for British filmmaker Mike Leigh including Secrets & Lies, Topsy-Turvy and Another Year. She’s also the star of the irresistible TV comedy Mum, which just launched its third and final season on BritBox. Leonard and Jessie are unabashed fans of the show and enjoyed discussing it and Lesley’s wide-ranging career in theater, film and television.
Rank #11: Joe Dante
Director and film buff extraordinaire Joe Dante and Leonard go back a long, long time—to their teens, in fact—and enjoy swapping stories about early inspirations, moviegoing adventures in New York City, Joe’s move to Hollywood, his first big breaks, and events leading up to casting Leonard as himself in Gremlins 2: The New Batch. Jessie learns some things she never knew before in this entertaining episode.
Rank #12: Willem Dafoe
Willem Dafoe is that rare actor who can appear in a blockbuster like Aquaman at the same time he’s starring in a cerebral biopic about Vincent Van Gogh, At Eternity’s Edge. He’s open to all kinds of experiences, contributing voices to Finding Nemo and The Fantastic Mr. Fox and working with a cast of first-time actors in last year’s knockout The Florida Project, which earned him his third Oscar nomination. Leonard and Jessie wondered what drew him to acting in the first place, and learned why he loves taking on challenges in his work. Listen along to one of the most compelling and versatile actors on the planet.
Rank #13: Henry Winkler
Heyyyy… it’s Henry Winkler, the nicest man in show business. He’ll always be remembered as the Fonz but he has a new feather in his cap: an Emmy Award (his first!) for playing Bill Hader’s acting teacher on the delightfully dark HBO comedy series Barry. Henry is also a masterful storyteller and held Leonard and Jessie in rapt attention, recalling early days working with Sylvester Stallone in The Lordz of Flatbush and, more recently, writing a series of popular children’s books about a boy with dyslexia (like Henry) named Hank Zipzer. He has a way of putting people at ease and this hour flies by.
Rank #14: 1 Biopics
Rank #15: Kevin Feige
Kevin Feige rules the Marvel Cinematic Universe—but the President of Marvel Studios wears his crown lightly. A real movie lover and comic fan, he can hold his own with the fanboys while simultaneously juggling multimillion dollar productions. He attended USC because that’s where his cinematic heroes went to school and remains loyal to his alma mater, visiting Leonard’s class on a regular basis. Jessie and Leonard don’t have to prod him to talk about any of these things--it's his passion. That's what makes him perfect for the job.
Rank #16: 32 Films That Left A Lasting Impression (w/ Jessie Maltin)
Rank #17: Best Classic Films
Leonard and Jessie asked you—our listeners—what films you consider to be classics. That’s the springboard for this week’s conversation about films that have stood the test of time, from the 1930s and 40s and even the 1980s. Everyone’s list is personal, of course. See how many you’d put on your list of all-time classics.
Rank #18: Jordan Peele
Jordan Peele proved himself a brilliant sketch comedian long ago, but he’s made a remarkable transition to Oscar-nominated filmmaker with his knockout debut feature Get Out. Soft-spoken, articulate and admittedly shy, he is pursuing a lifelong dream of making movies—the kind that inspired him when he was young. Leonard and Jessie are delighted to have him as a guest in the final run-up to the Academy Awards.
Rank #19: Richard Linklater
Richard Linklater is one of the most talented—and unpredictable—filmmakers working today. His new release, Last Flag Flying, is one of his best, but it bears little resemblance to Dazed and Confused, Before Sunset, Waking Life, or his epic Boyhood. What is crystal clear in his conversation with Leonard is that he loves movies and enjoys making them—small or large, mainstream or indie. And as you’ll hear, he also enjoys talking about movies.