Off Camera with Sam Jones

By Sam Jones

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Description

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.

Episode Date
Ep 37. Jake Gyllenhaal - Rerun
00:59:55
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 issue, 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.
Feb 26, 2020
Ep 26. Will Ferrell - Rerun
01:22:44
Just mention Will Ferrell’s name or glance at a picture of him and chances are you’re already smiling (or smirking or laughing out loud). But the really funny thing is that it’s not necessarily because his best-known characters are so gosh-darn loveable. See, Ferrell never bought the conventional movie truism that comedic leads have to be likeable, and went on to prove it, perhaps most pointedly with the iconic Ron Burgundy. In fact, he doesn’t even think comedy has to be particularly funny to be hysterical. While working a number of “regular” jobs, (he actually almost became an anchorman), Ferrell did stand up in small 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 this issue, 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 its lowest points. He also shares his writing process, stories behind some of his best loved impersonations and his long and sometimes perplexing feature film cv. His success and work in projects as diverse as Elf and Stranger Than Fiction illustrate the rare genius of someone who can make the ridiculously absurd not only believable, but sympathetic. Chalk it up to talent or unquestioning commitment to any role he takes on, but not to hard work. Ferrell’s a firm believer in not overthinking the work or worrying too much about whether his projects succeed, as long as he’s having fun along the way. He may not be cerebral, but trust us, he’s brilliant.
Feb 19, 2020
Ep 56. Don Cheadle - Rerun
01:07:09
We expect actors to dramatize a range of emotions as the characters they play; even, to some extent, when they’re playing a version of themselves on The Tonight Show or E! News. That’s what actors do, after all; they “act”—tearing up, raging, clowning, and otherwise emoting. So what secret magnetic field does Don Cheadle tap that allows him to convey all that with no detectable effort and a virtually unreadable face? He sits back, unruffled and self-possessed, while we do the work of reading into his performance whatever it is he needs us to know. This is not charisma of the “Let’s put on a show!” variety; it’s the kind that makes an actor impossible to look away from. The Hollywood Reporter noted in its review of his current series, House of Lies, “There’s an exceptional cast…, but everything revolves around the fact that Cheadle is riveting and impressively deft at being funny one moment, serious the next… He’s the giant magnet at the center of the show.” But a number of critics (and casting directors) looked under the radar long before a lot of us in the mass movie-going public, noting his uncannily facile power in films like Rebound: The Legend of Earl “The Goat” Manigault, Talk to Me, Devil in a Blue Dress, and Traffic. Most of us, though, wised up a few years later with the release of Hotel Rwanda, The Atlantic along with us: “[Producer and director] Terry George has, in Don Cheadle, perhaps the most underrated performer working in motion pictures. A character actor of uncommon range and charisma, Cheadle has over the last decade shown himself to be exceptional at playing characters both ineffectual and ferocious. Cheadle delivers a performance without seams, one in which the character’s later heroism is merely another facet of his earlier pragmatism. His genius makes Hotel Rwanda not only an important work of politics, but an important work of art.” It was a role George was honest in telling Cheadle he’d have to give to an actor with a bigger name, if he could get one. Cheadle’s reaction says a lot about him and how he sees his career. He told George he’d support the film in any way necessary regardless of whether he got the part, because it was a story that needed to be told. Cheadle honestly doesn’t care a whole lot about Oscars and fame and the like; he’s interested in longevity and the ability to make work that he believes has value—whether it puts him in front of or behind the camera. These days, he’s finding himself in both places, often simultaneously. He writes, directs, and stars in the upcoming film Miles Ahead, a take on musician Miles Davis so fiercely imaginative it demands its own genre. He’s also established his own production company, through which he’s now producing a new comedy for NBC—all while continuing to lead House Of Lies, which just became the first U.S. scripted series to shoot in Cuba. All to say, he’s going to need his preternatural calm more than ever. But it should be noted that in Cheadle’s case, “calm” does not mean “reserved.” He continues to be an outspoken advocate for issues like humanitarian aid to Darfur and climate change awareness through fundraising, and by making films and co-authoring books on the subjects. You get the feeling the man contains multitudes we’re only starting to see. Fittingly, we’ll let Miles summarize: “When you’re creating your own shit, even the sky ain’t the limit.”
Feb 13, 2020
Ep 57. Kristen Bell - Rerun
01:06:50
If souls or psyches can be compared to houses, Kristen Bell’s would be one with few dark corners. It would probably also be lavender scented, with a nice breeze blowing through. Delightfully real and candid, she’s become one of the most relatable and loved personalities on TV, that personality often being herself: Her Samsung commercials and goofy personal videos with husband Dax Shepard are some of YouTube’s most popular. No word on how many high-tech home appliances they’ve sold, but the Toto cover video they shot in Africa has garnered well over five million views. The soft heart and strong values that Shepard both teases and loves her for are ones she supports in both words and example—marriage equality, animal rights, and voter registration, for starters. Not surprisingly, then, the sunny, perky blond wasn’t the first actor that came to mind for Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas. “I had Christina Ricci in my head when I wrote it. I wanted someone who had a caustic delivery for lines that had weight and dryness.” As it turned out, Bell was also damn funny, with a gift for injecting just the right amount of dark, wry wit into what became her breakout role, turning her into a geek goddess of sorts. Her excellent turn as Elle Bishop in Heroes only settled that crown more firmly on her head. Maybe the fanboy hall-of-fame was a pre-destined landing place for someone who always felt (and early on, was often told) she wasn’t homely enough to play the nerdy girl and not nearly pretty enough to play the pretty girl. If that was a struggle at the outset, it seems to have made her a guileless and non-judgmental career plotter. That approach doesn’t work for everyone, but in Bell’s case, it’s allowed for angst-free role choices that ultimately did justice to her surprising range. (Check out Hit & Run for an early example of her abilities—and her director and then-fiancée’s knowing exactly how to push her buttons.) Post-Veronica Mars, her big screen break arrived with a part in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, a potentially intimidating career leap that landed well. In its review, Rolling Stone gave “Cheers to Bell for finding nuance in a diva written as a stone-cold bitch.” More recent evidence of her range turned up in a role in which she technically never appeared. For thousands of unsuspecting fans, Disney’s unstoppable snowball of a hit Frozen unmasked her extraordinary talent as a singer, a gift she honed in years of early musical theater training but modestly underplays. These days, Bell finds herself increasingly in demand, and increasingly in the company of bar-raising colleagues, a challenge she deliberately seeks out. She’s playing the ambitious partner and foil to Don Cheadle in Showtime’s not-so-sunny House of Lies. In the upcoming film The Boss, Bell plays a mousey would-be brownie maven alongside Melissa McCarthy, one of her comedic idols. She’s also somehow managed to start work on a new NBC show called Good Place from the executive producer of Parks and Recreation and co-starring Ted Danson. The series allows Bell an interesting opportunity to explore the character of Eleanor, a not-so-good person trying to figure out how to become a good person—if she can figure out what actually defines “a good person.” Our advice to Eleanor? As examples go, your friend Kristen Bell wouldn’t be a bad place to start.
Feb 06, 2020
Ep 27. Ethan Hawke - Rerun
01:37:00
Success came to Ethan Hawke when he was young, and across a wide spectrum. He landed a major motion picture, “The Explorers,” at 13, off his first audition. His second film, at 18, under Robin Williams’ tutelage on and off screen, was the now-classic “Dead Poets Society.” He’s been an established star ever since. At age 24, In the midst of his early film successes, he published “The Hottest State.” Hawke admits that adding “novelist” to his resume made him an easy target for ridicule. The word “pretentious” has been thrown at him countless times, often by foes, a few times by friends, even by himself. His response? “It beats not trying.”He did keep trying, and with this true renaissance man’s every career milestone over 20-plus years, the naysaying is drowned out by the praise. His insecure high-schooler Todd in “Dead Poets Society,” ultimate slacker Troy in “Reality Bites,” sincere rookie partner to sleazeball cop Denzel Washington in “Training Day,” his soulful Jesse in the “Before Sunrise” trilogy and most recently his increasingly less immature father Mason Sr. in “Boyhood,” as well as his critically beloved screenplays for the trilogy, which he co-wrote with Julie Delpy and Richard Linklater, have entrenched him in the top tier of the film industry, with four Oscar nominations. He has the faith of stage producers and directors as well: He’s done Shakespeare, Chekhov, and three plays with Tom Stoppard. His second novel, “Ash Wednesday,” was a best seller, and inspired The New York Times to write: “He displays a novelist’s innate gifts. He has a sharp eye, a fluid storytelling voice and the imagination to create complicated individuals.”A funny thing happened as Hawke, and his career, ripened into maturity: He morphed from embodying the essence of perpetually promising youth – ”I’d always been the youngest at everything” -- to a personification of the wisdom that comes with the passage of time. In the Sunrise trilogy, 18 years in the making, and “Boyhood,” 12 years in the making, we watched Hawke get older, less idealistic, more attuned to life’s ups and downs, meeting life’s challenges realistically, if not always admirably. On screen, he’s let himself wise up, screw up and then get up and move on, older and smarter. In his real life, he takes these lessons to heart. Now, in his latest film, he moves behind the camera to show the world someone who’s played the game of life even more skillfully than he, someone who embodies an ethos that Hawke has embraced: In the grand scheme, it’s not about growing up, it’s not about growing old, it’s simply about growing.
Jan 29, 2020
The Off Camera Call-In Show #3
01:31:42
Sam Jones does it again. Listen in as he fields some burning questions from Off Camera fans.
Jan 10, 2020
Year End Holiday Special
01:04:10
Dec 26, 2019
Liz Phair
01:02:16
Liz Phair introduced herself to the music industry in the 1990s with her bold first record Exile in Guyville. Rock and roll was traditionally dominated by men, but Liz forged her own path to success despite the loneliness it entailed. She used her art to express her feelings about sexuality, gender, and politics. As she says, “I had a sense that if I wanted to make my artistic dreams comes true, I was going to be on my own. I knew I would be going against the grain.”To this day, Liz unapologetically speaks her mind, and with the recent release of her memoir Horror Stories, we get a glimpse of the human being behind the art and the experiences that shaped her. Her remedy for the hopelessness she felt after the 2016 election was to write a brutally honest account of her life. “I decided to put something out that was as true as I could make it. I could expose myself and make myself truly vulnerable in order to plant a flag for honesty.”Liz joins Off Camera to talk about rebelling against the “beautiful lie” that was her suburban upbringing, her quest to untangle who she actually is versus the person she is perceived to be, and why getting up on stage never gets any easier.
Dec 19, 2019
Mike McGill and Steve Caballero
01:06:12
Well folks, you are in for a treat this week, especially if you are a skateboarder. Mike McGill and Steve Caballero were two of the founding members of the most famous skateboard team in history, the Bones Brigade, founded by legendary skater Stacy Peralta, who had a knack for scouting young talent. As a kid growing up in Fullerton, California, skateboarding was my passion, and I witnessed both of these guys change the sport I loved from a street corner pursuit to a worldwide phenomenon that has influenced popular culture, changed our athletic landscape, and is now, unbelievably, an Olympic Sport.Mike and Steve grew up on opposite coasts, but their shared love of skating (and a call from Stacy) brought them together. Now, Mike and Steve are in their 50s, and little has changed—they’re still great friends, they still skate together, and they’re still pushing each other to be better.The Bones Brigade was a make-shift family—a group of teenaged boys with Stacy as the father figure at the helm. Under Stacy’s mentorship, Mike and Steve turned pro at 15 years old, which meant traveling, competing in contests, and making videos. Juggling school and the demands of the sport was hard for both of them. Steve’s grades dipped, and Mike’s principal called his parents to reprimand him for missing too much class. But they knew what they wanted to do, and they were already earning a living. A good living.When The Bones Brigade hit their peak in the early '90s Mike and Steve were earning way more money than their parents, and traveling the world like rock stars. It gave them a perspective that few kids get, and it also solidified their identities forever, which caused both growing pains and afforded them a life of doing what they love to do.Mike and Steve’s other passion is Motocross, so you can understand why I like these guys. We get together most Mondays to ride dirt bikes at various motocross tracks around California, and as I result I have been afforded a unique perspective on how they approach fear, injury, aging, and passion. We get deep into those topics, and I come away with a new respect for them and a renewed desire to throw caution to the wind in pursuit of a life well lived.Mike and Steve join Off Camera to talk about accepting that suffering is part of the journey, the pressure that comes with creating new tricks, and how they hazed Tony Hawk when he joined the Bones Brigade. All I can say is, don’t ever accept gum from Mike and Steve. You don’t know where it’s been.
Dec 12, 2019
Jenny Slate 2
01:00:53
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. HOME
Dec 05, 2019
Tracy Letts
01:02:27
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
Josh Gad
01:05:36
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
Noomi Rapace
01:01:05
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
Lance Reddick
01:02:31
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
Edward Norton
01:04:13
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
Jeff Bridges 2
01:09:35
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
Jake Johnson
01:01:14
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
Adam Devine
01:08:42
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
Beth Behrs
01:00:51
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
Zach Galifianakis
01:14:07
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
Scott Aukerman
01:13:08
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
Andrea Savage
01:12:31
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
Constance Wu
01:12:13
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
Wyatt Russell
01:06:45
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
Sam Jones 2
01:03:55
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
Robert Downey Jr. 2
01:05:16
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
Scoot McNairy
01:06:50
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
Ramy Youssef
01:09:08
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
David Tennant
01:10:25
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
Sienna Miller
01:02:02
When Sienna Miller got her first big acting job on the short-lived FOX television show Keen Eddie, she had no grand plans for her career. Surrounded by a bustling crew and a shiny, big-budget production, she was simply happy to be there, and as a 19-year-old with zero drama school experience, she had no idea about the competitive side of the industry, which instilled in her a naïve confidence in auditions that led to early success.Although Keen Eddie was abruptly cancelled, Sienna’s film career was taking off. Within the span of a few years, she made her mark in films like Layer Cake, Alfie, and Factory Girl. Of course, she learned relatively quickly that success and fame in her profession meant the loss of her cherished private life, and in the eyes of the prying, often aggressive paparazzi, she was perfect tabloid fodder. “When I was at work, I was completely immersed and serious, but I just didn’t understand why I couldn’t be very serious at work and very frivolous outside of it.”Despite her challenges with the media, Sienna’s love for her work never wavered. In recent years, she’s taken on new, exciting acting challenges. Despite being initially terrified by the immensity of the role, she turns in a heart-wrenching, tour de force performance in Jake Scott’s new film American Woman.Sienna joins Off Camera to talk about the self-torture inherent in the profession, getting bribed with a pony and a rabbit to go to boarding school, and what it was like to spend an hour in the shoes of Tippi Hedren, getting pelted with flying birds.
Jun 20, 2019
Olivia Wilde 2
01:11:30
It’s been four years since Olivia Wilde last visited Off Camera, and a lot has changed—she’s had another child, taken a step back from acting, and embarked on a completely different career path as a director. “I almost feel like someone who’s come out of the closet. There’s this feeling of honesty about what I really want to do, and it's a level of comfort that comes from being true to yourself that I haven’t felt in a long time.” Booksmart, her first feature film, offers a unique perspective on friendship and identity during one of the most tumultuous times in life: the high school years.Being an actress for so many years allowed Olivia to see behind the curtain into the directing process, whether it was Martin Scorsese on set of Vinyl, Ron Howard on the set of Rush, or Reed Morano on Meadowland. But learning what not to do from her less positive experiences was equally important. “Knowing that my actors were walking onto a set that was the exact environment that I would want for myself felt really great. I used all my bad experiences for something good.” A perfect example of that was shooting a sex scene on a truly closed set on Booksmart.At times, acting in TV and film was an isolating experience for Olivia, who would often be brought in to shoot a scene and then promptly whisked away to her trailer. She felt more like a caged circus animal than a creative human being, and she longed for a more collaborative environment.Olivia joins Off Camera to talk about the importance of zooming out on your life every once in a while, why cell phones are the enemy of storytelling (and our souls), and how Converse high tops can double as chastity belts.
Jun 13, 2019
Fred Armisen
01:10:12
Fred Armisen is known as one of the funniest and most memorable Saturday Night Live cast members, but surprisingly, a career in comedy wasn’t something he originally envisioned. As a kid, he was obsessed with becoming a musician. Punk—his first love—was perfectly suited to his self-described “weirdo” sensibility. He and his band Trenchmouth had some success, but it paled in comparison to the record deals and acclaim his peers were getting. “The hardest part about watching all the bands around us get famous was that I wasn't able to enjoy music anymore because I was so jealous.”Fred wasn’t lighting the world on fire with his drumming, but he knew he had a gift for making people laugh with impressions—a valuable skill for entertaining band mates on long concert tours. Fred started wondering if he was supposed to be on a different path. “I worried for a moment that I was too late for this career, but the rewards were so huge that I made up for lost time. Within a few years, I was on Saturday Night Live. I went through the side door entrance, and even I wasn’t a traditional comedian, I had impressions and characters.”That side door proved to be the right one. Fred spent 11 years on SNL, developed and starred in Portlandia with Carrie Brownstein, did Documentary Now! with Bill Hader and Forever with Maya Rudolph, both fellow SNL alumni, and he’s at it again with Los Espookys, an upcoming Spanish-language show on HBO about goths, entrepreneurship, and chocolate. He’s keeping it weird, and that’s just how he likes it.Fred joins Off Camera to talk about finding a lifesaver and pen pal in director John Waters, why The Clash informs just about everything in his life, and the time he got sent to the school psychologist just because he wanted to burn down Main Street.
Jun 06, 2019
Ian McShane
01:09:24
Acting wasn’t really on the radar of young Ian McShane, who grew up in Manchester, England in the 1950s. Even though his father was a professional footballer for Manchester United, Ian had a normal, working class upbringing. He liked to play sports with his friends, but when a broken leg sidelined him from the field, his geography/drama teacher asked Ian to audition for the play. “I walked on the stage, and suddenly, I thought, ‘I know what I’m doing.’” After nailing the ambitious part of Cyrano in Cyrano de Bergerac, Ian and his teacher convinced his parents to send him to acting school at the Royal Academy…and the rest is history.In his nearly 50-year career, Ian’s developed a penchant for playing the rogue. The dye was cast early on. His first role ever was in The Wild and the Willing as a trouble-making college student who has an affair with his professor’s wife. The trend continued as he got older and grew into a natural gravitas. Take his performances in projects like Sexy Beast, Jesus of Nazareth, and American Gods.Of all the rogues he’s played, Ian’s best known as brothel owner and entrepreneur Al Swearengen in HBO’s Deadwood, which was cancelled abruptly after three seasons despite lots of critical acclaim. The show marks a seminal moment in Ian’s career: “Very few things live up to the experience on that show in terms of the quality of writing and the quality of people that you’re working with. You get spoiled.” Luckily for him and fans of the show, Ian will don Al’s signature pinstripe suit once again—Al Swearengen and Co. are returning to HBO with a two-hour Deadwood movie.Ian joins Off Camera to talk about his emotional return to the Deadwood set, his transformation post-sobriety, and the good old days in acting school, getting pissed with John Hurt.
May 30, 2019
Andrew Bird
01:02:09
Andrew Bird grew up no stranger to music, and he started playing the violin was he was four, using the Suzuki method. But Andrew argues he wasn’t “prodigy material.” Yes, he was naturally musical, but classical training requires strict adherence to rules and technique, and that just wasn’t his thing. “I always had this rebellious response to my teachers. I was trying to bust out of it before I had the basics. They would say, “Just learn what we’re trying to teach you, and then you can do that other stuff.” Of course, my response was, ‘But when?’”It took a bit of time, but in his late teens, Andrew finally discovered a scene that piqued his interest. “When I came out of music school, I started going to the club Lounge Ax in Chicago, and I was perplexed by this thing called indie rock. The guitars were spitefully out of tune, and the singing was a little waif-ish, but I was fascinated by it.” The DIY nature of the genre was even more appealing—he didn’t need to wait for permission or for someone to say, “Okay, now you have earned a place in the orchestra.”Once Andrew took the reins, he made a name for himself with his unique melodies and unconventional way of playing the violin. Over the years, he’s released music at a prolific pace—15 albums in the past 13 years. My Finest Work Yet is his latest, filled with infectious melodies, cinematic themes, probing lyrics, and his signature whistle. It’s clear that a large part of his success comes from his self proclaimed pride in “being the weirdo.” No wonder he’d love to call his early music teachers and say, “Hey, look! I’m breaking all the rules, and people are loving it.”Andrew joins Off Camera to talk about the madness that drives his songwriting process, why he hates headphones, and why he whistles when he works, constantly.
May 23, 2019
Jason Mantzoukas
01:06:18
Growing up on a little island off the coast of Massachusetts didn’t afford Jason Mantzoukas, an aspiring performer, much room to interact with the outside world, but it was a good place for Jason to hone his comedic skills. “I was a little Greek kid in a very WASP-y town. I very much felt like ‘the other’ and was subjected to lots of name calling and threats, but that’s where I came into being as a funny person—I diffused situations by making people laugh, and I never got into fights.”Jason’s world started to expand when he got bussed to a regional high school. That’s where his talent and passion for performing really took shape—he wrote and performed in sketch shows, played in bands, and did comedy bits for his class.After college, Jason received the Watson Fellowship to explore abroad. He was greeted by fear and loneliness the moment he landed, but working through that experience was essential to his growth. It’s why he got involved with improv and the Upright Citizens Brigade; it’s how he persevered through the rejection during his early acting career; and it’s why he writes, co-hosts a podcast, and has so much acting work on television and in film (The League, The Good Place, The Long Dumb Road, and John Wick 3 to name a few).Jason joins Off Camera to talk about his nervous breakdown in Morocco, why he’ll never stop doing improv, and why playing a maniac in The League made him a target for drunk bros everywhere.
May 16, 2019
Sarah Goldberg
01:06:32
All it took for Canadian-born actress Sarah Goldberg to realize she wanted to become an actor was a preschool production of The Owl and the Pussycat. And as she got older, the joy of acting in plays only intensified: “I discovered that being on stage is this point in time where everything goes quiet, and you’re completely free.” With that passion for the craft driving her, Sarah headed off for London to hit the boards as soon as she could leave home.After graduating from the London Academy of Music and Drama, Sarah found immediate success, booking a part in a play at the Young Vic Theatre, but it was the insecurity during the down time between jobs that she had the hardest time adjusting to. “Acting is a glorious job when you’re working. The job itself is a joy. We’re adult humans who dress up and play make-believe for money. But all the stuff around the job is really tough, like being unemployed for long stretches and being exposed in certain ways.”Sarah moved to New York, leaving the relative security of London’s West End for a shot at a film and television career. Instead she found herself doing any job she could to stay afloat and pay her rent, including video game voiceover work and Best Buy employee training videos. One particularly tough lull between jobs in 2016 was the straw that nearly broke the camel’s back. Sarah, very much unemployed, was sitting in her bathrobe at 3PM considering her career options when she got the call that would change her life. She was cast opposite Bill Hader in HBO’s Barry, the critically acclaimed, Emmy award winning series. And with Barry now getting picked up for a third season, Sarah not only gets another year of stability on a successful television show, she also gets to bask in the joy of playing a real, complex woman.Sarah joins Off Camera to talk about her most embarrassing audition story, about the Julianne Moore advice that completely altered the way she regards her job, and why being number two on the call sheet can be a good or bad thing.
May 09, 2019
'Weird Al' Yankovic
01:04:27
For years, Weird Al Yankovic was dismissed as a novelty musician—here today, gone tomorrow—but it’s been 40 years, and his weird and wonderful career shows no signs of slowing down. “People often think that if something is funny, it has lesser value and doesn’t deserve respect. Obviously, not me. I embrace it, and I encourage the people I work with to let their freak flag fly.”Al developed his “freak flag” pretty early on. “I was always a little outside the norm. Even in elementary school when everyone was playing together at recess, I would act out some TV show in my mind. I must have looked like a crazy kid, off by myself doing all these characters. It didn’t make me very popular.” An only child, Al did not make friends easily and had a hard time finding his crowd—a situation which was exacerbated by being two years younger than his classmates. But he was so smart and, well, nerdy, he skipped a few grades.Al found solace by listening to the radio, particularly Southern California DJ Dr. Demento, who brought unique, funny novelty music to the masses every Sunday night. Al already had a unique talent—he played the accordion. So, he tried his hand at making his own musical parodies, and one of them, a parody of The Knack’s “My Sharona” called “My Bologna,” made it onto Dr. Demento’s radio show and quickly became the number one song on the program.With wind in his sails, Al moved to Los Angeles to see if he could make it as a comedic musician, and the rest is history. After 40 years of success, he’s outlasted many of the artists that he’s parodied over the years, and as each new generation of twelve-year-olds rediscover Weird Al, his legend grows. “I’m kind of a novelty dinosaur at this point, but maybe society can only handle one Weird Al at a time.”Al joins Off Camera to talk about why MTV was such a catalyst for his career, how he once gave Madonna a business lesson, why parents of only children should not be given binoculars, and just how white and nerdy he really is.
May 02, 2019
Seth Rogen
01:11:56
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
Busy Philipps
01:04:37
For over 20 years, Busy Philipps has been navigating the highs and lows of a being an actress in Hollywood. With unrivaled determination and a strong belief in herself, Busy left her home in Arizona at 18 years old for Los Angeles to pursue acting and briefly, college. Her dream came true sophomore year, when she was cast in the cult TV show Freaks & Geeks, and since that time, Busy’s been a staple of American television, with roles in popular shows like Dawson’s Creek, Cougar Town, and Vice Principals.Despite her success, Busy hasn’t been immune to the uglier elements of being a woman in Hollywood. She’s dealt with body shaming, inequality, and harassment by male colleagues while also fighting the insecurity that comes with the job. But overcoming challenges is in Busy’s DNA: “I only do things the hard way. It’s the only interesting way to do anything, and it’s a part of my personality.”In response to her traumatic experiences and as someone who has “wanted to be seen” ever since childhood, Busy chose to write a memoir, titled This Will Only Hurt A Little, to give herself a voice and to memorialize her story. Between the book’s success and the large social media following she garnered by posting snippets of her daily life, Busy had an epiphany: “Maybe I need to lean into the thing that people are responding to and saying is really interesting.” That led to the creation of Busy’s late night talk show Busy Tonight, currently airing on E!. She’s spent her entire career in the shoes of different characters, now, she gets to be herself.Busy joins Off Camera to talk about the double standard that exists for female actors, losing a job she knew was hers because the television network deemed her overweight, and the first gig she ever booked…as a life-size Barbie.
Apr 18, 2019
David Harbour
01:12:15
When David Harbour was growing up in the suburbs of Westchester County, he was an outcast. A self-described nerdy and intense weirdo who preferred to march to the beat of his own drum over assimilating with the popular crowd, David explains, “I basically felt like an alien growing up.” But his isolation from the group and things like team sports led him to pursue more solitary, artistic, and creative endeavors, and along the way, he discovered acting.On stage, David’s socially off-putting intensity was an asset, and it allowed him to explore all of the dark and complex emotions he was feeling at the time within the structure of a story. By the time he was 19 and cast as Hamlet in a regional theater production, David had hit his stride. “I played Hamlet, and I don’t think I’ve ever been better. I was so fired up and alive, so engaged with the world. Hamlet was just me. All the things he was feeling were all the things I was feeling.” As a naturally gifted actor who simply loved the craft, David made the choice to pursue acting as a career, and it was a no brainer.Over the years, David has amassed a large body of work in things like The Newsroom, Revolutionary Road, Pan Am, the upcoming Hellboy remake, and much more, but his role as Jim Hopper in the beloved Netflix series Stranger Things has really blown up his career over the past couple of years. In large part, David’s success as Hopper is a result of the humanity he brings to his character, an internally broken leading man that we’re all rooting for. David, now in his 40s, has come to leading roles late, but with all of that life and career experience, he’s bringing much needed nuance to our idea of what it means to be a hero: “One of the traps actors fall into with leading roles is that they think they need to present a strength, but I think most people really want to identify with someone who goes through the same vicissitudes of life and brokenness that we all do.”David joins Off Camera to talk about how a group of industry rejects turned Stranger Things into a massively popular phenomenon, how he dealt with the inner monsters that nearly cost him his life, and why he really doesn’t like his face.
Apr 11, 2019
Joey King
01:09:03
When Joey King went to the premiere of her upcoming Hulu show The Act, she didn’t anticipate watching the entire thing through her fingers, but the role was so personally and professionally momentous that she couldn’t bear to watch herself with clear, open eyes. “I was sitting in a room full of people that I knew, but I was sweating the entire time. I was so nervous—I’d never felt so vulnerable about a performance before.” The show, based on a real-life story of Gypsy Rose (played by Joey) and Dee Dee Blanchard (played by Patricia Arquette), explores the dark and disturbing dynamic between a teenage girl who wants to live a normal life and a needy, over-bearing mother who suffers from Munchausen syndrome by proxy and intentionally makes her daughter ill.Although Joey’s been acting since she was four, she rose to global fame nearly overnight after the release of the unexpected Netflix hit The Kissing Booth, a feel good teenage romantic comedy. Prior to The Act, playing a typical teenager who navigates friendships and relationships in the gauntlet that is high school had been commonplace for Joey but she was dying to try something different, to lose herself completely in a character. “As an actor, we dream of doing things that take us out of our comfort zone that we never thought we’d get the opportunity to do—wear fake teeth, shave my head, sit in a wheelchair, and study someone else’s movements. As an actor, it feels so good to do something like that.”Joey joins Off Camera to talk about why getting fired from her first pilot was a blessing in disguise, where she got her gift for tapping into emotions on command, and how she uses her social media platform (and her nearly 9 million followers) for the good of humanity and for changing chicken corsage protocol at KFC.
Apr 04, 2019
Brit Marling
01:07:32
Brit Marling has created one of the most original, mind-bending, and creative shows on television with Netflix’s The OA; an exploration of near death experiences, inter-dimensional travel, modern dance, and much, much more. But the thing the sticks with you, and the thing that underlies all of the sci-fi excitement, is a very human yearning for connection and community. Between The OA and her films Another Earth and Sound of My Voice, Brit’s talent for tapping into her childhood imagination to create unique stories is undeniable. In a case of life almost imitating art, Brit nearly took a radically different career path. The parent-pleasing, Georgetown valedictorian graduated with a degree in economics that landed her at banking behemoth Goldman Sachs. She spent a year crunching numbers and cans of Red Bull before she realized that she was terribly depressed. “I couldn’t understand why all of these bright, excited young people found themselves here. No one was asking us to reinvent anything. It was just, ‘Here’s the model. Plug the numbers into the model.’ I had a moment there where I was like, ‘I’m going to die—is this what I want to do day-to-day?’” Luckily, Brit got a taste of a more fulfilling and creative career when her two college friends, both aspiring filmmakers, came to NYC with an invitation to make a short film for a 48-hour film festival. The thrill of the experience forced Brit to recognize, “Either I can have this career with safe, predictable outcomes, or I can work my butt off doing something I love. Yes, it’s dangerous, and yes, I may be broke all the time, but I’ll be happy.” Goldman Sachs was left in the dust. Brit joins Off Camera to talk about how wading through the acting swamp led her to screenwriting, why collaboration is the key to her success, and why death needs a redesign.
Mar 28, 2019
Lauren Cohan
01:07:35
If you look at Lauren Cohan’s acting career, it’s clear she has a knack for playing strong and feisty women. She’s played a zombie killing badass in The Walking Dead, a secret agent in Peter Berg’s thriller Mile 22, and now, she’s chasing down international baddies in the action-packed ABC series Whiskey Cavalier. Rolling on the ground, shooting guns, and doing stunts can be exhausting work, but for Lauren it’s the opposite. “I naturally gravitate towards action. As soon as I started doing it, I felt exhilarated. I have an excess of adrenaline, so it’s good for me to have a physical element to acting.” Lauren’s career path wasn’t always so certain. She spent years slogging through auditions where the only requirement was to be a “beautiful woman.” She longed for the opportunity to do more, and that’s when Walking Dead came along. “Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to be an actor and get work because people want to see you onscreen, but when I got the role of Maggie, I was so relieved that it was a stripped down character study. I finally felt free.” Exploring the vast depth of human emotion is what ultimately drives her, even when she encounters moments or scenes that scare her. “I keep going back to this idea of embracing the challenge. It’s like, ‘That sounds painful and difficult…let me try it.’” Lauren joins Off Camera to talk about the Walking Dead scene that terrified her so much that she almost quit, why there’s no point in being an actor if you aren’t willing to be vulnerable and uncomfortable, and why finding your inner lion is all part of a day’s work.
Mar 21, 2019
Ray Romano
01:05:17
Before Ray Romano graced our television sets with Everybody Loves Raymond, he was a hustling stand-up comedian, hoping to break into television like his peers Jerry Seinfeld, Tim Allen, and Rosanne. He followed all the proper steps—performing on late night television, selling out road gigs, and getting featured in HBO comedy specials—but radio silence was all he got from the powers that be. After eleven years as a full-time stand-up, Ray realized, “Maybe this acting thing just isn’t meant to be.” But that’s exactly when he got offered the development deal that would turn into the hit show Everybody Loves Raymond, and make Ray not only the highest paid actor in sitcom history, but one of the most recognized people in the world. Despite all of his success and fame, Ray dealt with an unexpected identity crisis when Raymond ended. “It took about three months until the void smacked me in the head. It was this sense of, ‘What now? Where’s my passion? Where’s my direction? What am I throwing all my energy into now?’ I had this non-stop creative energy for nine years. And suddenly, I was empty.” But working through the existential void turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It’s what led to the creation of Men of a Certain Age, the show Ray co-wrote with his friend Mike Royce, and it led to a desire to flex his acting muscles in other, more dramatic areas. Getting people to see him as more than a sitcom actor was difficult, especially after spending nine years in the shoes of one character that was loosely based on himself. “I didn’t want to make everyone forget about my sitcom legacy, because I was proud of it, but my goal was to do what I wanted—and what I wanted was to stick my little dramatic toe in there.” Since he made that decision, he’s evolved into a versatile and relatable dramatic actor with his work in projects like Parenthood, Vinyl, Get Shorty, The Big Sick, and most recently, Paddleton, opposite Mark Duplass. Ray joins Off Camera to talk about the first and only time he was fired, how he turns real life into a comedic bit, and why it’s so hard for some men to say, “I love you.”
Mar 14, 2019
Patton Oswalt
01:01:51
I was excited to have Patton Oswalt on the show, because I have been following his career ever since I first saw him on stage at the legendary Los Angeles club, The Largo in the mid-nineties, where he made me laugh harder than perhaps I have ever laughed before or since. But as I learned in this conversation, the road to that kind of insight and humor is a long uncertain one. As Patton says: “I worked for years doing very uncreative jobs, and for some people that’s fine, but for me, it felt deadly. It felt like a premature death in a lot of ways.” That’s how Patton felt before he was able to make a living off of his art, and it’s why he so values a career in the arts and specifically, those special creative moments, when a joke or an emotion lands and transcends all the social barriers we put between each other. Early on, Patton realized that staving off “life in a coffin” would be difficult if he let his self-critical voice take over, but he was so inspired by the arts, fellow comedians, and filmmakers that the creative doors in his head kept getting kicked open, making him realize: “Oh, I can go further because of what I just saw.” Instead of shirking in the presence of great comedians like David Cross, Sarah Silverman, and Zach Galifianakis, he stayed in the room with them and focused on working harder and getting better. With that work ethic, it’s no wonder that Patton has become successful in nearly every artistic medium he’s tried. He masterfully melds comedy and tragedy in his astounding Netflix special Annihilation, where he discusses the sudden and devastating loss of his first wife. He’s written two entertaining and insightful memoirs, Zombie Spaceship Wasteland and Silver Screen Fiend. He’s even developed a successful acting career with roles in projects like A.P. Bio, Young Adult, and Justified. There’s only one thing left for him to do now, and that’s to take on one of his first loves—filmmaking. And as I found out, that subject is a little more complicated. Patton joins Off Camera to talk about the terrors he had to conquer to make Annihilation, why making his own film scares the daylights out of him, and why you should think twice before you get a bowl of noodles from Yoshinoya on your lunch break.
Mar 07, 2019
Norman Reedus
01:00:39
Over the last ten years, Norman Reedus has been kicking zombie butt and endearing himself to audiences around the world in the massively successful AMC series The Walking Dead. Ten years is a long time for someone who grew up with a serious case of wanderlust and a “day-to-day” philosophy on life, but Norman wouldn’t have it any other way. “I’m so invested in The Walking Dead that I can’t imagine leaving on my own. I want to bookend it. I want to see it to its conclusion.” Norman came to acting relatively late, but he traces his desire to be an artist all the way back to childhood, when art supplies were his go-to presents for birthdays and Christmas. Along the way, he’s tried just about every artistic medium, from painting, to photography, to modeling, and even to being a muse for music video directors. But it wasn’t until he discovered a rich creative and artistic community in downtown L.A. that he found his way to acting, and as someone with a self-described “chip on his shoulder,” it wasn’t even something he took seriously until he understood the personal and emotional stakes of committing to a role. Prior to becoming a fan-favorite in The Walking Dead, Norman spent the majority of his acting career in film, most notably Boondock Saints. He’s followed a long, meandering path to reach this point, but now that he has, the road has opened up for him—and quite literally. These days, in addition to The Walking Dead, he’s filming his motorcycle travel/adventure show Ride with Norman Reedus, now in its third season on AMC. Norman joins Off Camera to talk about why being on a motorcycle is a singular experience, the moment he discovered the power of acting, and why flinging dead squirrels is more nuanced than you think.
Feb 28, 2019
Daniel Radcliffe
01:00:20
Before Daniel Radcliffe became the face of the global phenomenon that was Harry Potter, he was just a typical kid struggling to get through his schoolwork and get along with his teachers. Back then, his only acting credential was the BBC miniseries David Copperfield, but he made a good impression on fellow cast member Maggie Smith, who recommended him for the role that would change his life. Despite his parents’ initial reluctance, Dan was allowed to audition, and once they started filming, he discovered his happy place. “I felt pretty sh** at everything in school, so it was nice to be on a film set where my hyperactivity and all the stuff that was irritating my teachers was actually useful and encouraged.” Now nearly a decade removed from Harry Potter, he still finds acting to be a constant source of joy. When he made his first foray outside of Hogwarts, Dan bravely decided to take a giant risk, choosing the dark and psychologically complex play Equus as his coming out party. “I couldn’t do something half-assed for my first thing on stage. It was my chance to get far away from Potter as possible, both to show people that I was in it for the right reasons and to test myself.” From his work on stage to his other films like Swiss Army Man, Jungle, and Kill Your Darlings, Dan continues to challenge himself—his most recent example being his broad, playful, and comedic role in the hilarious new series Miracle Workers, opposite Steve Buscemi. Dan joins Off  Camera to talk about pressures that come with fame, taking on uncharted waters as a “magical dead guy” in Swiss Army, and how to get through a Japanese airport without dying.
Feb 21, 2019
Stephen Merchant
01:04:03
When Stephen Merchant grew to 6’7” as a teenager, he had a hard time blending in with the crowd, which was something he longed for. “Lots of kids in school would dye their hair pink, get lots of piercings, or do things to stand out, whereas I spent all my time trying not to stand out, trying to seem shorter, to be one of the crowd.” Despite the unwanted attention, being tall helped Stephen develop his comedic sense—“If people were just going to point at me for being tall, they might as well point and go, ‘Oh, it’s that tall funny guy.’” By the time he got to university, he decided to make a career out of standup comedy. Stephen put in the time experiencing the highest highs and crushing lows of life as a standup, but his career really took off after he teamed up with Ricky Gervais for the hit U.K. comedy series The Office. The two met while doing radio for XFM London, and their chemistry was instantaneous and undeniable. After years collaborating with Gervais and others on projects like Extras and HBO’s Hello Ladies, Stephen’s taking matters into his own hands, writing solo for the first time ever for the film Fighting with My Family, based on a real story about a wresting family in England with big aspirations to reach the WWE. Stephen joins Off Camera to talk about the expectations that come with a hit television show, why he went back to standup after a long hiatus, and how he turned his awkward dating experiences into art.
Feb 14, 2019
Regina Hall
01:03:04
Ever since Regina Hall showed up on screen as the hilarious, sex-craven Brenda in Scary Movie, she’s never had to worry about getting work. But what she did struggle with was getting the right kind of work, especially after discovering the flip side to success—typecasting. “I wanted great parts and interesting work. And as a woman, a black woman, I wondered if that was even possible.” Despite her concerns about a career ceiling, she continued to push for roles that were more nuanced, and less broad. Luckily, she had a thick skin, honed by growing up with three brothers, which prepared her for the ups and downs of the industry. While many female actors fear getting older in a business that values youth, Regina, now in her late-40s, is discovering that her career is blossoming with age. In the past two years, she’s been in the massively successful Girls Trip, has won multiple awards for her role in the outstanding independent film Support the Girls, and is now playing her self-proclaimed dream role in Showtime’s Black Monday, opposite Don Cheadle. Regina joins Off Camera to talk about her earliest (and wildest) career ambitions, how her father’s unexpected death jump started her acting career, and why becoming a nun is a lot harder than one might think.
Feb 07, 2019
Dax Shepard 2
01:02:41
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
D'Arcy Carden
01:05:34
You may know D’Arcy Carden as the lovable, all-knowing, not-quite-robot-not-quite-human entity Janet on The Good Place, and while she may not know everything in real life, she certainly knew she wanted to act from the moment she saw her father in a local production of Thorton Wilder’s Our Town. By the time she was nine, D’Arcy had her mind set on child acting, and she tried to make her case to her father. But he didn’t buy her “I can handle it” argument, and instead, she was forced to pursue acting at school until she graduated. It was a compromise she didn’t want to make—“You’re ruining my life!” was D’Arcy’s initial reaction. But in retrospect, she wouldn’t have it any other way, proving that sometimes, parents do know whats best. (that last line was directed at my children). The struggles started soon after she graduated college and moved to New York City to conquer Broadway. “I shared a two-bedroom apartment with four, sometimes five people. I never had a dollar in New York, and I lived there for ten years. I kept auditioning, but I quickly realized, ‘It’s not going to happen right now. What the hell do I do?’” But through it all, she still tried to make a career out of acting, taking any job she could get, which often felt less like acting, and more like acting adjacent. This included being a temp, a waitress, a nanny, an extra, and even a tour guide. But it took seeing an Upright Citizens Brigade show for D’Arcy to really find her place. “I was sitting in the front row at UCB’s ASSSSCAT show, and the cast was Amy Peohler, Seth Meyers, Jason Mantzoukas, and Rob Riggle. An incredible cast. And something electric happened—it was this weird religious moment where everything came together and revealed the clearest path. I realized, ‘I don’t care what I do for the rest of my life, I want that. I want to be on stage with these people.’” D’Arcy immediately started taking improv classes, and discovered her authentic self by risking failure night after night. Over time, she gradually moved up the ladder at UCB, which ultimately opened up opportunities for television work, including her big break on Comedy Central’s Broad City. These days, she’s stealing the show on two critically-acclaimed television series: The Good Place and Barry. It turns out that nine-year-old D’Arcy was right—she really can handle the life of an actor, and she can only go up from here. D’Arcy joins Off Camera to talk about the secret mantra that keeps her confidence going, the college professor who told her she wasn’t “dark enough” to be a real actor, and why you should always be nice to the interns at UCB.
Jan 24, 2019