Legendary film critic Leonard Maltin and his daughter Jessie are the ultimate movie fans. They love talking about movies, especially with people who share their enthusiasm—from living legends like Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, and Quincy Jones to such contemporary artists as Amy Adams, Viggo Mortensen, Laura Dern, and Bryan Cranston. You’ll meet all kinds of interesting people and hear their recommendations of unsung movies you ought to know.
Yes, he’s a Mac. Justin Long is also a talented actor and a full-time cutup, as Leonard and Jessie learned when they recorded this episode before a live audience at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas. He’s been in countless movies and TV shows, from Galaxy Quest to Idiocracy, lent his voice to Alvin (of Chipmunk fame) and a variety of characters on King of the Hill. He’s played George Harrison (in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story) and worked for Kevin Smith. Each gig triggers a funny story in this especially lively episode.
This rugged Aussie has made a splash in such popular movies as Jack Reacher, A Good Day to Die Hard, the Divergent series, Terminator: Genysis, and Suicide Squad (as Captain Boomerang). But he’s a serious drama student who tackled Shakespeare’s Macbeth on stage in Melbourne not long ago. He’s also quite likable and willing to share his experiences working opposite some of the biggest names in show business. You can see his latest film, Semper Fi, on VOD right now. Leonard and Jessie were impressed with Jai and more than happy to spend an hour with him.
Seth Green is still young but he’s been a familiar face (and voice) for more than thirty years, believe it or not. He played a young Woody Allen in Radio Days and Dr. Evil’s son in the Austin Powers movies before winning a young generation of fans (like Jessie) on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He’s voiced Chris Griffin on Family Guy and Leonardo on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and won three Emmy Awards for creating and producing the long-running animated series Robot Chicken. Leonard and Jessie were impressed with how young he was when he understood the business of show business—and pleased to see how much he still enjoys it.
William Sadler is one of those actors everyone knows even if they can’t quite think of his name. He’s played everything from the Grim Reaper in the BILL & TED movies (with a reunion film just completed) to the U.S. President in IRON MAN 3 (and AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.). He was a sheriff on ROSWELL and Tommy’s father on the last season of POWER. But many of his best stories come from his years of work on the stage—and they are hilarious. Leonard and Jessie enjoyed every minute they spent with him on stage at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas.
A versatile actor and filmmaker, Danny Huston is the son of the legendary John Huston and has wonderful stories to share. He’s built a considerable career of his own, with such films as Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator, Children of Men, Marie Antoinette, 21 Grams, Birth, The Constant Gardener, and Wonder Woman to his credit. He’s also the star, writer and director of The Last Photograph, which is now available on VOD. Leonard and Jessie were utterly charmed by Danny and you will be, too.
Fred Willard is a man for all seasons. He’s been making people laugh from the time of Johnny Carson and Ed Sullivan to the present day, now turning up regularly on Jimmy Kimmel Live playing everyone from the ghost of George Washington to Donald Trump’s father. He’s unforgettable in Best in Show, Waiting for Guffman and other Christopher Guest movies and has earned Emmy nominations for recurring roles on Everybody Loves Raymond and Modern Family. Leonard and Jessie have known him and his family for years and cherish their friendship with one of the funniest men alive. Listen and you’ll learn about his approach to comedy and his laudable work ethic.
The man who changed television programming with his landmark PBS series The Civil War is back with Country Music, a captivating eight-part, 16-hour saga you don’t want to miss. Ken Burns has become America’s storyteller and we couldn’t ask for a more eloquent or passionate historian. Leonard and Jessie have known him for years on a social basis but this is the first time they’ve ever sat down for an hour of conversation about his magnificent work. It’s a treat to hear him speak on any subject that moves him.
A celebrated actor and man of the theater whose films include Amadeus, Shakespeare in Love, and Four Weddings and a Funeral, Simon Callow is also a master biographer, having written a great book about Charles Laughton and a magnum opus on Orson Welles which has extended to four volumes! And yes, he was also the bad guy in Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls. Charming and witty, he regaled Leonard and Jessie with stories from his extensive career and will do the same for you.
Master cinematographer Caleb Deschanel earned the first of six Oscar nominations for The Black Stallion, and the latest just last year for the brilliant German film Never Look Away. Since then he’s ventured into the newest form of storytelling, virtual reality, to shoot The Lion King. But his best stories aren’t about craft—they’re about life lessons he’s learned since attending film school at USC with the likes of George Lucas. Leonard and Jessie sat spellbound as Caleb regaled them with priceless anecdotes: tune in and hear for yourself.
Jessie fell in love with Phil LaMarr during his long run on MADTV, but that’s just one of hundreds of credits on his resume. He’s a charter member of The Black Version, a hilarious show at Los Angeles’s Groundlings Theatre and one of the busiest voice actors around. You’ve heard him on The Family Guy, Futurama, DC Super Hero Girls, Bojack Horseman, and scores of other animated shows and movies. He’s also appeared onscreen in Veep, Get Shorty, and Pulp Fiction, to cite just a few highlights. He has great stories to share, and Leonard and Jessie were especially blown away by his uncanny impressions. Have you ever heard anyone imitate Chris Rock and Don Cheadle?
A born storyteller and natural entrepreneur, Ava DuVernay has achieved many milestones: the first black woman to be named Best Director at the Sundance Film Festival (for Middle of Nowhere), the first to have a feature nominated for Best Picture (Selma), and the first to pilot a big-budget blockbuster, A Wrinkle in Time. She created the hit series Queen Sugar and directed the powerful Netflix miniseries When They See Us. How she found time in her schedule to chat with Leonard and Jessie we’ll never know, but they discovered that aside from her great achievements, Ava is equally happy to talk about her early inspirations and lifelong love of movies.
Most people know Lesley Manville for her Oscar-nominated performance as Daniel Day-Lewis’s sister in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread or her many films for British filmmaker Mike Leigh including Secrets & Lies, Topsy-Turvy and Another Year. She’s also the star of the irresistible TV comedy Mum, which just launched its third and final season on BritBox. Leonard and Jessie are unabashed fans of the show and enjoyed discussing it and Lesley’s wide-ranging career in theater, film and television.
Forever to be remembered as Lt. Commander Data on Star Trek: the Next Generation and other treks to follow, Brent Spiner is a versatile actor and performer with notable Broadway credits—and two fervent fans in Leonard and Jessie, who saw him play John Adams in a masterful revival of 1776. He’s happy to discuss all facets of his career, from musical theater to his memorable role in Independence Day. Even longtime fans may learn things they didn’t already know about Brent in this delightful chat.
If you’re like Leonard and Jessie, you’ve been watching Alanna Ubach for years—even if you don’t know her name. She’s currently costarring in Euphoria and still winning praise for her portrayal of the matriarch in Disney’s animated Coco. But that just scratches the surface of this talented actress’s career... from Legally Blonde to Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce. The secret of her long term success? She’s never turned down a part! She’s also great fun to talk to.
One of Cleveland’s finest sons, Drew Carey is comedy’s long-distance runner. A former Marine, he burst on the national scene as a contestant on Star Search in 1988 and hasn’t stopped since. The Drew Carey Show enjoyed an extraordinary nine-year run on ABC, matched by the improv hit Whose Line is It Anyway. He’ll soon be starting his twelfth season as the host of The Price is Right. We don’t know how he made time to join us but we’re awfully glad he did. Drew is a great conversationalist, as you’ll hear for yourself.
After more than twenty years onscreen, with an Oscar nomination to his credit (for As Good as It Gets) Greg Kinnear has made his directing debut with a likable film called Phil, which opens in theaters and online this week. Leonard and Jessie ask him what inspired him to move behind the camera, and also touch on highlights of his career—from working opposite Jack Nicholson to playing JFK in a major TV miniseries. He’s got a lot of good movies under his belt, like You’ve Got Mail, Nurse Betty, Auto Focus, and Little Miss Sunshine, to name just a few…and a story to go with each one.
The prolific author behind Game of Thrones is also a lifelong movie buff and invited us to interview him at his very own theater, The Jean Cocteau Cinema in Santa Fe, New Mexico. George and Leonard compared notes about starting out as a fan and contributing to fanzines, back in the pre-Internet era. (For more on this, go to www.leonardmaltin.com.) George went on to teach writing and enjoyed success as a novelist before moving to Hollywood, where he spent a decade working in television. Ultimately he returned to his roots as an author, little dreaming that his novels would inspire one of the most elaborate and successful television shows ever produced. George is a great conversationalist and was a gracious host to Leonard and Jessie; you can join them vicariously by listening in.
Helen Slater won the role of Supergirl in 1984 fresh out of New York City’s High School of the Performing Arts. Now she’s playing Melissa Benoist’s mother in the newest incarnation of Supergirl on the CW network. In between she’s had many experiences in and out of show business which she was only too happy to share with Leonard and Jessie (who fell in love with her in The Legend of Billie Jean). Our favorite: a memorable conversation with costar Peter O’Toole.
Alan Tudyk is a gifted actor and a familiar face who achieved cult status as a costar of Joss Whedon’s Firefly and its follow-up feature-film Serenity…but he’s also become the man of a thousand voices. If you’ve seen Wreck-it Ralph, Frozen, Big Hero 6, or even Rogue One: A Star Wars Story you’ve heard his facility with accents, dialects, and the ability to embody colorful characters. He also stars in one of Leonard and Jessie’s favorite unsung movies, Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil. Alan is only too happy to demonstrate his vocal talents during our hilarious interview. Angelenos can currently see him onstage in Mysterious Circumstances at the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood.
Tracy Nelson made a deep impression on a youthful audience in the 1980s TV series Square Pegs and is still acting today. She’s also part of show business royalty: her father was Ricky Nelson, her grandparents were Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, and her maternal grandparents were football star-turned-sportscaster Tom Harmon and leading lady Elyse Knox. (Yes, that means her cousin is Mark Harmon.) Tracy is proud of her heritage and Leonard and Jessie were only too eager to soak up all that history
Alexander Payne is one of the brightest lights in American filmmaking, a brilliant social satirist and observer with Citizen Ruth, Election, About Schmidt, Sideways, The Descendants, Nebraska and Downsizing among his credits as director and writer (usually with his longtime collaborator Jim Taylor). He started, as Leonard did, by collecting 8mm prints of silent comedies with Charlie Chaplin, and has never lost his passion for cinema, as you’ll hear in this compelling conversation with Leonard and Jessie.
Jeff Ross is best known as the Roastmaster General, reigning king of insult humor, but there’s much more to this talented comedian. Leonard and Jessie met him in 2005 when he made a terrific documentary called Patriot Act: A Jeffrey Ross Home Movie about entertaining our troops in Iraq. Now he’s acting on the new season of Sneaky Pete and using his producing skills—and sense of showmanship—to introduce a new series on Comedy Central called Historical Roasts. He’s a smart guy who has earned every bit of his success. Be aware that this episode includes some raunchy and highly irreverent remarks.
Americans first became aware of Jacki Weaver when she played the matriarch of a crime family in the Aussie import Animal Kingdom in 2010. Her chilling performance earned her an Oscar nomination and “overnight” recognition outside her homeland, where she’s been working on stage, screen and television for decades. She nabbed another Academy Award nomination as Robert De Niro’s wife in Silver Linings Playbook and hasn’t had an idle moment since. Her newest release is POMS with Diane Keaton. Leonard and Jessie were delighted to spend an hour in the company of this bright, spirited woman who’s enjoying life to the fullest.
Had Don Hahn just produced Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King he’d have earned a place in movie history—and our hearts. But over several decades he’s done so much more: writing books (like Before Ever After and Yesterday’s Tomorrow: Disney’s Magical Mid-Century), directing documentaries (like Waking Sleeping Beauty) and keeping Disney history alive. Not bad for a guy who started out as a messenger on the Burbank studio lot. Don is self-deprecating and funny but his love for Disney is true-blue, as Leonard and Jessie can attest.
Angie Dickinson has lived an amazing life--and she’s far from done. Knowing and working with the likes of Frank Sinatra, John Wayne, and John F. Kennedy is just a starting point for our candid, wide-ranging discussion with the ageless actress. From a beauty pageant winner she worked her way up to leading lady and never missed a beat. Leonard and Jessie sat, wide-eyed, at her well-worn professional poker table for this memorable episode.
Dave Foley is a busy comedic actor and stand-up performer, but even after thirty years is still cherished as one of the Kids in the Hall. That rowdy comedy troupe made a lasting impression, as did Dave’s five-year stint on the much-loved TV series, Newsradio. Our guest has yet another indelible claim to fame as the voice of Flik in Pixar’s A Bug’s Life. Leonard and Jessie were delighted to learn that Dave is also a student of comedy, past and present, which allowed all three to geek out together on their favorite topic.
Kevin Brownlow is the superhero of film historians, with an Oscar to prove it. Now you can hear his “origin story.” Fifty years ago his book The Parade’s Gone By offered a vivid portrait of the silent film era and its glories, influencing a generation of movie buffs and scholars (including Leonard). He held Leonard and Jessie spellbound as he recalled his first encounters with this medium and how he tracked down actors and directors who were still alive to tell their stories. Kevin’s own career is the stuff of legend by now, and we’re delighted that he was willing to share some of his amazing adventures with us.
You probably know Kate Flannery as Meredith, the resident drunk who made a lasting impression over nine seasons on The Office, but she’s had the show-business bug all her life. She now tours the country with Jane Lynch, singing her heart out, and keeps her comedy chops honed in an act called The Lampshades. Leonard and Jessie were among the people she waited on at a popular Beverly Hills restaurant where she had the chance to observe good and bad behavior among the Hollywood elite. Kate’s got great stories—and a wonderful laugh.
Paula Poundstone is one of the funniest women on the planet, and a longtime favorite of Leonard’s. She’s heard regularly as a panelist on the popular NPR show Wait…Wait, Don’t Tell Me and now presides over her own very funny podcast quixotically called Nobody Listens to Paula Poundstone (co-hosted by Adam Felber). Join us as she expounds on everyday matters, the wide net she casts on her new “comedy field guide to life” and—oh, yes—movies.
Heyyyy… it’s Henry Winkler, the nicest man in show business. He’ll always be remembered as the Fonz but he has a new feather in his cap: an Emmy Award (his first!) for playing Bill Hader’s acting teacher on the delightfully dark HBO comedy series Barry. Henry is also a masterful storyteller and held Leonard and Jessie in rapt attention, recalling early days working with Sylvester Stallone in The Lordz of Flatbush and, more recently, writing a series of popular children’s books about a boy with dyslexia (like Henry) named Hank Zipzer. He has a way of putting people at ease and this hour flies by.
Winnie Holzman and Paul Dooley are an amazing show-business couple. She created the TV series My So-Called Life and wrote the book for the Broadway musical Wicked, just for starters. He’s acted in every medium known to mankind, was a favorite of director Robert Altman, created The Electric Company and is currently playing James Brolin’s “father from Hell” on the TV series Life in Pieces—in his 90th year. They’re wonderful to watch (and listen to) because they love and support each other so beautifully. Leonard and Jessie have been fans for years and are eager to share their infectious good spirits with all of you.
Marc Maron has nothing to prove as a stand-up comic or as a podcaster, but he’s still stretching his wings as an actor. He’s terrific in director Lynn Shelton’s entertaining new movie Sword of Trust, which just debuted at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. That’s where Leonard and Jessie talked to them both before an enthusiastic audience at Esther’s Follies. Lynn explains how she combines scripted material and improvisation. Marc is in top form and that’s about as good as it gets! Fair warning: you’ll hear more f-bombs than usual in this episode.
Harvey Guillen is about to make waves! He’s one of the stars of What We do in the Shadows, the new FX series based on the hilarious Kiwi movie that debuts this weekend at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. Jessie has known Harvey since they were teenagers. She and Leonard have watched with awe as he has built a solid career by a combination of talent and hard work. Hearing his story of starting from scratch as a kid and earning his success is positively inspiring.
You probably know him best as the star of TV’s Psych, or you’re watching him on the new series A Million Little Things. But James Roday has a solid background in theater and has earned his wings as a writer and director. His newest project is called Treehouse, a segment of Hulu’s horror anthology Into the Dark that debuts tonight. Leonard and Jessie were charmed by this quietly funny guy who is as thoughtful as he is talented.
This fast-paced episode might be titled “The Young Brad Bird Chronicles,” as the director of The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, Ratatouille and Oscar nominee forThe Incredibles II tells us about his first visit to the Disney studio—at the age of 11. He returned three years later with a home-made animated cartoon, and eventually he was mentored there by legendary animator Milt Kahl. He wound up pitching ideas to Steven Spielberg and helping create the look of The Simpsons before moving to Pixar and beyond. Brad’s energy is infectious, and Leonard and Jessie can’t wait to share their conversation.
She is an actor, artist, writer and animator. He is an actor, comedian and writer. You may recognize Jonah Ray and Deanna Rooney from the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 revival. Los Angeles residents may know Jonah best as the longtime host (with Kumail Nanjiani) of The Meltdown, a weekly showcase that was home to every top stand up comedian in the country (and eventually became a tv show that aired on Comedy Central.) Together they make a fun and fascinating couple.
Dale Dickey is another of those valuable character actresses who makes every film and TV show better—like Leave No Trace, which reunited her with director Debra Granik, who cast her so memorably in Winter’s Bone opposite Jennifer Lawrence. You’ve seen her in Hell or High Water, Breaking Bad, True Blood, I Am the Night—any film or TV show that needs someone unquestionably real. Leonard and Jessie are fans and enjoyed getting to know Dale, who left Tennessee to make her way in show business. Her memory of meeting Jack Nicholson for the first time on the set of The Pledge is just one highlight.
Mitzi Gaynor was just a teenager when she came to Hollywood. She wound up starring with Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe, dancing with Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor, and headlining The Ed Sullivan Show with The Beatles. Her movies include There’s No Business Like Show Business, Les Girls and South Pacific—and that’s just a fraction of her career. How many people can say they worked with Irving Berlin, Cole Porter and Rodgers and Hammerstein? Leonard and Jessie had great fun with this playful, ever-youthful woman who caught the tail end of Hollywood’s Golden Age.
He’s one of those actors you know and value even if you don’t know his name. Shea Whigham is an asset to every film and TV show he’s in, from Boardwalk Empire to True Detective, American Hustle to The Wolf of Wall Street. He’s not accustomed to talking about himself, but Leonard and Jessie are longtime fans and he obliged us with perceptive stories about breaking into show business and working with master filmmakers like Martin Scorsese. Once you get to know him you’ll want to watch how much he brings to such current films as The First Man and Vice.
Phil Lord and Chris Miller are the hottest team in Hollywood with Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse earning awards, box-office bucks and rave reviews. There’s even Oscar buzz surrounding their ground-breaking animated feature. But these longtime best friends have never rested on their laurels, from the moment they made their first short subjects in college through their baptism of fire as sitcom writers. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs established them in the animation world and The Lego Movie cemented their reputation as innovators who think WAY outside the box. Leonard and Jessie had a great time talking to this awesome duo.
Willem Dafoe is that rare actor who can appear in a blockbuster like Aquaman at the same time he’s starring in a cerebral biopic about Vincent Van Gogh, At Eternity’s Edge. He’s open to all kinds of experiences, contributing voices to Finding Nemo and The Fantastic Mr. Fox and working with a cast of first-time actors in last year’s knockout The Florida Project, which earned him his third Oscar nomination. Leonard and Jessie wondered what drew him to acting in the first place, and learned why he loves taking on challenges in his work. Listen along to one of the most compelling and versatile actors on the planet.
Creating, executive producing, and writing The Big Bang Theory would be enough for most people’s résumés, but Bill Prady is not a one-hit wonder. He spent many years working with the Muppets, and wrote their unforgettable Disney theme park attractions Muppet*Vision 3D and Honey I Shrunk the Audience. He also spent years writing and producing such shows as Caroline in the City, Dharma & Greg and Gilmore Girls. Beyond his credits, Bill is a pop culture guru and a delightful conversationalist, as Leonard and Jessie quickly discovered. No 3-D glasses are required to enjoy this episode.
Most Americans encountered British actor Ben Barnes for the first time as Prince Caspian in the Chronicles of Narnia series. He’s been working ever since, as viewers of The Punisher and Westworld can attest. What Leonard and Jessie didn’t know was that he’s a talented musician, which he tries to incorporate into his roles, and that he loves doing accents—rarely playing an Englishman. He’s intelligent, funny, forthcoming and a real charmer, as you’ll hear for yourself.
He gained fame for his stunt casting as the Winklevoss Twins in The Social Network, but he’s earned respect for his talent in such films as Nocturnal Animals, Call Me By Your Name, and Sorry to Bother You. He can currently be seen opposite Felicity Jones in On the Basis of Sex. But with all that, and a notable family history, Armie Hammer is charming, articulate, and cheerfully self-deprecating. Leonard and Jessie had fun talking to him at this year’s SCAD Savannah Film Festival.
At the age of 21, Chloe Grace Moretz is a show-business veteran, having worked professionally since the age of 5. When she was 19, she lost her sense of identity and walked away from her career, with the blessings of her business manager (who happens to be her brother). She is incredibly articulate, and doesn’t take herself or her profession too seriously… yet she can wax poetic about the many characters she’s played, in films like Kick-Ass, Hugo, Dark Shadows, Let Me In, and Carrie. You can see her now in Suspiria and The Miseducation of Cameron Post. Leonard and Jessie interviewed her at the SCAD Savannah Film Festival and had a ball, hearing stories about Tim Burton, Julianne Moore, and Martin Scorsese, among others. We think you’ll enjoy listening in.
The little boy who scored such a success in the original Jurassic Park is all grown up now—and playing Freddie Mercury’s British bandmate John Deacon in Bohemian Rhapsody. Jurassic costar Richard Attenborough was so impressed with his young costar that he cast him in his moving drama Shadowlands. Director Steven Spielberg liked him so much that he wrote a letter of recommendation when Joe wanted to learn filmmaking at USC. Leonard and Jessie weren’t immune to his charms, either. He’s a bright young man who has his feet on the ground as he forges the next chapter of his rather remarkable career. He offers straight talk with a smile on his face, which is pretty hard to resist.
Most people remember Topher Grace from his star-making role on the popular comedy series That 70’s Show, but this year he showed us a darker side playing KKK kingpin David Duke in Spike Lee’s Blackklansman. Not that he hasn’t been serious before—in Traffic and Spider-man 3, to name just two examples. Leonard and Jessie were delighted to find an engaging interviewee with a wealth of experiences in show business—and a wonderful way of talking about them.
Angela Lansbury sailed away from war-torn England when she was 15, earned two Oscar nominations before she was 20, and is still going strong at the age of 93. She’s as bright and thoughtful as ever, discussing her amazing stage and screen career on both sides of the Pond. Whether you love her as Jessica Fletcher on Murder, She Wrote, or as the voice of Mrs. Potts in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, you’ll be captivated by the conversation Leonard and Jessie had with Dame Angela in her Los Angeles home.
From college grad student to director of Creed and Black Panther in a short span of time, Ryan Coogler has kept his feet on the ground. He relies on his wife Zinzi Evans and former USC classmates who form the core of his working team. From his debut feature, Fruitvale Station, through his latest box-office smash, he has found ways to make each film personal to his own experience. Leonard and Jessie are unabashed boosters of this talented filmmaker and loved having a quiet, intimate conversation with him amidst award season tumult.
He’s won five Emmy Awards and is a longtime radio host and political pundit. But guess what? Dennis Miller is also a diehard film buff who revels in watching Turner Classic Movies. Jessie was blown away as Leonard and Dennis started comparing notes on favorite films and the people in them. He’s the same sharp-witted comic he’s always been, but this time the focus is on movies. Excelsior!
At 96 it’s fair to call Norman Lear a living legend. He gave birth to such TV series as All in the Family, Maude, and The Jeffersons. Instead of living in the past he’s reinventing it, supervising a reboot of One Day at a Time, just for starters. He’s worked in television since 1950, but no one seems to talk to him about the movies he wrote, produced, and/or directed, like Cold Turkey or those for which he was a midwife (like The Princess Bride). Leonard and Jessie relished spending time with this highly amusing, soft-spoken giant—even when he fielded a cell phone call from a political fundraiser in the midst of our interview!
We’ve watched Michael Angarano grow up on screen; he’s been acting since the age of 5. He worked with Meryl Streep at age 12 (in Music of the Heart), got to improvise with Frances McDormand in Almost Famous at 13, then joined the cast of Will & Grace as Sean Hayes’ son in his early 20s. He’s a likable, unpretentious guy who credits his family for helping him navigate the often-treacherous waters of show-business. Jessie and Leonard had a great time talking with him about his youthful experiences and more recent successes like a running part in The Knick. Coming soon: his debut as writer and director.
The world-class filmmaker with the distinctive voice is our esteemed guest today. He’s not intimidating—quite the opposite—as he describes his early life, what drew him to filmmaking, and how he teaches students by throwing them in the deep end of the pool, so to speak. His passion is undiminished after more than fifty years of memorable, provocative films, most recently a series of fascinating documentaries like Grizzly Man and Cave of Forgotten Dreams. Leonard and Jessie were more than happy to sit at the great man’s feet and listen to him discuss his extraordinary life as a moviemaker.
He’s playing a hero in The Predator right now, but Boyd Holbrook has been a chameleon-like presence in TV shows and movies like Narcos, The Big C, Gone Girl, A Walk Among the Tombstones, and Logan, just for starters. Along the way he’s had valuable experiences with Gus Van Sant, Liam Neeson, and a host of others. Leonard and Jessie were so impressed by his stories, candor, and genuine passion for all things expressive and artistic.
Get ready to meet a new Jonah Hill—a serious writer-director who has poured his heart and soul into his debut feature film, mid90s, which is playing the festival circuit and opens in theaters in late October. After several years of writing and research (and input from such august filmmakers as Martin Scorsese), he is unveiling his “baby” to the moviegoing public. That’s what brought him to Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas where Leonard and Jessie spoke to him before a live audience. Just as he progressed from broad comedy to Oscar-nominated performances onscreen, he’s tackling something new and exciting in this latest adventure.
Still hale and hearty at 103, Norman Lloyd is one of the few men on the planet who can speak first-hand about Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles, Martin Scorsese…and even Amy Schumer. (He was in Trainwreck.) He set out to be an actor, and earned immortality as the man who dangles from the Statue of Liberty in Hitchcock’s Saboteur but proved to be even more useful behind the scenes, ultimately becoming a producer on his weekly television series. If you watched TV in the 1980s you probably saw him as Dr. Auschlander on St. Elsewhere. He has been a fixture in show business for ninety years and shows little sign of slowing down. He held Leonard and Jessie in his grip and it’s likely you, too, will fall under his spell.
Not since Norman Lear has one man had an impact on television comedy as great as Chuck Lorre. He has created, co-created, or produced and written such long-running hits as The Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men, Dharma and Greg, Mike and Molly, and Young Sheldon, to name just a few. Leonard and Jessie found him to be candid in discussing the nuts and bolts of steering these wildly popular series. If you like smart TV, chances are you’re watching at least one of his shows. Now you can hear from the man behind the curtain.
Scion of a multi-generational show business family (and the youngest of five siblings), David Arquette has worked as an actor, writer, director, and producer. Listeners of a certain age will always associate him with the Scream series. He won Leonard and Jessie’s heart with an impromptu pantomime performance he gave at a recent Buster Keaton-related ceremony. David is a delightful conversationalist, recounting show business lore and reviewing his own wide-ranging career.
A free spirit and a formidable talent, Catherine Hardwicke started out as a production designer, working with some of the top directors in the business (Richard Linklater, David O. Russell, Cameron Crowe) before taking the plunge herself. Her debut film was the impressive Thirteen, which she wrote with costar Nikki Reed. Since then she’s made all kinds of movies, from personal projects like Lords of Dogtown to the smash hit Twilight. Leonard and Jessie loved talking to this creative, outgoing woman and learning about her journey.
Floyd Norman is an official Disney Legend, and so much more: Walt Disney’s first full-time African-American animator, a contributor to such films as Sleeping Beauty and The Jungle Book, a disciple of Disney’s legendary Nine Old Men, and a story man on such Pixar features as Toy Story 2 and Monsters Inc. What’s more, as Leonard and Jessie have learned, he’s a naturally funny man, a great storyteller, and a sweetheart of a guy with an irreverent sense of humor. He’s even the subject of a first-class documentary called Floyd Norman: An Animated Life. Tune in for some great anecdotes and first-hand memories of Walt Disney. Recorded live at That’s from Disneyland, courtesy of its creators Richard and Nicky Kraft
If you’re a certain age, you probably first saw Peter Facinelli in films like Can’t Hardly Wait and Dancer, Tex. Pop. 81. A decade later he won even more fans as Dr. Carlisle Cullen in the phenomenally popular Twilight movies. He spent seven seasons as another medico, Dr. Cooper, on the TV series Nurse Jackie. Now he’s making his feature directorial debut with Breaking and Exiting, playing in theaters and on VOD beginning today. Leonard and Jessie learn that he’s an actor who loves a challenge, and is proud of his Italian roots (especially his mother’s cooking).
A likable actor with excellent bloodlines, Colin Hanks has built a busy career for himself in such films as Orange County, King Kong, W. and TV series like Roswell, The Good Guys, Fargo and the current Life in Pieces. Now he’s exploring new avenues as a documentarian with two first-rate features under his belt: Tower Records: All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records and Eagles of Death Metal: Nos Amis (Our Friends). What’s more, he’s a great conversationalist, as Leonard and Jessie learn in this latest episode.
Director and film buff extraordinaire Joe Dante and Leonard go back a long, long time—to their teens, in fact—and enjoy swapping stories about early inspirations, moviegoing adventures in New York City, Joe’s move to Hollywood, his first big breaks, and events leading up to casting Leonard as himself in Gremlins 2: The New Batch. Jessie learns some things she never knew before in this entertaining episode.
RZA is a hip-hop icon, music producer, actor and director. Leonard and Jessie sat down with him at the San Diego Comic-con to discuss his upcoming heist movie Cut Throat City (set in New Orleans during the chaos of Katrina) with two of his talented cast members. Articulate and fun to talk to, RZA’s enthusiasm is infectious. It’s easy to see how a cast and crew would respond to him. Jessie and Leonard flesh out their interview with observations on that one-of-a-kind event known as Comic-con.
Kelly Macdonald became an overnight sensation when she made a memorable screen debut in Trainspotting some twenty years ago. She hasn’t looked back since, doing exceptional work in such films as Gosford Park, Nanny McPhee, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, and as the voice of Merida in Pixar’s Brave. Her newest film, Puzzle, gives her a rare leading role and a great showcase for her talent. Leonard and Jessie are unabashed fans and were delighted to find Kelly as unpretentious and fun to talk to as they hoped.
If you remember Bobcat Goldthwait’s “extreme” standup-comedy persona, it might be difficult to reconcile with his career as a prolific TV and movie director. He’s made some great films like World’s Greatest Dad with his pal Robin Williams, and Call Me Lucky, a compelling documentary about one of his mentors, comedian-turned-activist Barry Crimmins. Now he’s presiding over an unpredictable anthology series on TruTV called Bobcat Goldthwait’s Misfits & Monsters. Leonard and Jessie were delighted to meet the real guy behind the comic mask and the creative force behind so many interesting TV and movie projects.
With two drama teachers for parents it isn’t surprising that Logan Marshall-Green grew up in and around the theater. But it was television shows like 24 and The O.C. that got him noticed, and the small screen has continued to offer him great opportunities, as in Quarry and Damnation. He’s just as effective in movies like Prometheus, The Invitation, Spider-man: Homecoming and the current release Upgrade. Logan is articulate and charming, as Leonard and Jessie were happy to discover in their animated conversation.
Paul Williams is a master storyteller: Oscar and multiple-Grammy winner, actor, hit-maker, composer of everything from “The Love Boat” theme to the immortal “Rainbow Connection” from The Muppet Movie. He’s as busy as ever, costarring in this season of Goliath with Billy Bob Thornton and serving as president of ASCAP, the performers’ rights organization. He’s also a raconteur, and you’ll hear about everything from Orson Welles to Phantom of the Paradise. Leonard and Jessie are still recovering from the experience of spending time with this exceptional man.
Mia Wasikowska became an instant star in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland eight years ago and hasn’t stopped working since—in a variety of challenging and rewarding parts. Among her credits: The Kids are All Right, Jane Eyre, Only Lovers Left Alive, the underrated Tracks, and Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak. Her latest, now playing in theaters, is Damsel, costarring Robert Pattinson. Leonard and Jessie had a great time talking to this talented actress and budding director. She loves her work and doesn’t take herself too seriously. By the way, she still calls Australia home.
Jessie and a friend needed cheering up one evening and watching the lighthearted girlfriend comedy Ibiza on Netflix was just the ticket. Gillian Jacobs, of Community, Girls and Love joins us for a buoyant conversation with the film’s writer (Lauryn Kahn) and director (Alex Richanbach ), both veterans of sketch comedy and Funny or Die. Their enthusiasm and team spirit are engaging and inspiring, as you’ll hear for yourself.
In honor of Fathers’ Day, Leonard and Jessie invited another father-daughter duo: seven-time Oscar winner Rick Baker, master of makeup whose credits range from The Exorcist and Star Wars to Michael Jackson’s Thriller, and his daughter Veronica, who grew up in a kind of wonderland and is now pursuing her own creative ideas at D.C. Rick’s stories of getting started and finding the right mentors are inspiring and fun to hear…along with Veronica’s memories of growing up Baker (especially on Halloween).
With over 7.4 million subscribers and over 2.1 billion views, the CinemaSins (comprised of Barrett Share, Jeremy Scott and Chris Atkinson) have carved out a substantial niche for themselves on YouTube and in the Twitterverse reminding folks that “No Movie is Without Sin.” They’re devoted cinephiles and some of he nicest guys around. Leonard and Jessie got to hang out with them in their hometown of Nashville (and record an episode of their podcast). It’s our very first crossover! Their podcast is called Sincast presented by CinemaSins, you can listen to the episode we recorded with them HERE
Chaz Ebert is a force to be reckoned with. A strong, loving partner to her late husband Roger, she maintains his website rogerebert.com as well as his annual film festival, now known as Ebertfest, in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. That’s where Leonard and Jessie persuaded her to play hooky for an hour of candid and uplifting conversation.
If she didn’t catch your eye in The Tudors, where she played Anne Boleyn, or the last two Hunger Games movies, you likely know Natalie Dormer from her four-year run as Margaery Tyrell in Game of Thrones. Now, this talented actress has made her writing and producing debut on a film called In Darkness. She also plays the starring role! As if that isn’t enough, she’s the lead in the new miniseries remake of Picnic at Hanging Rock. Leonard and Jessie are glad she found time to chat for an hour: she’s articulate and amusing, as you will hear for yourself.
The Duplass Brothers have become a valued brand name as writers, producers, directors, actors and now authors, with an outstanding new book called Like Brothers. Mark discusses the intimacy of his relationship with his older sibling, the perils of collaboration, and the often painful lessons he and Jay learned on their way to achieving their goal: complete independence. Leonard and Jessie interviewed him in the attic of their headquarters, a spacious four-story house where they have shot and edited movies, while giving a helping hand to young up-and-comers who deserve a break.
Alia Shawkat has been acting since she was 9 years old, but when she worked with director Miguel Arteta on the sleeper Cedar Rapids he sensed that she had things to say and suggested they collaborate on a screenplay. The resulting film, Duck Butter, is now available on demand. Leonard and Jessie explore their careers in film and television, from Alia’s long-running role in Arrested Development to Miguel’s exceptional films like The Good Girl and Beatriz at Dinner in this free-flowing, candid conversation.
Actress (and long-ago schoolmate of Jessie’s) Ashley Bell has made an impressive directorial debut with Love & Bananas. It’s a fascinating documentary about elephant rescue in Southeast Asia, made with the cooperation of a remarkable woman named Lek Chailert. She is the Mother Theresa of pachyderms, a miracle worker you really ought to meet. Ashley and her team join Leonard and Jessie for a dynamic discussion of their film, which is now playing in theaters. Check their website atwww.loveandbananas.com and learn more at www.changeforbalance.com.
Since Americans discovered him in Bridesmaids Chris O’Dowd has enjoyed a busy trans-Atlantic career, appearing on such popular shows as Girls here and Moone Boy (which he created) in England. His fans across the pond already knew how funny he was from the hilarious sitcom The IT Crowd. By now it’s no secret that he is equally at home in comedy and drama, like the new indie release Love After Love with Andie McDowell. Leonard and Jessie enjoyed Chris’ wit and charm as they discussed his multifaceted career.
Stand-up comic, actor, voiceover specialist, author…Patton Oswalt wears many hats and wears them well. Whether you know him from The King of Queens or Ratatouille, a video game, solo comedy special or a cartoon series, he’s always sharp-minded and original. He’s also a great conversationalist, which made an hour fly by for Leonard and Jessie. (This episode was recorded before the recent revelation that his late wife’s true-crime book I’ll Be Gone in the Dark led to the arrest of a serial killer who terrorized the San Francisco Bay area for more than a decade.)
Jim Gaffigan is one of the most successful and best liked comedians in the country. He’s also a best-selling author and moonlights as an actor. Leonard and Jessie discover that acting was always on his agenda in this conversation recorded at SXSW in Austin, Texas. Listen as he engages a live audience without seeming to lift a finger. That’s a great comic talent.
Jon Hamm was so good on television’s Mad Men that some people still associate him with the enigmatic character he played, Don Draper. But he’s shown his versatility in a number of interesting films (like the new release Beirut) and revealed his flair for comedy, even hosting Saturday Night Live. He’s fun to talk to, as Leonard and Jessie can confirm—serious when the subject demands it and gloriously goofy when the mood strikes him. In other words, a perfect guest.
Whether you know him from MadTV, The Mindy Project, or movies like Neighbors, it’s likely that Ike Barinholtz has made an impression on you: he’s a naturally funny guy who projects sweetness and goofiness in equal measure. He costars in the new theatrical release Blockers, which gives him another chance to show his human side along with his comedy chops. Leonard and Jessie had a good time talking to Ike as he checked his iPhone to see if his wife was about to give birth to their third child! (She considerately held off until we finished recording.)
Al Pacino—yes, Al Pacino—spends an hour with Leonard and Jessie talking about the theatrical release of his long-delayed film of Salome(featuring a young Jessica Chastain) and its accompanying documentary Wilde Salome. If you also want to hear what challenges him as an actor…or stories about the making of The Godfather, Dog Day Afternoon, and other classics of American film, you won’t be disappointed. Hey, it’s AL PACINO!
One of the funniest performers around, Bill Hader is also a movie savant, as knowledgeable as he is enthusiastic. Now he’s starring in an HBO series called Barry that allows him to fulfill a lifelong dream to direct. Leonard and Jessie interviewed him in front of a live audience at South by Southwest and had a ball, as you will tuning in.
An overnight success in films like The Faculty and Halloween H20, Josh Hartnett has moved beyond being a teen heartthrob and proved that he’s a long-distance runner. He’s worked on Broadway and London’s West End and is choosing interesting film projects like the indie Oh Lucy! that’s now playing in theaters. Incredibly bright (and likable), he shares stories of working with everyone from Warren Beatty to Harrison Ford in this enjoyable chat with Leonard and Jessie. We even talked about our mutual interest in jazz.
Jimmi Simpson has carved a niche for himself as a young character actor who doesn’t shy away from playing weird, wacky parts. You may remember him as Lyle the Intern with David Letterman, or that guy on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. You may be watching him right now on Westworld or Unsolved: The Murders of Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G. The only thing his portrayals have in common is that they are memorable. Leonard and Jessie discover the bright, articulate man behind these “out-there” characters in a lively and engaging conversation.
Pete Hammond is the must-read columnist for Deadline Hollywood and the best Oscar handicapper in town. He’s also Leonard’s pal, since their days together at Entertainment Tonight, and Jessie’s godfather. He hosts screening series and more q&a panels than anyone can count. How did a lifelong movie fan carve this kind of career for himself? Listen and see how passion, knowledge and determination can spell success. In a business where bad behavior gets headlines, Pete is truly one of the Good Guys. Stay tuned and you’ll hear his predictions for this year’s Academy Awards.
Jordan Peele proved himself a brilliant sketch comedian long ago, but he’s made a remarkable transition to Oscar-nominated filmmaker with his knockout debut feature Get Out. Soft-spoken, articulate and admittedly shy, he is pursuing a lifelong dream of making movies—the kind that inspired him when he was young. Leonard and Jessie are delighted to have him as a guest in the final run-up to the Academy Awards.
The Emmy-winning creator of Everybody Loves Raymond is a pretty lovable guy himself. Phil Rosenthal is a writer, producer, author, and host of an irresistible Netflix series called Somebody Feed Phil in which he travels the globe bonding with people over food. Leonard and Jessie share his enthusiasm for that subject, but he’s also a major movie buff (with particular fondness for Stanley Kubrick) and a delightful guest.
We’ve all been watching and enjoying Dylan McDermott for years. In the hilarious new Fox TV series L.A. to Vegas he gets to exercise his comedy chops as Captain Dave and is having the time of his life. Leonard and Jessie are fans of the show and talk to him about it and other highlights of his rich career: being on Broadway in a Neil Simon hit for a solid year, working with Clint Eastwood, being directed by Jodie Foster, and much, much more.
The man who directed Superman (with Christopher Reeve), The Omen, Lethal Weapon, and The Goonies should need no introduction…but Richard Donner’s career began in theater and television and he has many great memories he’s happy to share. Is there anyone else who can say he directed episodes of Perry Mason, Get Smart, and Gilligan’s Island? Leonard and Jessie were happy to tap into his prodigious memory for an hour of wonderful anecdotes and observations.
The role of Gus in Breaking Bad (and its prequel, Better Caul Saul) has made Giancarlo Esposito world-famous, but he’s been acting since he was 8 years old—on Broadway, in films and television. Some of us first took notice of him in Spike Lee movies like Do the Right Thing and Mo’ Better Blues. His newest film, Maze Runner: The Death Cure, has just opened in theaters. He describes himself as a chameleon but as Leonard and Jessie learn, he is also an extraordinarily charismatic man with a refreshingly positive outlook on the acting profession.
The writers and directors of the new sleeper Small Town Crime pay a visit, following their costar Clifton Collins, Jr. last week. Ian and Eshom Nelms have such energy and enthusiasm it’s no wonder actors like John Hawkes, Anthony Anderson, and Danny Glover are willing to work with them…not to mention Octavia Spencer, who helped pull their new cast together. Leonard and Jessie find it heartening that genuinely nice, un-cynical guys like these can still get movies made. Small Town Crime opens in theaters today and is also available on VOD.
Clifton Collins Jr. costars in the new movie Small Town Crime and is featured on HBO’s Westworld, but his credits are all many and varied: major features like Traffic, Babel, Capote, and Star Trek, episodes of TV series like Alias and Ballers, and a memorable cameo in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. He draws inspiration from his grandfather, Pedro Gonzales Gonzales, a lifelong entertainer who was under personal contract to John Wayne. In this colorful and unpredictable conversation Leonard and Jessie learn how he prepares for a role and makes it his own.
Robert Patrick had to overcome his first great success as T-1000 in Terminator 2. It’s the only way people could picture him, at first. But he beat the stereotype and hasn’t stopped working since: in memorable roles like Johnny Cash’s father in Walk the Line and on such hit shows as The Sopranos, True Blood, and (currently) Scorpion. He’s played opposite Melissa McCarthy and been directed by Clint Eastwood. What hasn’the done? Leonard and Jessie have fun talking with Robert about his prolific career.
Pop culture guru, comedy and animation writer, Jack Kirby biographer, and all-around good guy Mark Evanier joins Leonard to talk about one of their favorite subjects: Laurel and Hardy. Having grown up watching Stan and Ollie on television every day, they find it hard to imagine a generation that doesn’t know and love the great comedy team. Perhaps they will inspire you to revisit, or introduce yourself to, this timeless duo.
Alonso Duralde, the savvy and articulate film critic for The Wrap, joins Leonard and Jessie for a survey of the movie year 2017. They don’t always agree, but Alonso makes his case for some films Jessie and Leonard don’t care for, and vice versa. As the author of the book Have Yourself a Movie Little Christmas, our guest also weighs in on some of his favorite films of the season.
Bill Pullman is one of the most familiar faces in movies and TV—and one of the most welcome. To some, he’ll always be the kick-ass President in Independence Day. Others might name While You Were Sleeping or Mel Brooks’ Spaceballs. Leonard and Jessie run through his amazing résumé, right up through Sinner, Battle of the Sexes, and his latest movie, which opens today in theaters and Video on Demand: The Ballad of Lefty Brown. It’s a rare starring role for an actor who always delivers the goods. Try Mubi free for 30 days at mubi.com/maltin!
Stephen Chbosky is that rarity: a popular novelist who directed the screen version of his best-selling book, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. He has now followed that success with a beautiful adaptation of R.J. Palacio’s Wonder. It won’t take long to figure out why he’s done so well: his enthusiasm is palpable, whether he’s talking about the moviemaking process or naming some of his favorite films for Leonard and Jessie. Try Mubi free for 30 days at mubi.com/maltin!
From the themes for The Rugrats and Pee-wee’s Playhouse to the score to Thor Ragnarok, Mark Mothersbaugh has composed the soundtrack of our lives for the past thirty years. The cofounder of Devo is a talented artist who never intended to make music a career. Now he builds his own fanciful instruments! Leonard and Jessie visited his studio to talk about music, movies, and his long collaboration with Wes Anderson, among other things. What fun! Try Mubi free for 30 days at mubi.com/maltin!