Bullseye

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Adam McKay

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Bullseye
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Adam McKay


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Adam McKay On His Academy Award Nominated Movie Vice and The Joke That Inspired Him To Take Up A Career In Comedy

Adam McKay has had a pretty eclectic career. He started in sketch comedy first as a founder of the Upright Citizens Brigade, then as a writer on Saturday Night Live. He studied at Second City, too, and then he worked in movies.

He collaborated with Will Ferrell to make some stone cold comedy classics: Anchorman, Step Brothers, Talladega Nights. Lately, though, his work has been more serious, topical, and political.

A few years back, he wrote and directed The Big Short, which deconstructed and explained the 2008 financial crisis. He helped create the HBO show Succession - a drama about a family that owns a colossal American media empire.

Now there's Vice, his latest movie, which is the story of former Vice President Dick Cheney. It's playing in theaters now and is up for eight Academy Awards.

The common thread with McKay's work is that it's never boring, never forced. He'll take an extremely dumb joke and frame it in a way that's so clever and compelling that you just lose it. He'll find a way to explain credit default swaps that are so entertaining and engrossing that you forget you're learning about credit default swaps.

In this conversation, Adam tells Jesse how he manages to keep his films fresh, funny and weird, and also shares some of the more reckless tales in improv comedy from his time in Chicago.

Click here to listen to Adam McKay's interview on YouTube.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Killer Mike on his new Netflix show 'Trigger Warning'

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Killer Mike

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

Photo: Dia Dipasupil / Getty Images

Killer Mike on his new Netflix show 'Trigger Warning'

The last time we spoke to Killer Mike, he was just coming off the release of his solo album, "I Pledge Allegiance to the Grind" back in 2007. Twelve years later, he's is still on that grind and busier than ever.

Nowadays he's one-half of Grammy nominated duo Run the Jewels with partner El-P. Together they've put out three great albums – with a fourth on the way later this year. Now, he's in his very own Netflix series, "Trigger Warning with Killer Mike."

In the show, Killer Mike tackles some of the most complicated racial and societal issues in America through social experiments. In the series, he tries to unpack subjects like religion, the black economy, education, and gangs.

In one experiment Killer Mike examines the hypocrisy behind celebrating violence and criminal activity. He rationalizes that if a biker gang like Hells Angels can sell merchandise on Amazon and capitalize on America’s fascination with the “bad guys," perhaps a gang like the Crips could do the same. He spends the episode trying to bring a product called "Crip-A-Cola" market. The result is quite funny, and very brilliant, too.

Killer Mike joins us to talk about his new Netflix series. He'll chat about the genesis of Run The Jewels and what it's like to collaborate with El-P. Plus, how he became friends with legendary comedian and activist Dick Gregory, and what it was like hitting the road campaigning with Bernie Sanders.

Listen to this interview on YouTube!

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: John David Washington

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Bullseye
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John David Washington

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

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John David Washington on his role in Spike Lee's 'BlacKkKlansman'

Before John David Washington was an actor, he was lacing up the pads every week for a career in professional football. He spanned the globe from Sacramento to Dusseldorf, Germany trying to make it work. It seems fitting that when he decided to pick up a career in acting that his breakthrough role was the portrayal of an NFL player on HBO's "Ballers." He definitely had the experience. In fact, he was injured from his hard work on the field when he auditioned for the role. He's been part of the main cast of "Ballers" for four seasons, and it's safe to say you'll be seeing a lot more of him soon.

This week, he chats about his portrayal of Ron Stallworth in Spike Lee's "BlacKkKlansman." It's a fantastic performance – his role in the film earned him a Golden Globe nomination earlier this year. It's a compelling and complex look at the life of the first African-American police officer and detective in the Colorado Springs Police Department. The film is based on Stallworth's 2014 memoir, which details his experience investigating the local chapter of the KKK with the help of a white undercover officer.

John David Washington tells us about the insane amount of times he had to audition for his role on "Ballers," and what it was like to chase a career in the NFL when your dad is superstar Denzel Washington. Plus, the challenges of portraying Ron Stallworth, and what it was like to getting stunning offer to play Stallworth via a text message from Spike Lee.

Listen to this interview on YouTube!

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Tituss Burgess

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Tituss Burgess

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Tituss Burgess on Being 'Titus Andromedon' on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Following Your Instincts

Tituss Burgess is one of those actors who, no matter if it's a small church choir in Georgia or a starring role on Broadway, always brings magic to the role.

His successful audition for a small recurring part on 30 Rock put him on Tina Fey's radar and led to a role as Titus Andromedon on the Netflix original series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Burgess's performance on the show has earned him four consecutive Emmy nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.

In this interview, Tituss talks about his upbringing in Georgia, embodying the character of Titus Andromedon and coping with a broken microphone while performing live at the Tony Awards.

The second half of the final season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was recently released and is available on Netflix.

This interview originally aired in 2016.

Click here to listen to Tituss Burgess's interview on YouTube.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Carol Kane

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Bullseye
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Carol Kane

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Carol Kane on Her Childhood, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and Auditioning

Carol Kane is a veteran actress who began her career in 1971. She landed some pretty heavy roles - one of her first films was in Mike Nichols's drama Carnal Knowledge. Later on, she'd work on other classics like Annie Hall and Dog Day Afternoon. She was even nominated for a best actress Oscar for her part in the 1975 film Hester Street.

She eventually found her home doing comedy, something she never expected she would do growing up. She appeared on Taxi as Simpka, the wife of Andy Kaufman's character on the show. She was in the Muppet Movie, The Princess Bride, Scrooged, and so many others. Her most recent project was Netflix's Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt where she plays Lilian, Kimmy's landlord.

She and Jesse talk about her childhood, and the special school she went to that allowed actors time to audition.

The final six episodes of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt were released this month on Netflix and are available to stream now.

This interview originally aired in 2017.

Click here to listen to Carol Kane's interview on YouTube.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Playwright Jez Butterworth on his latest work "The Ferryman"

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Jez Butterworth

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Photo: Dia Dipasupil / Getty Images

Playwright Jez Butterworth on his latest work 'The Ferryman'

Jez Butterworth is a screenwriter and playwright. His works make up a pretty eclectic resume, including: the science fiction film "Edge of Tomorrow," the mob drama "Black Mass" and even the James Bond film "Spectre." On the stage, he's written comedies and dramas that cover topics like murder, music and war.

His latest play, "The Ferryman" is on Broadway right now. It tells a powerful, affecting story about death and loss. It's set during The Troubles: the decades long conflict over Northern Ireland that killed thousands. It tells the story of the Carney family, who lives in Derry, in Northern Ireland. Authorities have just found the body Seamus Carney, who's been missing for almost a decade. We find out early on that Seamus was killed by the IRA, and the family is now left to deal with the fallout of that event.

The play is unique in a lot of different ways. At one point, there are 21 actors on stage at the same time, one of them is an infant. You'll also see a live goose and a rabbit – it's a visceral, uncommon theater experience.

Jez will tell us all about his latest work, including what it's like to work with animals live on stage. He'll also explain why writing films come pretty naturally to him but why writing plays can be uniquely challenging.

"The Ferryman" has been extended up until July 7, 2019. Make sure to check it out if you're in New York.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Tony Shalhoub

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Tony Shalhoub

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Tony Shalhoub on the legacy of 'Monk' and the latest season of 'Mrs. Maisel'

Tony Shalhoub is a veteran of both the big and small screens. He's had unforgettable parts in movies like "Barton Fink," "Men in Black" and "Quick Change." He's starred in movies like "Big Night," and TV shows like "Wings."

Tony is probably best known for his work on the hit detective series "Monk." For eight seasons, he played Adrian Monk. In the show, his character had an extreme case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and a bunch of phobias, including rodeos, snakes, crowds, heights, glaciers and milk. Despite the challenges he often faced, it only made him better a better detective consultant for the San Francisco Police Department.

These days he's a regular on the Amazon series "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel." In the series, Tony plays Abe Weissman, a mathematics professor at Columbia, and Midge Maisel's father. He's the kind of guy that's not very stern, but kinda serious. He's also kind of a traditional guy, and he likes sticking to routines.

Tony joins us to talk about the latest season of "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel." Plus, we take a deep dive into his time on "Monk," and he'll tell us about the film that inspired him to pursue a career in acting.

Check out this interview on Youtube

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Brooklyn Nine-Nine's Stephanie Beatriz

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Bullseye
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Stephanie Beatriz

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Stephanie Beatriz on Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Taking The Lead in The Light of the Moon

Stephanie Beatriz stars in Brooklyn Nine-Nine as Detective Rosa Diaz - easily the toughest cop in the precinct - she's brave, serious, and rides a motorcycle. The sixth and newest season just premiered at its new home: NBC!

Stephanie also starred in the 2017 movie The Light of The Moon. She plays Bonnie, a young woman living in Brooklyn with her boyfriend. Towards the beginning of the film, she goes through a vicious sexual assault, and the movie tells the story of the aftermath of that event - its effect on her work life, relationship, and even mundane daily decisions - like whether or not she wears headphones when she's walking off the subway. It's brutal to watch, but it's also nuanced, realistic, and really touching.

We'll talk about all of that and also how she and her Dad cemented their father-daughter bond by watching Seinfeld:

A quick warning - the second half of this interview contains some honest and frank talk about sexual assault and the trauma of dealing with it.

This interview originally aired in 2017.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Elvis Costello

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Bullseye
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Elvis Costello

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Elvis Costello on His Reputation, Memories of His Father, and Writing Music for Friends

Elvis Costello grew up surrounded by music. His mother ran the record section of Selfridges, and his father was an accomplished working musician. As Costello describes in his memoir, Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink, he didn't intend to make music himself, but felt eventually drawn to it.

The Grammy-winning singer/songwriter and record producer has enjoyed a long career, working on his own and collaborating with other musicians like Burt Bacharach, Paul McCartney, and Annie Lennox.

Elvis Costello joins Jesse to talk about his father’s career and love of music, why Alzheimer’s in his family inspired him to write the book, and who knows him by his birth name, Declan McManus.

This interview originally aired in 2015.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Karyn Kusama on directing genre films and her new film 'Destroyer'

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Bullseye
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Karyn Kusama

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

Photo: Jesse Thorn

Karyn Kusama on directing genre films and her new film 'Destroyer'

Karyn Kusama is a director. Her debut was the critically acclaimed drama "Girlfight," a movie about a female boxer that Kusama based on her own time in the ring. Since then, she's established herself as autere of genre films: in 2005 she directed the science fiction film "Aeon Flux," and has worked on horror movies like "Jennifer's Body" and "The Invitation."

She just directed the new film "Destroyer." It's a dark and complex crime drama, told in mostly flashbacks. It stars Nicole Kidman, who plays Erin Bell, an LAPD detective. As a young cop, Bell was placed undercover with a gang in the California desert. Things didn't end well, and the case she was on was never put to rest. When the leader of that gang re-emerges over a decade later, Bell goes rogue reopens the case on her own terms. Kidman's character is haunted by her memory of the past. And it's put a strain on her relationship with her daughter, Shelby.

Karyn discusses why it's important to portray complex female characters in film and media. She'll tell us about the look book she drew inspiration from when she directed 2009's "Jennifer's Body," and why she thinks the film struggled to find an audience when it was first released. Plus, how she finds pleasure in horror movies. And , sure, a lot of people find pleasure in horror films, but Karyn's response will truly surprise you.

If you'd like to hear even more from Karyn Kusama, she did a great interview on the Max Fun podcast Switchblade Sisters with the film critic April Wolfe. You can listen to that interview here.

Listen to this Bullseye interview on YouTube!

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