Bullseye

Bullseye is a public radio show about what's good in popular culture. With a keen editorial eye, Bullseye sifts the wheat from the chaff, and brings you hot culture picks, in-depth interviews with the most revered and revolutionary creative people and irreverent original comedy.

Bullseye is equal parts funny and fascinating. Whether you're already plugged in to the culture map, or looking for a signpost, Bullseye will keep you on target. More About Bullseye

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Megan Mullally

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Megan Mullally

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Photo by Chris Haston. Courtesy NBC.

Megan Mullally

Comedy legend, Megan Mullally has been performing her whole life. Or as she likes to put it, popped out of the womb with a top hat and tap shoes on. Mullally is not afraid to be ridiculous, in fact she embraces this proclivity in her over-the-top characters. You’ve seen her as the librarian seductress on Parks and Rec and heard her as the cat-loving eccentric Aunt Gayle on Bob’s Burgers.

Mullally got her big break playing perhaps her most wacky character, the martini-toting socialite Karen Walker on the groundbreaking sitcom Will and Grace. Even if you don’t follow the show chances are you know Karen’s voice: high-pitched, sometimes grating and always inescapable. Whether you find this annoying or hilarious, or a little of both, one thing is for sure her character is unforgettable. Mullally won an Emmy for her performance on Will and Grace in 2006.

The Will and Grace reboot is in its last and final season so make sure to catch it on NBC.

Beyond the realm of television and film you can find Mullally performing in her “punk-vaudeville” duo Nancy and Beth. You can also hear her give an intimate and comedic performance with husband Nick Offerman in The Greatest Love Story Ever Told: An Oral History.

On Bullseye Mullally talks to us about how she developed her character Karen Walker, her not-so usual upbringing, and oddly enough, winning an Emmy Idol with Donald Trump.

Click here to listen to Megan Mullally's interview on YouTube.

This interview originally aired in August of 2018.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Forest Whitaker

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Forest Whitaker

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Forest Whitaker on playing Desmond Tutu in The Forgiven

Forest Whitaker has got this knack for taking huge figures from history and portraying them complex, fascinating, sometimes really fragile people. You've seen him as the star of countless great movies for over thirty years now. He has won plenty of awards including an Academy Award for best actor for his role as Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland.

When we spoke last year, he portrayed Archbishop Desmond Tutu in the film The Forgiven directed by Roland Joffe, who also made the classic 1984 film The Killing Fields.

The Forgiven takes place in South Africa, just after apartheid. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission is in full swing- holding public and private testimony from the victims and perpetrators of past wrongs. Archbishop Tutu was the chairman of the commission, appointed by Nelson Mandela himself.

Whitaker chats with Jesse about Tutu's struggle to love the most heinous of criminals and how he himself struggles to love people that have hurt him. He talks about the origin of his movie Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai and what he learned about acting while playing the title role. He also explains why he stands by his movie Battlefield Earth – despite the many haters ready to poke fun about how bad the film was.

These days you can see Forest on the tv show The Godfather of Harlem, which is wrapping up its first season on Epix. He plays Bumpy Johnson, the real life mob boss who operated in Harlem in the first half of the 20th century.

Click here to listen to Forest Whitaker's interview on YouTube.

This interview originally aired in March of 2018

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Antonio Banderas

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Antonio Banderas

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Antonio Banderas

Antonio Banderas. Need we say more? The man has been acting for nearly forty years, yet his role in Pain and Glory is one of his most challenging to date. But what could challenge a man that fought for his life, guitar in hand and learned how to wield a sword from a whip-cracking Anthony Hopkins?

The film is directed by Banderas' long-time friend, acclaimed filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar. The two started working together in Madrid. Banderas was a regular in Almodóvar's eccentric dramas throughout the 80s. But by the 90s Banderas had relocated to Los Angeles and was making his way into American films like The Mambo Kings. Over the years he became the Banderas we all know; the Banderas that is a household name.

But all his Hollywood know-how had to be set aside when preparing for his character in Pain and Glory. Banderas plays Salvador Mallo, a director crippled by his many maladies: headaches, back pain, asthma. As a result Mallo's career is at a standstill. He's stuck, yet he still has this yearning to create. All of which has been a very real struggle for Almodóvar, who has lived with chronic pain for much of his life.

The film debuted at Cannes Film Festival where Banderas won a much deserved award for Best Actor — his performance is beautiful. He doesn't try to channel Almodóvar, but rather personifies the director's pain. But don't take our word for it, go see it yourself.

On Bullseye, Banderas talks to us about about how his heart attack has informed his acting, reuniting with Almodóvar and coming-of-age in Spain.

Pain and Glory is in theaters now.

Click here to listen to this interview on Youtube.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Robert Eggers, director of The Lighhouse

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Robert Eggers

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Director Robert Eggers on his new film "The Lighthouse"

Robert Eggers is a filmmaker who's made a name for himself making beautiful horror films that linger with you. Long after you've left the theater.

The writer, director was born in New England and cut his teeth in New York designing and directing theater productions. He made his feature film debut with 2015's The Witch which
premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival to near universal acclaim. Set in 17th century New England, a family of settlers are haunted by an evil force that threatens to destroy them. The film received critical praise.

His latest film, The Lighthouse, is just as haunting.

It's about two old-timey sailor men living on an island off of New England in the 1800s. One is old. The other is young. It's all in black and white. The wind howls outside. The old man, played by Willem Dafoe, doesn't like the young one. He's played by Robert Pattinson. They drink a lot. Somewhere, off the shore, there's a mermaid. A storm comes. The two men, slowly, lose their sanity. We don't want to give too much of it away. You really have to see if for yourself!

The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and has since received rave reviews. Robert talks to Bullseye about the joys of research down to the finest historical detail, about the uniqueness of the New England landscape and provoking questions in his films. Plus, we find out what scares him the most.

The Lighthouse is in theaters now.

Click here to listen to Robert Eggers' interview on YouTube!

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Soprano Renée Fleming

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Renée Fleming

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"America's Diva," Soprano Renée Fleming on acting in musical theater

Known as "America's Diva," Renée Fleming has performed in venues all over the world, singing in acclaimed productions of operas composed by Mozart, Puccini, Verdi, Dvorak and more. If you're no expert in the world of cabelettas, cavatinas and coloraturas, fear not! Renée has mastered jazz, country and just about every other music genre as well.

She grew up in a musical household, the child of two music teachers and she knew from a rather early age that music was her destiny. As a teen, she took chorus classes and music theory. A few years later she attended college at the Crane School of Music at the State University of New York at Postdam. There, she joined a jazz trio. An invitation was extended for her to go on tour with the band but she had other dreams in mind.

She was awarded a Fulbright scholarship and attended graduate school at Julliard while performing professionally in the 1980s. Since then, she's performed with the New York City Opera in La bohème, with the Royal Opera in London in Cherubini's Médée and with the Metropolitan Opera and San Francisco Opera alike as Countess Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro. She's appeared on popular movie soundtracks including The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and The Shape of Water.

She's also performed under truly unique circumstances like singing the National Anthem at the 2014 Super Bowl while 50 million people watched from home and Black Hawk helicopters flew overhead! There was also her performance at President Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration. It was...amazing!

Lately, she's been working on stage in musicals. Her latest, The Light in the Piazza just wrapped up in Los Angeles, with productions in Chicago and Sydney on the horizon.

Renée talk to Bullseye about managing acoustics, growing up in a musical home and not only cultivating her talent but her image, too. Plus, she gives Jesse some pretty solid music advice. What an episode!

Renée sings the music of Brahms, Schumann and Mahler. You can listen to the album here.

Click here to listen to Renée Fleming's interview on YouTube!

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Comedian Josh Gondelman

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Josh Gondelman

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Josh Gondelman on comedy and being a "Nice Guy"

If you mention comedian Josh Gondelman's name to his peers in the comedy world, their first reaction is usually: “Oh! Josh Gondelman. Nice guy.”

And they're not wrong.

But Josh is much more than just a "Nice guy." He's incisive. He's also a brilliant writer.

In fact, Josh has won four Emmys and a Peabody award for his work on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. He's currently senior staff writer and producer for Showtime's popular new show Desus & Mero.

He's got several stand-up albums under his belt, including this year's hilarious Dancing on a Weeknight.

Josh has a new book out called Nice Try: Stories of Best Intentions and Mixed Results. It includes a collection of personal essays about the value and drawbacks of being a nice person. Its self-deprecating. It's honest. It's very very funny.

Josh Gondelman joins us to talk about his stand-up career. He'll chat about realizing the difference between being a nice person and being a good person, tweeting out millennial Seinfeld references and crafting the perfect roast joke. Trust us, it's a good one! Plus, we'll talk about intent versus impact in the world of comedy.

Pick up Nice Try: Stories of Best Intentions and Mixed Results online or in major bookstores.

Check out Dancing on a Weeknight online.

You can catch all-new episodes of Desus and Mero on Showtime.

Click here to listen to Josh Gondelman's interview on YouTube!

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: NFL Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez

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Tony Gonzalez

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NFL Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez on his new podcast Wide Open

Tony Gonzalez made football his career, but it could just have easily been basketball. In college, at UC Berkeley, he played both, but in his own distinct way: he played forward sort of like a football player, and he played tight end sort of like a basketball player.

In 1997, Tony entered the NFL draft. Tony played 12 seasons for the Kansas City Chiefs, and then another five for the Falcons. He's been to the Pro Bowl over a dozen times.

He ranked in the top five for career receptions, and after he retired was inducted into the hall of the fame in his first year of eligibility.

These days, he's on TV a lot. He's an analyst for Fox Sports, where you'll see him both Sundays and Thursdays.

He's one of the greatest tight ends in history, but it wasn't always easy.

Growing up, he was bullied constantly. His first year in the NFL was so tough he almost called it quits. And throughout his career, he never really felt like he could stand up and address his whole team.

He's very open about his struggles and sacrifices. Tony's got a new podcast where he invites people in business and entertainment to talk about the oftentimes difficult journey to success. It's called Wide Open. It's a show about becoming the best version of yourself, what he calls "leveling up."

We'll talk about his new podcast, wretched middle school days, and he'll open up about his time in the NFL.

Click here to listen to Tony Gonzalez's interview on YouTube!

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Chris Morris on "The Day Shall Come" and more

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Chris Morris

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Chris Morris on his new film The Day Shall Come

We're big fans of Chris Morris' absurdist works of satire – but he just doesn't make up that much, these days.The writer-director's new film, The Day Shall Come, is kind of a farce about terrorism and the FBI's efforts to fight it.

In the film, Morris examines how the Bureau tends to find eccentrics – guys who live in communes, that kind of thing. Then, with undercover agents and financing, the Bureau takes these eccentrics and turns them into bigger threats than they actually are. The film tells a complex and often bizarre story that is almost entirely based on real things that happened in the counter terrorism world.

In the mid-90s, Chris was the host and creator of The Day Today, the BBC news parody where he'd read headlines like "Sacked Chimney Sweep Pumps Boss Full of Mayonnaise." And, who could forget: "Where Now For Man Raised By Puffins?"

He followed up that with, Brass Eye, another brilliant news parody where he'd con elected officials into warning kids to stay away from a fake drug called "Cake." The fake drug, supposedly came in a giant yellow pill, roughly the size of a circular cake. Try swallowing that.

Chris Morris joins us to talk about his new movie. He'll chat about reading court transcripts, talking with journalists, even attending trials to really understand what goes on at the Bureau. Plus, we'll talk about The Day Today and Brass Eye, too!

You can stream or download The Day Shall Come on various platforms including Amazon and YouTube.

Click here to listen to Chris Morris' interview on YouTube!

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: The Righteous Gemstones' Edi Patterson

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Bullseye
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Edi Patterson

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Edi Patterson on her hit show "The Righteous Gemstones"

Actor, comedian Edi Patterson got her start in improv. She's a veteran of the Groundlings sketch group and we can not stress this to you enough: she is super funny.

Edi's past television work includes roles on Californication, Partners and Black-ish. One of her most memorable roles was in Danny McBride's dark comedy Vice Principals where she played a jilted and emotionally unstable past lover of McBride's Neal Gamby.

She currently co stars alongside McBride, John Goodman, Walton Goggins and Adam Devine on HBO's The Righteous Gemstones where she plays the hilarious Judy Gemstone. The show is about the Gemstone family. They're pastors and owners of a massive megachurch with hundreds of thousands of followers. Think Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. The family centers around Dr. Eli Gemstone, the patriarch, who's been preaching on TV for decades. He's played by John Goodman. But the *show* centers around Eli's kids.Their power struggles, their scheming, their scandals and their hamfisted attempts to curry favor with their father.

On a show filled with some of the most talented people in comedy, Judy Gemstone is easily the funniest character on this show. She's got this kind of manic energy - she alternates between total confidence in everything she does to massive, crippling insecurities. She doesn't have much filter and she has a very, very short temper.

She steals every scene she's in.

Edi talks to Bullseye about reuniting with her Vice Principals costar, about her experience with televangelists and her love of horror films. Edi's a real horror buff!

Plus, we'll talk about "Misbehavin'" the catchy as heck Christian county tune she sings and helped write for the series.

HBO has renewed The Righteous Gemstones for season two. We can't wait to find out what Edi and the rest of the cast and crew have in store!

You can stream Season 1 on HBO.

Click here to listen to Edi Patterson's interview on YouTube!

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: John Leguizamo

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Bullseye
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John Leguizamo

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Photo: Jesse Thorn

John Leguizamo on his special "A Latin History for Morons"

John Leguizamo is a super-famous actor who's been in well over 100 movies and TV shows. You probably know him from his work in films such as Carlito's Way, The Pest, To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar and the Ice Age franchise of movies.

His resume is impressive enough but John's also a writer whose created and starred in a handful of powerful, hilarious one-man shows over his career.

There was his debut production titled, Mambo Mouth, in which he played a total of seven different characters on the stage — compiled and composited from people in his past. They're all deeply personal. Touching and hilarious, too: Leguizamo finds a way to talk about himself and the people in his life - sometimes channel those people - with a remarkably sensitive touch.

John's latest show is called Latin History for Morons. The title kind of explains the show's conceit: with a chalkboard and a professor-y looking suit, Leguizamo gives the audience a history of the Americas that you don't always see in textbooks: stories of oppression, exploitation, disease and war.
But, since it's John Leguizamo… there are dozens of funny voices, recreations of historical figures long-since dead. And it all begins with a story about Leguizamo's life: a few years back, his son was bullied over his latinx heritage at school. Leguizamo wanted to do something about it. Give him something to be proud of.

John talks to Bullseye about that incident in the show - how it happened, how it affected his son, and how it affected him.

Latin History for Morons is streaming now on Netflix.

You can get tickets for the live show here.

Catch John in the flick Playing with Fire in theaters
November 8.

Click here to listen to John Leguizamo's interview on YouTube!