Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Lesley Manville from 'Mum,' 'Another Year,' and more

Lesley Manville

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Lesley Manville on working with Mike Leigh, the latest season of Mum and more

British actor Lesley Manville is truly a master of her craft. You might know her work with the brilliant director Mike Leigh. She starred in some of his best movies like Secrets & Lies, All or Nothing and Another Year.

She got her start acting on TV back in the '70s. Back then she was a teenager living in England. Then came her career in theater. She's been in plenty of plays with the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company.

She's had a long and successful career overseas – and she's finally breaking through in the states. Later this year, she'll be in the follow up to Disney's Maleficent.

In 2017, she portrayed Cyril in Phantom Thread. The film is set in the '50s post-war London where Cyril and her brother Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) are renowned dressmakers. The Woodcocks are at the center of British fashion. They dress movie stars, socialites and royalty with a distinct style. The stunning performance earned her an Oscar nomination.

Her latest starring role is on the BBC show Mum. In it, she plays Cathy, a widow in her 50's living out in the suburbs with her adult son Jason. We see her grow and learn a lot about herself over the course of the series. The show circles around a budding relationship with her long-time best friend Michael. Mum is very grounded, a bit serious – but also really funny.

Lesley joins us to talk about starring in the BBC sitcom Mum, and how she almost had a career as an opera singer. Plus, what it's like working with director Mike Leigh, and how she gets in character employing his unique improvisational style.

It's an incredible challenge to deliver an emotionally honest portraits of ordinary people, but she nails it every time.

The third and final series of episodes of Mum are out now on the BBC streaming service BritBox.

The JV Club Ep. 314: Alison Becker

The JV Club
Alison Becker

This is what teenage Alison Becker (Star of the Maximum Fun podcast "Bubble!") might refer to as “a really great episode, eh?” Join her as she takes JV for a trip from the firefly-laden woods of New Jersey across the globe to the mountains of Switzerland. By the way, do you pronounce the “T” in "mountains?" Tweet us about it.

Hosted by Janet Varney.

Edited by Julian Burrell for Maximum Fun.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Geena Davis & Louis C.K.

Geena Davis
Louis C.K.

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Geena Davis on Gender Diversity, Archery and Quieting the Inner Critic

Geena Davis has made a lasting impression as an actress both on film and television in her roles in Beetlejuice, Thelma and Louise, A League of Their Own, The Accidental Tourist and Commander in Chief. Her performances have resulted in acclaim and a lengthy career both in front and behind the camera. It’s also garnered her a Golden Globe and an Oscar.

Davis is just as committed to her work for gender awareness and diversity in film and television. To turn a light on gender disparity in Hollywood, she created the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, a research-based organization that was created to educate and influence change in the entertainment industry. Davis also founded the Bentonville Film Festival, which showcases films featuring minorities and women in both cast and crew and which guarantees distribution to the festival’s winners.

Geena Davis joined Jesse on Bullseye to talk about gaining confidence in voicing her opinions on set, how she feels about being recognized in public and how quieting her inner-critic helped her to almost qualify as an archer for the Summer Olympic games.

The Bentonville Film Festival takes place in Bentonville, Arkansas this week. Tickets are available to the public.

Photo: Jesse Thorn

Louis C.K. on Producing a Show in Secret and Paying for It Out of His Own Pocket

Louis C.K. may be known to most as a stand-up comedian, but he's also a writer, an actor, an editor and a producer who thrives when he is creating on his own terms. And that’s what he has been doing with his comedy specials and television shows, including his Emmy-award-winning FX series, Louie.

Louis C.K. has succeeded not only by becoming one the world’s funniest comedians, but by reinventing how an artist succeeds creatively and financially. His direct-to-fan sales of his concerts and videos via his website have proven incredibly successful and have inspired other comedians and artists to offer their content directly to consumers.

He used this model of distribution to release his latest television show, Horace and Pete which features an ensemble cast including Steve Buscemi, Alan Alda, Jessica Lange and Edie Falco. The show, set in a run-down Brooklyn bar, borrows elements from both film and stage plays, to create a unique experience for both the audience and the actors. CK produced the show in complete secrecy, and didn’t leverage pre-press marketing and press junkets to promote the show.

Louis C.K. sat down with Jesse to talk about why he chose to pay for Horace and Pete using his own money, challenging himself as an actor and what inspired him to come up with the family name for the title characters.

All ten episodes of Horace and Pete are available now from Louis C.K.’s website.

The Outshot:

Jesse on the lingering amusement provided by the absurd and simple website,

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Aya Cash and Roger Angell

Aya Cash
Roger Angell

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Aya Cash of "You're the Worst" on Identity, Rejection and Her Fallback Plan

Aya Cash got her first starring role on television shortly before she was ready to move on to her fallback plan. She was cast as one half of a pair of narcissistic jerks on FXX's dark romantic comedy, You're the Worst. Her character Gretchen meets her match in Jimmy, who behaves as badly as she does, and they fall in love. The lovers are cynical about monogamy but are committed to making it work as they deal with real-life issues, including clinical depression.

Aya sat down with Jesse to talk about of the tremendous effort she made to be unique in high school, how she handles the unpredictable nature of auditions and how she almost gave up acting and opened an antique store.

You're the Worst was recently renewed for a third season on FXX. Season 2 of the show is now available on Hulu.

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Photo: Brigitte Lacombe

Roger Angell on Aging, Writing and the Humanity of Baseball.

The writer and editor Roger Angell has been a contributor to the New Yorker since 1944. His writings on baseball don't dwell on scores and statistics. Instead, he's deftly explored the humanity of both fans and players. He has also served as the chief fiction editor for the magazine for many years.

This Old Man is his most recent collection of essays. Last year, the title piece went viral for its honest and frank discussion of aging and loss.

Roger Angell joined Jesse to talk about the physical prowess of modern ball players, accepting his fate as a baseball fan who would never play professionally, and finding love and companionship in his nineties.

This Old Man: All in Pieces is available in bookstores now.

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Photo: MGM-Barry Wetcher

The Outshot: 'Creed'

Jesse explains how the tribute to the everyman in Rocky endures in the latest sequel, Creed, and tells us how it goes one step further.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Elvis Costello & Elizabeth Banks

Elvis Costello
Elizabeth Banks

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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 new 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 everyone from Burt Bacharach, Paul McCartney and Annie Lennox to Solomon Burke.

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 what it was like to have Christmas with Johnny Cash.

Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink is available now.

Photo by Jesse Thorn

Elizabeth Banks on Finding the Heart of 'Love and Mercy'

'Love and Mercy' was a bit of a tough sell for Elizabeth Banks. She'd acted in biopics before, but this one, about the Beach Boys' resident genius Brian Wilson, was on another level. The director Bill Pohlad would have two actors playing Brian at different stages of his life, and the film would tackle both Brian's mental illness and the budding love story between him and his wife Melinda Ledbetter. The film, and the roles of Melinda and Brian, would carry high expectations. But after speaking with the real Melinda about her love for Brian and the complexities of their story, Banks fully committed to doing their story justice.

Banks has had a successful career in TV and film, including roles in 30 Rock, The Hunger Games, and Wet Hot American Summer. She also directed, produced and acted in a small role in this summer's smash hit comedy, Pitch Perfect II.

Elizabeth Banks joins us to talk about the challenges in making a film which explores loving someone with a mental illness, how she's dealt with the frustration of being undervalued and underutilized in Hollywood, and what she did with some of the... questionable advice she received from a prospective agent early in her career.

Love and Mercy is available now on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD.

The Outshot: Dad’s Style

Jesse explains why Dad's Style is so attractive.

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