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This is the BBC. This podcast is supported by advertising outside the UK. BBC sounds, music, radio, podcasts. Yeah, let's let's jump in, I've started recording. Hello, I'm Louis.
Threw a welcome back to another episode of my podcast series for BBC Radio four, Grounded with Louis, through which I catch up with people locked down like me. How come I'm not seeing anybody?
Is there a way to make that happen? You should be able to see us. My screen is black today in a grounded first. I'm keeping it in the family talking to my cousin just in through. Or is it the road will be coming onto that. You can't see me anybody. This is the good stuff.
This is all the candid behind the scenes setting it up. This is gold. The stuff I'm getting paid.
Should we hang up and try again and try and come back? So is the whole screen black?
I can see names and I can see what it as if no one has cameras. I'm going to leave for one second. I'll be right back. OK, or we do it blind.
Like worst case scenario. That's no fun. It's not as fun I can see, you know.
But let's just not do it. The screenwriter of Tropic Thunder and Iron Man, two star of The Leftovers and not one, but two David Lynch films. Justin was once described as a character actor trapped inside the body of a matinee idol.
Well, I got it.
I can see everybody connected to audio. There we go. Hey, Lou is still awake. How are you doing, man? Thanks for doing this. This is exciting. I feel like we spent a while hooking it up. And then now we've we've just endured what felt like an eternity, but was only twenty minutes or so and twenty minutes.
You got five left, my friend. I took advantage of our family connection and guilt, tripped him into a long form conversation while he was on location in Mexico, starring in a new series, Prepare for some Strong Language.
Yeah, we we managed through, we muddled through, we got we got through it, you hacked into the mainframe. I didn't realize you had as much technical know how as you evidently no one knows that.
Another string to the already well strung bow of Justin Thoreau. I hesitate to give our common name mispronunciation that you insist on saying is the correct one.
Some people might not even know what we're talking about.
You go by through and I go by Thoreau.
And to put it another way, I use the correct pronunciation and you use some weird, incorrect one through. It's a name of French origin.
I guess the related words would be words like rue, as in ressource, if you wanted to get technical, you'd when you got to France and they say, oh, you tell. And they put the title on it. So maybe you're wrong too.
Maybe we're both wrong. Maybe we can agree.
Well, that yeah, you could if you wanted to go the whole hog. Let's talk about let's talk about. So this is a grounded first. We're straddling three time zones. We've got a producer in London. I'm in Texas. So nice. And you're in Guadalajara, Mexico.
And could I say that you're quarantining how much can we say about what's going on with you in the here and now?
Not quarantining? I was quarantining in New York, but I was doing a show in Mexico when the pandemic hit the planet. And we all scurried to our homes, shut down production, and I stayed in quarantine in New York. After a certain point, we realized we should probably start working once we all felt safe enough and we had the means to do it. And so we devised a plan to create a bubble in Mexico, a sort of a rigorous bubble so that we could continue shooting.
And there's all kinds of protocols and things in place for us to do that. And you really just kind of go to work and go home like it's everyone in a single bubble.
In other words, can you get as close as you like to everyone who's on set?
Yes, but on set, the crew 100 percent of the time has to be wearing eye coverings, masks, that kind of thing. We rehearse with masks and eye coverings on right as we are about to roll sound and and turn the cameras on or the actors take their stuff off. And then we sort of do essentially a three or four or five minute take and then cut. You put your mask back on.
And, you know, it's I was thinking I was going to be really burdensome to the process, but it actually wasn't. I've got it. There's something streamlining about it, where it focuses it, where we're shooting something.
Well, we always have a small crew and technically we're socially distancing. We're distancing from each other. When we make up a contributor, there has to be put in a plastic sterilized bag. But it is workable. It's just a little it's not very cozy. I arrive and I'm like, I shake your hand.
It must be tough, though, because you want to be you want to kind of lean in and catch the ride.
Do you want you don't want it to seem antiseptic, you know, which it sort of is, quite literally. But we'll see. I think it feels OK.
So we should come on in a minute to what you're doing there in Guadalajara. Sure. Well, shall we say that now?
What are you shooting now? Can we say. Yeah, we can say I'm shooting the Mosquito Coast.
I've heard of that. Who wrote that? Your dad, your dad, your father wrote it. How does he say his name through Nettelbeck?
Paul Theroux wrote it and now it's it's going to be a series starring Justin Thoreau.
It was obviously a movie back in the day with Harrison Ford in the role of Ashley Fox and for for for listeners who don't know the story of the novel, which I should say is a terrific book.
I'd like to give my dad a plug.
It's about a kind of maverick inventor who takes his family down to visit Central America.
South America. Yeah, because he's sort of fed up with civilization and then he becomes increasingly crazy in this vague shades of Jim Jones and Jonestown as it becomes more and more spiraling out of. It's kind of mental.
It's mental health deteriorates. Has my dad been down to the set?
Oh, he was going to come down. And he's, as you know, just an incredible of the last several couple of years of big tours of Mexico.
So we're looking for the right place where he could come and actually enjoy because he'll be so thrilled if we plug his travel books, do it about travelling around Mexico and it's called On the Plane of Snakes. I never had the heart to tell him that. There's a plan which is like a laughable kind of like it's almost a epitomizes kind of cheesy Hollywood ridiculous premise, Snakes on a Plane. And he wrote a book called On the Plane of Snakes. That's for him to worry about and maybe not worry about.
Does he have a role on the production? Is he an exotic or anything like the producer on it? I think he's pretty stoked about it, which I do. Yeah, which makes complete sense. Like imagine that. Like, he's he's he's going to be 80 next year. And this is probably going to be the highest profile of the various adaptations that have been made of his books, though the movie itself was extremely high profile.
Yeah, I guess it was. It was a pretty big movie. Peter Weir directed at Helen Mirren was also in it, and Harrison Ford, a young river Phoenix.
And wasn't there a big premiere at London's Princess Diana and Prince Charles came. That's pretty cool. And so there's a photo somewhere in the house of my dad in a suit of the pyramid having a confab with Princess Diana. Anyway, this isn't about him.
Know, can we get off plug in my namesake?
Interestingly, maybe Justin Paul Theroux was named after your. He is my uncle. You said we weren't going to talk about him. OK, here we go. Let's drop it. Let's put it to one side. We're going to get to your various accomplishments in a minute. But I want to start on something important. Listen, I've been doing research on you. I'm approaching this as your cousin, but also as a forensic interviewer. Mm hmm. One of the things I learned is that your T-shirts, you're wearing an Alicia Keys T-shirt.
Well, I should call it a muscle t because that's the term, right?
There's a lot of.
Do you rip the sleeves off or.
Yeah, I will get shirts that sometimes already have those things up or I take them off. But in the summertime in New York, I don't like to wear shorts, so I wear jeans and I for the most part I don't.
So listen, I want to break down the logic here. I don't like to wear shorts. Therefore I rip the the sleeves off my teacher.
I did. I miss something in that chain of logic. What did I miss in the summer in New York?
It's so muggy that when you're already wearing jeans and boots, it's a way of cooling off, I suppose.
Ventilating. Yeah. So you rip the sleeves off? No, I don't tear them.
I think I just cut them off with a pair of scissors.
How many T-shirts then? I don't know. I feel weird calling them t shirts because that they're not in the shape of a T because I told my shirts I guess you call them T.
How many of these t shirts do you have?
I have hundreds and hundreds of them.
And then I have favorito. You have hundreds and hundreds, maybe a thousand maybe.
I would say yeah, maybe a thousand. I've collected them. I mean it is, it is a bit of a collection. I have shirts from when I was 14 and I have shirts when I was sixteen that are you know, do you have any like only almost never come out because they're too precious.
I have a minor threat shirt that really just sort of lives in a cigar closet. And I have a several old sort of Konstantin's that are too threadbare to wear, but also too precious to throw.
So we've positioned you as the Imelda Marcos of muscle tees, Imelda Marcos. Yeah, I guess so.
In addition to being a style icon, because one of the things I want to do is your prominent in many fields. Right? We've talked about fashion, but also as an actor, writer, as a director, a producer. There's so many different dimensions to what you've achieved.
I would think that most people know you mainly as an actor. I mean, it's the nature of acting, I suppose.
Yeah, I think most people don't pay attention to who wrote things or who produce.
It's more you know, when you're acting in something, you're the face and also a kind of range of tones as well. You've been the male lead in to David Lynch films, but you also did a voice in Call of Duty Modern Warfare two. Correct. And you were in Lego, the Lego Ninjago Movie. Correct. Forgive me for sort of inviting you to, I don't know, like celebrate yourself in your career, but a little bit of that goes with the terrain, right?
When you look back at the body of work that you've been involved in, what do you feel proud of? What are the projects that you think that something special? I feel very lucky or proud.
Lucky to have done everything, you know. I mean, David Lynch is a fantastic example of every now and then you get put in a position where you're just doing something that you instinctually know is special. I felt very lucky when we were doing Mulholland Drive, which had a tortured history just to get into the theatres, was not any big box office. Success was not.
I remember the gestation of all of that and it was originally intended to be a TV series. That's right, isn't it?
It was the pilot was intended to be a TV series was for ABC and they. Despised it. What did ABC imagine they were going to get when they commissioned a series for David Lynch?
I don't know what they thought they were going to get. I thought they I think they thought they were going to be able to have more control on what David was shooting with notes in my character, smoked in the thing. And I remember there's a whole back and forth on, you know, he can't smoke. There's no smoking on television, David, but people smoke. You know, they people in the world smoke, like he just couldn't understand it.
He's so wonderfully detached in that way. There was a shot of dog shit. There was a huge back and forth over that. They David, you can't shoot dog shit. And then he said, why not? And I think he said, bring me anyone who hasn't seen dog shit and then I won't shoot dogs. That was one of those things. And then he shot dog shit and they said, well, no, you can shoot it now, but it has to be one eighth of the frame.
You can't fill the frame with the dog shit.
So typical studio network notes, you know, and I remember after that he said, I'm never going to do television again, you know, because that was just so torturous.
I'm guessing they, you know, because it was about ten years after Twin Peaks, which I think was a certainly a critical and commercial success. Yeah, but how did you find him?
Like everybody, if if you haven't seen a picture of him or heard his voice, he's a real shiny penny. I was sort of shocked when he came to the door with his sort of big shock of white hair and lovely and charming and sweet and a very good director.
Obviously, I'm surprised to hear you say that Mulholland Drive was a sort of sleeper or a slow burn because, you know, to my mind, it landed with a big splash because everyone is excited to see the new David Lynch film on the back of Blue Velvet while the guest did.
I mean, it did. When I say success, I don't mean it wasn't doing Avatar. No, you know what I mean. Or no, it was a still an art house film.
You know, he's incredibly clairvoyant. You know, I remember him getting very excited after Mulholland Drive. When I would check in with him, he'd say, I'd say, what are you doing? He said, I'm going to do something for the Internet. And I thought, Oh, what are you doing? He said he was he had a website and he would do all kinds of great comics and, you know, the angriest man in the world or angry dog in the world.
He had this incredible little portal.
And I remember at the time what he would do. Comics like he would draw the comic, he would draw the I don't think the website might even still be alive.
I don't know. And the resolution that you could watch something on a website was about the size of a matchbook. And one of the it was just a great turn of phrase. He held up his phone, which at the time before the iPhone, and he said one of these days you're going to be able to get this and you're going to be able. And he sort of held the phone out and he said, and you're going to be able to squirt it on the walls.
And they're going to be able to squirt the thing on the wall and you're going to be able to watch a full movie, which I think probably isn't that far away. I mean, certainly with a few dongles and an adapter, you know, you can do that now. I have done it.
But yeah, that's definitely actually squirting it like they used to that verb directly onto the wall, like it's a liquid.
There were kind of two amazing kind of creative visionary directors that you've worked with over there. Well, I mean, because Ben Stiller in his way is a visionary. I mean, and you are too. But but for some reason, I'm thinking about David Lynch and Damon Lindelof. Right. And Damon Lindelof, who created Lost and who recently collected about a million Emmys for Watchmen, the extraordinary HBO adaptation of the Alan Moore comic. But between those made the brilliant series that you were in, The Leftovers, that's another one of those.
I got a great job and knew it and the leftovers just to set it up a tiny bit.
So it's based on a Tom Perrotta novel in which two percent of the world's population have disappeared for no apparent reason, like possibly they've been raptured. It might be a religious phenomenon, but there's no real evidence to suggest that's the case. As a result, there's a sort of resurgence of a kind of cult like activity and religious mania.
It was literally one of those shows that at times felt like it was about everything, you know, as it relates to grief, suffering, loss and series takes place three years afterwards.
And you sort of measuring the aftershocks in the different ways in which families in which someone's disappeared are dealing with it. Society is trying to understand it, and in some respects it. I don't know if this has occurred to you, but it feels like a foreshadowing of the pandemic. Have you thought about that?
Of course, yeah. I mean, when the pandemic began, there were literally forecasting that two to three percent of the world's population could die from it. Yeah, leftovers.
I mean, yes, there were huge parallels, obviously, but again, that show had that slow burn. I think it's you know, and I know a lot of people who reached out to me, who watched it only during the pandemic when everyone was sort of stuck at home and looking for things to Benge. Not sure it's the cheeriest show to watch while you're, you know, suffering through a pandemic. But a lot of people did watch it.
And we were very lucky that we had a very deep bench of actors. That was fabulous, you know, and doubt.
And Christopher Eccleston is in it, of course, and and kudos to HBO for even a second season.
And I don't think they gave it a three seasons. And, you know, and again, it didn't land with any sort of splash or Zygi. Steve was definitely not any Game of Thrones, you know. But but it's just such a good book to have on the show.
Do you think I know Lynch? David Lynch doesn't like to spell out what his movies are about. And I saw you on lines where you were saying that when you went to Cannes, possibly with Mulholland Drive, he said now journalists are going to want to ask you what it's about, but I don't want you to tell them.
Yeah, but I'm wondering, with the leftovers, which is a little less avant garde and dreamlike, although it certainly has those qualities, do you have a sense of did you kind of give much thought and are you comfortable talking about what you felt?
Yeah, the leftovers was about, you know, I can't help but think, you know, Tom Perrotta originally wrote the novel after 9/11, and Damon had a formative moment in his life when his dad passed away when he was young. And I think it was that idea of the tragedy of loss and the central question of where did they go, you know, this two percent of the population. It's really sort of a metaphor for when my dad dies, where did he go?
Because he's not here, you know? You know, some people react well, some people react poorly. Some people live in their grief and find comfort and remain in grief. Some people are desperate to get out of grief and pretend nothing's wrong. Some people drift towards religions, cults, you know. Some people masquerade as victims. There's a great episode in which which is sort of about people claiming to have been victims of the whole situation who actually are frauds.
Let's talk a bit about, you know, you've been in these kind of avant garde ish movies and series, but your sensibility, when I think back to our relationship over the years and also your inclinations, well, it has an element of that. But actually, you're a very funny person. Right. And the things that, you know, you wrote Zoolander two, one of your first forays into Hollywood success, certainly behind the camera was Tropic Thunder, which you co-wrote.
Yeah. You know, and the other thing I want to think about is.
Because we came up together, you know, I guess you're a year younger. Yeah. And, you know, you you grew up in the States. I grew up in London. But our respective fathers are brothers. And we lived in New York for a while. And my recollection is that in those years, the sort of the 90s and I was working for Michael Moore at TV Nation, you were doing a bit of theatre, you were doing some TV, you were doing art stuff, and you were working as an artist.
You were doing stage work, TV and movies. But did you have the aspiration to be a screenwriter and director?
No, not at all. You know, I graduated with a double major in drama and visual art, and so my plan was to go to New York and just do both until one maybe worked. But I just remained very flexible. So between auditioning, occasionally booking an art job, you know, doing murals or working in clubs or doing construction and doing painting and, you know, actual painting of walls, it was just I really loved that time because it was very seat of the pants.
And I remember when you were there and it was and you were writing for Spy magazine or that was in 1983.
And then I remember when TV Nation came out and and you had such a sort of a a very different I never saw you. And Michael is similar in your interview styles or anything, but I there was a really early one you did with the KKK when they were sort of rebranding themselves.
That was literally the second one I ever did. That was early 94. And there was a guy who was sort of a porcupine color racist, you know, who was the Grand Dragon of the night.
Anyway, that's the thing.
Everyone think that this was this was kind of just for the discriminating shopper. Yes, yes. Yes.
But there was a great moment where I feel like still sort of typifies your style, where the guy said so you said so. Let me be clear. You don't hate anyone. No one. You don't hate black people. No. No, we do not. We deny any we do not know.
I say it is this is one of the ideas for both sides. But the discriminating shopper and discriminating in red, isn't it yet? Is that in red? Because it's kind of like a joke. No, sir. We do not discriminate. We do not discriminate.
But it's in Ritz's. Maybe just a little bit, maybe just a slight one because.
So you don't hate anyone.
He goes out there and you said, so is it just a question of loving others less?
You just love some people slightly more than others, maybe something like that.
And I just thought that was such a wonderful way of just, you know, just yanking his shorts down again, if I can begin. I think that's that sort of typifies your style.
I mean, that was the 90s. We were coming up together and we should make a documentary about that. Yeah. I mean, I don't want to draw the covers back too far. Stammen at this time.
No one was. We were we were prepping. We were just kid. We were punk kids. We didn't know we were changing. You know, we're changing the world. I want to ask you something I've always wondered about. Can I? Yeah. The connection is slowing down. Can you still hear me or I can see you. It's just a slight delay.
I can hear you happy perfectly. Yeah.
OK, so 2006 or maybe a little earlier, I remember coming over and bumping into you perhaps in New York, whoever it was. And you were saying, oh yeah, I directed a movie, it's at Sundance. Mm. And I thought, wait, what. Like I knew you'd been talking to Ben Stiller about a couple of projects and I knew your acting career was going great guns, but I'd been aware of you having directed anything and like right out of the gate you had a movie at Sundance and I never got my head round.
How that happened. It was called dedication.
By the way, had Billy Kruger, Tom Wilkinson, I had done a movie called The Baxter with a company called Plum Pictures. And they said you should you want to direct something. So they offered me they just showed me some of the scripts that they had in the catalog. And I found this script dedication, which I really liked. I cast my good friend Billy screwed up in it, Mandy Moore, who I didn't know at the time, and the wonderful Tom Wilkinson.
And we ended up going to Sundance and they saw you.
But I'm just. So they just saw you and they were like, what was it in you that they that made them want to take a punt and think, here's a guy to correct me if I'm wrong? You had not directed anything before, right?
Yeah, no, I hadn't. No, they just liked the cut of your jib. They like the kind of moisture they felt like they like your your vibe.
Look, I think at that point I was already writing a little bit. And, you know, these were not we weren't making movies for fifty million dollars. They were two million dollar movies. But it was a really tough experience because it was, you know, whatever shot in nineteen days, that kind of thing. Went to Sundance and was bought by Harvey Weinstein. And then once Harvey got a hold of it, it just it kept changing and changing and changing and we would have big fights about it.
And I was. Then starting to work on Tropic Thunder, and he would send me a cut of my movie so he would have an editor go away and do a cut of it, where he'd rearrange scenes, cut 20 minutes out of it, and it just became really toxic. And it wasn't you know, there were some wonderful performances in that movie given by all that were not helped by Harvey.
I mean, I had seen obviously, you know, the the rageful and horrible side of Harvey in my interactions with him.
You saw the raging shouting, bullying, dictatorial Harvey Weinstein, but obviously not the other one. Was it whispered about?
Yes, it was whispered about. And that he was just kind of groping and weird, you know? But I honestly had no idea that to the extent of which he was torturing women, you know. Absolutely.
And then you sort of you took off, you know, in my career, such as it is I give Michael Moore a place of honor, such as it is going to have to stop saying, such as it is in terms of giving me a break, a sort of seeing something in me that I didn't see it myself are giving me a chance to, you know, be on TV, goofing off in interviews and making documentaries and everything sort of flowed from that.
I'm wondering to what extent is it true that then with something like that to you, Ben was the one who sort of reached backwards and grabbed me and said, you can totally do this.
How did you first cross paths with Ben Stiller? I was doing Chekhov play on Broadway and his then girlfriend was in it and we just became friends.
And then he used to do these really elaborate fun bits for like Letterman and Conan and Tonight Show or whatever. And I would help him come up with bits like, you know, he'd go on with some sort of elaborate story about there was always very funny and, you know, sort of a shaggy dog story. And I would I'd help them develop those bits, you know, and then I ended up doing sort of just pick up writing for him for, like the MTV Awards when he hosted it.
Ben has an incredible mind for structure, you know, understanding what to a certain extent what audiences want, what works, what doesn't work. You know, he would have just great notes on stuff. And then we locked in on the idea for Tropic Thunder.
Do you want to set it up in case there's a few people who haven't seen it? Remind them what the premise of the movie is.
The premise of the movie is essentially a bunch of actors go to make sort of the most bloated war movie ever in the history of war movies with completely wrong headed cast of an action star, rapper, Oscar winner, a guy who sort of does fatty fart comedies. And, you know, it's just one of those like it's the worst Hollywood idea ever, but with all the biggest stars, just narcissistic actors and the director played by the wonderful Steve Coogan, who wants to keep it real, who's totally out of his depth and he gets killed, but not before taking them into the jungle, saying we're shooting this guerrilla style, no more fancy trailers or anything like that.
And so it's basically a long walk through the jungle where they think for a while that they're still filming a movie.
They think he steps on a mine and blows up and dies. But they think it's they think it's all part and they think it's like, oh, we're sure the way where got it.
You know, so and there was a whole spate of sort of war movies when we were revisiting the Vietnam War, sort of in our collective consciousness in the U.S. where a platoon, Full Metal Jacket, Hamburger Hill there were sort of re-examining all this. So the idea for this movie sort of came out of that, which was, you know, what's what's the hilarious version of the big sort of gold mine for that movie was watching DVD extras for Platoon and Hamburger Hill.
And, you know, you know, all this and actor interviews that were over seriousness of sort of, you know, man, Oliver Stone. And he just makes it real. We thought we were in war, you know, and I don't care what you say, it's like when we yelled action, we were there. You know, it's that kind of shit.
Oliver Stone, you mentioned he's a friend of Grounded One cast. When I read his book, I kind of understood more about the genesis of Tropic Thunder because, as you know, he took his crew for Platoon and the actors out to the location for two weeks before shooting started with a real drill sergeant. Yeah. And kind of starved them and.
Yeah, well, it was very in vogue to do this thing where you would take actors to like a essentially a boot camp and they'd throw them all in tents and, you know, wake them up with firecrackers. You just got killed. Like, what are you doing? Sleeping, you know, and you know, you imagine, you know, Johnny Depp shooting out of his bed going, what the hell's going on? You know, and Willem Dafoe and all these people.
And I don't think Oliver Stone particularly liked Tropic Thunder, for what it's worth, later tells the story of him being backstage at SNL or something and Oliver Stone being like, yeah, you worked on that Tropic Thunder, didn't you?
He was like, Yeah. And, you know, I was there like that and, you know, we weren't really out of our way.
Obviously, the joke was not on vets, you know, it was well, I remember you saying my father, which is no one understandably, you know, wants to be perceived as making fun of war vets and and that when you were talking to Tom Cruise about it, who was also in it, he needed to be reassured on that point. And you made the point that it's really a satire about Hollywood narcissism. Yeah.
I mean, I think it's it's absolutely a satire about Hollywood narcissism that has nothing to do with you know, the backdrop is obviously the making of a Vietnam War movie, but the most wrongheaded version of it, even to the point where McNulty, who plays the Vietnam adviser on our fake movie, he also winds up being a fraud. The joke had to be strictly placed on the actors and of the actors shoulders.
You know, that's that's that was the target of the joke.
You know, we should we should go back go back into the past.
I'd love to, but can I take a real quick go and just take a while and then I'll do it back.
There we go. I'll leave my microphone so we can get good.
And I'll be here for just a quick reminder. You're listening to Ground It With Me Living Through. And this is a podcast for Sounds and BBC Radio four. And my guest, who's just popped off to spend a penny, is my cousin, actor, director and screenwriter.
Justin, through apologies to whoever is going to edit that.
And also a call from my dad came in while we were talking and I felt bad. I don't know if he if his ears were burning. Focus. Focus.
So you wanted to. I left when I left. You said you wanted to go back in time. Go.
But we're going back. So obviously we're cousins. Your dad, Gene is my dad's one of his older brothers, the seven siblings. But, you know, we grew up on different sides of the pond. Know my dad's American. I grew up in South London. You grew up in Washington, D.C. So there are parallels, but there are big differences. Huge.
And we would I think the comment, my recollection of you growing up, we would see each other every summer.
And you want to put this the right way. You had two siblings, a brother and a sister, and you'd arrive at Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Correct.
And there was a lot of energy and and some of it was a kind of vaguely, ah, you can be more blunt if it's like a slightly delinquent, certainly enjoyably chaotic, like you were just full.
I was hyperactive. I hyperactivity disorder. What is your recollection?
My recollection is, you know, because when you are the chaotic person or have what they now call ADHD or whatever, we used to just call it ants in your pants. You don't recall yourself that way. You just are that way. I remember those that time as an extremely fun time. We had several aunts and uncles that were really fun to be around Uncle Alex, your dad, and we'd have these sort of, you know, barbecues and things like that.
And it was just really fun. I mean, weird to at the time, we were too young to know if anything else, you know, your dad's career was happening and my dad was doing what he did. And, you know, so there was probably there were other more sort of sinister dynamics at play, I guess that we weren't understanding.
And we had a I remember just having an increase in the sense that they all fell out in the end.
So also that big falling out that was so sinister in the sense of they ended up yes, they ended up bickering fights and things like that.
But for the most part, I remember laughing an enormous amount, you know, and having a really fun time with you and Marcel and and Alex in particular. But they they were wildly funny all all of them, you know, and it was a privilege.
There was a kind of rough and tumble immigrant, you know, family of immigrant origins from French Canada and Italy. And they've kind of been raised in a relatively unself breus and scruffy area of Boston called Medford. Yeah.
I mean, looking at you, I saw a I've written about this a bit in my book. I hope you didn't mind. So so you were full of beans and kind of comedian. You've grown up into it, not just a handsome man, but a movie idol like who is, I'm sure, lots to talk to by people in the millions in those days. You were kind of scrawny. I think I called you. I thought you had so much energy that it made you quite so.
I was incredibly skinny and guilty and not that tall, very short. I did not go through a growth spurt until I was probably by like 11th grade. I finally grew a foot or something.
But I remember it was a summer where I just went and grew into sort of a normal body. But I was very I want to get to like, you know, I was like bullied or anything like that. But I was not a popular kid. I was I was liked, I guess. But I wasn't I wasn't athletic. I wasn't sporty. And I was a terrible student. So it made school life very hard. But I was happy.
I wasn't unhappy.
I guess we should we should say that you, your parents divorced when you were fairly young and it was a kind of acrimonious divorce. It wasn't it wasn't like, hey, we're still best friends kind of thing. Oh, God.
Now, so your mom was raising you in Washington, D.C., which is a fairly tough city, like people think, oh, it's the capital. It must be lovely. It's it's got it's definitely got its rough side.
Got out of D.C. was tough. I don't I don't miss D.C. at all. And I grew up in a sort of a neighborhood of boys that were pretty unhinged. It was a tough I don't know how to describe it. I wanted to leave D.C. as soon as humanly possible. There were things that I liked about it. I had an incredible music scene, sort of a golden age of hardcore punk rock, really sort of formative bands and that I loved and go go music, which was incredible, very D.C. sound that Chuck Brown in the soul search, soul searching, little Benny in the Masters, where essence, et cetera, and that that music never even really left D.C..
So there were things about DC that I really liked, but I was happy to I don't ever go back there. I don't love it there.
But it was it was I think what you're getting at is there was there was a kind of interesting thing that would happen is that we turn up every summer on Cape Cod.
And I mean, because we were kids, we didn't acknowledge it in that way. But there was a very different thing happening for for you and Marcel as to what was happening for me and my siblings.
So when I would come back.
Exactly. So how would you characterize that? I remember. I mean, it's really only through the lens of how I perceived you guys, which was kind of like I was black, Twitter, a couple of English boys.
It was little like caricature snobs.
Oh, no, no, no, no. Like Paul, for example, could say, like, boys, we're going to have lunch and then you guys are going to go read for a while and then maybe in three hours after reading for three hours, we'll have dinner, you know, and I go, what the fuck?
You know, read books, conservator, you know? And I remember thinking, like and then you guys would do it. You'd go and read. You weren't reading, you know, the Hardy Boys mysteries. You know, you were reading, like, incredibly dense things about, you know, whatever the Crusades or, you know, I couldn't you couldn't compute know because I was not a voracious reader at all. And I just remember thinking, oh, my God, these guys are so brilliant.
And then as the summers went on and once you guys went to Westminster, which I remember getting mocked both by you and Marcel because I call it you guys are going to Westminster Abbey and you're like, yeah, Westminster Abbey. Yeah. That's where we go to school. It's Westminster.
I don't even know what it is, but I just remember you guys being so bright. And then as the years went on, you know, Marcel was studying Russian and you were studying Latin and you know, and obviously Alex and Paul here and you are incredibly bright and they would sort of quiz you in Latin.
And and then when I finally went to go see you, you guys, I have great pictures of that trip, which maybe I'll post on Instagram.
You know, that was a period of time where two things could be happening in two totally different urban environments, London and DC and New York.
But they never cross pollinated because there was no Internet. There was no MTV really yet, you know. So the counterculture that was happening in London was very different in the counterculture that was happening in DC and vice versa. But I remember seeing you guys and Marcel was wearing like sort of goth, new romantic kind of clothing and was crimping his hair. And and I remember you had this incredibly cool pair of basically Beatle boots. And I remember thinking, like, oh, my God, they look so cool.
But I remember thinking you guys had sort of clash posters on your walls and we played little and little did we know.
And then you go play well. But I remember being on the Cape Cape Cod when you'd come and visit. And so our dad had this is one example. He'd given us a BB gun and there were all these rules about now remember, when you shoot the gun, one person must be behind the other at all times. Never point.
Someone, even if it's not loaded like these rules, were impressed on us as though we were using a kind of serious firearm, I mean, I guess it's sensible, but, you know, we had this sense of like, oh, my God, if you know the rules, someone's going to get killed anyway.
You arrived with your brother and you might be the gun and literally within minutes of each other and was pinging the other one like you.
Either you you would take it off and your brother was actually shooting at you as you ran away.
And I remember thinking, like, this is off the charts.
I just broke in about 15 different commanders.
You know, that sort of sums it up. It's a good I mean, yeah, another time you arrived with a friend, you were both wearing tracksuits that you wore the entire holiday. It's shiny black shell suits. Yeah, I was sort of in a break dancing at the time.
And you were both body popping. Yeah.
The whole time. And I remember one time it was one of those classic things where you brought your friend and then sort of two days into the holiday and realized you didn't really like him that much.
Yeah, he was a bit of a pill. And then do you remember what happened? I cracked him in the head with a rock.
I was going to say.
So we went down to the beach and then just like it's the most normal thing in the world, you began having a rock fight, picking up rocks and throwing not small rocks, no whipping fairly like egg sized or maybe small like sized rocks.
And I thought, this is this doesn't you're not supposed to do this is outrageous.
I thought this can't end well. And sure enough, who got picked up, I think I had to go to the hospital.
I ping them right in the center of the head. It was a he was I think it is in the water at that point.
And I hit the rock at him and it hit him, cracked him right in the in his hair, like the center of his head, but in his hairline. And he, you know, like all teenagers at that time or preteens, was very into his hair.
And they had to shave an entire patch of his hair and give him I think he put the stitches. Eight stitches in. Yeah, we put stitches. You know, I used to throw a lot of rocks. And I remember one time in D.C., I was standing in front of my this is a perfect example of what it's like to be a hyperactive kid. I was holding a rock and looking at it. I was on my street and a taxi went by.
And as soon as I looked up to see the taxi approaching, I thought, I wonder what would happen if I threw this rock at that window? Would it break it before you even finish the thought?
It's happening and it's happened. That's like to me, it sort of sums up what it's like to be hyperactive. Then the window smashes. Then I immediately burst into tears and run into my own home. Of course, the taxi driver comes in and, you know, was very sweet actually, as I recall.
But that I wasn't thinking I couldn't I couldn't get to the end of a thought process before the thing that I wasn't supposed to do had already happened. And I remember it used to happen to be in school all the time, which I would be sitting there unable to sit still, fidgeting, grabbing things, poking people, leaving my chair, and teachers would have tears in their eyes.
And it just didn't just sit down and shut up. And I would sit down and I'd be shamed and I would sit down. And I'd be like, OK, just don't do anything, just don't move, and then my eye would fall on a pencil and then the pencil would be in my hand and then I'd be breaking it, you know, like something like and I'd get yelled at again and I'd and it was torture because I really, honestly couldn't.
When I say I couldn't control my energy level, I just couldn't control it, you know, it was like I was given, you know, I had ten gallons of gas every single day, which I had to burn off somewhere. And that's what it was like, which makes you a terrible student and makes you terrible. You know, I was bad at sports because I couldn't you know, it's like what? We're going to play this game for 90 minutes, like, Jesus, let's play for five and then leave and, you know, that kind of thing, you know, were you diagnosed at any point?
But, yeah, I was taken to this place where they diagnosed you. They run you through a battery of tests. And but like reading a book, for example, was impossible. Like even if the book was 50 pages long, I'd read one page and go, there's 50 of these fucking things I got to get through. And just, you know, half the time, by the time I was at the bottom of the page, I couldn't recall what was at the top of the page.
You know, it was like that. So, yeah.
And when you went every diagnosis, assuming that's what happened, was that based on falling behind in class or behavior or both?
Both. But I think the behavior is just sort of symptomatic of the falling behind. No, when you can't focus, you look for other things. And also there was certain things I just couldn't do. You know, I could never get past a certain level. And to this day, I can't in math, you know, or or, you know, I'll eventually develop the skill for reading and developed, you know, and managed to survive high school and college.
But it was it's still not until I was prepping for this. Well, at least what I read was that you have dyslexia, which I hadn't realized. Is that. Yeah, true. Yeah.
You know, I was very lucky in that my mother kind of never she always encouraged me to do the thing that I was actually drawn to, which is art and performance and things like that. So she was always trying to push me in the direction of what I would probably eventually end up being good at. And I think, you know that along with just the inability to do those other things paid off, because I think as far as writing goes, I think I tuned in to other things.
When I was little, I had turned and tuned in to sort of the music of conversation or characters or, you know, because that was the only thing I could really pay attention to, you know, being a combination of being incredibly short, not very developed at the right benchmark's in my adolescence and being slightly bullied gave me a hyper.
It helped in the end, I think it gave me a sense of humor that I have one that I have now gave me, I wouldn't be an actor.
Yeah, I mean, I may be drawing all the wrong conclusions from this. Right. But I feel as though you and your career and your success are a great advertisement for not following a conventional academic path and speaking to someone who's who always put too much store in doing well on exams.
You know, getting good results could be so weird because, I mean, there's so many things that is it's thrust on all you guys, which I don't think happens in the States. I really do remember visiting you at Westminster Abbey. And I remember I went to school with you and I saw your dorm rooms and the classrooms and the hallways and the it was just for one day. And I think it was sort of before you guys were about to get off for the weekend and you were in your uniforms.
I thought this is so draconian and weird.
And I remember even Paul talking about, you know, the amount of pressure that you guys were under around.
Yeah, but that's not England as such.
That's just the weirdness of, well, no culture, that there's a whole thing that where they put stock in those things and there's bizarre class structures that are put around that. And and so I couldn't even imagine growing up in that environment, I would have wilted and died.
You know, it just I just never in that experience, feeling nervous at your school, going like it gave me the willies. Like it gave me the willies.
Yeah. Let's not give at Westminster any more adverts. They they they've got plenty of money.
And I would like to say that which is this it's it's you're going to want to go down your path. I'm wanting to get on my path. It's a compliment because I think both you and Marcel in a wonderful way. You know, there was obviously that period of time where you were so completely not overeducated is the wrong word. An enormous amount of information and facts and history and languages went into your brains, but you both retained a a kind of a core sense of self and a sense of humor.
And you see it in your work, because even when you go and you're interviewing someone, you know, whatever it is, whatever education you've had is still in really good stead, because I know you have probably gone in there and research that you in a strange way, I know the people better than they know themselves. But at the same time, the way in which you approach the material is very kind and human. You know, I would I think a lot of people think like I could do what Louis does.
I don't think that's true at all, you know, because it's a it's a wonderful combination of being a good I think a good person, a wonderful person, and also having the ability to do the hard work and structure of knowing what you need to know going into it. That makes sense. Yeah.
I mean, I think you just gave me a big kiss. I could say it is. Yeah. Through the Internet. Yeah. Wow. Thanks for that, man. You're welcome. Appreciate it.
So if you think you can do what I do, I think again, I can. It says otherwise I could do it.
Now I could.
Where I was going to go with respect is can I be can I segway very clumsily?
Well, actually, quickly to you, I remember I used to talk about being at a camp for hyperactive kid.
Yeah. It was something I went to once or just for a couple of summers in a row.
And it was it was a great camp. I don't think it exists anymore. Called Pine Ridge. I went to it two summers in a row and it was this kind of it was sort of three councillors to every kid because half the kids were medicated and hyperactive and nuts and, you know, whenever you want to call it. And it was a wonderful experience. You sort of have summer. And I was also a summer school. So you can sort of and I always had to do summer school because I would do so badly during the year.
And so there was one weekend where they had hired these kind of outward bound guys to come and do sort of like a ropes trust fall, kind of course, you know what I mean?
Like, you know what outrebounded is like it was in Vermont and these very sort of burly guys who come in, they have sort of harnesses and hard hats and helmets and gloves and ropes and carabiners. And they took us all out a group of about 30 of us like into the woods where they had set up these ropes that were 60 feet off the ground that we were going to put on harnesses. We're going to buckle into them and things with platforms where you jump off the platform and you rappel down and all these kinds of things.
I remember the councillors got there and they just looked at these guys and they're like, OK, kids, we're just everyone's just going to go away for about an hour.
We're going to go and then we're going to come back. We're going to do the same thing. And we thought, that's weird.
And we came back like an hour later and all the obstacles and course had been moved to the ground.
It's like clearly the insurance was not going to cover a bunch of hyperactive kids, you know, a little medication.
Getting up 60 because we couldn't we couldn't be trusted, you know, so but the hilarious part was they still made us put on all the protective gear. So we had to put on these harnesses and helmets and with chinstraps and gloves. And then we were kind of hard to describe it, sort of like like sort of clipping into these ropes that were literally on the ground and then sort of what pretending is it in there like?
Well, you know, you would normally be 60 feet up and you'd be very dangerous laying around ground level.
Yeah, exactly. Well, that's just ridiculous. That was that was that camp. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the Polystyrene Cup incident. I mean, it's out there. I wrote about it in my book. You've been asked it in profiles I've seen.
So to rerun it, I suppose I would have been maybe nine or eight and you would have been seven or so. And there was a do one of our uncles houses. And I looked over and I saw that you were eating a polystyrene cup, taking bites out of, you know, because polystyrene is oddly inviting.
You do want to easy to to make a mold of your swallowing it.
I remember thinking like, huh, that's different.
Maybe you can eat polystyrene, like maybe you can eat. That's fine. And then half an hour, an hour went by and you threw up.
And it's what I recall I don't think I saw you, but I remember seeing a splat on the ground with a bunch of polystyrene in it like Styrofoam chips, and it came back up again.
So what the thing I'm curious and I remember you were asked in an interview, someone said to you, why would you eat a polystyrene cup? And your answer was, why wouldn't I?
Yeah, which is about the best explanation you could give. But do you have any recollection of that incident?
I don't have any. It's entirely believable. And I but I don't have any recollection of it. I do. I used to my my mom would give me glass cups. I used to, like, hook my top. I don't know if they're incisors or whatever over the glass. And I would drink my drink, but I would want to really badly bite on the glass to the point of breaking. And many times I would put my teeth over it and I would bite the glass as I drinking it like that.
And then I would smash the glass and it would break glass into my mouth and my mom would go, Jonathan, what have you done? God, spit that out. And so eventually I got to my plastic cup.
So after breaking enough glasses, it sounds like your mum was very understanding and indulgent of your little foibles like she was she loved us all so much that anything we did, she really made an effort to understand it as opposed to be frustrated by it. I remember my dad would get more frustrated with that kind of behavior, probably just because he was around it less.
But my mom, who was doing the yeoman's work, you know, really having to put our shirts on in the morning and get us out the door. She loved being a mother. She loved us so much. You know, she tolerated an enormous amount. And that hyperactive camp that I went to and it wasn't just for hyperactivity, it's for learning disabilities and all that.
You know, at the end of that, my stay there, thankfully, this wonderful woman named Kay Gorm and I think she I was going to go there for winter school because it was also a winter school. And they said, we actually don't think this is the right place for you. You know, you should go to, we think, a progressive school, you know, that's focused heavily on the arts and and creativity. And so I went to this wonderful school called Buxton, which was not for learning.
Disabled kids were very bright kids. And but it was very alternative, you know, no exams, that kind of thing. It was a boarding school. It was out of D.C., which I was grateful for, even though the first year was incredibly difficult with many, many panic attacks. Eventually I learned to love it. You know, it was very, you know, like a socialist is the right way. It was you know, it was one of those schools where the kids cooked the meals, we chopped the wood that heated the classrooms, that we shoveled the snow to get everyone so everyone could go to their classes.
So everyone it was it sounds like, you know, the reeducation camp in communist China, but it wasn't it was this very kind of wonderful place that taught me an enormous amount about self-reliance and and being able to take care of myself, which was badly needed.
So just to change up the the topic a little bit, we should acknowledge the fact that, you know, for as much as we are friends, cousins, we hang out for a couple of times a year or, you know, when a pandemic isn't going on. But in a certain respect, I'd say and correct me if you think this is way off, but we inhabit different worlds. There's a there was a moment when I felt like you ascended to some and I'm being slightly facetious, but Olympian realm of Hollywood A-list like you, you have been to the mountain top of what millions around the world would aspire to.
You've had a relationship with an A-list actress, followed by paparazzi, but also making a really good living and working regularly respected with a circle of friends who who are among the sort of most glittering and famous, you know what I mean? Like from the outside. And you mingled with, you know, the best and the brightest of Hollywood, like the glitterati. Do you resent that characterization?
I know it sounded a bit it sounds a bit soring, which I don't necessarily agree with it because I mean I guess I mean, technically, I don't know.
I could name 10 or 20 people who every member of the audience, everyone out there would have heard of a meeting like, oh, my God, put any name in there, Tom Hanks or are Robert Downey Junior.
And you've spent time with them. You probably count them friends. I know you do. With Robert Downey Jr.. I I'm not trying to be like I'm not trying to chisel away like a Jacobin way, like your pampered nincompoop and you just don't know how real people live that I agree.
What but what I do wonder is, you know you know, whether you get any kind of doubling effect of thinking, wow, if I my younger self could see me now or to what extent you've learned anything from that, or is it still real to you?
I it's anything or is that just a ridiculous sort of illusion that's sold by mass market magazines?
I think the latter. And and and also. My entire life has been organic, you know, in the sense of, oh, I was doing this play, then I met this person, then we started working together. Then when I started working with that person, I started working with Robert Downey Jr., for example. And then when I was working with him, when I would be in L.A., I'd see him. It didn't you know, there was no moment, as I said before, where I felt like I was like shot out of a rocket and landed in Hollywood.
And I don't really consider myself a Hollywood person or A-list person. I consider myself just sort of a working actor who writes occasionally, you know, like I don't know.
I mean, it's a sure thing with the ins and outs. And he's got it made like he's absolutely found El Dorado and how he must be living like a pig in shit. Pardon the expression.
I don't know. But I mean, they're all just phases of life, I suppose, you know, words. And I'm sure you've had those moments, too, you know, winning Vaughters and, you know, and, you know, doing book signings and have I have I got too many bastards at this point?
Yeah. Believe me, I need a room for them.
But I mean, I know you live in New York now, so maybe I'm characterizing this based on a time when we were both in L.A. We hung a little bit and I could see you were leading. I guess perhaps that went with your L.A. years, right. Perhaps that was a lifestyle that you've put behind you to some extent.
No, I think I've been spending, you know, almost half a year or less sometimes in Los Angeles for 15 years. You know, so I but I've you know, I used to resent Los Angeles for several reasons, but that was really more out of insecurity of, you know, or I now realize the virtues of L.A. and, you know, but it is at the end of the day, a coal mining town where everyone works at the coal mine talks about the coal burns, the coal.
It's sort of a it's very hard to to find the other notes in Los Angeles that aren't show business. So and then the people that I count as friends there, those friendships are genuine, you know, and I and and it's as it relates to the work that we've done together are hoping to do together or admiration of some of the work, I guess. I don't know.
I don't I don't I don't I don't mean you like you don't have any you don't have any children that you acknowledge.
I probably have a ton, but I just haven't met him yet. I don't know. I think children.
Do you are you enjoying like are you and how are you liking. I'm not trying to pry.
I guess I am kind of.
How are you enjoying bachelorhood. I enjoy it. I mean, you know, I don't again, I don't really see myself as being a bachelor. You know, I don't I really kind of him like a dog and that I wake up every morning just kind of going, what's the next thing I'm going to do today? Or, you know, sometimes I'm only thinking about twenty minutes into the future. Maybe that's I can't decide whether that's a virtue or a strike against me, but I don't think of myself in those terms, you know, like, well, I'm a bachelor or, you know, occasionally, obviously, I think I should have some kids or so, but I don't know.
But that has to happen. That has to that that's nothing I can force. So it's I got a dog and I walk them.
You're thinking about Uncle Alex, aren't you? Our Uncle Alex had his children aged seventy five, didn't he. Yeah. So you're thinking like doesn't really you got twenty five years to finally do this at any time.
No that's not true. When it does sort of settle on me is when I think about who's going to be around when I'm dying. But it's something I think we all think, you know, I'd be happy to be around while you're dying.
That didn't sound right. It came out.
Please, by the way, please come to my death.
But if I wouldn't be happy, but I would be willing and love if you pop by my death just from even if it's just for a minute, you know, just for some chitchat, just like is it catered?
Like what would it be like? I don't know. It depends. What do you want to bring I guess is the real question. We could do sort of a potluck death thing.
It would be a potluck kind of thing. Bring your own dish to Justin's dying. Justin's dying. Billy will be at the point where you, you know, with looking like forty or fifty years of the future and maybe death will be more.
I think we're going to hit the health horizon and live till 140.
And, you know, we're going to be a Dalek like like a blob in a metal sheath that gets wheeled around like Sumner Redstone. Is he dead yet?
I think he might have died. I can't believe he did die.
But he was like Montgomery Burns by the end, running his empire, 95 years old. And just with that, I could, I don't know, like monkey glands injected into his forehead to keep him young or brain in a jar sitting on a jar on top of our heads.
There you go. Or maybe we could just buy other bodies, you know?
So I was going to talk about dogs. We didn't do that. I was reluctant about paparazzi.
You just won an Emmy. I want to Emmies that the same thing, yes, for the same thing. That's one. No, no, no. But it was two years in a row. We did it.
This was I feel terrible about winning that Emmy in a way, because me and Jimmy Kimmel had this idea to do All in the Family and The Jeffersons and, you know, classic American sitcoms.
Yeah. And as live performances on TV, me and Jimmy were on vacation together.
I did smoke a little weed and I had an idea and I said, you know what we should do, man? We should get old sitcoms and we should redo them with actors, you know, contemporary actors, you know, sort of well-known actors, you know, because the sitcoms were so good back then. And then Jimmy said, that's a really good idea. We should do that. And then, you know, his take was what? We should do it live.
That was that was the extent of my contribution. Then Jimmy ran with it, took it to ABC, got everyone involved, got Jimmy Burroughs directing them, got Woody Harrelson. He put the whole damn thing together.
And then at the end of it, I got an Emmy. But I promise you, the only contribution was the actual idea, which Jimmy that improved on. But that was it. I didn't have to pick up a pencil. I didn't have to turn my laptop on. It was crazy and it kind of was bittersweet.
Can I go? And by the way, the shows are fantastic and they deserve and and they all deserve those Emmys. Yeah.
Jamie Fox in one you mentioned Woody Harrelson. You had the best actor. Yeah, we had every Mersa Tomei. They were political and they're just as relevant now as they were in the 70s. And we just did two. There were live television events, the lucky banana peel.
It's like somebody up there likes me. It's just you do a brain fart and eight months later you're getting an Emmy.
Yeah, but maybe it's the universities and course correcting because the university just didn't really needs to me an affirmation of his stoned musings on possibly maybe for things.
Something up for throwing out a half baked I no, no, no, no, no. It's a friend and I was a half baked idea 90 percent of the way there.
I know, but it was it's hilarious. Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy spiked the football. He didn't wasn't me. The actors. It makes me think, though, if I can draw this all into a beautiful bow, that that you know, that impulsiveness, the thing that made you chuck rocks at passing cars. Right. And brake pencils for no reason and glass just that even you couldn't fully understand is mixed in with a kind of a kind of creative brilliance.
In other words, I wonder if it's all it's all connected.
The fact that your mind is I think I think the creativity is mixed in with it. I can't explain how or why I can't. I mean, that your mind is working in ways, jumping the tracks, sometimes for ill and sometimes for good. Does that make sense?
It does. Kind of. I've been very fortunate to have a completely my career, sort of like a cardiograph read out, you know, just doesn't make much sense now. Yeah.
But also that, you know, the things you learn at school, like I'm going to make my pitch for unconventional education and I guess just seeing talent where you may not expect it, like, you know, what I was educated into is a kind of stay on the tracks, learn the material, regurgitate it, memorize really that sets you up for some things, you know, certainly certain work ethic, discipline, but it doesn't teach anything about listening to your creative impulses and allowing your mind to kind of go into weird places.
You've managed to do that beautifully in your work. I always. Do you ever listen to Melvyn Bragg? Sure. There's a and this is no slight to Melvyn Bragg, I'm sure, as a wonderful guy.
But there's a kind of his episodes on whatever it is, is so crammed with information. And it's sort of an hour long thing where you're just they're just pumping history into you in this way. That feels kind of joyless and strange. You know, he doesn't like it.
It's quite a strange format. I listen to it's radio for his sister program, to our podcast anyway, and then he kind of conducts them like an orchestra. But it's kind of like talking about Picasso. One of the greatest art is born in Spain. The government in modernism and building a style has been copied by many.
He also there's a really funny thing at the beginning where he starts every broadcast with hello because Hello America and Scott's visit and he goes in or whatever, but he always gets a hello. But it's like run together, you know, like you say hello.
And then it's a Wikipedia entry. Yeah, it's born in 1796.
How it makes me laugh so hard. It's like he doesn't let that land at all, you know, like, hello. Nabokov was one of the best writers of his time.
You know, the flip side of that, none of this is going to end in the book because because there are probably worked on in our time. Did you say or do you think we should leave it that we've been going for quite a while?
I think I think we got loads, don't you think? I think we're good, man. I mean, people are going to say, like, why didn't you ask him about.
Jen, or is love life, but we don't want to go there, right? Not really. No, that's fine. Everything's fine. That's fine. Yeah. Are you going out with Paris Hilton? No, I said that the Internet is saying that right now. Once again, they're wrong.
It only takes one person. Oh, I know. I posted a picture.
I bumped into the Chateau Marmont and I took a picture of her with my dog with Paris.
You're leading the life that I don't want. I have a happy family, but I mean, it must be madness.
I mean, I feel sorry for you in some ways. You should have having to hang out with it. A-list actors. And it's the worst.
The worst, guys. It's the worst.
But, you know, someone has to do it and. That's all I can say is thank you for your service. Thanks, man, I appreciate it. And then I'm happy to serve to bring Sarah-Jane back in.
Bummed you're in Texas and you feel so close, but so far away.
Sarah-Jane, everything on your end. I'm going to maybe turn my. I told you it'd be great.
It was all great. Read your songs in Cape Cod. That sounds good, but it was fun.
I wish we had talked more about that because it was so we could talk more about that, but we got a bit on it. Like I don't want to. Yeah. I mean, it was good times. I was going to say that I always had a crush on Justin's sister that was never in any way close to being consummated. And then she would also sometimes bring a friend who I, I can I say yeah.
And I remember you and Marcel had a fight over her, although you guys could sometimes pair up. There was some kid who was swimming in the ocean. He came up and he had an octopus on his head. And I remember being, like, telling you guys the story. And I said, yeah. And he came up and he was swimming and they came on and he had teeth. And like all that, his face was like testicles. And I and I meant I didn't know tentacles was the right word.
And you guys burst out laughing. I didn't know what you were laughing at.
And then I remember you said you got really good testicles all hanging out his face. And I said, yeah, and you go, and where they grew up in a little pairs.
And I was still not getting the joke of being like, what's going on?
You said you mean tentacles, you fucking idiot. You know, I don't even know. Testicles were probably hadn't dropped yet, but oh, man, I do remember something like that.
I didn't realize I landed a Zinga. Great. Let's put that in solids there. Those were the days.
You've been listening to ground it with me, Louis, through my guest, has been the charming and talented Justin Thoreau, a.k.a. my cousin. What does the rest of your day look like?
I have a day off, which is fabulous to just chill.
It's so weird being talking to you and then looking up and going, oh, I'm in Mexico again, but the weather's so it is not being nice and so beautiful. This has been a mind house.
Production for BBC Sound and Radio for the program was produced remotely by Molly Schneider and Sarah Jane Hall of the Sound Mixer.
Throughout the series has been Mike Sherwood. Should I hit pause on this thing?
Even hint I'm stumped, I'm guessing.
And a final message for me, coming very soon is a bonus episode of the podcast available only on BBC. Sounds in it. I'll be answering questions put to me by some of my previous guests. Make sure you hear it by downloading the BBC Sound App and subscribing to ground it with Louis through.
We had a great life. We did everything together. I did an American woman end up at the heart of the Islamic State group Caliphate and then make it back my story?
Oh, yeah, absolutely. It is very hard to believe some.
Sally says she was tricked into taking her children. Feel sad that they would do that to a child. But was she? Anything I've ever done is only with the intention of something good to happen. I'm not a bad person. I'm not a monster.
I'm not a monster. A new podcast series from BBC Panorama and Frontline, PBS.
Listen on the BBC sounds up.