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All right, let's do this, how are you? What the fuckers, what the fuck buddies, what the fuck? Next, what's happening? I'm Mark O'Mara and this is my podcast. WTF, how's it going? Are you guys all right? I'm not home. That's why it sounds like this.
I got out. I had to get out. It was scary getting out, but I got out. I definitely got out.
I had I'm recording right now in a casita behind a house outside of Town Village in New Mexico where I grew up, not in town. I grew up in New Mexico. I felt I needed to do something. Monkey was gone. He was sort of keeping me tethered to the house so I could care for him when obviously he's gone. And also, I wanted to point out that today I might still do this now.
So because I think I need to do it today, it would have been Lynn Shelton's fifty fifth birthday. Happy birthday, Lynn. You are missed dearly, desperately sad and always missed. And it's just a fucking it's ridiculous. What a goddamn rip off to everybody alive that that woman is not here. Really, so much more life could have been had with or without me. But in bringing up her birthday, I do want to say that there is something that has been set up in her honor by her father and her her husband, her ex-husband.
It's to it's a fund at the school where their son went, where Milah went. It is the it's a school for people who have hearing impairment.
You can go donate. It would be a nice thing to do if you go to Northwest school, dot com slash donate. You'll see right there at the top the Shelton SEAL Family Fund.
And it was set up in honor of Evelyn and her son Milo and the school that helped them so much. Northwest School dot com slash donate the Shelton SEAL Family Fund is something you can do that's proactive and very specific and helps very specific people in a very big way. You're very missed win. Also, a little more Lenn news if you go. We did a big tribute to Lynne and her television work for American Cinematheque last night or the night before Last Live.
It was a panel. It was me and Jon Hamm and Reese Witherspoon, Michaela Watkins, Eddie Huang, Kerry Washington. It was great.
It was great. You can go to American Cinematheque, that cinema Kukui, American Cinematheque dot com and go to their virtual programing.
So it's, you know, so virtual dash programming. And they got herczog thing tonight. It looks like her last night. But there it is when Shelton tribute, virtual Q&A, it's also on YouTube. But that'll get you to the YouTube, I believe. And it looks like they got a lot of cool stuff on there.
Free plug, a free plug for American Cinematheque. They deserve it. They got a couple of outlets that aren't operating a couple of theaters.
So that being said, oh, by the way, did I mention Billy Crudup is here on the show? Billy Crudup is on the show today. And this is the first time I've ever pronounced it screwed up instead of Crudup, which is wrong. So it's screwed up and he's here. I talked to him back in the house on the on the computer. And it was pretty great. It's it was a pretty great conversation.
So, look, I couldn't leave my house because Monk was ill and I and I kind of made a promise to myself that when Monkey passed or when I passed him, when when I helped him out in the final the final frontier, the big leap that I would try to get away because I've been I've been home, like many of you for for months on end, however long it's been since March, mid-March, the end of March, pretty much home except for a drive to Malibu with Lynn one day.
But home eating at home, cooking at home. Granted, some takeout had been happening.
People were sending me food, but everything was being done in the home, in the house where Monkey was sick, where Lynn was sick, where, you know, I don't have your my house is not haunted with grief, but I am haunted with grief.
And I don't know if it was possible.
Was it possible? Is it possible to to go out and be in the world? Here's what I did. I got it in my head. I needed to go somewhere.
I couldn't fly anywhere, really, and feel OK, because you know me, I'm getting fucking covid test every two weeks or so just because, you know, I'm being safe.
But I'm just I'm a little nuts, little paranoid. But I mean, I don't know that I'm getting less so. But I, I decided I should come home. I should go to New Mexico.
That would ground me. That would, you know, ground my heart, that would ground my mind.
I would get up into northern New Mexico. Maybe I could go to Taos specifically and just get up into the hills, into the mountains, into that air, into those into the into that sky, into the big frequency that I talked about.
I need to tap into the big frequency. So what I did was I joined Airbnb, which I had not been on. I never went to Airbnb ever.
I'd always go to hotels. I don't know. I was at Airbnb adverts for years.
But for some reason I'm just like, fuck it, I'm going to join. And I made the reservation and the woman who owns the house got back to me and said, I don't know why they let you do this. I don't usually accept reservations from from people who have not been on the platform before for newbies.
I guess I would be. You didn't put any bio info. You there's no picture. I don't know anything about you. So I'm not I'm not sure I'm comfortable with this reservation. I'm like, holy fuck, what did I do? So I wrote her a message to her back.
I said, look, I'm you know, I'm fifty fifty six years old. I don't drink, I don't smoke. I've just gone through some, you know, tragic loss in my life. I'm in the entertainment business. I'm a comic writer, podcast host, producer guy. I'm you know, I'm OK. I grew up in New Mexico. I was looking forward to coming home and maybe, you know, regrouping a bit. And so I kind of rambled on a little bit and sent that off to her.
And, you know, a couple hours later, she writes back, well, that's a little too much a.
Information, I really just needed a bio like, you know, I could put on a social networking platform or a social media platform, whatever, I'm like, oh, OK, well, or I'll do that.
But can I can I come? So she said, yeah, and I'm here and it's lovely. It's great. But I had no idea just how terrified I'd be to leave the house to get on the road.
What to bring plenty of hand sanitizers, all my different kinds of masks, hats, my, my, my plexiglass face protectors.
I just had no idea what it would be like to drive out of my five mile radius.
You know, I made a reservation at the Marriott Courtyard in Flagstaff.
And I'm like, what's what's what's it going to fucking be like there in Arizona? Is it going to be crazy or are people going to be, like, not giving a shit? Is it just going to be, you know, just are I just going to be on the highway with, you know, covid pilgrims from all over the place out, spreading the virus far and wide? What's happening?
It was I was terrified to leave and I knew other people were doing it. I knew that I had friends that were driving cross country. And I was like, how are they doing it? Then I realized, like, dude, just do what you do here when you go to the supermarket, just do what you do here. You know, I told you, I think secretly between us, they have these two, you know, legit and 95 masks that I covet.
They were given to me by my friend Kit and and I covered them. I only use them when I go into supermarkets and stuff. They're not the casual, you know, hiking, hiking up the hill, walking outside, checking into a hotel. But if I'm going to spend some time in a place, I'll go full PPE and I'll put on a and 95 and a face screen. So I'm driving. I'm fueled up. I'm scared to stop at fucking gas stations.
It's crazy. And then, like, I don't know what it was, but just being in the hotel room, I spent a lot of my life in hotel rooms and it's just felt so alien.
Five months I hadn't been in a hotel room, hadn't eaten anywhere but my house. I drove I ordered takeout at this I think it was called Red Curry Thai or red pepper Thai or whatever. It was on the list of the seven restaurants you can eat out in Flagstaff, but they're just doing takeout. Everyone's in a mask. Ordered this vegan. It's all vegan, vegan curries and some fried tofu. And I brought it all back to the room.
And I don't know whether it was fear or just the excitement.
I don't know what what was going on, but it was like the best food I've ever eaten in my entire fucking life. It was like the food of freedom or something. I don't know, maybe it was the best Thai food ever.
I don't I've probably not. But there was just something about not eating at home, being out. It was everything was all electrified and it was great.
There's great food and I didn't know if that could continue. But the next morning I got up, got out, messed up, hit the road again, made it to Albuquerque. Now here's where it gets sad, because I'm going to my hometown of standardless poblanos for the night. They give me a beautiful suite, but there's fires in northern New Mexico. So there's this there's this orange apocalyptic haze all over fucking New Mexico, too, just like California.
And I'm like, holy shit, you really can't get away. It really is over. What the fuck is happening? What is happening? That is happening. The plague is going. The fires are going. And I can't even get away from it in my hometown. I'm down the street from my house. I can't get away from.
It was so sad. I head up to see my dad didn't want to did it. Anyway, I spent 45 minutes in and out, touched base, sat, told him I loved him, talk to his wife, talk to him. They probably gave me covid left. That was it. That was enough. And then the next day I drove to Santa Fe right when I got in, went to to Sophia's, got some enchiladas, green chili, chicken enchiladas with green chili for me.
And my buddy Devin took him up to his house and I took a couple of bites. And, you know, I hadn't seen Devin in a long time. And he's a dear friend. And we go way back and I love the guy, but I don't know, you know, he's just was sort of a yea, right. And I just taken a bite of my green chili enchilada and I just I the tears just consume me, not because of the food, just because of everything.
And I hadn't cried like that, you know, since the first week with my brother after when passed away. And I kind of stifled it, but it happened for a minute. But it was like it was so dramatic and so guttural and so out of nowhere that I almost lost a bite of my green chili enchilada, which I did not want to do.
But it was it was heavy, man, you know, but he you know, he was a good guy to to be there for that. But we you know, we talked and we hung out a bit and I ate.
And then I came up here and I checked into this place. And it's so sweet. It's this beautiful little place up in the in the foothills of Taos, not not on the ski area side, but on the other side. You know, it was great. I'm just trying to clear my head.
And I think, Lynn, you know, I don't believe this stuff, but why not? I was taking all kinds of pictures.
I was so excited to be up and out and alone on the. Usually I'm terrified of being eaten by animals or falling into a ditch and having to, you know, cut my my own arm off with with the with a shoe, you know, I just but I just I don't have any fear these last couple of days.
And I just went up and I just did it and I thought about her. I thought about me. I thought about the future. I thought about, you know, what I need to do for myself, what I need to do for other people. I need to do for my country what's going on. But just the sadness, the sadness, the grief was was there. But it was like part of the frequency. It's part of the big continuity.
It's part of the the the momentum of humanity. The grief. It's weird, though, what I do to not feel feelings, you know, whether it's listen to music or just sit around and think about all the horrible shit I've done in my life, that seems to be my my body, my brain's way of dealing with having immediate feelings in my brain. It's like you can have those and be sad or you can just, you know, maybe beat the shit out of yourself for things you did before.
How would that be for a while? That could go on, you know. You know, ad infinitum, pal. Yeah. Yeah, you yeah.
You've changed. You're you're you're who you are. But like, let's go over the books. My can I just feel the grief. All right. All right. But you know, let me know when you want to crack these bad boys.
Like, look man, I've made my Mendy's. Come on, come on.
Let me up for air.
But I did the breathing and I saw the views and I took the pictures and it's been just great. It really has. I'm reading a book on meditation. When I read the first few pages, I brought a guitar.
I haven't played it yet, but, you know, no pressure. I'm all right.
I stopped in the Arroyo Seco is that I think it's a little town just shy of the ski area. I bought some pots, but some ceramics for my house, even though I might have to be moving in a hurry, who knows, right?
Fucked up, though, I was in one of the pottery stores and the guy said, you know, there's a whole family of Nazis just came in here in full uniform and like, what? What are you talking about? He's like, well, they were wearing some kind of uniform.
I think it was a white supremacist uniform.
And I'm like, are you serious? They just came in like, you know, like nothing was happening. Yeah. And I was like, thinking, get the fuck out of my store.
White supremacists and like a family, he's like, yeah, that's fucking nuts. He's like, this might still be out there. Look around. I'm looking it.
There's nobody in this town. There's 12 people, some tourists eating tacos across the street, people wandering around with masks. Will tourist towns like five, ten stores in a taco place and it's up in the mountains. I'm like, what the fuck am white supremacist doing? Full uniform to family.
They weren't still there. And for some reason, I had to ask them, like, well, when they were in here, did they wear their masks? It's like, yeah, they they all were their masks and they were they were actually were very nice. I'm like, well, that's how it's going to happen. That's what it's going to be like. You're just going to know you're not going to say anything. You're going to be scared and they're going to be very nice and follow the rules.
And, you know, we have to follow their rules.
Jesus Christ. And by the way, the air is actually a little clearer here and it rains up here in Dallas every day, kind of cleans the the palate of the of the big frequency. I'm OK. Are you guys OK? So Billy Crudup, not Crudup, of course, you know him from almost famous, it's our big reunion, Ivan. Ivan, I spent any time with Russell since since since my equipment fucking shocked him back in the day.
So he's you know you know him from that movie, Almost Famous Watchmen, his many shows on Broadway, the morning show, which he's nominated for an outstanding supporting actor Emmy this year. That's happening. That's why he's on the show. Also, I might I might want to tell you that he he's a little punchy. He'd been up all night. And he's I think he seemed pretty caffeinated. And and we got to talk and then we got to some serious talking.
So, again, he's nominated for playing Corey Ellison on the morning show in the category of outstanding supporting actor in a drama series. You can watch all of Season one of the Morning Show and Apple TV plus. And this is me and Billy Crudup coming up.
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Wow, nice to see you, man, in a while, that's a while. Yeah, it has been a while that that is true. When did when did we make that movie, Billy?
It's hard to remember right now. Some of these some people seem to suggest this 20 years. Oh, that's right.
There was a big anniversary that I wasn't invited to 20 years. You were you were invited. You just weren't available. And you've got this thing going.
And keep as you point out, that is not that is not true. I could have come and recaptured my amazing two minutes on screen.
I have this memory.
I don't know if it's invented or not, but of watching you and Noah do that fight from inside the bus and being more entertaining parts of that experience.
He made us do it like 10 times. I know. And I remember Noah's voice getting shot, too. And it was run for like a week and a half. Oh, my God, he made it.
There were several versions of it where no comes out every time. I think he was on the bus telling Noah to do shit, to fuck me up.
So, like, one time he came out and broke a guitar. Another time he showed his ass.
I really showed his ass part. I had forgotten about that. Oh, that was crazy. Yeah. Yeah, that was that was fun.
That was a long time ago. And everybody was so deep in it. I remember that. I mean, I come on for one day and you guys are acting like a real band. Yeah.
It it was a totally immersive experience. Tell you that from the second we all said, yes, Cameron had us in band camp and was the the mind meld was like instituted immediately where we had to. He wanted to make sure that all of us non well for me in particular, because I was not a band guy, the other three were that we were all part of the same thing and I didn't fuck it up.
They all all the other guys had been in bands. Yeah. Jason too. Yeah.
Mark my no my cousin or Red House painters and yeah, our drummer John was the session drummer for him occasionally.
And then Jason Riley, you know, I don't know if you ever had a formal band but he played the guitar and could sing.
Yeah he was though he was actually the weirdest to me, Jason. Of all of them.
Yeah. And the character or the person I couldn't tell.
You know, I you know, I had projected a lot into it. You know, I, I felt distinctly like he was shutting me out and I thought, well, maybe I'm one of those negative people that Scientologists are afraid of. So I thought that might be it.
And I personally, I like it very much. We got along perfectly well. And the that antagonistic relationship that developed was really enjoyable to play.
But it wasn't real. No. Oh, no, not at all. I, I can't do anything for real. It's all it's all fake man. And it's it's like I really I don't know how to play guitar. I mean this. Yeah. As you can see this is real. You can do this. Yeah.
The, the whole acting part of it. You know, some people they get you use the word immersive. Yeah. For me that's all about the content of the story. You get immersed in the storytelling of it, not actually personally immersed in the experience of it. Sometimes there are residual effects as you trick your body long enough, it fires the chemicals it's supposed to fire and then you feel emotionally hung over the next day. It's a real effect of like going through some of the traumatic parts of playing a character, some of the connections, you know.
Well, that's interesting.
So you don't really now like to go back to Jason. Like, I think that his reaction to me was appropriate for the character. I thought everybody handled me for my little part there, which is you're killing us.
Get the fuck out of our way.
Well, that and just you know, I was a promoter and yeah, the band is not going to be the power of the promoter. But, you know, but me, Marc Maron was just this insecure idiot who was there for a day's work and wandering around saying hi to people. And, you know, the saddest part for me was that, you know, I had a shoot like, you know, I felt like part of the crew there for a while.
Part of the team. Yeah. Cameron even ate with me and my wife at the time.
And then, like, when I had to chase the van, the bus in the cart, everybody left. It was just me and a secondary crew, but just me riding up and down that ramp by myself in the middle of the fucking night. And I'm like, this is show business. What happened to everybody?
Know we were there in spirit and we were there and. Yeah, I know how it works now. That's right. I get him off camera.
Give me the fuck out of here. I'm back to my course. Why would anyone stay? I just had to suck up that bus.
Actually, that over that is a pet peeve of mine. And sometimes producers say there's a bait and switch where they'll tell you you're not needed and then the next day you should. And the actors like, so you don't do off camera and what are you fucking talking about?
But this this would have been a scenario where I would have said we're on the bus. Yeah. Windows are closed. Yeah. I mean, if Mark needs me on the bus, I'll say, sure.
You know, that's how I connect, man. I need to know that all that emotion is still in the bus and away. Yeah. You got to be able to sense my seething emotions inside the bus. But that but that's interesting that.
Well, I mean, I know that's a thing I'll do.
I will always do off camera, too. I mean, I guess sometimes, you know, not not that I do a lot of acting, but I do more now. But I you know, it seems like the right thing to do unless, you know, it's really nothing. All right.
It almost always seems like the right thing to do and not the least of which because I feel like the whole bait and switch of doing a movie or a play or TV show or whatever is, you know, convincing the audience that everything is happening for the first time when it's highly choreographed and you've collaborated on the narrative together and you're just simply executing it as crass people and like to to that way of thinking, I want to be in on it. So I want to influence your performance.
I want you to influence my performance.
So if you say you don't need me for off camera, I'm like out of the book. I don't I don't know what I'm doing there.
Right. Right. Well, I mean, who I think I was talking to Rob Reiner. James Brooks. I don't know who about Jack Nicholson on the set of A Few Good Men, you know, in the scene where he's in the witness box. Right. And he goes off right now, even when he was off camera, he did it all the way. Right. All the way. Yeah.
And and I think it was Reiner because I think Reiner directed it. So why do you why do you do it?
Why do you keep doing it all the way?
Because because I because I loved man, I couldn't agree more. It's it's such a privilege. And when it and when you're firing, when you're like I mean, that scene obviously became iconic for him to sell it. It must have been incredibly fun to to play. But when you're firing with people, there's no greater joy. Most of most actors slog to get any work at all, you know, much less something they enjoy, much less something that they feel is important to be a part of.
You know, like all of those things, Art, there's so many layers to this profession that, you know, I'm sure the people that you speak to are all occupying a certain echelon that like those those worries are long gone.
But for me, you know, I went to acting school was, you know, 18, 20 people who were really good young actors. And so many of them now don't work at all. And so many of the ones that do work, working things that are unsatisfying, there are a handful that get good opportunities or are given the opportunity to exploit them and move on and have great you.
But the abundance of good fortune that I've had is absolutely apparent to me at every stage.
And you have gratitude, endless stories of gratitude.
Yeah, I don't know. I don't I don't I don't know how people do it. I don't know how you guys do it because I don't know how you go on doing it without getting a break or without getting opportunities because you're showing up, you're auditioning to do somebody else's bidding and you're hoping that that bidding is good, at least well written to some degree. And if it isn't, you've got to suck that up and make the best of it.
And sometimes it's you're the one thing I noticed about acting when I started to do it more for the TV show. I'm like with TV acting, you know, you do a thing and it's like two seconds. You get you know, you're on camera. It's like, hey, wait. All right, cut. Let's turn the cameras around. And it's like, what the fuck does. That's a day. Yeah. And there was actually a moment where I was like, this is fucking ridiculous.
I'm just sitting around watching The Sopranos on my phone for four hours.
But but I've grown to be a little more grateful. But but I guess what I'm leading towards is that it sounds to me that you're that you're you're your process is not all immersive to the point where you're going to convince yourself that you've become a character.
And I imagine that doing theater kind of knocks the the kind of pragmatic working element, the sort of like I'm a working actor guy.
Like, I think theater really is what must define what feels good about acting.
Well, I, I have had that experience. It's true. And it it was, it was the philosophy was instilled in me before that. And the reason for that gratitude is in no small part because of the abundance of opportunities I had early in my career. I actually felt bad about it. I felt bad about telling some of my peers about like the great jobs that I was getting. And like, you know, I was six months out of school and I was playing one of the leads in a Tom Stoppard play on Broadway directed by Trevor Nunn at Lincoln.
And like I was originating the American part of it, nobody gets to fucking do that. I wanted to hide my head in the sand. It was I mean, not to mention the fact that I was shitting myself and everybody's company trying to accomplish that. But the we were taught about and the reason I went to graduate school originally, I thought I might teach because I didn't know anybody who was a professional actor.
The great thing about actors is that, like you can tell all your friends about this amazing opportunity, and because they're actors, you know, they're not going to be bitter or resentful of you, which is which is one of the great things about that community.
Yeah, well, I have to say, I do have some anomalous experiences because me and my friends are incredibly supportive of each other. And I think this goes back to your point theater. But I also think it has to do with New York. So many of the actors that I came up with, Sam Rockwell, Josh Hamilton, Ethan Hawke and then Joel La Fuente, John Connelly, Carl Kasell, all these guys from school, we all are still in touch and supportive of each other.
We actually went through that version, each of us, at different times with one another, where we would just talk about how shitty it was that some people had these opportunities and how thrilled they were that other of us, others of us were having other opportunities. And they like really would. It's it is different in Los Angeles, right?
Well, I think it also sounds like that's a handful of guys.
And it seems like the the bitter, nasty ones probably you just weren't friends with because you just got to be a few good. Only put up with them for so long and we. Sure. Over the years possibly. Well, it's just like it just filtered out that way, you know.
Well, it is a pretty broad grouping, though, when I think of it now. Like how many? There's got to be a good 20 people that I'm still in touch with. I'm really supportive of.
Oh, that's great. No, no. I mean, I you know, maybe I'm just thinking of comics or maybe I'm just thinking about me. I think you could be thinking of comics because. Yeah, but no, of course you're thinking about actors. And every time somebody gets a part that I really wanted turning down the volume on the envy, you know, it is really difficult.
And what was the what was the one time that you can remember where that was really like?
Was it something? What do you mean like today? I mean, this shit happens all the time. Like to your point before about the never ending series of potential, like crevasses you're going to fall into. It starts with can you get the audition next? If you get the audition, are you going to nail it in the audition? Are you then going to nail the callback? Are you going to do OK in the meeting with the director? All of those, like are replete with things.
But you are like you're. Oh, no, I still audition. I still audition.
OK, OK. But I mean, you do walk in. They're not like, who's this guy? But some of them are like, you're still acting.
That's great. And I'm like, well you don't care for the theater, go fuck yourself. But but then after you get the part, then there's the question of executing the part. Right. Because I've been fired from a job, too. Once you execute the part, then it's a question of whether or not you're in the film. Then if you're in the film, it's a question of whether or not the critics like it and if the critics like it, it's a question of whether anybody goes and sees it.
I mean, every one of those things can play with your sense of self-consciousness.
Yeah, right. But a lot of them are out of your control and they aren't getting to that point where you recognize that is really hard because you want to have unless you're somebody who can write. I can't. I'm a completely interpretive artist. I need somebody to give me material. They need to tell me what the story is going to be. They need to give me some perspective on how I can help them tell the story before I'll have any kind of creative agency or insight like.
So for people like me who are waiting for people that they respect to come to them, it can sometimes be a long, frustrating. Wait, so you're saying that it's out of your control is one thing, but being able to internalize it in a way that you're not immobile.
Yeah, immobilized. Heartbroken. Yeah, that's it. That's where the community of Confederate's comes in handy. Sure is. We all lean on each other at different times.
Well, yeah. And after a certain point that group of actors, you've all been cut out of things. You've all done great things that were never seen. You know, you've all made mistakes and things that you took.
Yeah. And are out there.
So so with age comes a certain amount of of humility that that must aid in the ability to go like pluck it.
That didn't work out. No question about it. In fact, I think as we get older and discover that we know, we know and have known less and less, the sense of humor seems to be rising to. At the top, you know, it has to, it has to or you just fucking implode. Yeah, let's let's get back to that. The process of why? Because I don't talk to I try to you try to talk to actors about, you know, how they do it, how they you know, what their craft is, or I used to do it a lot when I was starting to act more so I could get free acting lessons.
But, you know, what it comes down to is like what is the you know, the most effective way that these individuals on top of their natural talent to do it, are able to pretend to be somebody else. So, you know, how do you engage that? But it seems like you're kind of practical about it. Well, there's two different things you were talking about.
I was thinking about before, too. Yeah. Like I am for the collective enterprise to create a cathartic event for people. Right. That's what ultimately you're doing. You're having somebody pay thirteen dollars the same way when you're doing a comedy show, I'm going to charge you 20 bucks. And I hope this ten minutes gives you a giggle or I'm going to charge you forty. And I hope you like your ass off like that.
Yeah, it's the same thing for our I'm going to charge you 75 and thank you for subscribing this season. We hope you enjoy the play.
You're hearing aids. There's now to we've kept the theater alive for you, so enjoy your night. I've I've been in plenty of those productions and by the way, giving people good nap. Yeah. And I feel proud of that because sometimes nice long nap.
Yeah. Sometimes we need nap. All right.
So so that cathartic enterprise, that's not that, that's a comprehensible journey to me. You know, like I like being in a group of people doing it.
There's the other version of it, which is some people are really, really good. And the event is watching the peacock. The event is watching somebody display these skills in a radical way that, like, takes you out of yourself. And, you know, that's that happens in athletics. I'm sure there are people in comedy as well who just have an explosive kind of gift that.
So you're saying that sometimes. But that doesn't preclude the ensemble element that you're just the ensemble is in support of the peacock and you've got to live with that fucking weirdness.
Yeah, exactly. And that's all the time.
I mean, and and people sometimes who have been a part of the ensemble before become the peacock for a moment. You've got to navigate that moment. I mean, all of us have been through it. But for the audience, I was thinking, you know, like sometimes I'll just pay to go see a Meryl Streep movie. Whatever she's doing, I don't know what the movie is, but, of course, that that's somebody who can fucking work.
So you want to see the work. And but usually it's about the story whether or not the story works, whether or not that's what I want to do to curate my evening. And that is the working and part of it that I was taught in school, which is you take your time going over the text, collaborating with the director, the other actor. You become very fastidious about how you understand your role in creating this event. And then you try to do that.
You try to technically implement that in a way that makes it seem like it's happening right.
When you go when you watch Meryl Streep, though, can you see the work? I can't work.
No, it's I mean, it's upsetting. You know, as somebody who has spent a lot of time and money trying to figure figure it out, it is it's disappointing and humiliating, but it is it's thrilling to see somebody, you know, in the same way you see Jordan or anybody who has a rare kind of gift. Yeah, I don't know how he makes his body move like that, you know, and processing information.
Some people just it just it's natural talent.
She's both, too, because she went to school as well and is highly trained in theatre and and she can sing. It just doesn't end with her. But she can also collaborate with people and in the way that I'm familiar with. But she does it on a different level. Have you worked with her?
No. Why not? Nobody's asked once again, have you been have you been in movies together where you just didn't have scenes together? No, I don't think so.
No, no, I'm not going to take that personally. The I just showed my son defending your life. You remember that Albert Brooks movie? Sure, sure. I'm a sucker for Albert Brooks. And certainly he was like in my family. He was he was somebody that we all kind of enjoyed collectively. So I was thrilled how much he enjoyed Albert Brooks as well.
But watching Meryl Streep's own capability and even a comedy that, you know, it's kind of a heightened fun comedy is.
Yeah, it's it's it's it's very hard to do. It's very hard.
It was like it was amazing. My recollection of seeing her in that movie was like she must be doing him a favor. They must be friends.
I the fuck. She had this knife edge.
I mean, I bet that she loved doing it. I mean, you know, for the first time she didn't have to be tormented by, like, the death of a child. Right. How old's your kid?
Sixteen. Sixteen. Wow. That's kind of my my buddy's got a 16, 15 year old son. Can be rough.
Yeah. I don't know how it was for you, but when I was 15, I grew up in New Mexico so we could drive by then.
But when did you start driving? 14 and nine months.
You got your learner's permit?
Right. I started driving early, too. I mean, I didn't get my learner's permit, though, 15, but. Yeah. Where'd you grow up? Well, this was in Dallas, right?
In New Mexico, I guess it's the same. They're like it's plenty of room. We have the kids drive.
There was there was a hardship license. And I think it was mostly for family families and rural communities who if somebody was working, they needed to drive the kids to school or something. And my parents were divorced at that point and my mom was working. And so my brother turned fifteen and got his hardship license and was driving us around. And so I was a year and a half younger than him. And and one day he decided to teach me and it was a stick shift.
Volvo station wagon. Nice. And I just remember viscerally learning how to deal with the clutch on the street.
That was the only thing like when I was a kid, it was like you want to like any idiot could drive an automatic. So like when I got the opportunity to learn, I learned on a standard.
And I'm very happy I've been driven one in fucking years. I know.
Yeah, yeah. There was a pickup truck that my dad had one summer with the three on the tree.
Yeah. Now that was harder. That's a fucker to drive. I mean. Yeah. You feel like you've done something if you've made it through a day on that one right there. Scary.
And they kind of literature and a really loose clutch, you know, like you don't know when the gear is kicking in really. You know, it could be like three feet, right.
Yeah. Oh yeah. Yeah, yeah. So what, your dad was a pickup truck guy? No, no. He was he was a businessman. He was he tried to do a lot of different things and but most consistently he was a bookie and loan shark.
And I think this this this pickup was probably payment at a certain point. But then my brother and I were given used to drive. He obviously wasn't a high level bookie based on the pickup truck.
He always tried to, like, find his way back into a normal way of doing business by buying products that were in the marketplace that had failed in the marketplace. He'd buy the copyright and then he would try to remarket them like there was these umbrella hats. I don't know if you remember in like the late 70s, early 80s, I can picture him. Yeah. And so there was they came out with the rainbows on them or whatever, and they didn't really work because why?
Why would anybody do that? But my dad thought, I know what I'll do. I know Lou Brock, who it was a baseball player for sure, St. Louis I believe. And he was like, I'm going to get Lou Brock to endorse this and we're going to sell the Broca Braila. And sure enough, we had, you know, I don't know, twelve of these things in the basement.
So he was always trying to he was an entrepreneur, but and he you know, he wanted his pet rock. That's what he that's what he thought. No, of course. Right. Right.
If I mean get the mom is the one who is working, keeping everything together, working at an advertising agency, taking care of three kids in their teens, boys, three boys. So she's the hero in the story.
So when when when he was a book. He was his own man, was he working for someone else?
Yeah, I suspect there was someone else involved there, Mark, to your question, and because it doesn't sound like your dad's got the muscle yet, he did work with a a man named Mr. O, who was a six foot four former boxer.
Oh, OK. So that was this guy he had in a bullet.
Yes. And I mean, he carried a firearm, you know, and all of it was very charming.
Like, he's a he was a really charming guy. He made it seem perfectly normal. And there was like, you know, a riot shotgun next to his bed. One day he was like, oh, no, that's fine. Just don't touch it. You kind of think, is it fine?
And it's made me nervous because I don't know why. But that thing, you know, it's it loaded. You got you have you step forward to.
All right. OK. Did you ever go out shooting. Not with him, no. I don't think I ever did. I was in I was in the Boy Scouts and I went to a camp, a YMCA camp, one summer camp somewhere where, you know, you do riflery and stuff. But that's a huge extent to my shooting. Exactly. Twenty three years ago, we did a lot in New Mexico.
Well, I went to a camp as well where we learned how to load shotgun shells and, you know, shoot skeet. And we did some 22 stuff. And then my dad had some guns around my friend. There was a lot of guns around and I ended up shooting guns here and there. I never owned one recently. I've been thinking maybe I should get one. But then there's always the possibility that you might have a bad day.
Yeah. So it seemed like a good idea to me either. Have you decided on a on a bat?
I mean, that I don't feel confident enough in my ability to protect myself with a gun. Yeah. You know, when I look at things statistically back to my rationalization agenda here, it doesn't seem statistically in your best interest to have one around for your own safety.
Oh, no, that's for fucking sure.
I read this article about not that I'm depressive, but, you know, you have your moments, right. But you're in England.
The the suicide rate went down dramatically when they changed the type of natural gas that was available in the ovens to a less toxic type of gas that like that, that the number of people that just didn't follow through because it didn't work out.
I mean, I was picturing some awful macabre comic moments where some person in a desperation, what the fuck is wrong with this gas?
Exactly. But then then they lived through that and the next day they feel OK. That's the point, is that if you don't have the gun in that moment, you're probably going to get a night's sleep and be all right.
It's a smart it's a smart move to put as many impediments in the way of those kind of self-destruction. Yeah.
So how old are you when the folks split up, though? We were living in Long Island and they were divorced when I was six, so that was like nineteen seventy four.
And then they tried to make it work again and that's when we moved to Dallas because my dad had the business opportunities. But as you can hear from my previous stories, those business opportunities didn't lead to more security and predictability. So my mom did the smart thing and let him move out on his own and with his umbrella hats.
Yeah, with his umbrella hats, precisely. Which did not fit in his new singles apartment.
I can assure you, he had he was the kind of guy who had storage spaces everywhere, like, you know, hey, I need to run out to Plano for an afternoon.
Oh, what's going on? I got to check out the storage space. I believe I've uncovered a few gems that and, of course, you know, did just pick out shit and go to the flea market to try to sell it there.
So he was like he just was just like a and like not even a good hustler, really. Yeah, exactly.
He was a marginal hustler.
And any time there's a flea market involved. Yeah.
That's hit or miss and it's not if that's where you're aiming, if you're aiming there. Right. You're going to come in at ten, you're going to come out happy because, you know, it's not like you're going to make a killing one way or the other. And if you don't sell it right, it's not like you a whole lot at stake.
But I do have a big affection for her, for flea markets and and people on the fringes, I think for that reason.
Yeah. I mean, you know, if it's part of your childhood, I mean, how are you not going to.
Yeah, like, you know, there's moments where I used to love to go to the flea market, but my dad there's like there's part of my childhood where, you know, what did he do know?
My dad, he didn't sell at the flea market. But but I used to go to the flea market all the time because I was fascinated with it. All I remember is there was a doctor in town who my father knew who was Jewish, were Jewish. This guy was Jewish and he used to sell Nazi paraphernalia at the flea market. And I could never quite connect it, but I was sort of found it kind of fascinating.
Well, I mean, immediately I jumped to the notion that, like, if he can make a few bucks off these fuckers, that's a little that's a thought.
Back in the old days, it was the old days and it was a real stuff.
It was the real like it was it wasn't kind of new. It's not like today where they're making this stuff new for the new generation.
Well, and he may not it he may have he may not have thought it through thoroughly who he was selling to like that might want to collect this kind of stuff. That's true.
That's true. But my dad used to like there was a period there where he he was into showing to dog shows. So there's part of my life that there was there's dog shows involved. So I have sort of a soft spot for it, but I don't go to them, you know.
Well, best in show is enough for me, too. But there you go. Yeah.
Yeah, that's exactly what it's like. So you moving around so you like where did you end up like going to high school? Dallas.
Well, I went to a lot of different schools in Dallas at the time there was bussing and so I was at a elementary school in one area and then I went to a middle school.
We were bused to a middle school for seventh and eighth grade. And then I went to high school for one year at Hillcrest High School. And then we moved down to South Florida. Oh, my God, my mom got remarried and we went I was that guy.
And we went to and we went to St. Thomas Aquinas High School and it was a Catholic school.
But I had an excellent time there. I really did.
I thought there most notable for their athletics program. And like Michael Irvin went there.
He was there when I was there. And Brian Piccolo, remember Brian Zorn and Chris Evert.
And there they all went there. They all went there.
And I was I was not I mean, as you might be able to tell by my size, a stellar athlete, but I think you could do soccer.
Oh, yeah. I wasn't fast enough. I in fact, I love playing soccer when I was younger. But when I my first freshman year at Hillcrest, they tried out for the team and I just started to grow.
I was always the shortest kid in class at me and Richard Winfield. We would compete for shortest kid just about every year.
But how's was that guy? Wonder what he's up to. He's great, actually. He's a lawyer in Dallas.
And that's really. Well, that's good. Yeah, I think it better he had the key. I think he won.
But he's a lawyer in Dallas.
I think he's bigger now, just like me, average size. But I had just started to grow and became wildly uncoordinated and was so slow that they called me Flash. And that's when I thought, OK, I'm done with this shit. Right? And I wrestled. But the one year I was not great at wrestling, I was kind of, you know, I was there for the exercise and I did like the sport. But the one year I didn't wrestle, we won.
State gives you some idea of my ability and the ability that you didn't drag him down.
I did. Yeah. And I wasn't aware of that. Are your folks still around? My dad's not.
I know he passed away in twenty five. Sixty three. But my mom is around and like she, she's, she's really the genesis of how I got into acting. She loved taking us to the theater and going to Broadway and stuff growing up. So really.
But how long to wait. Just wait. So you're in Florida first. We were on Long Island. My dad was selling yarn, yarn, yarn because he was from a small town in North Carolina that had a yarn mill.
And so he was selling that yarn here in the city. So he worked out like this.
He worked out an angle with the yarn mill where this was before the angling. So what happened was when they came up to New York, I mean, this I'm kind of putting this together. I don't know if this is true or not, but it comes up to New York to sell ya in a legitimate business, you know, like the the established vice president of marketing there. He got got a job there selling the yard here in the city.
He was working in a district. And then he he was in the garment district. They got introduced to some people that that he found more colorful than the fabric he was selling.
And I think he he was intoxicated by that life.
You know, my mom, meanwhile, was like, why? We had a mob funeral isn't seeing yeah, there's a lot and there's a lot going on there, but she loved the arts, loved the theater. And so even after we moved that to Dallas in Miami, Florida, she would still bring us back to New York as see plays. And, you know, I saw some phenomenal productions. And she was also like one of my primary support engines when I was younger about performing.
Did you when did you first start doing the performing?
I would say I don't know if you remember my first grade interpretation of Uncle Sam during the Fourth of July festivities.
I've read about it. I read some of the many critical pieces on that.
The smallest next big thing, I think it was called the.
Yeah, that's that's that's when the what I discovered was my way of fitting in. Going to these different schools was being the class clown. So I didn't have any problem humiliating myself in front of people, which is one of the crucial things about being an actor is there's not dignity in the act of doing it.
It's mostly class. Does that a class at NYU is no dignity. And I think, you know, getting over embarrassment and thinking, well, it's funny you say that because that is what people end up doing.
You know, there's not a specific class about it, but nearly everybody at some point or another makes themselves as vulnerable as possible. Often it's in the form of like being completely nude. Everybody has to get completely nude.
At some point in acting school, the better their truth, you know, it's exhausting or just or the person that cries too much all the time, like no matter what to me now.
But it wasn't me then. You were the nude guy.
I wasn't yet the new guy. Actually, I wasn't nude until my first paying job in the city. Oh, yeah.
That's how usually works. I was nude for two hundred twelve dollars a week and welcome kids.
Welcome. Well, take it out.
I was super excited about it until maybe two weeks into it when I'm standing backstage in a pretty cold theater thinking what the fuck am I doing right now, which gig was this.
It was, it was, it was a kind of esoteric thank piece on Japanese internment camps and played the Tokuko that was worth it.
Right. That was worth it.
And absolutely was. And I'll tell you why. This is a great frickin transition. I mean, see this one coming? But it was at the Vineyard Theater and the Vineyard Theater on Union Square, fantastic theater. They hired me a couple of years ago to do a solo performance of this guy, David Cale's play. It was a one man show. And I saw I played a bunch of different characters. It was an hour, fifteen minutes long, but generous.
And one of our producing partners came and saw that. And after they saw that, she was like, I want you to be a part of the morning show. We just have to figure out of what capacity. So me doing that two hundred and twelve dollars job a week has brought me to one of my favorite roles that I've had in the same theater, the same theater.
I did it in the same theater. Yeah, it was pretty it was pretty cool.
But going back to your your mom like, so you started, you were always doing stuff on stage throughout junior high.
Yeah. There wasn't an acting program at at St. Thomas, as you know, they put most of their money into the athletic department. Yeah. But when I was I went to UNC Chapel Hill and.
Yeah. And when I was town. Yeah.
I love Chapel Hill man. That's a great time. You worked there before. Yeah. Yeah. It's, it's really great.
But I started out, it's like a business major because I don't know, you know, I suppose that's what you were supposed to do at school and then with such an impressive father as a role model of what's possible, you know, it was kind of and I haven't thought about this in a while, but his mom passed away the day that I graduated from high school.
And he had always vowed to her that because he didn't finish Chapel Hill, he had like nine hours left or something, you know, like he had to take three or four classes, told her he was going to finish. She passed away when I graduated and he went back to summer school in Dallas so he could graduate and get his degree just before I started there. So, like, you know, and he was very proud that he was a straight-A student.
He had a backpack that he gave me that I then used when I was in school there.
Yeah. Yeah. There were there's there was some charm, too, but but maybe that's why I got into businesses. I mean, that was my first major. I thought some of us needs to know I do it. Yeah.
He got it done. He did. He graduated.
Yeah. So you thought like I I'm just getting like, you know, he didn't quite master it, but I'm going to be exact.
Let's give it this generation a second go. But my first semester was clear that I was not going to succeed well as a business major. So I just started taking as many different kinds of classes as I could. And I. This one class called Oral Interpretation of prose and poetry that was taught by Paul Ferguson, and he became like an immediate mentor to me, and I knew that these were my people. Like they I didn't know what this what it was that we were doing with this art form.
Nobody was going to really pay to see this. We did a production of James Joyce's short story, Clay, I think it was called that. It's not it's not a play. So you have to spend half your time figuring out how to make it a play. And then you use then the narration as a part of your life. First person speaking. It's weird stuff. Yeah, but what allows you to do is think creatively about what kind of thing you're engaging in.
It's not just about like, oh, let me I've been dying to play Annie, by the way.
I have been dying to play any and I'm not going to settle for Daddy Warbucks.
But, you know, I made a choice and so I could be, you know, a good student there while taking these performance classes. And I became a communications major because I thought, well, who's going to go into acting? And I can use that communication major as my way into the workplace.
And I pretty soon I had taken all the performance classes in there. And then I started going to the drama department, taking classes there. And then the drama teachers there, Suzanne, of Rhinehart Graveness. They convinced me that I could take some of the major classes there. So by the time I had finished, I'd taken every performance class at chapel they offered.
And you were doing productions as well? I was doing productions, too, yeah.
I think that I. Let's see. I did. You're a good man, Charlie Brown. And I did burn this. I did this for the rise of our Tirawi, which I would later do. And I played Arturo in that production. I'll have you know, but I would later do it with Al Pacino playing Arturo the off Broadway.
So that was a nice full circle moment. You did theater with Al Pacino.
I did that cast. Can I tell you, Steve Buscemi, Charles Durning, John Goodman, Randall Paul Giamatti, Linda Crazing. Yeah, and I'm forgetting people. Sterling Brown, Johnny the Chameleon. It's an unbelievable cast. Wow. We had an absolute ball doing it.
I'm forgetting like three hundred people that were in it. And it was directed by this guy, Simon McBurney, who ran this theatre company in London that did some of the most incredible productions I've ever seen. They call it the actor, the complicity or complicity now or whatever. But so to get to work with him and to see somebody with that kind of mastery of the craft was pretty. It was killer.
Yeah, because I think Pacino can still do it when he wants to.
Oh, he he works his ass off. I'll tell you that straight up. I mean, he works his ass off and he is invested in it and I can't say that for, for everybody.
But it was when I watched him play like that when he did Kevorkian in that HBO movie. Oh yeah. Holy fuck. I mean, because, like, there was a while there where he was just sort of hey, yeah. Yeah.
But like, when we got him at a certain point, nobody is giving him direction, you know, they're saying that's how you like to do it.
Sure. Right. Because they're they're nervous.
Why that. Well, yeah, of course.
I mean, listen, if you do Dog Day Afternoon and Godfather Part two in the same year, which I think he did those two different roles that are so brilliantly executed, you know, fucking that's that's more you've had more than your share, OK? Yeah. You can you can do whatever you want, whatever you want for the rest of it.
But I don't think he has ever lacked in a continued commitment to working.
It's just odd to see that generation, you know, becoming these old men and who kind of can still do it.
Yeah, OK, let's let's let's go back to so you finish at Chapel Hill, then you go to Tisch and that's where you really lock in.
Is that how it works? Yeah, exactly. And it is a professional actor training program that focuses you on essentially taking the shotgun approach, like we're going to teach you as many different skills. So when you enter the workplace, whatever you're offered, whether it's voiceovers, whether it's commercials, whether it's theatre, film, television, whatever, you're going to be moderately prepared to get into it.
And so, you know, it's also in New York City. So casting directors and agents would come and see some of the productions that you were doing, not just because they're looking for talent, but because some of the productions that NYU was doing at Juilliard was doing and Yale was doing right. Like they were doing some of Tony Kushner's first productions of Angels in America and Perestroika. I saw Michael Stuhlbarg do Angels in America at Juilliard before it was out.
Really? Yeah, so, you know, there was a lot of opportunity for actors in those programs because of our proximity to being in New York. Then you also get to see actors who you were there with as a third year students go into the world, you get to see them manage their careers. So you kind of have an experience of being in the workplace and studying at the same time now.
But so because you really like more than almost anybody, I've talked to a theater guy. I mean, you're a theater actor really for the most part.
I mean, that's what you do when everyone if anyone ever says, like what happened to Billy Crudup, it's like he's probably doing a play. Right?
Well, that's almost always almost always the case. But that's a choice you make. Yeah, it's you know, I don't know.
You kind of go you go to where you feel, right. Where you feel. I don't have wild ambitions in terms of like collecting money and things, you know, and like you make a living.
I do. Listen, I'll tell you what. You want to know how I made a living. There are some things money can't buy or everything else. There's MasterCard. I've heard that.
Let me tell you that that gave me my agency to do as many plays as I wanted to for a while because it was a guarantee some, you know, like how long you do that, like a 13, 13 years.
And so, my God, can you I mean, it really is a can of the things to be embarrassed about.
It was mortifying to me, but obviously I kept that ball rolling as long as I could. But that's like.
But that's like like that's you know, that's a lifetime's worth of money. But I think it's interesting that you really because like going into this interview, there was this idea that like. All right, so you made because I had read that you made the bread doing the commercial and so you could choose what you wanted to do. But for some reason, I automatically thought, well, why isn't any more movies then? Because you chose theater? Well, yeah, I do.
I mean, I was always my plan to do as much of everything as I could. And the fact is, I wasn't getting great parts in movies at a certain point. I was getting great parts on stage and I went to where the great parts were because that, again, like, why would I refuse a great part? I mean, you know, the Vineyard Theater where I was nude first, where I did Harry Clark, my first thought and reading this piece was, no, Jesus, that's so much work.
Why would anybody ever do that? That's exhausting. And then in the middle of the night, I wake up. How many people get the opportunity to open a one person show in New York, get off your fucking ass and get to the theater like that? Yeah, it's typically my my my response. So the kinds of things that I got to do working with Martin McDonagh, actually, Michael Stuhlbarg was in the production with Jeff Goldblum and Jelko iconic that we did of a play called The Pillowman.
Right. Doing The Coast of Utopia, which was Tom Stoppard play. That was a three part epic about Russian philosophers, the turn of the, I don't know, nineteenth century or something. And it was spectacular at Lincoln Center. And you would come see it. You would see the first part on Tuesday, second part Wednesday, the third part Thursday. Or you could come see them all on Saturday. I started eleven. Then these marathons and every one of those marathons was sold out.
So I was getting opportunities like that. You won a Tony for that, right? I did win it, Tony. I should get bring it.
I should have brought it to show you just should carry with I believe you just as evidence that I'm looking around like did I get a Tony for it.
But it's over there somewhere. Yeah. Just the experience of it.
Yeah. To me that's the kind of life I wanted to lead. So if I was getting those kinds of opportunities in film to work with the caliber of people that I wanted to work with, it's very likely I would have been doing more film.
But, you know.
But what do you think that was about? Why don't you think that happened? I mean, it seems like you were like I mean, it seems like you can definitely carry a movie.
Well, things come and go, you know, like and you get opportunities or somebody like me got a lot of opportunities early on based upon potential. And so I got.
So you were that that first you were in that movie Sleepers. Yeah. Men that like that movie. So fucking heavy man. Yeah. That was your first movie.
That was the first one that came out. I did an independent film before that called Grind Adrian Shelly, Paul Qosi, Amanda Peet. And then I had a small part in the Woody Allen movie called Everyone Says I Love You. But yeah, that was that was the first big one that came out. And then I did inventing the Abbotts, Pat O'Connor and Joaquin Phoenix and Jennifer Connelly and then and then. So I got an opportunity to be a lead and without limits about the runner.
You were great in that. Oh, thanks. I still. I still when I jog, I still remember things that, you know, you were told in that movie. That's killer. That's that was that guy. That's the guy, Steve Prefontaine. He had an indelible image in my in my memory because. My dad loved him and had the cover of Sports Illustrated that he was on on our countertop when I was younger, I must have been five or six or something.
But this haunting image of him was with me the whole time. And so when I saw his name, it was Robert Towne who wrote Chinatown. It was being shot at Conrad Hall. There's Donald Sutherland and produced by Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner. And so, you know, I was punching above my weight at that point. And if you don't deliver under those circumstances, you're unlikely to get those opportunities again until you do deliver on something. You know, it's just like from a financial point of view, if they're if they're mostly interested in even almost famous, that that didn't do well at the box office when it came out.
So so the Steve Prefontaine movie didn't do great. No. And almost famous. Didn't do great.
Yeah. And so that's that's some portion of it. And some portion of it is that I would say no to things because I was doing a play and people were like, jeez, everyone loved Jesus as son.
But we couldn't get people to see it. It's like, have you seen the cast for that. It's an unbelievable it's like a really great cast, but we couldn't get people to the theater.
It's a heavy movie. I get it.
And it was it is well and it's it's beautifully unconventional and I love that about it. But but also to, you know, like. Yeah, at a certain point, if you keep saying no because you're doing a play, people, they get pissed off at you, I think. And and then also six years ago I had a son, so I wanted to be located here in New York as much as possible.
And that was before that was before the commercials. That was it was in the middle. I had already had I started I think I, I got that commercial probably in ninety seven, but that's also like that.
That was also the thing you had to deal with is, you know, the press was not too kind to you around your relationships.
You know, what is there to say about that.
I mean there I know I, I appreciate people using trauma for their own click click bait and right now go for it. I'm just not going to participate. So there's there's not a whole lot to navigate there. And who can say what the effect of that is? You know, how is everybody now?
Do you get along with her and the kid?
And listen, we all do the very best we can. But, you know, I try listen, one of the reasons I don't comment, there's like three good reasons. First of all, there are other people involved.
And unless they talk about it themselves, why? What the fuck am I going to say?
Well, that's right. I've I've learned that the hard way. Yeah. Yeah. I remember doing an interview early on and I talked about my childhood. And so the writer summed it up as like his traumatic childhood. And my mom read that as one of the first pieces and called me crying. And I was like, oh, mom, we got to get like some understanding of this, how this is this is not the other way. Is this going to be a tough, tough, tough road.
But that's interesting because now when you talk about it, the tone is different and the trauma is less. It doesn't come off. Is trauma traumatic because you've put things into perspective?
Well, and when you're older, I guess that happens and you're successful.
Well, that's one of the things that in addition to being protective of the people in my life that don't have a voice when I decide to do an interview, I was really protective early on of having any kind of public persona because my whole jam was going to try to be a character actor. So. Right. You know shit about me. I'm not going to be able to be two different things in two different movies I have. You think you should never you should like at the end of the movie go.
Oh, that was really screwed up. I didn't know that. Oh shit. Right.
You know, that was going to be my whole I just wasn't like great at it at the beginning. You know, I was giving like some kind of like good ish performances, but they were in lots of different kinds of things. So what they were what the industry wants you to do is cultivate a personality at that point and become a star so that they can use you for their own nefarious.
It was. But it's interesting because, you know, I think at that time you're probably a little too attractive to be a regular character actor.
Yeah, I had too much work done too early. And that was that was the fault of mine. I thought it was going to be great for setting this.
These cheekbones are this is cartilage from my know what I'm saying.
And I can't no, trust me, it was it was you know, they had known you're no Ned Beatty.
That brings up so many different memories. Oh, my God.
Holy shit. Oh, no.
I wish I was in the baby and the baby, but no, I was I had a very photograph, but that's the word photograph. A photographic photographic. That's the one we're looking for, Mark. And so people I was really aware early on of how people wanted to cast me and I would look at some of these parts and say, I don't know how to play that guy. Like you need somebody who can do a hero. And that I I'm I need I need a different angle.
Like, I really. Yeah. Those are the things that appealed to me. They're interesting to me.
But that's the reason you would actually turn down leads because you know, this guy, you know, this guy comes out on top. He's the he's doing a star. You know what?
Here's the thing with heroes, mostly when they're written in subpar material is they don't have any character traits so people can projection onto them. Right. Don't have any inner monologue. They don't know what they have is the fierceness of their action and the ability to to muscle through the obstacles with grit, grace and a little bit of sexiness. And, you know, I just I didn't know I didn't have that. I didn't have that character in me, you know, like, I had different characters.
I mean, that was my idea.
You just didn't want to pretend that they're just paying you to pretend I'm not.
You got you got to go to where you're good at. I can play Steve Prefontaine because he was he was fucked up and he was kind of a dick at times. You know, that's interesting.
He was a thorn in the side of the of the machine, you know, like so he was a bit of an anti-hero. And it's the same with Russell and almost famous. He's an anti-hero. You know, he makes some fucked up decisions. You never know what his angle is.
Well, that's interesting. Isn't that interesting? Is that the business? You know, theoretically, the industry wanted to make you a leading guy because you look like a leading guy and you hold the screen like a leading guy. But some you know, some something inside of you wasn't going to do that. Yeah, I didn't.
I didn't. I was like, well, I mean, I can be a shitty one of those, you know, if that's what you guys are looking for.
But and then you played a bunch of fucking like mildly shitty people. Yeah, well, and those were the ones that I was more interested in, you know, like the characters in Spotlight, this guy in the morning show. And yeah, somebody is a place that I've done are the ones who are wrestling with internal as well as external conflict.
But I like the guy you just played. You were just a journalist in that Jackie movie. But Spotlight, you were.
Oh, you were the lawyer, right? I was a lawyer. Exactly. Right. Yeah. And yeah. Right, right.
So that's a really fascinating story to that guy because I love them. Yeah. And that was a great movie. And Tom McCarthy, when I read it on the page, I was like, no, he just seems like a dick. I don't quite understand. I and he goes, Let me tell you the story of this guy. And it turns out that he had been negotiating all of these deals between the victims and the church in no small part because he was abused as a child and he knew that all of the systems were going to be obstacles in the way of them getting anything.
So he was set upon himself. Listen, I'm going to get you 20 grand and sit down with the bishop, and that's the best you can do anywhere. And Tom was like, so I'm not going to write that in any of it, but that's what's going to be going through you. So that that makes him an interesting presence on the screen because there's this whole mysterious inner monologue going on. And in fact, he actually had sent the paper names of these people before and the paper buried it.
And they put that in the movie after they discovered it during an interview where he was like, I hope you're not going to make me the the the villain in this. Let me tell you, you know. Right.
I mean, so that's interesting because like, you know, you think like it's kind of bizarre. Like what effect do you think? Like, because you've done you've done pretty well for yourself.
It just it just worked out that way.
But there's nothing. I don't know, like, do you think that your father, your father's disposition and his mode of operating is more sort of attracted to these type of characters?
I suspect they're there's a whole lot a whole lot of different influences. And that, again, like back to my earlier point, I, I, I wanted to go for the most disparate kinds of interesting parts so I could build up as much facility so I could last for a long time. So it's actually a.. My what I wanted to do was work consistently. And the way to do that, as I was taught in school, is build an arsenal so you can deliver a lot of different things.
And I didn't want to be pigeonholed because I knew that was I would have no arsenal once I got older and cheekbone started to droop. I was going to be dead in the water. So so OK.
So so it was a.. Your dad, because you wanted to have some security in a big city and it was disability, right? That was exactly. Which comes from being able to adapt to it.
But it's interesting, though, isn't it, that the characters that you want to play are not they're not murderers.
They're just sort of slightly morally dubious. Yeah.
And and and I would say that is interesting. Yeah.
I see you look at that. You're just trying to get close to him after all these years.
That's all I can understand that you tend to miss them when they're gone. Yeah.
But like, I like the the character that Corey Ellison character is a surprising character, really, because, like, you know, you it's a great character.
You do a great job with it.
And I think because you don't want to like him just because of what you project on to him. And then as a as you know, as the show goes on and you realize that, you know, he has a certain integrity to him somehow.
Right. Because of his own sort of problems, which he reveals, I think it makes it a very unique take on that guy.
I do, too. When I read that, I had to call. I mean, I had an immediate response that was something like what the fuck is going on with this person and how somebody imagine that that's an OK way to be in life.
So I would my curiosity was piqued about who what was happening underneath him. And that's always a great place to start creatively where you got a lot more questions than answers. And so I know when I'm reading a script and I pause to like, think about it and I can kind of visualize, like moving around or I'm kind of daydreaming about this person and trying to see if there's any kind of authentic version of me that's in there that I can. I know that like that's a character I should go towards, because typically those are the ones where we get most creatively engaged and then it's rewarding, you know?
And so this was one where I was like, man, I've seen this fucking New York angler my whole life.
And this guy who is just a room reader who you can't you put your finger on what his motivations are other other than the display of his incredible social calculus, you know, like that's what he's capable of doing, managing chaos in real time. And there are people in New York like that.
I mean, everywhere, you know, the people who will sell you sunscreen when you're getting out of the train, when on a sunny day and the next day they'll be there with umbrellas.
You know, they're just but this guy's got like, you know, once once he's trying to, you know, sort of connect with Reese's character. You know, he's offering up a vulnerability that seems genuine, even amongst the hustle, you know, even within the hustle.
Well, I think it's a question because, you know, some of the greatest hustlers can can project the kind of authenticity because, again, they're reading people and they know Corey knew in that moment what she needed to feel safe in this transaction. And he had enough empathy for her as a woman trying to establish herself and her moral agency in this environment that he could identify with her.
It's so weird, though, like the house, like the idea of empathy in that type of character. Even when you look at this fucking current president, that is it empathy or is it just a a mode of manipulation? I mean, I guess the empathy there at the core, but ultimately it its goal is not to empathize.
I think that's a great question. And I think that has been that was a source of ongoing conversation with with Carrie. And I think we discovered a kind of moral ethic that maybe his own creation. But that really is about a more level playing field and. Perversely, the reason it may be about a more level playing field is because he just wants to display his talent with as many people as possible. So he doesn't want to shut anybody out just for no good reason, just because they're a woman or just because they're not like him.
He wants the best people playing the game so he can show off how good he is in a way. And by the way, this is what some people argue is a meritocracy that get everybody in the mix. That competition will promote the kind of creative productivity that will make us all thrive. Well, that may.
But that. But that's what you were talking about, the beginning of one of the things you like being part of is the ensemble driven catharsis of a story. And now it's like getting kind of meta, isn't it?
Well, so you think about that. Yeah, exactly. Like then. So put that philosophy and in the body of a guy who's like a stone cold killer and like whack a do and you've got a really interesting individual with a lot of power and a capacity to evolve and shift before your eyes. That's fun.
Yeah, I thought I really was, you know, amazed by the the the unfolding of I like to show, you know, and my you know, the woman I was seeing who's not with us anymore, you know, she died.
Let me tell you, Lynn. Yeah. And I went I wanted to pass along my condolences.
And I had a very superficial interaction with her. But actually after working on the morning show, she and I were talking about doing another show together that she was working on about a chiropractor called Posture that was being produced by Steve Goaland, who ended up passing away to he passed away last year.
Yeah, it's just it's just been heartbreak after heartbreak.
But I had had a lot of affection for her even in our most superficial interaction.
Yeah, she was great. But, you know, watching the show, I was surprised at how. Those you know, that the whole issue of sexual impropriety and rape and I I was kind of amazed at how it was all handled. I mean, it was really written beautifully, the whole thing carrier and.
She's responsible for, to me, the creative application of a really complicated narrative, which is we're all people and you can understand some motivations and you can't understand other motivations and the complexity of trying to manage a moment of redistribution of power and justice for people who have been victimized is not going to be easy. And you're not going to get off by just villainize everybody. You're going to need to understand the systems that create people, what goes into the kinds of things, and to offer that and a drama like this, I mean, they've got some incredible to me like tenacity and courage between the producers and Kerry.
But Carrie is the one for me that I saw her and her writing team being able to put. It's one thing to think of that, but it's another thing to put it into action. That's a really sophisticated writing.
Oh, yeah. No, I mean, it's hard stuff. It's hard stuff to continue to understand these characters and fight your own, you know, desire or lack of desire to empathize with them.
But like working with with Reese, I mean, she seems like a real fuckin pro.
That means that she's a pro of pros. You know, I would do my scenes where I was chatting away, doing my weird character and stuff, and then I was ready for a fucking nap. I was exhausted. I was sweaty. I need to change my clothes. And Reese Badass is going in and watching dailies from the last one, reading scripts of stuff that are coming up, probably producing three other things on the side and then coming back after lunch to manage the next coverage.
So I have she and Jen are doing something I couldn't do fun to work with.
And that was fantastic because not only did they give me this opportunity. They encourage, as you can see, I like to talk about acting and stuff and characters and shit and not everybody likes to hear.
Yeah, most people don't, but they encourage that in me.
They wanted me to have some insight, understanding and agency. And that that was incredibly generous from a personal point of view. But from like a cultural point of view, what they're trying to do with this show, I thought win, lose or draw. This is an effort I can be a part of. Hold my head up high.
Sure. Yeah. And the guy's a bonafide weirdo, bonafide weirdo. And I definitely relate to that. And they didn't. Here's the other thing, too, is they didn't bat an eye at that. They loved it. And that's that's that's not an easy decision to make.
You you want to try to again, like, it's fine if he's complicated, but can he really be a weirdo? Like and how far can I go with that weirdness?
And also, I like sexually ambiguous in a way.
Yeah, yeah, yes, yes. Yeah. And maybe predatorial. You can't tell. I mean, there are so many and every time I would because. I would see it in the script. And I often have this reaction, I'll see something that I think it's very clear this is this is this is obviously what the story is going for. And then we do the first table read and people will be like, you really want to play and like that.
I'm like, oh, no, no, I don't. I was trying to do the job. Sorry, what was I supposed to be doing that I just I covered things for angles that I apologize. But and this was one where the first table read, they were like, I don't know who that weirdo is, but let's keep rolling with that, like, you know.
And I was kind of like ashamed inside because I was I was thinking I was just trying to do what you wrote.
Right to me. It was so vivid, you know, like I didn't I wasn't I was trying to invent something like off the page, like. Right, right. Riffing with my improvisation.
I was word perfect know. Yeah.
That was your that was your interpretation of it. That's how you understood him.
That's how I understood. Because how I did know I did know one there's there's three people that that influenced the character and one of them it certainly had one of the. Bigger brains of my friends that I've encountered, and when he starts to talk and when he goes into a tangent that involves some new insight, that he's right, that he giggles and he giggles to himself, just sit like this isn't my brain.
While the way the discovery of it, the discovery of it is delightful to him, you know?
And I thought that would be a really disarming and interesting way for Corey to talk about his ideas. Not dictatorial, but it's crazy that the world is falling apart. And it's given us this opportunity now to totally reshape things like that. Device was a really interesting component to add to it. And so I was laughing from the beginning.
And to me, at that point it seemed obvious. But I had to back up and then tell them why after a while, because they were like, why didn't you laugh so much?
Yeah. And did they. And they liked it. Loved it. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. That's always right.
There was like a quiz. They wanted you to have an answer if you didn't have any. No question about it.
Yeah. If you're going to be taking swings like that you better have an answer.
And it's exciting that, you know, you got the nomination. That's exciting. Yeah. Well yeah. Well what's going. So what's happening. I mean it's so fucked up because, you know, everything's on hold and we don't know when we're going to get the next season of anything. You guys hear anything?
We were two weeks into working when they shut us down and, you know, it's like everybody else. Yeah. We're going to start working again in June. OK, well, to August. Did we do it? Because I remember shooting it.
I got to get the fuckin tests that we can do in the morning and. No, in an hour. Yeah, I think that's hasn't it just been approved by the FDA, the saliva test that the NBA and Yale put together? I think that's that's one of those that you can it's pretty cheap and you can do a lot of them.
So it's working well, it's been approved. And whether or not they can apply it, I don't know what kind of resources they have or what kind of infrastructure is in place to manufacturing, because it's going to be a lot of tests.
But I have a feeling I think Apple's got the bread to put in to getting the testing. They do.
They've got to have a community, though, that is going to comply because the virus doesn't give a shit.
So if our community if it continues to circulate in the community, I don't care how strong your fortresses it's I it's shown a lot of evidence that it's going to get in there.
Yeah. Fucking half a country full of morons, I mean, just, you know, living in New York and being going going through this here in New York and obviously the first thing you want to do is try to understand it so you can.
Protect the people around you, you know, explain to my son and tell them why our strategy is this and why we're doing certain things and navigate it collectively with his mom and all of that stuff.
So I was watching that shit all the time, trying to understand and getting as many updates. And the best that I can tell is the simple stuff that people are telling you works enough, like change your behavior a little bit.
Don't wash your hands, you pig, wash your hands. And by the way, I was jerm forward before this. I was like, you know, let let you let them lick the sidewalk.
It'll build up your immunity and start. Right. Right. Yeah.
That's good for the stuff that we knew about before that this one is new. That's what novel means. It's new. So we don't know how to deal with this when they. So it's happening. We're managing this in real time and, you know, masks being politicized and people like feeling infringed upon.
It's just something I can't relate to because I've been in New York and I saw what was happening in our community before people started doing this shit. And I've seen what's happened with the numbers since then. And I've seen the protests. I've seen people gather, I've seen people at restaurants. And the fact that the numbers haven't continued to spike here gives me some reasonable, I think. Understanding that this shit works like it's not we haven't heard anything, but we're able to do more because it's not circulating everywhere and if you keep it from circulating everywhere, you can kind of do some stuff.
But not everybody in that game, believe me, I'm living in Los Angeles.
It's a fucking cluster fuck. It's like no one's going to no one's going to take my summer away from me. It's like.
Yeah. Literally going to take that your future, you're going to take your future away from me.
Yeah, I don't want to be in my apartment anymore and, you know, like and I don't have to be now in the same way that it really.
It's bouncing back a little over there. Yeah, no, well, we'll see what happens. I mean, it's you know, you want to I look, man, it's getting a little crazy and, you know, maybe we'll get through it.
I couldn't agree more with that sentiment. And the way you expressed it is exactly how it feels in me on my best days.
It is literally like my best days. I thought about calling you earlier today. I couldn't sleep last. I couldn't sleep the night before. You know, there is just there's so many different things going on to say, listen, I've heard your show and you're insightful. You like to talk to your articulate. I want to be there with you. And I didn't sleep much last night because this is a crazy fucking time. Can we reschedule this? But then I was like, I know you can't do that to him.
And that's like you might as well just go in there and ramble and look and look how lucid and rambling you were with no sleep. It's great. We got it. We got it all covered.
Oh, God, please cut it together like one of my notes. Great performances. It was fun talking to you, man. I'm glad you did it and great talking to you. I'll see you around.
Maybe we can hang out when we get through this shit. I would love that.
OK, buddy. I love your show, man. Keep it going.
Great talk. We were moving at a good clip to it, a good clip to it. Once again, Billy is nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a drama series at the Emmys this year. You can watch all of Season one of the morning show on Apple TV. Plus have no music for you. Just sort of. Take a deep breath in and out in through your nose, feel the universal hum. Can you feel it? Happy birthday, Lynn Shelton.
I miss you both of our lives. So did Mikey and the Fonda and all the cat angels everywhere. Oh, no.
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