Intimate interviews with people from all walks of life: filmmakers, comedians, activists, politicians, actors. Hosted by writer Sam Fragoso.
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Writer Sandra Cisneros has been making sense of the world on the page since 1984's The House on Mango Street. In honor of Hispanic Heritage month, we wanted to replay our 2022 conversation with the beloved poet. We discuss her first poetry collection in 28 years, Woman Without Shame (4:40), why she chooses to write ‘dangerous' pieces (6:18), and the significance of her poem, “My Mother and Sex” (8:38). Then, we walk through Sandra's coming of age between Mexico and Chicago (15:16), the sixth-grade teacher that guided her entry into art (19:39), her epiphanies on class in graduate school (23:49), the “Pilsen Barrio” that shaped her seminal novel, The House on Mango Street (29:05), and how Studs Terkel informed her lifelong approach to story (30:17). On the back-half, we discuss the loves and losses that inspired Sandra's early sensual poems (36:36), how she documented her power through “Neither Señorita nor Señora” (40:04), a painful period captured in “Year of my Death” (50:30), the day her mother visited her writer's office in San Antonio (57:56), and why she still has more to say (and write) at age 67 (59:59).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
For the better part of a decade, David Byrne was the front-man of Talking Heads. To celebrate the revival of Jonathan Demme's concert film, Stop Making Sense, we're revisiting our special talk with the legendary musician himself. At the top, we discuss how Byrne processed the pandemic in New York City (6:45), finding creativity in unlikely places (9:50), the evolution of his Broadway show ‘American Utopia' (10:47), the influence of poet William Blake (13:00), his gift for collaboration (16:36), and the power of the song, Glass Concrete & Stone (20:54). On the back-half, he opens up about his pivot from New Wave to Latin music (23:40), getting comfortable with creating on his own terms (30:35), and why he turned to performance as a response to being neurodivergent (36:32). He also reflects on his relationship to the Talking Heads (41:30), the cross generational impact of his art (44:15), the unique interpretations of American Utopia (46:30), and how he “found the world” through making music (50:25). Purchase tickets to see Stop Making Sense in theaters here.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
For nearly two decades, Matt Belloni (The Town) has been observing and writing about Hollywood. He joins us today to unpack the latest on the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. After a review of TIFF 2023 (6:50), Belloni dives into Drew Barrymore and Bill Maher's decisions to return to their talk shows without WGA writers (10:45), the vital issues the guild is fighting for (19:20), and how their negotiations have progressed over the past twenty weeks (23:10). Then, we discuss the history of the Netflix business model (25:05), the state of streaming today (29:50), and Belloni's fourteen years at The Hollywood Reporter (35:04). On the back-half, we talk about his path from entertainment law to journalism (41:29), his unique approach to reporting at Puck (44:10), and his predictions for the end of the strikes (50:05). Before we leave, we sit with recent messaging from SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher (57:15), the potential fragmentation within the AMPTP (1:03:00), and to close, Matt's hope for the future of Hollywood (1:08:12).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Jazz singer Laufey wants to bridge the gap between the past and the present. Today, she joins us upon the debut of her latest album, Bewitched. We discuss her songwriting process (5:20), her bossa nova-inspired piece “From The Start” (8:12), and her guiding light as a musician (12:30). Then, we walk through Laufey's Icelandic upbringing (14:07), how fate led her to the Berklee College of Music (20:10), and the coming of age she experienced in that period (26:15). On the back-half, Laufey reflects on the music she created in 2020 (35:10), her rapid, online ascent as an artist (37:15), and an early collaboration with schoolmate Claudia Nketia (39:50). To close, we talk about the idea of romanticizing daily life (50:40), the components of her new song “Promise” (52:25), and what she hopes for in the years to come (57:00).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Sam Sanders is the host of Into It, a twice-weekly podcast surveying all things pop culture. Today: he joins us for a review of summer 2023! At the top, we discuss Barbenheimer (7:20), the dual Hollywood strikes (14:12), Trump's mug shot (19:00), the RNC debate (21:50), and the Montgomery Riverfront brawl (26:05). On the back-half, Sanders reflects on growing up in Texas (36:30), his childhood of churchgoing (42:48), and how he found his voice on the microphone (46:45). To close, we talk about the power of safe spaces (49:40), representation in media (55:15), and his hope for the future of journalism (59:46).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Today, we return to our conversation with musician and actor Alana Haim! We first sat with Alana around her on-screen debut in the film Licorice Pizza, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. Making her acting debut, Alana shares the serendipitous backstory that led to the project (6:00), the “7th grade forever theory” that helped her get inside the character of Alana Kane (13:17), a high school house party where she baked cake and fell in love (17:30), and the fortuitous afternoon she met future co-star Cooper Hoffman (23:23). In the back half, we talk about the early days of HAIM (30:33) and how art helps transcend our own limitations (36:50), culminating in the night Alana drove a six-wheeler truck up (and down) the pitch black hills of the San Fernando Valley (35:55), as co-star Bradley Cooper rode shotgun. We also discuss the One More HAIM tour (39:08), the song she was most excited to perform from Women in Music Pt. III, and what she hopes for in the decade to come (41:30).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Musician and composer Este Haim has had quite the year. Today, she reflects on HAIM's eventful summer as part of Taylor Swift's The Eras Tour (5:45), her pivot into scoring feature films (8:40), including Netflix's You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah (13:12), growing up in a family band called Rockenhaim (17:46) and the formative musicians that inspired her and her sisters as teenagers in Los Angeles (21:41). On the back-half, Este describes the early years of HAIM (29:30), the band's collaboration with producer and composer Ludwig Göransson (33:08), their debut album Days Are Gone (37:55), and the misogyny embedded in the music industry (39:15) that fueled their third record, Women in Music Pt. III (43:55). To close, a love letter to LA (47:54) and a tribute to Talking Heads' Tina Weymouth (56:00), and how both have shaped Este's journey, on and off stage (1:00:55).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Today, our conversation with actor and writer Abbi Jacobson! We sat with Abbi last summer around the release of her latest series, A League of Their Own (5:35), to discuss the legacy of the 1992 film (10:35), her earliest comedic influences (15:05), moving to New York City post-college (21:04), falling in love with improv at UCB (25:08), the night she met Ilana Glazer (32:40), and a handful of memories creating Broad City (37:20). On the back-half, Abbi tells the story behind her book I Might Regret This (43:33), how heartbreak brought her to Los Angeles (46:22), what she hopes her sixty-year-old self looks like (50:42), and why she wants to continue making ‘inviting work' (54:12). To close, she tells us a love story (1:03:16). You can watch the first season of A League of Their Own on Amazon Prime. To learn more about Abbi and her work visit our site.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
For over a decade, composer and record producer Ludwig Göransson has created some of the defining music of our time. This week, he sits with Sam to discuss his latest work in Oppenheimer. At the top, Göransson describes the collaborative process with director Christopher Nolan (6:48), the instrument at the heart of the film (9:30) and its hauntingly beautiful theme (11:06). Then, we walk through Ludwig's instinctive approach to making music (13:07), his coming of age in Sweden (15:20), and the influence of Metallica and Danny Elfman (18:51). On the back-half, Ludwig reflects on his early years in Los Angeles (24:56), finding kinship with director Ryan Coogler (27:55) and polymath Donald Glover (34:53), and how he slowly began to understand his voice (38:21). To close, he shares how his process has evolved from Black Panther to Oppenheimer (42:30), the potential impact of AI on the music industry (44:58), and what he hopes for in the years ahead (49:15).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
As a fourth generation border resident in El Paso, politician Beto O'Rourke has long been making the case for immigration reform. He's continued to do so this summer, as the humanitarian crisis at the Texas-Mexico border has accelerated under Gov. Greg Abbott. After a check-in with Dad Fragoso (4:08) we sit O'Rourke to unpack the severe anti-migrant tactics carried out under Operation Lone Star (15:50), the dangerous rhetoric that delivered this crisis (28:00), and the checkered history of immigration reform in Texas (31:10). We also walk through the focus of Beto's new book, We've Got to Try: How the Fight for Voting Rights Makes Everything Else Possible (35:47), the four-year aftermath of the El Paso shooting (38:38), and why he continues fighting for change in the state (42:45). On the back-half, O'Rourke reflects on his recent Gubernatorial campaign (46:36), how the Texas electorate has shifted since 2018 Senate run (49:53), his unwavering belief in people (55:55), how he hopes President Biden mitigates the cruelty at the border (1:00:00), and to close, a story about fatherhood (1:05:10). Join the fight down in Texas alongside Powered by People. To watch Sam's film Sebastian, visit our show-notes.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
For over three decades, legendary costume designer Ruth E. Carter has created the looks of our most era-defining films. Today, we're celebrating those pieces chronicled in her new book, The Art of Ruth E. Carter: Costuming Black History and the Afrofuture. At the top, we discuss the current labor movement in Hollywood (5:03), Carter's upbringing in Massachusetts (8:50), and a formative Langston Hughes poem (12:56). Then, she reflects on her early years in Los Angeles (19:45), the night she met a lifelong collaborator in director Spike Lee (21:52), and the process of making School Daze (25:49), Do the Right Thing (29:06), and Malcolm X (37:42). On the back-half, Carter describes her innovative work on the Black Panther films (50:40), which earned her two Academy Awards (54:33), the enduring influence of her mother, Mabel Carter (1:03:10), and how she continues to tell the story of the Black experience through costume design (1:04:35).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
In a moment of historic upheaval in Hollywood, screenwriter and labor activist Alex O'Keefe (The Bear) believes he can turn the tide. The Writers Guild of America has been on strike since May 2nd. Actors represented by SAG-AFTRA joined the fight earlier this month. We begin by discussing the WGA's key demands (7:30), O'Keefe's experience inside writers' rooms (13:12), the pushback from the studios thus far (17:01), how the divisive ‘interim agreements' recently issued by SAG-AFTRA (27:40) stem from a checkered history of union organizing in Hollywood (29:13), and why O'Keefe believes this cross-union solidarity is unprecedented (33:29). On the back-half, we walk through his origin story in Florida (35:40), his background in politics and speechwriting (44:57), the inspired words of screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (50:50) and how they've shaped O'Keefe's vision for the future of his industry (1:02:44).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Legendary photographer Joel Meyerowitz has been capturing life itself since 1962. Whether on the streets of New York City, the sand dunes of Cape Cod, or in transit across Europe, Meyerowitz has documented what he calls “visions in passing.” Today, we return to this special, virtual retrospective, spanning six decades of his life in photographs. Follow the virtual gallery here: https://talkeasypod.com/joel-meyerowitz-replay/See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Last summer, we traveled to Princeton, New Jersey to sit with legendary writer Joyce Carol Oates. The talk begins with her daily routine, from writing to revision (6:34), the real-life events that inspired her recent novel, Babysitter (9:09), and why she's fascinated with examining violence in her work (14:06). Then, we walk through Oates' early years: growing up on a farm (17:45), her literary influences (22:22), and the lasting relationship she formed with libraries (27:01). On the back-half, Joyce revisits a 1977 journal entry on writing (28:30), how she grapples with criticism (31:20) and her complex relationship to Twitter (33:20). To close, we sit with love (40:05), loss (43:40), and why, at age eighty-four, she continues to tell new stories (50:22).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
With the closing of the latest season of The Run-Up, political reporter Astead Herndon (The New York Times) returns to the show. At the top, we discuss the recent impactful decisions issued by the Supreme Court (6:36), what to expect from the GOP primaries (8:54), and the potential of a third-party ticket (17:32). Then, we dive into the kitchen table issues guiding the electorate (22:55), Herndon's early years at The Times (24:40), and why he believes in the power of grassroots journalism (25:38). On the back-half, we examine his mission statement as a reporter (29:30), what he believes The Times has learned in the years since the 2016 election (42:30), and who he ultimately makes this work for (59:06).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Today, on his 67th birthday, we're joined by actor Tom Hanks! We begin by discussing his debut novel, The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece (6:45), his nomadic upbringing across California (13:56), and the Stanley Kubrick film that made him want to be an artist (19:50). Then, we talk about his early work at the Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival (23:38) and moving to Los Angeles for his television debut in Bosom Buddies (28:42), before pivoting to dramatic roles in films like Philadelphia and Forrest Gump (33:00). On the back-half, Hanks describes the transformative, eight-year process of making Cast Away (36:40), receiving an AFI Lifetime Achievement award for his work at age forty-six (39:12), the vital performances that followed (40:21), and his insatiable desire to reflect the human experience (45:43). To close, Hanks reflects on the kinship he found with Yankee hall of famer Joe DiMaggio (47:52), his formative friendships with actor Holland Taylor (50:17) and the late Nora Ephron (52:32), and the Cecil B. DeMille story he hopes to keep telling (53:20). Read the full transcript of this episode.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Over the long holiday weekend, we're returning to our conversation with actor Jon Bernthal! To begin, we discuss his performance on HBO's We Own This City (6:00), policing and gun culture in America (9:15), growing up grappling with toxic masculinity (14:47), his pivot to acting in college (23:30), and the powerful history of theater in Moscow (27:25). On the back-half, he reflects on his first year in Los Angeles (32:45), the night that changed his life (37:44), and the magic behind the making of Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street (45:05). To close, Jon shares his hopes for the future (51:00) and how, as a father, he's processed these tragic weeks in America (52:58).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Today, we're joined by actor Michael Shannon! We begin by discussing his recent turn as notorious country singer George Jones in George & Tammy (6:16) and his longstanding creative partnership with co-star Jessica Chastain (8:57). Then, we dive into his childhood in Lexington, Kentucky (10:30), his early theater work in Chicago working with playwright Tracy Letts (20:20), moving out west under the guidance of his (then) manager Lee Daniels (26:10), and the aftermath of his role in Pearl Harbor (30:20). On the back-half, Shannon reflects on the whirlwind year that was 2008 (36:45), the prescience of Take Shelter (41:05), his timely directorial debut, Eric LaRue (45:30), the legacy of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman (51:14), and why he continues to lay it on the line, role after role (55:20).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Today, we sit with model, writer, and activist Geena Rocero! At the top, we discuss transgender visibility in the US (3:40), her ‘magical' upbringing in the Philippines (5:52), and a ceremony that helped her find her true self (9:28). Then, she describes the influence of her trans mother Tigerlily (14:50), her rapid ascent in the pageant circuit (20:40), and memories of the fabled transgender bar Divas (21:52). On the back-half, Rocero walks through her pivot to modeling in New York City (30:24), feeling like a James Bond-like spy (35:04), making history on the TED stage (36:34), the power of community (44:24), and to close, a powerful passage from her new memoir Horse Barbie (46:44).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Today, we're joined by comedian Sarah Silverman! At the top, we reflect on loss (7:16), her new special, Sarah Silverman: Someone You Love (12:35), and coming of age in the ‘80s (18:42). Then, she talks about her early comedic influences (25:35), her path from SNL to Los Angeles (32:30), and the mentorship of Garry Shandling (35:10). On the back-half, we walk through the evolution of her provocative work, from The Sarah Silverman Program (38:42) to I Love You, America (46:052), the connecting quality of her podcast (49:12), and the legacy of her late father (51:57).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Today, we're joined by Oscar Isaac in New York City! At the top, we discuss the past six months of his performance in The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window (5:10), the play's timeless writing (6:55), and the legacy of the great Lorraine Hansberry (11:27). Then, Isaac reflects on growing up in the early ‘80s (12:47), his punk-rock salad days in high school (18:05) and then Juilliard (27:45), and the inspiration behind his breakout role in Inside Llewyn Davis (30:54). On the back-half, we talk about grieving through Hamlet (36:54), a guiding piece of poetry from Jeremy Strong (39:49), the pre-show ritual he continues today (41:09), a formative Bible passage (45:57), and how he embraces the present moment (50:57).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Today, we sit with comedian, actor, and director Ramy Youssef! At the top, he reflects on his experience during Ramadan (5:36) before diving into the third season of his Hulu show Ramy (7:49), a timely scene about the Israel-Palestine conflict (10:24), and the questions that shaped it (14:34). Then, we walk through his coming of age as a first-generation Egyptian-American Muslim in New Jersey (17:16), his early forays into film (22:07), and the sketch inspired by a life-altering Bell's palsy diagnosis (24:10). On the back-half, we discuss Youssef's television debut in the sitcom See Dad Run (32:38), how he found his “essence” as a performer (34:12), and the politics of his stand-up comedy (37:02). To close, he describes the influences behind Ramy, from The Carmichael Show to Curb Your Enthusiasm (40:02), a philosophy that guides his work (48:27), and the future of the series (52:20).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Today, we sit with singer-songwriter Arlo Parks! At the top, we discuss the arrival of her new record My Soft Machine (4:26), how performing with Harry Styles and Billie Eilish transformed her work in the studio (7:08), and the vivid memory behind her new song “Devotion” (9:50). Then, we talk about her intuitive writing process (11:26), fueled by an affinity for poetry (13:39), and the influences behind her earliest pieces of music (20:05). On the back-half, Parks describes the winding path to her debut album Collapsed in Sunbeams (30:12), this profound chapter turn from the first to second record (39:07), returning to her “fifteen minutes of presence” as a writer (41:40), her striking new song “Puppy” (42:17), and her ever-evolving relationship to capturing the past (44:12).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Today, we sit with filmmaker Nicole Holofcener! We discuss the making of her new A24 film You Hurt My Feelings (5:44), her creative upbringing in the ‘70s (15:00), and the Jim Jarmusch film that made her want to become a director (17:25). On the back-half, Holofcener reflects on her early apprenticeship on Hannah and Her Sisters (23:54), her intensely personal collaborations with actors Catherine Keener and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (26:20), and a defining scene from her latest film (32:05). To close, she talks about the importance of supporting writers (36:57), her first day on the set of Walking and Talking (37:33), and why, after three decades, she continues to stay on the “seesaw of art and life” (40:02).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
As we approach the series finale of Barry, we return to our talk with actor and director Bill Hader. We discuss the thematic evolution of his hit HBO series (7:02), and how it draws from films like Taxi Driver and Goodfellas (10:36). Then, Bill reflects on growing up in Tulsa, Oklahoma (13:16), the influence of his late grandfather (17:04), his path from community college to his early PA jobs in Hollywood (18:25), landing on Saturday Night Live (21:36), the weekly pressure of the show (26:07), and how he made it through by collaborating with John Mulaney (29:51). On the back-half, Bill shares a piece of advice from Jeff Bridges (35:14), how Barry came to be (37:27), the personal connection he has with the show (40:07), the enduring power of movies (47:52), and how, after some detours, he's finally where he's supposed to be (49:57).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Today, we're joined by actor Alan Ruck! At the top, we dive into the Election Day episode of Succession (4:00), the ensemble's first table read during the 2016 presidential race (7:23), and how that fateful night shaped the arc of the series (8:59). Then, we walk through Ruck's iconic role of Cameron Frye in Ferris Bueller's Day Off (9:54), memories on set with Matthew Broderick (12:05), and his winding path that followed (17:19). On the back-half, he describes a mid-90s stretch of performances in Speed, Twister, and Spin City (24:37), a serious medical emergency he endured (26:22), and how it shaped his new perspective on art-making, leading him to Succession (29:48). To close, we discuss Ruck's process crafting the character of Connor Roy (32:27), a pivotal scene from Ferris Bueller's Day Off (37:50), and his hopes for the years to come (43:04).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Today, we sit with writer and television host Padma Lakshmi! At the top, we discuss the return of her Hulu docuseries Taste the Nation (6:40), a formative episode in El Paso, Texas (10:14), and how the show connects to Padma's personal history (13:59). Then, she reflects on her childhood in New York City (16:07), a heartbreaking event at seven (19:05*), and her unexpected entry to the modeling industry (27:14). On the back-half, we walk through the early years of her trailblazing career (35:52), the patriarchal systems she fought back against (40:58), and her painful essay in The Times in response to the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh (43:16*). To close, Padma talks about her powerful work through EndoFound (48:30), the activist underpinnings of Taste the Nation (51:21), and the stories she hopes to tell in years to come (54:44). *At this time-code, there is a discussion about sexual assault.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Today, we're sharing a preview of an original new audiobook produced by our colleagues at Pushkin Industries. It's entitled So Many Steves: Afternoons with Steve Martin. The book is an engrossing audio-biography centered around a series of conversations recorded at Martin's home with his long-time friend and neighbor, New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik. To hear the full audiobook, So Many Steves, visit pushkin.fm/.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Today, CEO and activist Jay Jordan tells his story. We begin in Stockton, California (13:31), where he came of age on the heels of the 1994 Clinton Crime Bill (16:33) before being arrested at eighteen (19:47). In stark contrast to former President Trump's arraignment (3:17), Jordan then details his experiences navigating the judicial system (24:15), his years in prison (28:30), and stints in solitary confinement (31:55). On the back-half, Jordan reflects on the end of his seven-year sentence (38:28), the limitations of living with a criminal record (47:22), and how he found purpose in advocating for people like himself (54:52). To close, he shares his groundbreaking work with Alliance for Safety and Justice (1:07:46), including a new, transformative California law (1:13:04), and a philosophy by Maya Angelou that guides him today (1:18:24). To learn more and support, visit https://asj.allianceforsafetyandjustice.org/.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Today, we sit with actor Betty Gilpin! We talk about her role in the prescient new Peacock series Mrs. Davis (6:35), her relationship to technology and social media (8:54), and growing up around actor parents (17:25). Then, we discuss her early years studying acting (20:51), under the legendary Dianne Wiest (22:10), and her path from college to off-Broadway theater (26:30). In the back half, we walk through her rapid ascent from Nurse Jackie to GLOW (35:28), the ‘seesaw of acting' she experienced (39:20), and the weight of her work (41:15). To close, Betty honors the next generation of performers (46:07) and shares a formative passage from her book, All the Women in My Brain (47:48).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Today, on her 90th birthday, a celebration of Carol Burnett! After seven decades in the industry, Burnett sat down with Sam to discuss her upbringing in the Hollywood Arms Apartments (4:25), a mysterious envelope of money that allowed her to study at UCLA (8:00), a generous loan that catapulted her to New York City (13:06), and her “big break” in 1957 (23:30). Then, we walk through how Julie & Carol at Carnegie Hall came to be (31:40), finding her place in “a man's game” on network television (40:15), and her fond memories of The Carol Burnett Show and everyone who made it possible (43:56). Finally, before we leave, a conversation on divine intervention (52:00) and what she's grateful for today (56:37).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Today, we're joined by cook and food writer Alison Roman! We discuss her new dessert cookbook Sweet Enough (4:55), her early years as a restaurant pastry chef (12:24), and the chaotic conditions of working in the service industry (14:50). Then, Roman describes working at the experimental bakery Milk Bar in New York City (18:09), hosting cooking videos at Bon Appétit (22:40), and eventually working as a food columnist at The New York Times (25:18). On the back-half, we talk about the criticism she faced in 2020 (32:20), the subsequent fallout from her remarks (38:52), the personal newsletter that emerged (47:12), the connective power of cooking (55:08), the time capsule of writing (58:30), and what she hopes for in the years to come (1:01:45).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Today, we're sharing a recent episode of the FT Weekend podcast. In his conversation with Lilah Raptopoulos, Sam Fragoso shares the origins of Talk Easy, some memorable vignettes from our episodes with Ke Huy Quan, Natasha Lyonne, and Kara Swisher, and more. You can listen to FT Weekend wherever you get your podcasts.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Today, we sit with brilliant actor Michelle Williams! At the top, we walk through the making of Showing Up (6:05), Williams' fifteen-year partnership with director Kelly Reichardt (8:10), and her upbringing in Montana and San Diego (10:42). Then, she describes coming of age on the set of Dawson's Creek (14:50), her pivotal turn in Tracy Letts' Killer Joe (20:00), and her path to Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain (26:10). On the back-half, we discuss a healing passage from Rebecca Solnit's A Field Guide to Getting Lost (29:37), Williams' memorable performances in Blue Valentine (32:12) and My Week with Marilyn (37:47), and her final day shooting The Fabelmans (40:50). To close, she shares how she remains present as a mother (45:40), a formative Walt Whitman quote (47:22), and how—at age 42—she's begun to create from “a place of peace.” (50:36).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Today, we sit with actor Steven Yeun! At the top, we discuss his new Netflix series Beef (3:40), a powerful church scene from the show (12:10), and his personal experience immigrating to the US from Seoul as a child (18:44). Then, we walk through Steven's coming of age in Michigan (21:35), his memorable audition for The Second City Touring Company (25:56), and his pursuit of on-screen work in Los Angeles (34:22). On the back-half, Steven reflects on his portrayal of Glenn on The Walking Dead (36:54), the films that followed, including Okja (45:54), Burning (49:42), and Sorry to Bother You (50:58), his transformative experience making and premiering Minari (55:17), and to close, a poem that guided him on set by the great Wendell Berry (1:08:02).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Today, we're joined by writer and artist Jenny Odell! At the top, we discuss the recent legislation regulating social media in Utah (4:02), how these platforms affect our perception of daily life (5:20), and the relationship between time and power Odell unpacks in her first book, How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy (6:41). Then, we talk about ‘productivity bros' (13:05), our culture of self-optimization (16:35), and the social inequities that shape our relationships to time (20:31). On the back-half, we walk through Odell's tools to help experience time (34:47), a historic picture of today's home office (38:22), the systemic reform she hopes to see in the US (42:15), and to close, the ways she's grown since completing hew new book Saving Time: Discovering a Life Beyond the Clock (49:30).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Today, we sit with legendary actor and comedian Bob Odenkirk! At the top, we discuss his new AMC series Lucky Hank (6:10), the parallels between his character Hank Devereaux and Saul Goodman of Better Call Saul (8:15), and how Monty Python shaped his early ideas of comedy (9:40). Then, Odenkirk reflects on his coming of age in Naperville, Illinois (10:43), the influence of cult comedy legend Del Close (19:21), his years writing at SNL (22:56), and performing at The Second City (27:50). On the back-half, we talk about his singular collaboration with David Cross that created Mr. Show (32:20), a memorable sketch from season 3 (41:30), his entry to Breaking Bad (49:02), becoming a dramatic actor late in life (51:31), and how he hopes to live in years to come (59:23).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Margaret Atwood is the author of over 50 books of poetry, critical essays, graphic novels, and fiction. Her latest short story collection, Old Babes in the Wood, was recently published this March. Today, we revisit our 2022 conversation, beginning with essay collection Burning Questions (4:47), which wrestles with catastrophe (5:28), Atwood's upbringing in the wilderness (7:36) under egalitarian parents (10:30), and how she circumvented the traditional roles for women of the 1950s (12:55). She also shares some personal stories: her first book signing event (16:05), the day she met her late husband Graeme Gibson (17:35), and the innumerable ways in which he'd shape her life (20:29). On the back-half we discuss the historical antecedents behind The Handmaid's Tale (23:34), its renewed relevance amid threats to reproductive justice (25:04), the debate around ‘the writer as political agent' (31:24), patriarchal gatekeeping inside the publishing industry (34:12), the limits of art-making (35:08), and why she continues to write at age 82 (38:57). To close, Margaret reads from both her elegiac poem Dearly (41:05) and her essay “Polonia” (47:10).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Live from On Air Fest in Brooklyn, our talk with award-winning author Min Jin Lee! At the top, we discuss the roadmap to her upcoming third novel, American Hagwon (4:25), immigrating from Seoul to Queens in the 1970s (7:10), and the violence her family endured working in America (15:50). Then, Lee reflects on her years at Yale (19:15), a life-changing diagnosis in college (21:37), and the criticism she overcame as a young writer (25:26). On the back-half, Lee reads a personal passage from her New Yorker piece “Stonehenge” (33:05) and talks about finding community through her work (36:14), her path to publication in Free Food for Millionaires (38:32), how she learned to embrace the ephemeral moment (42:06), and the reform in education she hopes to see in years to come (45:12).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
To celebrate Oscar Sunday, we return to our talk with actor Ke Huy Quan! At the top, he reflects on the making of A24's Everything Everywhere All At Once (3:35), growing up in Vietnam (6:36), and his family's perilous journey to Los Angeles in the late seventies (7:33). Then, we walk through Ke's breakout role in Steven Spielberg's Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (13:45), his pivot from acting to stunt choreography (24:20), and working under the tutelage of director Wong Kar-wai (25:38). On the back half, Ke describes how Crazy Rich Asians reawakened a childhood dream (33:16) leading to both his momentous return to the screen (36:05) and a full circle moment on the set of Everything Everywhere All At Once (38:27). To close, we discuss Ke's remarkable second act and what's to come (48:03).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Ahead of this year's Academy Awards, we sit with “RRR” actor Ram Charan! At the top, he reflects on his experience observing Ayyappa Deeksha (3:09 and what it meant to join forces with actor NTR Jr. (7:05) on the Oscar-nominated Indian epic (7:50), guided by the singular vision of director S.S. Rajamouli (12:18). Then, Charan shares how the viral ‘Naatu Naatu' dance number came to be (16:25), the privilege of filming in pre-war Ukraine (18:03), and the influence of his father, actor Chiranjeevi (23:05). On the back-half, we talk about his upbringing in Hyderabad (30:57), how Charan carved out his own path to acting (36:05), and how “RRR” blurs the lines of Tollywood and Bollywood (40:33). To close, Charan wrestles with the historic nature of this Oscar nomination (46:03) and what he hopes it portends for the Indian film industry (47:47).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Today, we sit with brilliant actor, director, writer, and producer, Natasha Lyonne. At the top, we walk through the inspiration behind her hit Peacock series Poker Face (6:30), including shows and films like Columbo, Night Moves, and California Split (7:40), and a deeply personal scene with Nick Nolte, directed by Lyonne herself (10:50). Then, she reflects on her childhood acting in New York City (14:44), the new creative path she forged for herself at sixteen (22:40), and her healing road to the theatre alongside playwrights Mike Leigh (40:40) and the late Nora Ephron (42:25). To close, we sit with her seven-year journey to creating Russian Doll (44:16), a memorable evening directing the show (50:42), and a lifelong philosophy by Nora Ephron (56:28).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Today, we sit with Congressman Maxwell Alejandro Frost (FL-10). At the top, we discuss the five-year aftermath of the horrific shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida (2:29), his first two months in Congress (4:10), and the legislature he's fighting for to reduce gun violence (9:14). Then, we walk through the Congressman's response to the Sandy Hook shooting at fifteen (11:40), how it solidified his early commitment to politics (18:17), and how, as a child of adoption, he began to embrace his Afro-Cuban identity (22:15). On the back half, the Congressman reflects on his campaign for Congress (25:58), how it inspired him to connect with his biological mother (29:00), the blend of grassroots organizing and policy-making he strives for today (37:22), and the progress he hopes to see in the next three years (49:30).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
For the long weekend, we return to one of our favorite talks with actor Pedro Pascal! At the top, we discuss his role in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (5:02), working with childhood idol Nicolas Cage (6:50), why his parents left Chile (11:40), the John Hughes classic his dad wouldn't let him watch (17:00), and the Tony Kushner play (20:21) that inspired him to give acting a go in New York City (25:07). On the back-half, Pedro reflects on his first jobs on screen (27:52), the story of his mother's passing (29:50), the friends who kept him afloat (36:20) as he built a career in theater (36:48), redefining childhood dreams in adulthood (42:34), and what really matters to him at age 47 (47:37).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Today, we're joined by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and critic Hilton Als! To begin, we unpack his approach to writing profiles (5:50), inspired by the words of photographer Diane Arbus (6:10), and how he captured Prince in a new, two-part memoir entitled My Pinup (7:55). Then, Als reflects on his upbringing in Brownsville, Brooklyn (10:25), a timely passage from his 2020 essay "Homecoming" (14:40), and formative works by writers Adrienne Kennedy (20:58) and the late Joan Didion (27:05). On the back-half, we discuss the interplay of memory and writing (36:38), Hilton's writing routine (40:55), his sources of hope today (44:30), and to close, a dialogue from Jean Rhys' unfinished autobiography Smile Please (48:25).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Today, we sit with actor and activist Nazanin Nour. At the top, we discuss the ongoing protests against the Islamic Republic (3:35), her transformative work in meetings with the UN (7:10), and some of the history that has brought Iran to this moment (10:40). Then, she describes her upbringing in Northern Virginia with immigrant parents (15:56), her complicated relationship with home (21:57), and how she connected her two identities through art-making (23:56). On the back-half, Nour shares her path to Los Angeles (26:10), a piece of advice from actor Marlon Wayans (28:05), and why she turned to YouTube to create her viral ‘Persian mom' videos (30:24). To close, we unpack her new role in Sanaz Toossi's “English” (35:42), a powerful scene from the play (41:00), and what she hopes for in the revolution ahead (47:33).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Today, we sit with renowned artist Kehinde Wiley on the opening night of Colorful Realm, his new exhibition at Roberts Projects in Los Angeles. At the top, Wiley walks through the Japanese influence behind his latest paintings (5:05), his upbringing in South Central Los Angeles (10:36), and the profound impact of artist Kerry James Marshall's 1993 piece De Style (12:57). Then, he reflects on a formative MFA program at Yale (19:41), his residency at the Studio Museum under Thelma Golden (19:41) and how he began casting portrait subjects from the streets of New York City (22:42). On the back-half, we discuss Wiley's 2001 piece Conspicuous Fraud #1 (Eminence) (26:02), the guiding philosophy behind his work (27:48), his enduring portrait of former President Barack Obama (32:07), and what he hopes to create in years to come (34:55).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
On January 22nd, 1973, the Supreme Court passed Roe v. Wade, a landmark decision preserving the right to abortion across the country. Today, we sit with Dr. Ghazaleh Moayedi, a board-certified OB/GYN, who'd been providing abortions for over a decade—until last summer, when the protection was repealed. We talk about the conditions Dr. Moayedi faces as a physician in Texas (5:29), the critical reality and travel faced by patients in states where the procedure has been outlawed (13:29), and how she works to create a more nurturing and equitable space for people of color in prenatal care (19:15). On the back-half, we walk through her remarkable story—from her early years in residency (23:43), to her tireless work throughout the pandemic (32:56), to this very moment where, in Texas, her job has become illegal to perform (37:41). As we leave, Dr. Moayedi shares her vision for the future of healthcare (41:28).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Today, we sit with actor Ke Huy Quan! At the top, he reflects on the making of A24's Everything Everywhere All At Once (5:40), growing up in Vietnam (9:10), and his family's perilous journey to Los Angeles in the late seventies (11:20). Then, we walk through Ke's breakout role in Steven Spielberg's Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (15:35), his pivot from acting to stunt choreography (22:26), and working under the tutelage of director Wong Kar-wai (27:12). On the back half, Ke describes how Crazy Rich Asians reawakened a childhood dream (35:12) leading to both his momentous return to the screen (37:08) and a full circle moment on the set of Everything Everywhere All At Once (41:42). To close, we discuss Ke's remarkable second act and what's to come (50:27).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
This week, we're joined by actor Claire Foy! We discuss her compelling performance in Sarah Polley's Women Talking (5:10), the painful journey of her character, Salome (7:50), and a pivotal scene from the film (11:50). [To skip ahead, the conversation around Women Talking ends at 15:10.] Then, Foy describes growing up in England (16:08), her path to drama school in Liverpool (21:49), and her on-screen debut in the BBC adaptation of Little Dorrit (26:24). On the back-half, she describes working with Nicolas Cage (31:00), balancing motherhood and her starring role in The Crown (33:57), the evolution she's witnessed in the film industry (39:12), and her lifelong appreciation of ordinary lives (44:47).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Happy holidays! For our sixth annual Talk Easy holiday special, we've partnered with the Audre Lorde Project to celebrate. Named after the titular feminist, poet, and activist, the Audre Lorde Project is an NYC-based community organizing center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two-Spirit, Trans and Gender Non Conforming (LGBTSTGNC) people of color. Through the end of December, we're donating 100% of the proceeds from our shop to their services. These programs include educational events, social justice activism, and wellness and healing workshops. To learn more about their invaluable work, visit alp.org. After an introduction from Sam (0:44), writer and director Lena Dunham describes an exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum (3:41) and poet Rupi Kaur shares a tribute to the women of Iran (5:46). Then, a wide-ranging phone call with culture critic Margo Jefferson (7:30), Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jennifer Egan on Matisse (33:28), and director Hiro Murai on Writing Los Angeles and George Saunders (35:50). On the back-half, a state of the union with NYT political reporter Astead Herndon (37:40), a heartfelt voicemail from Dr. James Whitfield (56:20), and special guest to close 2022 (1:00:26).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.