Kumail Nanjiani has parlayed his success as a stand-up comic into an acting career, notably on Silicon Valley. Now he and his wife Emily have written a movie that was the runaway hit at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, The Big Sick. Everybody knows (and loves) Ray Romano, who plays the father of Kumail’s girlfriend. Leonard and Jessie ask the two comedians to compare their experiences in the standup world and learn how they made the transition to acting…but it’s clear that being funny comes naturally to both of them.
Director Miguel Arteta (Chuck and Buck, Cedar Rapids) and writer-actor Mike White (School of Rock, The Good Girl) are longtime friends and collaborators with many experiences to share—and a new film opening in theaters starring Salma Hayek, Beatriz at Dinner. Leonard and Jessie hear what they have to say about working with everyone from Jennifer Aniston to Martin Scorsese in this entertaining conversation.
Nick Kroll is on a roll: the hit Broadway show he performed with John Mulaney, Oh, Hello, is coming to Netflix. Kroll Show helped build his reputation as a chameleon-like sketch comedian. He’s provided animated voices for such movies as Sing, Sausage Party, and Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie… and made his big-screen dramatic debut in Loving. Somehow he found time to chat with Leonard and Jessie about his multifaceted career—and his comedy heroes.
Leonard’s recent post at leonardmaltin.com about the death of vhs—and what we’ve lost in the process—inspired him and Jessie to discuss the parade of movie and video formats they’ve enjoyed over the years. From 8mm film (yes, film) to Betamax tape and beyond, it’s likely you will relate to at least one facet of this wide-ranging conversation. (P.S. You’d better listen to this episode soon; it only exists in a digital format and who knows how long that will last?)
Michael Giacchino is the hottest—and arguably the nicest—composer in Hollywood. He got his start scoring video games and went on to earn an Oscar for Pixar’s Up. He’s provided the music for The Incredibles, Star Wars: Rogue One, Star Trek, Jurassic World, Zootopia and countless other movies (including the upcoming War for the Planet of the Apes and Spiderman: Homecoming). But as Leonard and Jessie can affirm, his talent is matched only by his enthusiasm and sense of humor. And you’ll never guess what he listens to when he’s driving around L.A.!
Christopher Meloni is an incredibly busy guy: he’s playing comedy on the big screen in Snatched while costarring on Underground and a new season of Hot Wet American Summer on TV. Then there are those Law & Order: SVU reruns. Leonard and Jessie learn why he works so hard: he loves what he does. Although he’s completely down-to-earth, Christopher is quite eloquent about what acting has meant to him. You’ll come away impressed…and you’ll even learn how he wound up in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle.
Best-selling author Michael Connelly is that rare bird: a writer who is fully involved in the TV adaptation of his work. Based on his hard-hitting, deeply researched novels about an LAPD detective, Bosch is now in its third season, and is the top-rated show on Amazon. Michael is also a good storyteller in person, as you’ll hear for yourself. Leonard and Jessie talk about his movie influences and his past experiences with Hollywood.
Actor and standup comedian Baron Vaughn was Leonard’s original co-host on the podcast. He returns to the fold to talk about his roles on Grace & Frankie and the reboot of Mystery Science Theater 3000 as well as a new documentary that’s close to his heart: Fatherless. Baron has a knack for being able to be serious one moment and silly the next. Jessie and Leonard are suckers for this, and you may find yourself reacting the same way.
Leonard and Jessie discuss film festivals they’ve recently attended—large and small—and the phenomenon they represent for filmmakers and moviegoers alike. From the TCM Classic Film Festival to hometown events in San Luis Obispo and Sonoma, California, you’ll learn the ins and outs of these cinematic gatherings. Along the way they recommend some movies worth watching that you can now find online to create your own festival at home.
You all know J.K. Simmons: he’s the Oscar-winning actor who browbeat Miles Teller in Whiplash. He’s Ellen Page’s father in Juno. He’s costarred in such TV series as Oz and The Closer and sells insurance on the side. And for twenty years he’s been the voice of the yellow M&M in those TV commercials. In real life, he’s a hard-working actor with years of experience and lots of great stories. You’ll share Leonard’s interest in this engaging professional who loves what he does.
Hayley Mills was earmarked for stardom by Walt Disney more than fifty years ago. She endeared herself to a generation of fans in such unforgettable films as Pollyanna and The Parent Trap. Meeting this charming and unpretentious woman you’d never know she was friendly with the Beatles or came from British show-business royalty. Leonard and Jessie try to remain nonchalant as they chat with the nicest living legend imaginable.
Kevin Feige rules the Marvel Cinematic Universe—but the President of Marvel Studios wears his crown lightly. A real movie lover and comic fan, he can hold his own with the fanboys while simultaneously juggling multimillion dollar productions. He attended USC because that’s where his cinematic heroes went to school and remains loyal to his alma mater, visiting Leonard’s class on a regular basis. Jessie and Leonard don’t have to prod him to talk about any of these things--it's his passion. That's what makes him perfect for the job.
Dax Shepard has loved cars since he was a kid. Now he gets to race and crash them as the director, writer and star of CHIPS, the new movie that teams him with Michael Peña in a rousing reprise of the vintage TV series. Leonard and Jessie go into high gear with the star of TV’s Parenthood—and creator of the unappreciated feature Hit and Run—in this entertaining episode.
The eloquent Nick Offerman leaves his much-loved Ron Swanson character behind as he costars with Sam Elliott in the new movie The Hero. Leonard and Jessie interview him and writer-director Brett Haley at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, where the film debuted. A live audience didn’t let a steady downpour of rain dampen their enthusiasm.
Edgar Wright is the ultimate fanboy-turned-filmmaker. He has parlayed his love and knowledge into a thriving career, from Shaun of the Dead to Scott Pilgrim and The World’s End, with Baby Driver on its way to theaters soon (after a sneak preview at South by Southwest). He’s as articulate as he is passionate, and shares his enthusiasm for movies with Leonard and Jessie.
Listen up! When Quincy Jones speaks he may be imparting Yoda-like wisdom or talking about his collaborations with Steven Spielberg, Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson, or Hal Ashby, to name just a few. His film credits range from The Pawnbroker and In Cold Blood to The Color Purple and the must-see documentary Keep on Keepin’ On. As a musician, arranger, film composer, and entrepreneur he is without peer, and arguably the coolest guy on the planet. Leonard and Jessie are clearly in awe.
From her amazing debut in Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures to her long run on the TV sitcom Two and a Half Men, Melanie Lynskey has created unforgettable characters. Her latest is in the Sundance Grand Jury prize-winner I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore, which debuts today on Netflix. Leonard and Jessie discover that Melanie is as engaging in person as she’s always been onscreen…and you’ll hear the Kiwi accent she’s so good at disguising.
You know his face from 30 Rock and Veep, among countless other TV shows and movies. You may also know him as the voice of Baymax from Big Hero 6. Now meet Second City graduate Scott Adsit, improv actor supreme and longtime movie buff. Leonard and Jessie learn about his career and his long association with animation, as voice actor and producer, in this interesting chat.
You’ve seen her on Fandango, Screen Junkies, and the new Filmstruck channel. Alicia Malone is a savvy film lover who came to L.A. from her native Australia and wound up with a full agenda of dream jobs talking about movies. Leonard and Jessie learn how her father introduced her to classic films and set her on this rewarding path.
Leonard and Jessie asked you—our listeners—what films you consider to be classics. That’s the springboard for this week’s conversation about films that have stood the test of time, from the 1930s and 40s and even the 1980s. Everyone’s list is personal, of course. See how many you’d put on your list of all-time classics.
Oscar season is in full swing, so Leonard and Jessie weigh in on this year’s nominees. They also discuss (and recommend) a number of films and performances that were overlooked. We think you’ll come away with at least a few movie tips you’ll want to check out.
Stephen Tobolowsky is one of the most recognizable men on earth, now appearing in two first-rate TV shows, Silicon Valley and One Day at a Time...but he's also an author, podcaster, and consummate storyteller. He even made a successful concert movie using Kickstarter funds this year. Leonard and Jessie talk with him about his indelible role in Ground Hog Day, his unusual connection with David Byrne and the Talking Heads, the perils of actors' auditions, and much, much more.
John Landis is never dull, as anyone who has heard him speak can verify. Leonard and Jessie enjoy a wide-ranging conversation with the versatile filmmaker behind National Lampoon's Animal House, Trading Places, Thriller, and An American Werewolf in London, to name just a few. Subjects range from the current Oscar fare to working with music legends like Cab Calloway (in The Blues Brothers). Fasten your seat belt for a jam-packed episode.
Allan Arkush directed the enduring cult favorite "Rock 'n' Roll High School," but that's just the tip of the iceberg. He studied with Martin Scorsese at NYU, earned his professional stripes working for Roger Corman, and directed great TV series like "St. Elsewhere" and "Moonlighting" long before cable came along. He's still going strong and has wonderful stories to share with Leonard and Jessie.
When Michael Feinstein moved from the Midwest to Los Angeles he landed a job with the legendary Ira Gershwin. Nice work if you can get it! Since then he’s become an ambassador of American popular song—as a singer, pianist, conductor, archivist, and mentor to young talent. He discusses his exceptional career and pinpoints some favorite movie musicals in this week’s conversation.