Mitzi Gaynor was just a teenager when she came to Hollywood. She wound up starring with Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe, dancing with Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor, and headlining The Ed Sullivan Show with The Beatles. Her movies include There’s No Business Like Show Business, Les Girls and South Pacific—and that’s just a fraction of her career. How many people can say they worked with Irving Berlin, Cole Porter and Rodgers and Hammerstein? Leonard and Jessie had great fun with this playful, ever-youthful woman who caught the tail end of Hollywood’s Golden Age.
He’s one of those actors you know and value even if you don’t know his name. Shea Whigham is an asset to every film and TV show he’s in, from Boardwalk Empire to True Detective, American Hustle to The Wolf of Wall Street. He’s not accustomed to talking about himself, but Leonard and Jessie are longtime fans and he obliged us with perceptive stories about breaking into show business and working with master filmmakers like Martin Scorsese. Once you get to know him you’ll want to watch how much he brings to such current films as The First Man and Vice.
Phil Lord and Chris Miller are the hottest team in Hollywood with Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse earning awards, box-office bucks and rave reviews. There’s even Oscar buzz surrounding their ground-breaking animated feature. But these longtime best friends have never rested on their laurels, from the moment they made their first short subjects in college through their baptism of fire as sitcom writers. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs established them in the animation world and The Lego Movie cemented their reputation as innovators who think WAY outside the box. Leonard and Jessie had a great time talking to this awesome duo.
Willem Dafoe is that rare actor who can appear in a blockbuster like Aquaman at the same time he’s starring in a cerebral biopic about Vincent Van Gogh, At Eternity’s Edge. He’s open to all kinds of experiences, contributing voices to Finding Nemo and The Fantastic Mr. Fox and working with a cast of first-time actors in last year’s knockout The Florida Project, which earned him his third Oscar nomination. Leonard and Jessie wondered what drew him to acting in the first place, and learned why he loves taking on challenges in his work. Listen along to one of the most compelling and versatile actors on the planet.
Creating, executive producing, and writing The Big Bang Theory would be enough for most people’s résumés, but Bill Prady is not a one-hit wonder. He spent many years working with the Muppets, and wrote their unforgettable Disney theme park attractions Muppet*Vision 3D and Honey I Shrunk the Audience. He also spent years writing and producing such shows as Caroline in the City, Dharma & Greg and Gilmore Girls. Beyond his credits, Bill is a pop culture guru and a delightful conversationalist, as Leonard and Jessie quickly discovered. No 3-D glasses are required to enjoy this episode.
Most Americans encountered British actor Ben Barnes for the first time as Prince Caspian in the Chronicles of Narnia series. He’s been working ever since, as viewers of The Punisher and Westworld can attest. What Leonard and Jessie didn’t know was that he’s a talented musician, which he tries to incorporate into his roles, and that he loves doing accents—rarely playing an Englishman. He’s intelligent, funny, forthcoming and a real charmer, as you’ll hear for yourself.
He gained fame for his stunt casting as the Winklevoss Twins in The Social Network, but he’s earned respect for his talent in such films as Nocturnal Animals, Call Me By Your Name, and Sorry to Bother You. He can currently be seen opposite Felicity Jones in On the Basis of Sex. But with all that, and a notable family history, Armie Hammer is charming, articulate, and cheerfully self-deprecating. Leonard and Jessie had fun talking to him at this year’s SCAD Savannah Film Festival.
At the age of 21, Chloe Grace Moretz is a show-business veteran, having worked professionally since the age of 5. When she was 19, she lost her sense of identity and walked away from her career, with the blessings of her business manager (who happens to be her brother). She is incredibly articulate, and doesn’t take herself or her profession too seriously… yet she can wax poetic about the many characters she’s played, in films like Kick-Ass, Hugo, Dark Shadows, Let Me In, and Carrie. You can see her now in Suspiria and The Miseducation of Cameron Post. Leonard and Jessie interviewed her at the SCAD Savannah Film Festival and had a ball, hearing stories about Tim Burton, Julianne Moore, and Martin Scorsese, among others. We think you’ll enjoy listening in.
The little boy who scored such a success in the original Jurassic Park is all grown up now—and playing Freddie Mercury’s British bandmate John Deacon in Bohemian Rhapsody. Jurassic costar Richard Attenborough was so impressed with his young costar that he cast him in his moving drama Shadowlands. Director Steven Spielberg liked him so much that he wrote a letter of recommendation when Joe wanted to learn filmmaking at USC. Leonard and Jessie weren’t immune to his charms, either. He’s a bright young man who has his feet on the ground as he forges the next chapter of his rather remarkable career. He offers straight talk with a smile on his face, which is pretty hard to resist.
Most people remember Topher Grace from his star-making role on the popular comedy series That 70’s Show, but this year he showed us a darker side playing KKK kingpin David Duke in Spike Lee’s Blackklansman. Not that he hasn’t been serious before—in Traffic and Spider-man 3, to name just two examples. Leonard and Jessie were delighted to find an engaging interviewee with a wealth of experiences in show business—and a wonderful way of talking about them.
Angela Lansbury sailed away from war-torn England when she was 15, earned two Oscar nominations before she was 20, and is still going strong at the age of 93. She’s as bright and thoughtful as ever, discussing her amazing stage and screen career on both sides of the Pond. Whether you love her as Jessica Fletcher on Murder, She Wrote, or as the voice of Mrs. Potts in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, you’ll be captivated by the conversation Leonard and Jessie had with Dame Angela in her Los Angeles home.
From college grad student to director of Creed and Black Panther in a short span of time, Ryan Coogler has kept his feet on the ground. He relies on his wife Zinzi Evans and former USC classmates who form the core of his working team. From his debut feature, Fruitvale Station, through his latest box-office smash, he has found ways to make each film personal to his own experience. Leonard and Jessie are unabashed boosters of this talented filmmaker and loved having a quiet, intimate conversation with him amidst award season tumult.
He’s won five Emmy Awards and is a longtime radio host and political pundit. But guess what? Dennis Miller is also a diehard film buff who revels in watching Turner Classic Movies. Jessie was blown away as Leonard and Dennis started comparing notes on favorite films and the people in them. He’s the same sharp-witted comic he’s always been, but this time the focus is on movies. Excelsior!
At 96 it’s fair to call Norman Lear a living legend. He gave birth to such TV series as All in the Family, Maude, and The Jeffersons. Instead of living in the past he’s reinventing it, supervising a reboot of One Day at a Time, just for starters. He’s worked in television since 1950, but no one seems to talk to him about the movies he wrote, produced, and/or directed, like Cold Turkey or those for which he was a midwife (like The Princess Bride). Leonard and Jessie relished spending time with this highly amusing, soft-spoken giant—even when he fielded a cell phone call from a political fundraiser in the midst of our interview!
We’ve watched Michael Angarano grow up on screen; he’s been acting since the age of 5. He worked with Meryl Streep at age 12 (in Music of the Heart), got to improvise with Frances McDormand in Almost Famous at 13, then joined the cast of Will & Grace as Sean Hayes’ son in his early 20s. He’s a likable, unpretentious guy who credits his family for helping him navigate the often-treacherous waters of show-business. Jessie and Leonard had a great time talking with him about his youthful experiences and more recent successes like a running part in The Knick. Coming soon: his debut as writer and director.
The world-class filmmaker with the distinctive voice is our esteemed guest today. He’s not intimidating—quite the opposite—as he describes his early life, what drew him to filmmaking, and how he teaches students by throwing them in the deep end of the pool, so to speak. His passion is undiminished after more than fifty years of memorable, provocative films, most recently a series of fascinating documentaries like Grizzly Man and Cave of Forgotten Dreams. Leonard and Jessie were more than happy to sit at the great man’s feet and listen to him discuss his extraordinary life as a moviemaker.
He’s playing a hero in The Predator right now, but Boyd Holbrook has been a chameleon-like presence in TV shows and movies like Narcos, The Big C, Gone Girl, A Walk Among the Tombstones, and Logan, just for starters. Along the way he’s had valuable experiences with Gus Van Sant, Liam Neeson, and a host of others. Leonard and Jessie were so impressed by his stories, candor, and genuine passion for all things expressive and artistic.
Get ready to meet a new Jonah Hill—a serious writer-director who has poured his heart and soul into his debut feature film, mid90s, which is playing the festival circuit and opens in theaters in late October. After several years of writing and research (and input from such august filmmakers as Martin Scorsese), he is unveiling his “baby” to the moviegoing public. That’s what brought him to Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas where Leonard and Jessie spoke to him before a live audience. Just as he progressed from broad comedy to Oscar-nominated performances onscreen, he’s tackling something new and exciting in this latest adventure.
Still hale and hearty at 103, Norman Lloyd is one of the few men on the planet who can speak first-hand about Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles, Martin Scorsese…and even Amy Schumer. (He was in Trainwreck.) He set out to be an actor, and earned immortality as the man who dangles from the Statue of Liberty in Hitchcock’s Saboteur but proved to be even more useful behind the scenes, ultimately becoming a producer on his weekly television series. If you watched TV in the 1980s you probably saw him as Dr. Auschlander on St. Elsewhere. He has been a fixture in show business for ninety years and shows little sign of slowing down. He held Leonard and Jessie in his grip and it’s likely you, too, will fall under his spell.
Not since Norman Lear has one man had an impact on television comedy as great as Chuck Lorre. He has created, co-created, or produced and written such long-running hits as The Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men, Dharma and Greg, Mike and Molly, and Young Sheldon, to name just a few. Leonard and Jessie found him to be candid in discussing the nuts and bolts of steering these wildly popular series. If you like smart TV, chances are you’re watching at least one of his shows. Now you can hear from the man behind the curtain.
Scion of a multi-generational show business family (and the youngest of five siblings), David Arquette has worked as an actor, writer, director, and producer. Listeners of a certain age will always associate him with the Scream series. He won Leonard and Jessie’s heart with an impromptu pantomime performance he gave at a recent Buster Keaton-related ceremony. David is a delightful conversationalist, recounting show business lore and reviewing his own wide-ranging career.
A free spirit and a formidable talent, Catherine Hardwicke started out as a production designer, working with some of the top directors in the business (Richard Linklater, David O. Russell, Cameron Crowe) before taking the plunge herself. Her debut film was the impressive Thirteen, which she wrote with costar Nikki Reed. Since then she’s made all kinds of movies, from personal projects like Lords of Dogtown to the smash hit Twilight. Leonard and Jessie loved talking to this creative, outgoing woman and learning about her journey.
Floyd Norman is an official Disney Legend, and so much more: Walt Disney’s first full-time African-American animator, a contributor to such films as Sleeping Beauty and The Jungle Book, a disciple of Disney’s legendary Nine Old Men, and a story man on such Pixar features as Toy Story 2 and Monsters Inc. What’s more, as Leonard and Jessie have learned, he’s a naturally funny man, a great storyteller, and a sweetheart of a guy with an irreverent sense of humor. He’s even the subject of a first-class documentary called Floyd Norman: An Animated Life. Tune in for some great anecdotes and first-hand memories of Walt Disney.
Recorded live at That’s from Disneyland, courtesy of its creators Richard and Nicky Kraft
If you’re a certain age, you probably first saw Peter Facinelli in films like Can’t Hardly Wait and Dancer, Tex. Pop. 81. A decade later he won even more fans as Dr. Carlisle Cullen in the phenomenally popular Twilight movies. He spent seven seasons as another medico, Dr. Cooper, on the TV series Nurse Jackie. Now he’s making his feature directorial debut with Breaking and Exiting, playing in theaters and on VOD beginning today. Leonard and Jessie learn that he’s an actor who loves a challenge, and is proud of his Italian roots (especially his mother’s cooking).
A likable actor with excellent bloodlines, Colin Hanks has built a busy career for himself in such films as Orange County, King Kong, W. and TV series like Roswell, The Good Guys, Fargo and the current Life in Pieces. Now he’s exploring new avenues as a documentarian with two first-rate features under his belt: Tower Records: All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records and Eagles of Death Metal: Nos Amis (Our Friends). What’s more, he’s a great conversationalist, as Leonard and Jessie learn in this latest episode.