Laura Dern grew up in show business, the daughter of Diane Ladd and Bruce Dern. She has long since carved a niche all her own, with two Oscar nominations under her belt and a lifetime of colorful experiences. From indie films to Jurassic Park, she has great stories to tell and shares them with Leonard and Jessie. Since we spoke to her in 2017 her career has continued to flourish, with a return to Jurassic World and an Academy Award for her blistering performance in Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story.
We’ve all been watching Bruce Davison for years—tending to his pet rats in Willard in the early 70s, earning an Oscar nomination for Longtime Companion in 1989, defying the X-Men as a Senator in 2000, and making his mark in an endless variety of roles on stage, television and movies—most recently as the villainous senator on Ozark. It turns out he is also a world-class raconteur. Leonard and Jessie were held in rapt attention as he imitated Burt Lancaster, Henry Fonda and a host of others while spinning a series of unforgettable anecdotes. Don’t miss this encore episode from 2017!
We’re reaching back six years to repeat a great conversation with Ed Begley, Jr., one of the most familiar faces in television and movies. He has great stories to match his incredible career, from Best in Show to Ghostbusters and beyond. He tells Leonard and Jessie how he came to be directed by Jack Nicholson, and reveals how Christopher Guest steers his actors through their improvised comedy scenes. This episode was recorded before our prolific guest joined the cast of Better Call Saul and Young Sheldon.
In celebration of this weekend’s D23 convention in Anaheim, California, we’re happy to revisit this episode from August of 2018:
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
Andreas was 10 or 11 when he saw Walt Disney’s The Jungle Book and it changed his life. As a boy in Germany he dreamed of working for the studio that captured his imagination so completely… and he made that dream come true. A master animator, he brought King Triton to life in The Little Mermaid, Scar in The Lion King, and Jafar in Aladdin, to name just a few. He never surrendered his pencil, choosing to burnish his skills rather than adapt to computer technology. For most of the last decade he’s been working on an animated film of his own called Moushka. Andreas is that rare artist who has carved his own path and been rewarded for his dedication (and talent). Leonard and Jessie are longtime friends and fans.
Meet four of the creative folks responsible for the animated Netflix hit Love, Death & Robots! In their alternate lives, creator and executive producer Tim Miller directed the big-screen Deadpool and Jennifer Yuh Nelson directed Kung Fu Panda 2 and 3… but this attention-grabbing anthology of animated short subjects has got their juices flowing. The same holds true for supervising sound editors Brad North and Craig Henighan, who treat each episode of the show like a feature film and call on years of experience creating unusual soundscapes. Leonard and Jessie can’t imagine all the work that goes into crafting every installment of this wildly imaginative show.
“Gaslit” is one of the best miniseries of the past year, and it has been rewarded with Emmy nominations for Kazu Hiro, the gifted Japanese-born makeup artist who transformed Sean Penn into former Attorney General John Mitchell… cinematographer Larkin Seiple, whose credits include this year’s indie darling Everything Everywhere All at Once…sound rerecording mixers John W. Cook II and Ben Wilkins, who articulate why creating authentic sound effects make a crucial difference to the film as a whole and their expert audio colleagues Stefani Feldman and Kevin Buchholz, Leonard and Jessie value this opportunity to go behind the scenes and talk to such creative collaborators.
Rick Carter’s credits as production designer are staggering: Jurassic Park, Forrest Gump, A.I., Amistad, Cast Away, Star Wars: The Force Awakens and the two that won him Oscars, Avatar and Lincoln, to name just a few. Yet he remains open-minded and recently mentored eight local artists for an amazing installation at the El Segundo Museum of Art, or eSMOA. That’s where Leonard and Jessie sat down with him to discuss his extraordinary career and the exceptional films he’s helped bring to life.
Show business was always Martin Short’s destination. When he was a boy he wrote TV Guide listings for the variety show he envisioned for himself. Most of his dreams have come true, from television to Hollywood to Broadway. He’s just completed season 2 of Only Murders in the Building for Hulu, costarring his pal Steve Martin and Selena Gomez. If it looks like the stars are having a good time working together, it’s because they are. Both Leonard and Jessie were nervous talking to someone they admire so very much. Their guest was unfailingly thoughtful and good-natured. How could he be otherwise? He’s Martin Short!
Lots of baby boomers read comic books, but only one pursued his love of comics so far that he wound up buying the screen rights to Batman. It took ten years for Michael Uslan to get that first movie made, with Tim Burton behind the camera and Michael Keaton in front, but it was a game-changer for Hollywood. Michael has told his life story in a book, The Boy Who Loved Batman, and now it’s going to be a Broadway show! During the recording of this conversation Jessie realized that Michael and Leonard must have inhabited the same space at one time years ago. Listen in and you’ll learn the answer.
If you’re casting an unconventional character and you need someone the audience will relate to—no matter how strange his story—you might want to call on Paul Walter Hauser. Clint Eastwood did for the leading role in his movie Richard Jewell, Craig Gillespie did for I, Tonya, and Dennis Lehane did for the current Apple+ series Black Bird. (Spike Lee has used him twice—in Blackklansman and Da 5 Bloods.) Jessie has been a fan since the TV series Kingdom, and Leonard is still catching up with this gifted performer’s work.
Annette O’Toole’s first professional job was dancing with Danny Kaye on his network TV show… and she hasn’t stopped performing since. She’s about to film the fifth season of the Netflix series Virgin River and is brimming with enthusiasm for it. Her credits include six years as Ma Kent on Smallville, an Emmy nomination for playing Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy in The Kennedys of Massachusetts, and an Oscar nomination for the song “A Smile at the End of the Rainbow” from Christopher Guest’s A Mighty Wind (which she wrote with her husband Michael McKean). Leonard and Jessie love talking to people like Annette who love what they do—and are so very good at it.
Dennis Lehane is the best-selling author of Boston-based crime novels that have translated well to film (Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone). His first experience with television was on The Wire, a great show that helped inform his new six-part series called Black Birds, which debuts Friday, July 8 on Apple+. It’s an incredibly gripping drama and Lehane is happy to talk about it with Leonard and Jessie. You’ll learn about the importance of casting not just the leading roles (Taron Egerton, Paul Walter Hauser, Ray Liotta) but every person who appears on camera.
Leonard and Jessie are unapologetic proselytizers for the new theatrical feature Marcel the Shell With Shoes On. This disarming feature is an outgrowth of a short Fleischer-Camp created with his partner, actor/comedian/filmmaker Jenny Slate that went viral back in 2010 when that was uncommon. Dean explains how he and Jenny dealt with that phenomenon and tried to protect their precious character, who emerges triumphant in this charming and surprisingly emotional film. If you’d like to hear our 2017 conversation with Jenny, just click HERE. https://maltinonmovies.libsyn.
Hi everyone… Jessie and I recently helped our beloved Richard Sherman celebrate his 94th birthday. He is a living legend and a bona fide Disney Legend who with his brother Bob wrote songs we all know and love from Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, and Disneyland, to name just a few of his many credits. We spoke to him in 2016 and thought it would be fun to play that episode again. His passion for music and life is inspiring, and we feel very lucky to know him
How is it that Kiwi native Rose McIver is so talented, so versatile, and still so nice? Popular most recently for her appearances on IZombie and the current Ghosts on CBS, she has also worked with Peter Jackson on The Lovely Bones and a host of other TV shows (like Masters of Sex) and films—going all the way back to Jane Campion’s The Piano--sometimes playing American (flawlessly) and other times letting her natural voice be heard. In any event, she’s fun to listen to.
With a starring role in the current VOD release All My Puny Tomorrows Alison Pill has a showcase worthy of her abundant talent. That’s no secret to fans who have followed her since her days as a child actress… including many of today’s leading filmmakers, who have cast her in such notable films as Milk, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Snowpiercer, and Hail, Caesar!, to name just a few. And she recently completed a two-year run in Star Trek: Picard. Small wonder that Leonard and Jessie found her to be a smart and engaging conversationalist.
Our guest grew up as a privileged son of Hollywood royalty. George Stevens Sr. made such classic movies as Gunga Din, Shane, and Giant, and in time invited his son to join his filmmaking team. But George Stevens Jr. went on to forge his own formidable career in Washington D.C. as founder of the American Film Institute and co-creator of the Kennedy Center Honors. His newly published autobiography My Place in the Sun is filled with great stories from both worlds, some of which he was kind enough to share with Leonard and Jessie.
In his earliest screen appearances (remember Quest for Fire?) Ron Perlman was buried under a ton of makeup and prosthetics. That’s also how he became the Emmy-winning star of television’s Beauty and the Beast. Since then he’s shown his versatility, especially in his collaborations with the gifted filmmaker Guillermo del Toro like Hellboy and the forthcoming Pinocchio. His new film
The Last Victim, casts him as a weary sheriff in the modern-day West. As Leonard and Jessie quickly discovered, Ron has the soul of a poet and the heart of a movie buff. Wait till you hear him singing the praises of Gary Cooper!
Karen Gillan first came to prominence playing Amy Pond during two seasons on Dr. Who. Then she was cast as Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and her career went into overdrive. She’ll be reprising her signature role in Thor: Love and Thunder and in Volume 3 of Guardians next year. Meanwhile, you can see her play opposite herself in the science-fiction feature Dual, now playing in theaters, and in Judd Apatow’s The Bubble on Netflix. Leonard and Jessie are suckers for anyone with a Scottish accent, but Karen ups the ante with her outgoing personality and upbeat approach to her burgeoning career.
His performance as the devilish media baron Logan Roy has helped make Succession must-see television. But Brian Cox has been giving inspired performances for decades, on stage, screen and television; he was the first actor to play Hannibal Lecter in 1986’s Manhhunter. Now he’s gathered his best stories in a candid, witty book called Putting the Rabbit in the Hat. He is also a fanatic about Hollywood’s golden age and a guest programmer for TCM this month. Needless to say, Leonard and Jessie had little trouble finding topics of conversation with the man who names Spencer Tracy as his all-time favorite actor.
The success of Ray Donovan has introduced Eddie Marsan to a legion of viewers who may not have seen (or recognized) him from the hundred-or-so feature films he’s been in, from Gangs of New York and War Horse to Mike Leigh’s wonderful Vera Drake and Happy-go-Lucky. He is the very model of a modern working actor, ready to take on a new accent and persona with each new assignment…and that’s the way he likes it. Leonard and Jessie are charter members of his fan club and were delighted to find that—unlike some of the nasty guys he’s played on screen—he’s a devoted family man with four children. You can see him right now in The Contractor starring Chris Pine.
Television viewers may know him best for his seven-year run as the star of Without a Trace (or his Emmy-winning appearances on Frasier) but Anthony LaPaglia has had a long and varied career on stage and film. Early credits include 29th Street, Innocent Blood, Betsy’s Wedding, Jessie’s favorite Empire Records and Spike Lee’s Summer of Sam. Now he’s starring in Nitram, a drama about one of the most shocking incidents in Australian history. It’s playing on AMC+ and available in selected theaters and VOD. Anthony is a bright and thoughtful man with a good sense of self: he admits that he had to improve his Australian accent when he went back to film in his home country!
Neal McDonough is one of the busiest actors in show business. Now he is adding “writer” and “producer” to his resumé with a feature called Boon that comes to theaters and VOD on April1st. His talent and work ethic have earned him the respect of men like Steven Spielberg and Clint Eastwood, so he’s got great role models to follow. From Band of Brothers to Minority Report, Desperate Housewives to Arrow and The Flash, he has built a rock-solid career in front of the camera. It will be interesting to see what happens next. Leonard and Jessie enjoyed meeting Neal, whose wife is now his producing partner—having already produced five children together!