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Back to One, Episode 101: Zach Woods

I remember when I first saw Zach Woods. It was in the Armando Iannucci film In The Loop. His comedic sensibilities matched so perfectly with what I demanded as a consumer of comedy—bold choices, molded in subtlety, grounded in reality. He has continued to morph and advance his style with unforgettable roles on The Office, Silicon Valley, and now again for Iannucci on Avenue 5, where he plays cheerful nihilist Matt Spencer, Head of Customer Relations. In this inspirational episode, we have a far-reaching conversation on his approach to the craft and the industry in general. Summary: the greatest comedic […]

Back to One, Episode 100: Andrea Riseborough

It’s time we stop taking the preternaturally gifted British actor Andrea Riseborough for granted. She transforms so completely into her characters (appearance, accent, posture, mannerisms) that it’s easy to just believe she is the character and hard to measure her talents because we don’t know what “default Andrea Riseborough” is like. One thing is crystal clear though. She’s simply one of the best we have. On this, the 100th episode of Back To One, she talks about being surprised by the reactions to her chameleon-like abilities, how she uses the shooting environment (no matter how difficult) to fuel her work, […]

Back to One, Episode 99: Leslie Manville

The brilliant British actor Lesley Manville has given us two of the truly great cinematic performances of the last decade, Mary in Another Year and Cyril in Phantom Thread (which landed her an Oscar Nomination). But those are just two in a long list of living, breathing characters she has inhabited with subtlety, nuance and depth, both on the stage and screen. In this episode, she talks about her latest–Joan in Ordinary Love, her formative years with Mike Leigh, the necessity of director input, why she doesn’t want to take her characters home, and much more! Back To One can be […]

“I Wanted the Camera to Get Close… What Does Our Body Allow Us To Do, Or Prevent Us From Doing?”: Jennie Livingston on the Criterion Restoration of Her Classic Doc, Paris is Burning

In the mid-1980s, photographer and aspiring filmmaker Jennie Livingston discovered New York City’s drag ball scene and found the subject for what would become her debut feature, the landmark 1990 documentary Paris is Burning. A moving, empathetic, and very, very funny portrait of the black, Latinx, gay and transgender voguers who find support and community in rival “houses” during a time of cultural hostility defined by homophobia, transphobia, and racism, Paris is Burning is both a remarkable time capsule and a timeless ensemble character study about the need for self-expression and the desire to be heard. Livingston’s sensitivity as an […]

“I Had Gunfight Westerns in Mind With the Structure”: Writer/Director John Sayles on the Criterion Rerelease of Matewan

When John Sayles wrote and directed Matewan in 1987, he was already a hero to those of us following American independent film, both for his witty, energetic genre screenplays (Piranha, The Howling, Battle Beyond the Stars) and for his self-financed directorial efforts (Return of the Secaucus Seven, Lianna, The Brother From Another Planet). His movies as writer-director, which also included a detour into studio filmmaking with the exquisite coming of age drama Baby It’s You, were major inspirations for an entire generation of aspiring filmmakers, because they gave us a high standard of excellence to reach for yet also seemed […]

“Send the Actors to Set with Everything They Need For Their Bodies”: Costume Designer Keri Langerman Dresses The Photograph

After her mother passes away, Mae (Issa Rae) finds letters and a photograph left to her in a safety deposit box. The letters recall an unrequited romance between her mother, Christina Eames (Chante Adams), and a man Mae’s never heard of, Isaac Jefferson (Y’lan Noel). What got between them, mostly, was just space. Christina moved to New York to pursue the kind of career you can’t ambling clammy in the heat. Isaac stayed home. This is a timeless romantic dilemma. As The Photograph shows what happened between Christina and Isaac, the same dynamic recurs in the present between her daughter […]

Back to One, Episode 98: Zora Howard

Zora Howard is a juggernaut. She stars in Premature and co-wrote the script with director Rashaad Ernesto Green. Her performance has an assured authenticity and a new brand of quiet desperation that is remarkable for a first feature. She’s been an award-winning creator for years though. Plays, poems, spoken word performances. Her play Stew just closed off-broadway to great acclaim. I gush about it and ask where her love of words began, and which of these various paths of creation she’s anxious to continue down. She talks about the necessary step of taking off the writer’s hat in order to […]

Back to One, Episode 97: Zoey Deutch

Acting wunderkind Zoey Deutch returns to the podcast on the occasion of the release of Buffaloed, the raucous indie she stars in (and produced) where she gets to flex her high octane comedy chops. We get into the weeds discussing comedy performance, she talks about striving to make her characters relatable, and about her love for auditioning (despite the hiccups). I delicately ask her what makes up the bulk of her now legendary script binder and she graciously explains. Plus much much more! Back To One can be found wherever you get your podcasts, including Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and […]

Back to One, Episode 96: Richard Rankin

Scottish actor Richard Rankin plays Roger Mackenzie Wakefield on the Starz hit series Outlander (Season 5 premieres on Sunday, February 16th). On this episode, he talks about the process of stepping back into playing Roger after being on hiatus. We have a very clinical discussion about sex scenes, chemistry, and the importance of genuine depth in on-screen romance. I ask if he’s looking for roles where he can use his American accent. A listener question leads to a discussion about the effects of time travel. Plus he (very objectively) talks about why he’s the reason season 5 of Outlander is […]