Off Camera with Sam Jones

When you start acting - and very successfully - at eight, its easy to be jaded, obnoxious, or in rehab by the time you're say, 12. Elijah Wood ran the gauntlet of childhood fame unscathed (thanks, Mom), only to sign on at 18 to what no one, including Peter Jackson, knew would be one of the most massively successful cinema franchises ever. He could've gone a number of ways from there, the most obvious being spending the rest of his career trying to top The Lord of the Rings. But that's not really Wood's deal. He chooses interesting filmmakers over star-making roles, loves fulfilling his compulsion to get weird, wonderful stories out in the world, and calls Fantastic Fest his favorite week of the year. Artist? Explorer? Definitely. Calculating careerist? Not so much. "If I'd thought strategically, I might be in a different place, but I'm so happy being where I am." For someone with no strategy, he's one of the smartest guys we know.

1:03:03 2/2/2017

Past Episodes

Yep, it's our 100th episode - or issue, in magazine speak - and we can't think of a better guest to mark the occasion than Ron Howard. He hit his 100th episode at 10, but hey, he had a head start, acting on some of the most iconic shows of our time. But from about that same age, he knew his future as an artist was behind the camera, and once he saw it might happen, "The only rule I gave myself was that I loved the medium, and I wanted to explore it." And he has, in many genres and subjects. A self-described nonintellectual, he's educated himself - and us - about space, parenting, journalism, schizophrenia, racing, and now, Einstein, with one desired outcome: "I want people to be able to say, 'Wow, that must be what it's like." He tells fascinating, human stories, and we're honored to hear him tell his own.
4/27/2017
Do you suspect you might be an improv geek? If you're not sure, let us help. Symptoms include - but aren't limited to regular interjection of the phrase, "Yes, and" in dinner table conversation, no discernible fear of ASSCATs, and a strange feeling of déjà vu when watching Veeps feckless press secretary Mike McLintock hand out another doleful "No comment." If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you are likely a) already beyond help and b) a big fan of Matt Walsh. The improv legend and Upright Citizens Brigade co-founder shares the story behind the iconic theater, the horrible trauma of being the middle child in a big family, why he loves making improv films (turns out it's not for the money), and why trying to be funny is exactly what you don't want to do.
4/20/2017
Remember Slumdog Millionaire? "It's about an underdog who has a dream and goes gunning for it, refusing to stop. You struggle and fall on your face and you pick yourself up and get what you want." Freida Pinto was describing her first film, and perhaps unwittingly, foreshadowing her own career. In the eight short years since, she managed to work with some of the best (and most baffling) directors in the business. But she didn't always manage to get them to see beyond her looks. If finding substantive roles worth her time and talent requires some fight, okay then. "Even at 15 or 16, I could see myself being a superhero. I never saw myself as the sidekick or someone who didn't have a voice." She's found one in Showtime's Guerrilla, in which she is quite literally, a revolutionary. It's a radical departure from what most folks thought she could do, except Pinto herself. Surrender, Hollywood.
4/13/2017
If you want to know about Jenny Slate, you could see her standup, TV shows (Married, Girls, Bored to Death), or movies (Obvious Child, Gifted, My Blind Brother). But at the heart of her work and her identity as an artist is a child - a beautiful, eccentric, wounded, wishful girl who saw a garden and wanted to live in it. Slate knows its a metaphor, but like all good allegories, it carries a lesson: Find what is precious to you and about you, then guard and cultivate it with everything you have. Water your garden. Pull the weeds. And don't forget to sit in the sunshine for a while when you're done. We talk about the experiences that shaped her as an actor, her creative process, and the accidentally appropriate Marcel. But mostly, we talk About the House.
4/6/2017
So no one told her life was going to be this way. Except Friends director Jimmy Burrows, who took Courteney Cox and her fellow cast members to dinner in Vegas, telling them to enjoy the last time they'd ever be able to go out together in public without causing total pandemonium. For Cox, who never had a master plan, it was the start of what was arguably the most successful 18-year run on series television, after which some actors might welcome a break and a margarita or two. Others might freak out just a bit. You probably know what camp she falls in. We talk to Cox about her meteoric acting career, what it's like to simultaneously finance and direct an independent film, learning her craft on the fly, and how none of it would have ever happened if Brian De Palma had actually listened to her back in 1984.
01:00:14 3/29/2017
Hank Azaria became a character actor because With this face, I had no choice. But it's the plastic voice that really gave him no alternative, along with whatever mysterious, uncanny power has allowed him since childhood to hear someone once and mimic them for the rest of his life. What sets him apart even further is an innate emotional connection that makes characters out of what would otherwise be just caricatures. He never understood his ability, but he was grateful for it, because all he ever wanted was to be anyone but himself. Turns out, that doesn't work so well for an actor. In an animated conversation, we go inside baseball, The Simpsons, fatherhood, his career, and his head. Yes, he's one of the most talented and successful actors around, but we think you'll find a lot of common ground there.
3/23/2017
For as long as she can remember, Maggie Siff has been measuring herself. It wasn't vanity or self-obsession; she was after honest self-assessment in the name of getting better at her craft. It's why she entered NYU grad school at 27, where the most important lesson she learned was how to deal with criticism, especially her own. Her unexpected television success since then has erased a lot of doubts, but not the eternal question of artistic fulfillment versus commercial success. Thankfully for Siff and her obvious talent, it's no longer an either/or proposition. Join us for some talk therapy as we discuss her roles on Billions, the film that made her revisit the path not taken and the six-month art project that launched her TV career. She's proven herself the serious actor she knew she could be. Now if someone would just put her in a screwball comedy.
3/16/2017
Jerrod Carmichael grew up in Morningside Manor, which lest there be any confusion, is a far cry from Wayne Manor. His mom's goal was just that he graduate high school. Carmichael's goal was to have an HBO special and an NBC Thursday night TV show. Check, check and check, and he hadn't yet exited his 20's. You could question whether primetime is ready for a standup who cites Richard Pryor, Mark Twain and Socrates as references and builds his 30-minute "The Carmichael Show" around transgender issues, prayer, gun control, Cosby, cheating, abuse, abortion and gentrification - You know, just your happy sitcom stuff - and were not even going to touch kale. Or, you could question why its taken 37 years (All in the Family's last episode aired in 1979) to have a very adult - and very funny - conversation about it all.
3/9/2017
It took a minute or 92 for people who watched Gillian Jacobs' stunning performance in Don't Think Twice to connect her with Community's Britta Perry. That she could inhabit such different roles so believably without ever having trained in comedy or improv is a tribute to her talent. Whether it's a tribute to Julliard is up for debate. A quirky, independent kid jettisoned by friends who saw her as a drag on their popularity, Jacobs threw herself into theater; later, Julliard almost threw her back out. It took her awhile to realize control can't fix an alcoholic parent or a conventional performance. But eventually, the kid who comes home with gum in her hair may also come home with a stronger sense of self. We talk to Jacobs about scaring herself silly, hanging out at celeb hot spots like the La Brea Tar Pits and playing the sex and drug addicted wrecking ball Mickey on Netflixs Love. Which we love.
01:02:36 3/2/2017
If youve seen Veep, you likely know Richard Splett, which could mean you know Sam Richardson. It more likely means you know what it is to be so convinced by a performance that youre unsure where the actor stops and the character begins. How does an artist make that happen, especially when hes the newcomer to one of the most talent-packed comedies on TV? Well, it might be a stretch to say Richardson grew up on the mean streets of Detroit, but growing up on the citys tough comedy stages taught him a thing or two. Now, Motor City serves as backdrop and inspiration for his own TV show. We discuss the parallels between playing a pitchman on Detroiters and actually pitching Detroiters, and how growing up between two countries inspired its unique take on race and traditional sitcom relationships. He also explains why a fake laugh is no courtesy, but a crime against humanity.
1:02:48 2/23/2017

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Premium Episodes

Yep, it's our 100th episode - or issue, in magazine speak - and we can't think of a better guest to mark the occasion than Ron Howard. He hit his 100th episode at 10, but hey, he had a head start, acting on some of the most iconic shows of our time. But from about that same age, he knew his future as an artist was behind the camera, and once he saw it might happen, "The only rule I gave myself was that I loved the medium, and I wanted to explore it." And he has, in many genres and subjects. A self-described nonintellectual, he's educated himself - and us - about space, parenting, journalism, schizophrenia, racing, and now, Einstein, with one desired outcome: "I want people to be able to say, 'Wow, that must be what it's like." He tells fascinating, human stories, and we're honored to hear him tell his own.
4/27/2017
Do you suspect you might be an improv geek? If you're not sure, let us help. Symptoms include - but aren't limited to regular interjection of the phrase, "Yes, and" in dinner table conversation, no discernible fear of ASSCATs, and a strange feeling of déjà vu when watching Veeps feckless press secretary Mike McLintock hand out another doleful "No comment." If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you are likely a) already beyond help and b) a big fan of Matt Walsh. The improv legend and Upright Citizens Brigade co-founder shares the story behind the iconic theater, the horrible trauma of being the middle child in a big family, why he loves making improv films (turns out it's not for the money), and why trying to be funny is exactly what you don't want to do.
4/20/2017
Remember Slumdog Millionaire? "It's about an underdog who has a dream and goes gunning for it, refusing to stop. You struggle and fall on your face and you pick yourself up and get what you want." Freida Pinto was describing her first film, and perhaps unwittingly, foreshadowing her own career. In the eight short years since, she managed to work with some of the best (and most baffling) directors in the business. But she didn't always manage to get them to see beyond her looks. If finding substantive roles worth her time and talent requires some fight, okay then. "Even at 15 or 16, I could see myself being a superhero. I never saw myself as the sidekick or someone who didn't have a voice." She's found one in Showtime's Guerrilla, in which she is quite literally, a revolutionary. It's a radical departure from what most folks thought she could do, except Pinto herself. Surrender, Hollywood.
4/13/2017
If you want to know about Jenny Slate, you could see her standup, TV shows (Married, Girls, Bored to Death), or movies (Obvious Child, Gifted, My Blind Brother). But at the heart of her work and her identity as an artist is a child - a beautiful, eccentric, wounded, wishful girl who saw a garden and wanted to live in it. Slate knows its a metaphor, but like all good allegories, it carries a lesson: Find what is precious to you and about you, then guard and cultivate it with everything you have. Water your garden. Pull the weeds. And don't forget to sit in the sunshine for a while when you're done. We talk about the experiences that shaped her as an actor, her creative process, and the accidentally appropriate Marcel. But mostly, we talk About the House.
4/6/2017
So no one told her life was going to be this way. Except Friends director Jimmy Burrows, who took Courteney Cox and her fellow cast members to dinner in Vegas, telling them to enjoy the last time they'd ever be able to go out together in public without causing total pandemonium. For Cox, who never had a master plan, it was the start of what was arguably the most successful 18-year run on series television, after which some actors might welcome a break and a margarita or two. Others might freak out just a bit. You probably know what camp she falls in. We talk to Cox about her meteoric acting career, what it's like to simultaneously finance and direct an independent film, learning her craft on the fly, and how none of it would have ever happened if Brian De Palma had actually listened to her back in 1984.
01:00:14 3/29/2017

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