Off Camera with Sam Jones

Off Camera with Sam Jones

United States

Off Camera with Sam Jones is the podcast that brings you in-depth, intimate, comfortable conversations with the most iconic artists of our time. Join Sam Jones as he talks with actors like Robert Downey, Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Bell and Don Cheadle, musicians like Dave Grohl, The Edge, and Carrie Brownstein, and directors like Judd Apatow and Richard Linklater about what made them prolific curious, and fearless artists. Sam Jones finds a connection with every guest, and the resulting conversation reveals the human side of these iconic artists.


114. Mike White  

If you've always thought of Hollywood as a competitive, jealousy-ridden place where success is watched, compared and envied, Mike White is not here to disillusion you. And his latest film suggests the world inside your own head might not be so different. Few writers understand our inner dialogs better, and that can be embarrassing. Not to mention touching, depressing and yes, funny. We talk to one of the business's most talented screenwriters (and directors, and actors) about why he feels more alive the further he gets from it, and his uncool struggle with the siren call of ambition. But if the result is work like Chuck & Buck, School of Rock, Year of the Dog, Enlightened, Beatriz at Dinner, and Brads Status, can ambition be so bad? Throughout his career, White has worked to create an alternate kind of story and protagonist. It makes me feel like I'm not completely crazy. Us, too. Thanks, Mike.

The Call-in Show 2  

Hi Folks! Well, summer is almost over. Kids are shuffling back to school, the sun is setting a bit earlier, and over here at the Off Camera studios, we are hard at work on our fall season. To kick things off, we proudly present our second annual Call In Podcast, chock full of conversations with listeners like you, as we touch on a multitude of creative and show related topics.That podcast is available right now, right here. Opening up the phone lines is a lot of fun for us over here, and we were flattered by all of the calls and emails we received. I was particularly struck by the stories of our listeners forging their own creative identities through struggle and risk, and honored that Off Camera is a part of their journeys. We are fortunate to have so many thoughtful, curious listeners, and I hope you enjoy hearing their questions, critiques, and creative conundrums as much as I did. I also want to apologize to anyone who I didnt get to talk to. I am overwhelmed by the support and loyalty of the Off Camera listeners, and I feel lucky to be a part of this community. Thanks to everyone who called in and reinforced something we really believe here at Off Camera Headquarters nothing beats a great conversation. Our regularly scheduled programming starts next week with a lineup that I am very excited to share with you all. Enjoy the waning days of summer, and I will see you. Off Camera! Thanks, Sam

Calling All Call-In Show Callers  

Get ready all you eager artists. On Aug 18th starting at 10AM (PST) Off Camera is opening up the phone lines to take questions from YOU, the listeners. So call in and talk to Sam about whatever's on your mind!

113. Holly Hunter  

It's ironic Holly Hunter won an Oscar for The Piano, in which she did her own playing. If she'd had the chops she wanted, we'd never have seen her in that movie, Raising Arizona, Broadcast News or so many others that made us swear she was born to act. Fortunately, she found acting almost as sacred and transportive as music, her original dream. Working with a string of the best directors in the business right out of the gate helped - and led to some later-career disillusionment. But Hunter's not as ambitious for her career as she is for her characters and what they can tell us about each other. An actor's actor talks about empathy, and how she makes us feel things we never see on screen in The Big Sick and Strange Weather. She also shares what it's like having Bill Hurt call bullshit on you, and why she will not be having the stuffed crab, thank you.

112. Lauren Lapkus  

The woman huffing in impotent rage in a frozen Marshalls' checkout line with an armful of bras. The jubilant loudmouth barely able to articulate the awesomeness of a Monster! Truck! Rally! The lady blithely terrorizing passengers with her wheelie as she pushes up to the boarding gate. Nobody wants to be these people. Except Lauren Lapkus. She loves them. She wants to inhabit them. If it means being odd or ugly, it's also license to say and do anything she wants without repercussion. Oh, to be free of self-awareness and filters, if only for a few exhilarating moments. Oh, to be Lapkus, one of the best improvisers and sketch comics in the business. Just don't look too hard at the fine print about exposing yourself on stage without a script, props or any idea what's going to happen. Despite the thousands of people jumping into improv these days, she says - and proves - it's not for amateurs.

111. Michaela Watkins  

We all have one or two turning points in life, but Michaela Watkins' life seems like an endless string of them. There was the classical music camp that unleashed her inner comic. The spontaneous road trip that became five years of regional theater. There was the backstage decision that doing Shakespeare actually kinda sucked. And then the double epiphany: she should be on a TV show in Los Angeles and join The Groundlings. Getting cast on Saturday Night Live and then inexplicably dropped after one season was not a turning point she'd anticipated. It was never even in the plan. So, she found herself at yet another: Wallow, or move on? Well, the suspense isn't killing anyone who's been watching TV for the last 10 years, but watching one of the most gifted supporting actresses around finally show what she can do with a lead role is one of the best endings we can think of.

110. Zoe Kazan  

What makes a kid cry on her birthday? The occasional cake-induced stomachache or bouncy-house bruise, sure. For Zoe Kazan, it was a sense of what she was leaving farther behind, and she cried every year. A direct and unselfconscious view of our imagination and its creative expression gets harder and harder to find in the rearview mirror unless you cultivate and protect it. Kazan tries hard to do just that through work that she loves, in a business she often doesn't. Acting is a joyful challenge (just watch Olive Kitteridge and The Big Sick); writing, especially stage plays, is a painful one. Both expose her voice and ideas - her soul - for all of us to judge. If you believe the only true art is personal, you must decide if you'll risk your ego to make it. If the answer's yes, you're in the right place. It's a thrilling, terrifying place, and Kazan rather likes the neighborhood.

109. Zoe Lister-Jones  

Struggle is just how Zoe Lister-Jones rolls. She watched her parents struggle to make a living from their art, and tussled with her own decision to pursue acting versus stability. She struggled to break into film, finally deciding that instead of fighting the system, she'd create one, co-writing and acting in her own projects. The biggest yet is Band Aid, which just happened to help women battling for a place on a film crew. It's a comedy about artistic and personal failure, and our struggle to understand each other as men and women. In exposing her own insecurities - Do other people have it more figured out? A better relationship? - she reminds us that if we're far from perfect, we're about as far from it as everyone else. Lister-Jones will continue to struggle for her art, but she's learned it doesn't have to be so hard - it's about your mindset, not your circumstances.

108. Kumail Nanjiani  

When you don't know who you are or what you want to do, and you have no real intention of doing what your family wants you to do, and then you decide you have to do something you have no idea you can do, what should you do? First, avoid thinking about it. Lie to your loved ones a little. Then, write a movie about it. So far, so good. But how do you know if your life is entertaining enough to be a movie? If Judd Apatow tells you it is, that's a start. Standup-turned-leading man Kumail Nanjiani puts a face on immigration, religion, racism, family and ultimately, growing up in The Big Sick. Coming to the U.S. from Karachi, he found a career and a woman he loved, then nearly lost her to a mysterious illness and his own uncertainty. It's an uncommon story he's somehow made completely relatable. In the process, he's given us one more reason to embrace our differences: They're funny.

107. Sam Elliott  

With a slew of acclaimed films and several TV series in the last two years alone, it seems Hollywood's come gunning for Sam Elliott. Fair enough; four decades ago, Elliott came gunning for Hollywood. But not for stardom or money. "It wasn't about anything but making film, and I knew the kind I wanted to make." He admired Gary Cooper, Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne - and the dudes who wrangled their horses. Guys who stood for simple, honest acting; guys we didn't want to watch being anyone but themselves. That less-is-more approach linked Elliott indelibly with Westerns and inscrutable tough guys for most of his career, but is now proving just as mesmerizing in a surprising range of new roles. When Elliott talks about his (very) storied career, he mentions luck more than talent, but adds that good luck is usually the residual of hard work. Well raise a Coors to that.

106. Jim Jefferies  

Jim Jefferies is an Australian comic who found success in America by mocking our laws, hypocrisy and leaders - and don't get him started on actors. But before you take offense, know that he's an equal-opportunity berator. The most patriotic thing you can do, whether youre British, Australian, American, South African, whatever the fuck you are, is speak out about things you don't agree with. Also, know that he loves the country that gave him both a permanent home and In-N-Out. It's just that he points out our flaws as bluntly and uproariously as he does his own. That's probably why he gets away with it. The guy who puts himself on full public display shares a few things you might not know: the lowest moment of his comedy career, his SRE (standard rate of embellishment) and what to expect from The Jim Jefferies Show. And if you're after positivity and inspiration Well, enjoy the conversation anyway.

105. Danny McBride  

As a film-obsessed 10-year old stranded in a rural suburb of Virginia, Danny McBride went with his parents to pay the cable bill so he could see where all those movies were made. Maybe the magic didn't happen in that small strip mall office, but a film he made in a small strip mall 20 years later launched a career he never imagined. He made it with friends he still works with today, a group with the hubris to think they were just as talented as the guys they saw working in Hollywood. When you're right, you're right. McBride's genius lies in pulling the rug out from under his characters, and often, his audience; he lulls us into stereotypes and comedy tropes one minute only to detonate them the next. We chat about the hard work of comedy, the Foot-Fist Business Model and the joy of finding your fellow bees.

104. Billy Crudup  

Billy Crudup's post-theater school plans for a steady, workmanlike, and hopefully long career spent perfecting his craft were jackhammered by Almost Famous. Suddenly he was Hollywood's Next Big Thing, and completely unprepared for the dubious responsibility that comes with that crown. In fact, he was pretty sure he didnt even want the crown. "It throws you into some confusion about yourself and what you do and how each next move could affect that." Going with his gut and opting instead for interesting, "weird-ass" parts that would foster growth meant saying no to really smart people who made really big movies. Not becoming a "star" also meant he had to keep reaching for something, and to find out what kind of an actor he really was. As it turns out, he's the best kind - one who does it for all the right reasons.

103. Chris Shiflett  

From the this-just-in file: "Being in a band is not a normal job." Chris Shiflett knows it's a laughable understatement, especially when the band in question is the Foo Fighters, one of the few remaining rock acts that can record, tour and provide a (very) nice living for it's members. So why does he still take guitar lessons, humble himself in songwriting workshops and log 14-hour days in the back of a van? The answer is love, friends - an all-consuming passion for making, discovering and understanding music. He didn't always work so hard; he dropped out of school to enjoy the L.A. rock scene and make it in a band. Improbably and inevitably, he did. Yeah, there's a lot of story in between. Shiflett shares it all, including his harrowing brush with bookkeeping, whoring, drinking and gambling. The last three of which come in handy when you're writing excellent new country songs.

102. Elisabeth Moss  

Listen closely to Elisabeth Moss' monologue in Queen of Earth and underneath it, you'll hear her heartbeat. It's not nerves; it's love. When Moss loves a scene, or hits her groove in it, her heart pounds so hard her mic has to be adjusted. She can't remember ever not loving acting, something she's done with confounding brilliance since the age of eight, but most recognizably since 17 in The West Wing, Mad Men, countless films and now to devastating effect in The Handmaids Tale. But if you're here for tips, she ain't spilling. She can't. Rules and techniques that apply one day (or hour) go out the window the next. She's willing to ponder it, though, and offer observations on character, directing, sucking, feminism and more. If we fail to solve how a true artist plies her craft, at least we fail alongside one of the best and most instinctual actors of our time.

101. Colin Hanks  

Colin Hanks was just looking to fill time between acting jobs when he decided a documentary about Tower Records might be interesting. He had no idea how much it would change his outlook, his approach to acting, and essentially, his whole career. He also had no idea how to make a documentary. But that's what he loves about his trade "you're never done learning it. Anyone who says they're done learning is really saying they're done trying to learn." Here, he shares just a few of the lessons he's picked up so far: The biggest, truest stories emerge in the smallest moments; ask the right question, and the possibilities are endless; and, work begets work. Oh, and more work can beget a case of total body failure. Which in turn can finally beget Colin Hanks in your studio for a long-awaited conversation.

100. Ron Howard  

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.

99. Matt Walsh  

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 dejà 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.

98. Freida Pinto  

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.

97. Jenny Slate  

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.

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