Bullseye with Jesse Thorn
Bullseye from NPR is your curated guide to culture. Jesse Thorn hosts in-depth interviews with brilliant creators, culture picks from our favorite critics and irreverent original comedy. Bullseye has been featured in Time, The New York Times, GQ and McSweeney's, which called it "the kind of show people listen to in a more perfect world." (Formerly known as The Sound of Young America.)

Happy Tuesday! This time, we're listening back to our 2018 conversation with filmmaker Debra Granik. In 2010, she wrote and directed "Winter's Bone," the acclaimed drama that launched Jennifer Lawrence's career and was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. Now, the long awaited follow-up is available to stream on Amazon. It's called "Leave No Trace" and it's been met with similar acclaim. She and Jesse talk about the new film, about the pitfalls of calling an artist a "genius" and her first ever paid movie gig: shooting weddings!

Direct download: Bullseye190219.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:43pm EST

Dream interview alert! Today: Jesse talks with Barbara Kruger. 

Kruger is a fascinating and profoundly influential artist. She works in big, bold text usually in white font over ribbons of red. The text is usually superimposed over black and white photos, usually of people. The messages say stuff like "YOUR BODY IS A BATTLEGROUND," "WE DON'T NEED ANOTHER HERO," or "DON'T BE A JERK."

If all that doesn't ring a bell yet, you can find thousands of samples of her work on the internet. Maybe the fonts and colors remind of you something: the Supreme logo? That Instagram Stories filter? It all started with Barbara Kruger.

Jesse talks with Kruger about why she dropped out of art school, how she found footing in the contemporary art world, and what she's trying to communicate these days in her work.

 

 

Direct download: Bullseye190215.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

Every now and then we like bring you a segment we call to the Song That Changed My Life. It's a chance to find out what makes some of our favorite musicians the person they are today. Stepping up this time: Ludwig Göransson.

Maybe you don't know him by name. But you've heard almost certainly heard his work. He was in Sweden and moved to the States in 2007. And before long, he started working in TV shows and movies as a composer. One of his first was Community. It was actually on the set of Community where he met Donald Glover. The two became friends, then, when he found out Glover could sing and rap, collaborators. Göransson's been the principal producer on all of Glover's Childish Gambino records. He actually just scored several Grammy awards for the song "This is America" by Glover.

He's scored some pretty big films, too: Fruitvale Station, Creed, Venom… and Black Panther. The music he wrote for Black Panther is up for the Academy Award for Best Original Score at this year's Oscars.  

So we asked Ludwig, this brilliant composer and hip-hop producer, to tell us about the song that changed his life. His pick? Enter Sandman by Metallica.

Direct download: Bullseye190214.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

Adam McKay has had a pretty eclectic career. He started in sketch comedy first as a founder of the Upright Citizens Brigade, then as a writer on Saturday Night Live. He studied at Second City, too, so throw that in there.

Then, movies: He collaborated with Will Ferrell to make some stone cold comedy classics: AnchormanStep BrothersTalladega Nights. Lately, though, his work has been more serious. Topical. Political.

A few years back, he wrote and directed The Big Short, which deconstructed and explained the 2008 financial crisis. He helped create the HBO show Succession - a drama about a family that owns a colossal American media empire.

Now there's Vice, his latest movie, which is the story of former Vice President Dick Cheney. It's playing in theaters now and is up for eight Academy Awards.

The common thread with McKay's work is that it's never boring, never forced. He'll take an extremely dumb joke and frame it in a way that's so clever and compelling that you just lose it. He'll find a way to explain credit default swaps that are so entertaining and engrossing that you forget you're learning about... credit default swaps.

In this conversation, Adam tells Jesse how he manages to keep his films fresh, funny and weird, and also shares some of the more reckless tales in improv comedy from his time in Chicago.

Direct download: Bullseye190212.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

Ladies and germs... Killer Mike! It's been more than a decade since Killer Mike joined us on Bullseye. These days, he's busier than ever. Along with El-P, he's one-half of Grammy nominated duo Run the Jewels. Together they've put out three great albums – with a fourth on the way later this year.

Now, he's got his very own Netflix series, "Trigger Warning with Killer Mike." Killer Mike joins us to talk about the new show. Plus, how he ended up becoming friends with legendary comedian and activist Dick Gregory, and what it was like hitting the road campaigning with Bernie Sanders.

Direct download: Bullseye190208podcast.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

Jesse talks with John David Washington, star of the critically acclaimed film BlacKkKlansman, directed by Spike Lee.

Before John David Washington was an actor, he was lacing up the pads every week for a career in professional football. He traveled the globe from Sacramento to Dusseldorf, Germany trying to make it work. It seems fitting, then, that when he took up acting, his breakthrough role was the portrayal of an NFL player on HBO's "Ballers." He joins us to chat about his role in BlacKkKlansman: a compelling and complex look at the life of the first black police officer and detective in the Colorado Springs Police Department, and his undercover journey to expose David Duke and the KKK.

Direct download: Bullseye190205podcast.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

Jesse talks with Tituss Burgess, actor from "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt," "30 Rock" and more. On UKS, Tituss plays a struggling, needy and desperate Broadway actor. He’s transparently conniving and manipulative, but he’s also sweet, charming and super lovable. He shows his tough past, his lonely circumstances and he’s a real friend to Kimmy.

That warmth comes from Tituss Burgess. Burgess was himself a struggling Broadway actor many moons ago, living in a basement apartment in Harlem, just like his character on TV.

The last episodes of "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" are now available on Netflix. 

Direct download: Bullseye190201podcast.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:50pm EST

Jesse talks with legendary character actress Carol Kane about the last season of "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" and her 45-year career in the biz.

Carol started acting in 1971 and pretty quickly landed big roles. One of her first films was in the Mike Nichols drama "Carnal Knowledge." She'd later work on other classics like "Annie Hall," "Dog Day Afternoon," and was even nominated for a best actress Oscar for her part in the 1975 film "Hester Street."

But ultimately, Carol found her home in comedy — something she never expected she'd do coming up. She appeared on "Taxi" as the wife of Latka, Andy Kaufman's character. She was in "The Muppet Movie," "The Princess Bride," "Scrooged," and lots more.

On "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt," Carol plays Lillian, long-time New Yorker and Kimmy's landlord. The last six episodes of UKS just dropped on Netflix by the way, and what a lovely run it has been.

Direct download: Bullseye190129podcast.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

Jez Butterworth is a veteran of both stage and screen, he's written about a dozen films along with his seven plays. You can see the wisdom that only experience can bring in action during "The Ferryman," his latest play that's now on Broadway. A younger playwright might have the same grand vision as Butterworth did for the production, but would they have the finesse and thoughtfulness to make it work?

"The Ferryman" will be running in New York until July 7th and if you're in a position to do it, go see it!

Direct download: Bullseye190125podcast.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

If you're in Hollywood, the stereotype goes that you're either a character actor or a *star*. A character actor shows up in a couple scenes for about five minutes, and, even in that small moment, they make the film. Tony Shalhoub has done that plenty of times.

While a star, of course, is someone you can build an whole movie or TV show around. They're relatable, usually charming, sometimes vulnerable. Tony Shalhoub does that all the time, too.

Tony Shalhoub of "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel," "Monk" and more sits down with Jesse Thorn to discuss his long career on the big and small screens.

Direct download: Bullseye190122podcast2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:04pm EST

A warning about this episode, which originally aired in 2017: the second half of this interview contains some honest and frank talk about sexual assault.

Stephanie Beatriz stars in Brooklyn Nine Nine as Detective Rosa Diaz - easily the toughest cop in the precinct - she's brave, serious, and rides a motorcycle. The sixth and newest season just premiered at its new home: NBC!

Stephanie also starred in the 2017 movie The Light of The Moon. She plays Bonnie, a young woman living in Brooklyn with her boyfriend. Towards the beginning of the film, she goes through a vicious sexual assault, and the movie tells the story of the aftermath of that event - its effect on her work life, relationship, and even mundane daily decisions - like whether or not she wears headphones when she's walking off the subway. It's brutal to watch, but it's also nuanced, realistic, and really touching.

We'll talk about all of that and also how she and her Dad cemented their father-daughter bond by watching Seinfeld:

Direct download: Bullseye190118podcast.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

We've got a favorite from the Bullseye archives to kick off the week: Elvis Costello.

Costello grew up surrounded by music. His mother ran the record section of Selfridges, and his father was an accomplished working musician. As Costello describes in his memoir, Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink, he didn't intend to make music himself, but felt eventually drawn to it.

The Grammy-winning singer/songwriter and record producer has enjoyed a long career, working on his own and collaborating with other musicians like Burt Bacharach, Paul McCartney, and Annie Lennox.

Elvis Costello joins Jesse to talk about his father’s career and love of music, why Alzheimer’s in his family inspired him to write the book, and who knows him by his birth name, Declan McManus.

Direct download: Bullseye190115podcast.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

Jesse talks to Karyn Kusama, one of the most unique voices in film right now. She just directed the new film "Destroyer," it's a dark crime drama, told in mostly flashbacks. Karyn discusses why it's important to portray complex female characters in film and media. She also talks at length about "Jennifer's Body," which she directed in 2009. It was very funny and very scary. She'll tell us about the look book she drew inspiration from, and why she thinks the film struggled to find an audience when it was first released. Plus, how she finds pleasure in horror movies. And, sure, a lot of people find pleasure in horror films, but Karyn's answer will still surprise you.

Direct download: Bullseye190111.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

Chris and Bridey Elliott are father and daughter. Chris is, of course, Chris Elliott. The guy who starred in Cabin Boy and Something About Mary. Who's currently a regular on the TV show Schitt's Creek. Tons more.

Bridey, his daughter, wrote and directed a new movie called Clara's Ghost, which you can buy or rent now. It's a family collaboration: Bridey also stars in the movie, along with Chris, her sister Abby, and her mother Paula.

And it's also kind of a horror movie? Listen to see what we mean. Jesse and the Elliotts talk about the film, family dynamics, and why Chris Elliott did an impression of Marlon Brando dancing around a bunch of bananas on Letterman.

Direct download: Bullseye190108.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST