Bullseye with Jesse Thorn

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Amy Sedaris & Paul Reiser

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Amy Sedaris
Guests: 
Paul Reiser

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in Apple Podcasts or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

Photo: TruTV

Amy Sedaris on her new show: At Home with Amy Sedaris

Amy Sedaris made a career playing characters - and we say this with absolutely *zero* shade intended - people who are kind of grotesque and weird. The weirder the better. There's Jerri Blank from Strangers with Candy - a middle aged high school student with an overbite, weird highlights and a penchant for mom jeans. Or Mimi Kanasis, the crazed, kinda plastic-y socialite on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, too. But on her new show, At Home with Amy Sedaris, Amy pretty much plays herself. She talks with Jesse about how that's a transition out of her normal comfort zone.

Also discussed: rabbits (she has one), monkfish (they smell bad when their dead), and Girl Scout badges (she has them all!)

Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Paul Reiser on dramatizing the Tonight Show's golden days.

Paul Reiser is, of course, a longtime standup. Alongside Helen Hunt, he starred in the hit sitcom Mad About You. And he's been acting a lot lately, too - he's great in Amazon's Red Oaks, Stranger Things, he was in Whiplash too. He's also the creator of a brand new TV series, it's called There's Johnny and it's premiering this week on Hulu.

It's set in the early 70s, behind the scene of the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Reiser knew Carson about as well as anybody could and dishes on what it was like appearing on his show almost a dozen times, how the show came together and what it was like following up a hit show like Mad About You.

The Outshot: Who Needs Donuts?

Finally, for this week's Outshot: Who needs "Who Needs Donuts?" You need "Who Needs Donuts?"

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: John Hodgman & Tig Notaro

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
John Hodgman
Guests: 
Tig Notaro

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in Apple Podcasts or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

Photo: Bex Finch

John Hodgman on his new book Vacationland

It's Bullseye, I'm Jesse Thorn. My first guest: John Hodgman!

Look, you probably know who John is already. He's been a regular contributor to McSweeney's and This American Life and a bunch more. He's an actor who's worked on shows like 30 Rock, Flight of the Conchords, Adventure Time. At my company Maximum Fun he's the judge on the Judge John Hodgman Podcast.

John's also written four books. His latest is Vacationland, and it's kind of a departure for him. John's previous work has been pretty much all jokes - really funny jokes, but nothing personal. Stuff like hobo nicknames and gags about John Cusack or whatever.

Vacationland is plenty funny, but it's also really intimate. It's kind of a meditation on aging and the world we live in today. It's about fatherhood and adolescence and how to accept that at some point in your life. there's gonna be more road behind you than ahead.

John Hodgman joins Jesse to talk about his new book and the swear words he wishes he never said to his children.

Click here to listen to John Hodgman's interview on YouTube

Tig Notaro on weaving fiction and autobiography in One Mississippi

Tig Notaro has been on the show a few times before - the last time was 2014. She was kicking off her Boyish Girl Interrupted tour. Only a couple years before that, she'd been diagnosed with breast cancer - a topic that showed up in her standup in a really honest and affecting way.

In 2015, she collaborated with writer Diablo Cody to create the show One Mississippi, she's also the star. Her character, Tig, is a radio DJ who's moved from Los Angeles back to her home state of Mississippi. Like Tig in real life, she's a cancer survivor, she's gay, she's really, really funny.

One Mississippi is entering its second season on Amazon now.

Click here to listen to Tig's Bullseye interview on YouTube!

The Outshot: Henri Rousseau's Tiger in a Tropical Storm

Finally, for this week's Outshot, Jesse talks about painter Henri Rousseau and his transfixing "Tiger in a Tropical Storm," or… "Surprised!"

Click here to listen to Jesse's Outshot on YouTube!

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Stephanie Beatriz & Griffin Dunne on Joan Didion

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Stephanie Beatriz
Guests: 
Griffin Dunne

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in Apple Podcasts or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

Photo by Richard Sandoval/Flickr

Stephanie Beatriz on Brooklyn Nine-Nine and taking the lead in The Light of the Moon

For five seasons, Stephanie Beatriz has starred on the hit fox show Brooklyn Nine Nine. It's for real one of our favorites, everyone's great in it - Terry Crews, Andy Samberg, Chelsea Peretti. Stephanie plays Detective Rosa Diaz. And Rosa is easily the toughest cop in the precinct - she's brave, she's serious, she rides a motorcycle.

Now, Stephanie is starring in a brand new movie. It's called The Light of The Moon. In it, Stephanie 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 from there, the movie tells the story of the aftermath of that event - its effect on her work life, her relationships… even little stuff - like whether or not she wears headphones when she's walking off the subway. It's a little brutal to watch, but it's also nuanced, realistic and really touching.

Stephanie's talks with Jesse about all that and more from NPR's studios in New York.

A quick warning - the second half of this interview contains some honest and frank talk about sexual assault and the trauma dealing with it.

Click here to listen to Stephanie's interview on YouTube!"

Photo: David Shankbone/Flickr

Griffin Dunne on making a documentary about his aunt, Joan Didion

Griffin Dunne is mainly an actor. Recently he starred alongside Kathryn Hahn in the Amazon series I Love Dick. He was also in the Dallas Buyers Club, an American Werewolf in London, and in the 1985 Scorsese classic After Hours.

He's also a director - and just released his first ever documentary. It's a biography of his aunt, Joan Didion, one of the most critically acclaimed contemporary writers.

Didion rose to fame for her journalism - she immersed herself in stories. In the late 60s, she broke through with Slouching Towards Bethlehem. In her career she covered a bunch of different stuff - the counter culture, war, immigration. She also wrote a handful of novels, a couple memoirs.

She's lead a fascinating life, but until now, there hadn't been a documentary about her. She's pretty private - doesn't give a lot of interviews, either.

The film is called Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold, and it's available on Netflix now. Dunne gives us an intimate look at one of the most compelling thinkers alive. It talks about her impact on journalism, her works of fiction too. Dunne also focuses a lot on one of the biggest tragedies to strike Didion's life: in 2003, her husband John Dunne died of a heart attack. Not long after that she also lost daughter, Quintana Roo Dunne.

Click here to listen to Griffin's interview on YouTube!"

The Outshot: The Dana Carvey Show

Finally, for this week's Outshot, Jesse plugs the Dana Carvey Show - possibly the funniest thing to ever follow Home Improvement on ABC.

Click here to listen to Jesse's Outshot on YouTube!"

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Halloween Special! Elvira's Cassandra Peterson, Andy Daly & more!

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Cassandra "Elvira" Peterson
Guests: 
Andy Daly
Guests: 
April Wolfe
Guests: 
Alonso Duralde

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in Apple Podcasts or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

Photo by Barry King/Getty Images

Cassandra "Elvira" Peterson on her career and Halloween influence as Elvira

Her name is Cassandra Peterson, better you probably know her better as Elvira - Mistress of the Dark - probably the most famous Halloween character ever since Dracula. She's rocked the giant wig, the tailored black dress and glossy black nail polish for 36 years now.

Elvira's has appeared on countless TV shows, hosted her own, starred in two movies. Since 1983, she's appeared live on stage at Knott's Berry Farm for a special nightly Halloween performance. This year marks her last ever performance there.

Where'd it all start? Back in 1981. Peterson had just been hired to host the spooky B-Movie TV show Movie Macabre. In those late night episodes, sprawled out on a red velvet couch and wearing all black, Cassandra Peterson became Elvira.

Cassandra joins Jesse to talk about her career as Elvira and the character's impact on her fans.

You can keep up to date with Cassandra Peterson on her website.

Listen to Jesse's interview with Elvira!

Bennett Raglin/WireImage

Andy Daly on "The Song that Changed my Life"

Every now and then we find a guest with a story about a song they love. We call it "The Song that Changed my Life." This week, we've got Andy Daly with a special Halloween treat: he's going to talk about the Monster Mash, by Bobby "Boris" Pickett.

Andy Daly is a comedian and actor. You've seen him on Mad TV, Eastbound and Down, he plays the terrible doctor on HBO's Silicon Valley.

And for three years he starred on the Comedy Central show Review, where he played a critic willing to review pretty much anything life has to offer. Even if it's something as simple as eating a bunch of pancakes.

Check out more of Andy Daly's work on Andydaly.com

Listen to Jesse's interview with Andy Daly!

Film critic April Wolfe, Alonso Duralde on Halloween movies

There's more to the Halloween spirit than getting scared. And movies help you with that! What's Thanksgiving without Planes Trains and Automobiles? Christmas without Charlie Brown? 4th of July without… Born on the 4th of July?

This week, for a Halloween special, to talk about Halloween movies both spooky and ooky are two resident film experts at Maximum Fun and expert panelists from the new Maximum Fun movie podcast Who Shot Ya. April Wolfe is a film critic who's written for LA Weekly, The Atlantic, NPR, Vice and more. She's joined by Alonso Duralde, film critic the Wrap.

Listen to Jesse's Halloween film panel with April and Alonso!

The Outshot: "I Put a Spell on You"

In this week's Outshot, Jesse points out how Nina Simone's rendition of Jay Hawkin's "I Put a Spell on You" is better than the original.

Listen to Jesse's Outshot on "I Put a Spell on You"

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Gilbert Gottfried and Filmmaker Maggie Betts

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Gilbert Gottfried
Guests: 
Maggie Betts

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in Apple Podcasts or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

Gilbert Gottfried on his career in comedy, losing gigs, and the new documentary Gilbert

Comedian Gilbert Gottfried has been entertaining the world since he was 15 years old. His roles include being a cast member on season 6 of SNL, an accountant in Beverly Hills Cop II, and voicing the parrot Iago in Aladdin, the classic Disney cartoon.

Gilbert has a reputation for pushing boundaries in comedy. On stage he plays sort of a character - he squints his eyes, screams at the top of his lungs, and his material usually hovers between tasteless, dumb, and more often than not: really, really, funny.

But the real Gilbert is sensitive, quiet and friendly. And it's that Gilbert Gottfried that's featured in the new documentary. It's called Gilbert, directed by Neil Berkeley. In the movie, Gilbert opens up about his second life we don't know much about: his wife and kids, his childhood, his successes and failures.

You can keep up to date with Gilbert Gottfried on his website.

You can also catch Gilbert Gottfried on his podcast Gilbert Gottfried's Amazing Colossal Podcast!.

Listen to Jesse's interview with Gilbert Gottfried!

C Flanigan/FilmMagi

Maggie Betts on her new film Novitiate

So far, Maggie Betts has directed only three films. A documentary, a short, and now her first-ever narrative feature, Novitiate, which hits theaters October 27. The film follows a group of women training to be nuns in 1964 a time when Catholic church was at a crossroads: society was changing, attendance was down, and the church responded to all that by executing a bunch of reforms, some popular, some not so much.

An interesting fact about Maggie is that she grew up with the Bushes. Her dad was good friends with George W. Bush, she was roommates with his daughter Barbara.

Maggie talks to Jesse about what inspired her to make Novitiate, and not needing permission to make movies.

Watch the trailer for Novitiate here.

Listen to Jesse's interview with Maggie Betts!

The Outshot: 1998 Out of Sight

In this week's Outshot, Jesse points out how Out of Sight created the George Clooney that we all know.

Listen to Jesse's Outshot on Out of Sight!

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Amy Ryan & The Ringer's Shea Serrano

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Amy Ryan
Guests: 
Shea Serrano

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in Apple Podcasts or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images

Amy Ryan on her leading role in Abundant Acreage Available and being a character actress

First up is actress Amy Ryan. You've seen her as Beadie Russel on The Wire, as Holly on The Office, in movie like Gone Baby Gone, and a bunch more stuff. She's now starring in the new movie Abundant Acreage Available. She sits down with Jesse to talk about all those roles, and growing up as an aspiring actress in Queens, New York -- including the time she convinced her family it was cool to skip college and give acting a real go.

Watch a trailer for Abundant Acreage Available, out now.

Listen to Jesse's interview with Amy Ryan!

Photo by StockX

The Ringer's Shea Serrano on hip-hop, basketball, and following his writing dreams

Next up is the writer Shea Serrano. He's covered basketball, music and more for ESPN, Vice, The Ringer, and more.

Born and raised in Texas, Shea was originally a middle school teacher who'd write in his spare time. Though he only started writing full time a little over two years ago, he now has a huge legion of followers on social media, a New York Times bestseller in The Rap Yearbook, and an AMC television show in development that's based on the same book.

His new, beautifully illustrated book is called Basketball and Other Things, and it's out now.

Listen to Jesse's interview with Shea Serrano!

Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Outshot: Losing in Baseball

In this week's Outshot, Jesse argues that losing in baseball isn't so bad. It's actually kind of comforting.

Listen to Jesse's Outshot on losing in baseball!

Bullseye With Jesse Thorn: Carl Reiner & Rodarte's Kate and Laura Mulleavy

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Carl Reiner
Guests: 
Kate Mulleavy
Guests: 
Laura Mulleavy

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in Apple Podcasts or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

Carl Reiner on His Time in The Army, His Relationship with Mel Brooks, And on His Memoir

Comedy legend Carl Reiner has been doing comedy since World War II. He's the creator of The Dick Van Dyke Show, one of the greatest TV shows of all time. Carl also co-wrote and directed one of Steve Martin's most successful shows, The Jerk. And as expected, his best friend is no one other than Mel Brooks. Get this: they watch Wheel of Fortune when they hang out.

Carl is also a prolific writer with nearly 20 book titles to his name. Still writing at the age of 95, he recently released a memoir, Too Busy to Die, about his journey to who he is today.

Carl invited Jesse to his home to talk about his time in the army and his memoir.

You can find Carl Reiner's memoir on Random Content.

And you can check out Carl's screen credits on IMDb.

Click here to listen to Carl Reiner's interview on YouTube!

Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/Getty Images

The Mulleavy Sisters on Their Fashion Company, Rodarte, and Their New Venture into Filmmaking

Kate and Laura Mulleavy are fashion designers who grew up in Northern California and graduated from UC Berkeley. Kate and Laura blew up after they designed just ten pieces in their parent's kitchen. They made the cover of Women's Wear Daily, and they got a face to face meeting with Anna Wintour.

In 2005 they founded Rodarte, their clothing brand. Acclaim has followed since. Kate and Laura won the CFDA award for womenswear designers of the year. And they even helped design costumes for the movie Black Swan.

Now, Kate and Laura have directed their first-ever movie, Woodshock, starring Kirsten Dunst.

The sisters join Jesse to talk about directing a movie and running a fashion company.

You can keep up with Kate and Laura's fashion company on their website.

Click here to listen to Kate and Laura Mulleavy's interview!


Photo by Matthew Eisman/Getty Images

The Outshot: Dead Prez's Hip-Hop

In this week's Outshot, Jesse talks about how Dead Prez created the most urgent sound hip-hop ever produced.

Click here to listen to Jesse's Outshot on Dead Prez's hit song, "Hip-Hop"/!

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Ellie Kemper & Flying Lotus

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Ellie Kemper
Guests: 
Flying Lotus

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in Apple Podcasts or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.


Photo: Jason Merritt / Getty Images

Ellie Kemper on her career as a comedic actress, wrestling with privilege, and her Emmy-nominated role in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

[r] Ellie Kemper first achieved breakout success as Erin Hannon on the NBC sitcom The Office. Her turn as the happy-go-lucky office receptionist was popular with fans and critics alike and showcased her gifts as a comedic actress. Those talents have since been leveraged on the big screen in box office hit films like Bridesmaids and 21 Jump Street.

Now she plays the title character in the Netflix Original series, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, a role for which she recently earned her second straight Emmy nomination for Best Comedy Actress. Despite the show’s dark premise -- Kimmy Schmidt was held captive by a cult leader for years in an underground bunker -- the show plays it all for laughs as she tries to rebuild her life in New York City. Her years of isolation have left her ignorant of many cultural touchstones, but she pushes through with an enthusiasm and tenacity that is both endearing and hilarious.

Ellie joined Jesse in 2016 to talk about her early experiences of living and working in New York, mining material from her time at Princeton and her self-consciousness about privilege.

Catch all the episodes of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix. The show was recently renewed for a fourth season.

Listen to Jesse's 2016 interview with Ellie Kemper.

Flying Lotus on his aunt Alice Coltrane, J Dilla, and more

Flying Lotus is a critically acclaimed music producer whose sound lies somewhere between progressive hip-hop and dance music. In 2010, Jesse spoke to him about his unique style and his remarkable musical lineage -- his aunt was the great jazz pianist Alice Coltrane. FlyLo also tells Jesse about how his mother convinced him to submit music to Cartoon Network's [adult swim], and the influence of the late hip-hop producer J Dilla on his music.

You can find out what Flying Lotus is up to next at Flying-Lotus.com. You can also watch his 2016 film Kuso on iTunes, or wherever else you rent your films.

Listen to Jesse's 2010 interview with Flying Lotus.

Photo: Andrew H. Walker / Getty Images

The Outshot: Remembering Phife Dawg

Jesse fondly remembers Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest as a "big brother" figure in hip-hop.

Listen to Jesse's Outshot on the late rapper Phife Dawg.

Bullseye: Alfred Molina and Louie Anderson

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Alfred Molina
Guests: 
Louie Anderson

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in Apple Podcasts or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.


Photo by Jesse Thorn

British actor Alfred Molina on portraying director Robert Aldrich in Feud: Bette and Joan and playing bad guys

This week Jesse sits down with British actor Alfred Molina to talk about his starring role in the FX series Feud, which tells the story of the rivalry between actresses Bette Davis and Joan Crawford during the making of the film What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? He plays legendary director Robert Aldrich, for which he's earned an Emmy nod.

Alfred Molina grew up in England, and as the son of immigrants from Spain and Italy, he didn't always feel fully at home there. He tells Jesse that he was even told to change his name when he got his start in acting.

Alfred has a particular knack for being able to capture your attention in whatever project he's in, even when he's playing unlikeable characters, including villains. He talks to Jesse about his approach to playing unsavory people, whether it's a backstabbing guide in Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark, Dr. Octopus in Spiderman 2, or a crazy drug dealer in Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights.

Be sure to catch Alfred as Robert Aldrich in the FX series Feud: Bette and Joan. You can also find out what he's up to on Twitter.

Listen to Jesse's interview with Alfred Molina.

Photo by Jesse Thorn

Comedian Louie Anderson on playing Christine Baskets in the FX series Baskets, family, and standup

Also this week: a visit from comedian and actor Louie Anderson. Louie's been doing standup for close to thirty years. Outside standup, he's had a long career in film and television. He had his own cartoon on FOX in the mid-'90s, appeared in Coming to America and Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and he even hosted Family Feud for a few years. Louie's also written three books, one of which is a collection of letters to his late father.

Lately, Louie's career has taken a slightly different turn. In the FX series Baskets, he plays Christine Baskets, the mother of a hapless rodeo clown named Chip Baskets, who's played by Zach Galiafianakis (Zach spoke to Bullseye about playing Chip Baskets in 2016). You could say he's performing in drag, but he plays the role completely sincere, injecting it with humor, sweetness, and vulnerability. The result is something that borders on magical.

Family looms large in Louie's comedy and work. Christine Baskets is loosely based on his late mother, Ora Anderson, whom he says was the glue that held his family together during his difficult childhood in St. Paul, Minnesota. Louie talks with Jesse about the passing of his younger brother and the effect it had on him. They also talk about Louie's perceptions of his own career, including his comedy style and on-screen appearance.

Find out the latest with Louie, including his latest projects and standup dates, at LouieAnderson.com. You can also follow him on Twitter.

Listen to Jesse's full interview with Louie Anderson.

The Outshot: The Thomas Crown Affair

Faye Dunaway. Steve McQueen. Sex chess. These are a few of Jesse's favorite things in the 1968 film The Thomas Crown Affair.

Listen to Jesse's Outshot on the 1968 film The Thomas Crown Affair.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Ani DiFranco and Game of Thrones' Aidan Gillen

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Ani DiFranco
Guests: 
Aidan Gillen

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in Apple Podcasts or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.


Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images

Ani DiFranco on her new album Binary, meeting Prince, and more

This week Jesse hosts singer-songwriter Ani DiFranco. Ani moved out of her mom's house at 15 years old, just after she started writing her first songs. At the start of her career as a solo artist, she played house shows, dingy venues, and slept on couches. She eventually started a record label, Righteous Babe, which she releases her music through as well as artists like Andrew Bird, Arto Lindsay and Sara Lee.

Ani has a huge following of incredibly passionate fans. She's sold millions of records and has won awards and acclaim from critics. Perhaps more than any other singer, Ani DiFranco is defined by her independence.

On her latest record, Binary, she kind of sets that label aside. The record features collaborations with people like Justin Vernon from Bon Iver, Maceo Parker, Gail Ann Dorsey, and much more. At its heart, it's an album about relationships, and she says it's changed her approach to writing.

Click Here to listen to Jesse's interview with Ani DiFranco!

Photo: HBO

Aidan Gillen on playing Littlefinger in Game of Thrones

Also on the show this week is actor Aidan Gillen. You might have seen him on HBO's The Wire as Mayor Tommy Carcetti. He also starred on the original British version of Queer as Folk.

If you're one of the millions of people watching Game of Thrones right now, you'll know him as Lord Petyr Baelish, or Littlefinger. Even on a show like Game of Thrones, with its dozens of complex, messy and fascinating characters, Littlefinger stands out. Since the show's debut, Gillen's character has allied himself with maybe half the cast, only to betray almost all of them. And after seven seasons on TV's most violent show, nobody's killed him yet. When Aidan plays Littlefinger, it's really fun to watch. He's cunning, opaque and devious, but he's sincere when it counts.

Aidan talks to Jesse about his various roles, and what it was like to work with the playwright David Mamet.

Click Here to listen to Jesse's interview with Aidan Gillen!

Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Image

The Outshot: Randy Newman's "Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear"

Jesse tells us about an old song of Randy Newman's that reveals a jaundiced view of fame and popularity.

Click here to watch Randy Newman's performance of the song.

Click Here to listen to Jesse's outshot on Randy Newman!

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