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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Barbara Kruger

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Barbara Kruger On Art School And The Rewards of Teaching

Barbara 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 this 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 filter? It all started with Barbara Kruger.

She does a lot of installation work these days, which is a fancy way of saying that her work just consumes entire rooms - huge rooms with huge strange writing taking up every inch of floor, ceiling, and walls.

Her messages are pretty clear: it's about politics, media, and culture, and the way it's presented provokes people to question themselves.

Her work is on display in Los Angeles at the Broad Contemporary Art Museum, and in contemporary museums across the world.

Click here to listen to Barbara Kruger's interview on YouTube.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Ludwig Göransson

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Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

The Song That Changed My Life: Composer Ludwig Göransson

Ludwig Göransson is both a composer and producer. He was born in Sweden, moved to the States in 2007, and started working in TV shows and movies. One of his first shows was Community. It was actually on the set of Community where he met Donald Glover. Ludwig's been the principal producer on all of Glover's Childish Gambino records.

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. Tune in Sunday, February 24 to find out if he wins.

Also, Ludwig received several Grammy awards this past weekend for his work on the Childish Gambino song This Is America - including Best Record. Congrats to Ludwig and Donald!

What song that changed his life? Enter Sandman by Metallica.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Adam McKay

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Adam McKay On His Academy Award Nominated Movie Vice and The Joke That Inspired Him To Take Up A Career In Comedy

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, and then he worked in movies.

He collaborated with Will Ferrell to make some stone cold comedy classics: Anchorman, Step Brothers, Talladega Nights. Lately, though, his work has been more serious, topical, and 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.

Click here to listen to Adam McKay's interview on YouTube.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Killer Mike on his new Netflix show 'Trigger Warning'

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Killer Mike on his new Netflix show 'Trigger Warning'

The last time we spoke to Killer Mike, he was just coming off the release of his solo album, "I Pledge Allegiance to the Grind" back in 2007. Twelve years later, he's is still on that grind and busier than ever.

Nowadays he's one-half of Grammy nominated duo Run the Jewels with partner El-P. Together they've put out three great albums – with a fourth on the way later this year. Now, he's in his very own Netflix series, "Trigger Warning with Killer Mike."

In the show, Killer Mike tackles some of the most complicated racial and societal issues in America through social experiments. In the series, he tries to unpack subjects like religion, the black economy, education, and gangs.

In one experiment Killer Mike examines the hypocrisy behind celebrating violence and criminal activity. He rationalizes that if a biker gang like Hells Angels can sell merchandise on Amazon and capitalize on America’s fascination with the “bad guys," perhaps a gang like the Crips could do the same. He spends the episode trying to bring a product called "Crip-A-Cola" market. The result is quite funny, and very brilliant, too.

Killer Mike joins us to talk about his new Netflix series. He'll chat about the genesis of Run The Jewels and what it's like to collaborate with El-P. Plus, how he became friends with legendary comedian and activist Dick Gregory, and what it was like hitting the road campaigning with Bernie Sanders.

Listen to this interview on YouTube!

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: John David Washington

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Photo: Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

John David Washington on his role in Spike Lee's 'BlacKkKlansman'

Before John David Washington was an actor, he was lacing up the pads every week for a career in professional football. He spanned the globe from Sacramento to Dusseldorf, Germany trying to make it work. It seems fitting that when he decided to pick up a career in acting that his breakthrough role was the portrayal of an NFL player on HBO's "Ballers." He definitely had the experience. In fact, he was injured from his hard work on the field when he auditioned for the role. He's been part of the main cast of "Ballers" for four seasons, and it's safe to say you'll be seeing a lot more of him soon.

This week, he chats about his portrayal of Ron Stallworth in Spike Lee's "BlacKkKlansman." It's a fantastic performance – his role in the film earned him a Golden Globe nomination earlier this year. It's a compelling and complex look at the life of the first African-American police officer and detective in the Colorado Springs Police Department. The film is based on Stallworth's 2014 memoir, which details his experience investigating the local chapter of the KKK with the help of a white undercover officer.

John David Washington tells us about the insane amount of times he had to audition for his role on "Ballers," and what it was like to chase a career in the NFL when your dad is superstar Denzel Washington. Plus, the challenges of portraying Ron Stallworth, and what it was like to getting stunning offer to play Stallworth via a text message from Spike Lee.

Listen to this interview on YouTube!

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Tituss Burgess

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Tituss Burgess on Being 'Titus Andromedon' on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Following Your Instincts

Tituss Burgess is one of those actors who, no matter if it's a small church choir in Georgia or a starring role on Broadway, always brings magic to the role.

His successful audition for a small recurring part on 30 Rock put him on Tina Fey's radar and led to a role as Titus Andromedon on the Netflix original series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Burgess's performance on the show has earned him four consecutive Emmy nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.

In this interview, Tituss talks about his upbringing in Georgia, embodying the character of Titus Andromedon and coping with a broken microphone while performing live at the Tony Awards.

The second half of the final season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was recently released and is available on Netflix.

This interview originally aired in 2016.

Click here to listen to Tituss Burgess's interview on YouTube.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Carol Kane

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Carol Kane on Her Childhood, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and Auditioning

Carol Kane is a veteran actress who began her career in 1971. She landed some pretty heavy roles - one of her first films was in Mike Nichols's drama Carnal Knowledge. Later on, she'd work on other classics like Annie Hall and Dog Day Afternoon. She was even nominated for a best actress Oscar for her part in the 1975 film Hester Street.

She eventually found her home doing comedy, something she never expected she would do growing up. She appeared on Taxi as Simpka, the wife of Andy Kaufman's character on the show. She was in the Muppet Movie, The Princess Bride, Scrooged, and so many others. Her most recent project was Netflix's Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt where she plays Lilian, Kimmy's landlord.

She and Jesse talk about her childhood, and the special school she went to that allowed actors time to audition.

The final six episodes of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt were released this month on Netflix and are available to stream now.

This interview originally aired in 2017.

Click here to listen to Carol Kane's interview on YouTube.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Playwright Jez Butterworth on his latest work "The Ferryman"

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Playwright Jez Butterworth on his latest work 'The Ferryman'

Jez Butterworth is a screenwriter and playwright. His works make up a pretty eclectic resume, including: the science fiction film "Edge of Tomorrow," the mob drama "Black Mass" and even the James Bond film "Spectre." On the stage, he's written comedies and dramas that cover topics like murder, music and war.

His latest play, "The Ferryman" is on Broadway right now. It tells a powerful, affecting story about death and loss. It's set during The Troubles: the decades long conflict over Northern Ireland that killed thousands. It tells the story of the Carney family, who lives in Derry, in Northern Ireland. Authorities have just found the body Seamus Carney, who's been missing for almost a decade. We find out early on that Seamus was killed by the IRA, and the family is now left to deal with the fallout of that event.

The play is unique in a lot of different ways. At one point, there are 21 actors on stage at the same time, one of them is an infant. You'll also see a live goose and a rabbit – it's a visceral, uncommon theater experience.

Jez will tell us all about his latest work, including what it's like to work with animals live on stage. He'll also explain why writing films come pretty naturally to him but why writing plays can be uniquely challenging.

"The Ferryman" has been extended up until July 7, 2019. Make sure to check it out if you're in New York.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Tony Shalhoub

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Tony Shalhoub on the legacy of 'Monk' and the latest season of 'Mrs. Maisel'

Tony Shalhoub is a veteran of both the big and small screens. He's had unforgettable parts in movies like "Barton Fink," "Men in Black" and "Quick Change." He's starred in movies like "Big Night," and TV shows like "Wings."

Tony is probably best known for his work on the hit detective series "Monk." For eight seasons, he played Adrian Monk. In the show, his character had an extreme case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and a bunch of phobias, including rodeos, snakes, crowds, heights, glaciers and milk. Despite the challenges he often faced, it only made him better a better detective consultant for the San Francisco Police Department.

These days he's a regular on the Amazon series "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel." In the series, Tony plays Abe Weissman, a mathematics professor at Columbia, and Midge Maisel's father. He's the kind of guy that's not very stern, but kinda serious. He's also kind of a traditional guy, and he likes sticking to routines.

Tony joins us to talk about the latest season of "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel." Plus, we take a deep dive into his time on "Monk," and he'll tell us about the film that inspired him to pursue a career in acting.

Check out this interview on Youtube

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Brooklyn Nine-Nine's Stephanie Beatriz

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Stephanie Beatriz

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Stephanie Beatriz on Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Taking The Lead in The Light of the Moon

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:

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

This interview originally aired in 2017.

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