Six Degrees of Joey Gordon-Levitt | Crooked Media
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March 02, 2022
Keep It
Six Degrees of Joey Gordon-Levitt
Keep it

In This Episode

Ira and Louis discuss what the SAG Awards means for the Oscar race, Instagram activism, and Sam Elliott’s disdain for The Power of the Dog. Plus, Blindspots returns with Joseph Gordon-Levitt films we missed — The Dark Knight Rises (Louis) and Snowden (Ira) — and Joseph himself joins us to discuss his new series Super Pumped; and his our faves in his decades-long career.






Ira Madison III: And we’re back with an all new episode of Red Scare.


Louis Virtel: Oh, God. Let’s not get topical at all. I love it when we don’t get topical.


Ira Madison III: I’m just talking about that Succession Girls podcast. Anyway, Hi, I’m Ira Madison III.


Louis Virtel: I’m Louis Virtel. Wait. Speaking of Europeans, have I ever done my one impression?


Ira Madison III: No. What is it?


Louis Virtel: OK, get ready. It’s almost as good as yours, if you know what I mean. So I don’t know when I developed this. It wasn’t too long ago, but my impression is Frenchman recognizes Billie Eilish. Are you ready?


Ira Madison III: Yes.


Louis Virtel: I are you it the bad guy. That’s a.


Ira Madison III: Louis Virtel. *laughing*


Louis Virtel: And she’s like, well, no, I’m not the bad guy. Like, the song is about a bad guy.


Ira Madison III: You watching minions?


Louis Virtel: Yes, that’s right. That’s where I get where I draw most of my comedic material.


Ira Madison III: Anyway, speaking of minions, Aida is shooting Minions eight.


Louis Virtel: That’s the one where they go to hell, right? It’s like Friday the 13th


Ira Madison III: Jason vs. Minions is my favorite one.


Louis Virtel: I think the Minions are going to take it, yeah.


Ira Madison III: Probably. Probably. No Aida is working again. She loves. She loves being booked and busy as it were, and I’m unbooked. I’m yeah, I’m perpetually and I’m perpetually moving, but I am not booked at the moment.


Louis Virtel: No, I sit on this zoom and wait for it to come back on every week. Just me at the computer. No, wait a minute. Are you still in L.A.?


Ira Madison III: I am in L.A. for the literally two more days.


Louis Virtel: Oh, OK. Because last week we had what I’ll call a cold front. I’m not a meteorologist.


Ira Madison III: Oh, I love those days. I love those days that people always make the jokes about. You know what? I think people were sharing that meme of Adam Sandler walking around in shorts and then that big puffer. But yeah, you know, those days remind me of what I would watch TV and you’d see people in jackets and scarves and hats in L.A. And I was like, This doesn’t seem like Southern California, but right? It is.


Louis Virtel: And also, it was windy. It was Winnie the Pooh in the blustery day, and I was a piglet clinging to my leaf umbrella as I flew in the wind and had the worst allergic reaction ever. And I still believe I’m suffering from it now. So if you, if you, if you, I’m trying, I’m trying to speak through the Zyrtec. And if it sounds at all cloudy this week, I apologize, but I’m doing my best.


Ira Madison III: That’s fine. I’m suffering through an STD shot I didn’t need.


Louis Virtel: Oh, wait as in you what? You went in to get it and then you just preventatively. And then it turns out


Ira Madison III: Didn’t have it


Louis Virtel: Isn’t that like the dorkiest feel live ever you’re like, Oh, of course I have and STD we all know the life I lead. And then you come out. It turns out you’re clean as a daisy. Not a phrase, by the way, clean as a daisy.


Ira Madison III: It’s just like, it’s like, why? Why is my skin itching? Oh, it’s probably Bounce.


Louis Virtel: Oh, well, actually. Speaking of skin itching, I did have a minor trauma this week. Do you know what I tried doing for the first time last Saturday? I got a wax, which is to say everywhere, just because to prepare for summer, who knows if this is something I could get into? Guys, I have news for you, I have news for you. I don’t know if you’re familiar with my complexion, but girl, it is the princess and the pea over here. Do not get a fucking wax if you are Nicole Kidman slash Elle Fanning colored.


Ira Madison III: ***Laughing***.


Louis Virtel: it has been fucking grim


Ira Madison III: Louis lean into being lean into being gay and like body hair positive.


Louis Virtel: Is that what gay is now? Because Once Upon a time it used to be the opposite.


Ira Madison III: I’m sure there is like a gay Instagram influencer making some infographic now, you know? Body body hair is revolutionary or something. I don’t know.


Louis Virtel: Right now I’m on the Mattel track. Sorry. When you’re when you’re polish hair on your skin, it’s like it’s like thin and dark. And I have really light pink skin. I just don’t want that Neapolitan balance.


Ira Madison III: Okay. Well, I love this journey for you. Can’t wait to see you once bikini season hits


Louis Virtel: back walking Carnaby row in my scandalous mini skirt? Yes.


Ira Madison III: Well, this is a fun episode this week we are going to be joined by Joseph Gordon-Levitt,


Louis Virtel: who, by the way, you ever just think about how long we have known who Joseph Gordon-Levitt is? I mean, decades and decades.


Ira Madison III: I was rewatching episodes of 3rd Rock from the Sun last night, which we’ll get into,


Louis Virtel: well, you’d think I would be doing that as the resident Jane Curtin stan of the show, so I feel guilty that you’re ahead of me on this front.


Ira Madison III: Yeah. Before Joseph joins us, we’re going to do a little deep dive into his, you know, his oeuvre as your French man would say,


Louis Virtel: yes, ugh the oeuvre


Ira Madison III: Louis and I watched a couple of Joseph Gordon-Levitt films that we surprisingly have not seen because when I looked at his IMDb, I was like, I have seen literally all of these. I’ve even seen Premium Rush.


Louis Virtel: Oh yeah. Premium Rush was good. wasn’t it


Ira Madison III: Premium Rush is fantastic.


Louis Virtel: Yeah. Yeah, I remember it well.


Ira Madison III: But it’s just not a film that I feel like anyone thinks about that much anymore.


Louis Virtel: Right, right. Right? By the way. I just want to say this is one of the dorkiest decisions we’ve ever made on this podcast, like we’re so excited about a guest, we’re like, let’s look into his hidden gems and then talk about them while he’s not here. And then once he’s here bring them up to him.


Ira Madison III: Yeah. So we’re going to do that. And then, of course, we’ll talk to him about his new Showtime series, Super Pumped. Based on Uber, the battle for Uber as it were,  ugh my battle for Uber is currently trying to get any Uber in Los Angeles.


Louis Virtel: Oh God, by the way, it keeps coming in waves for me. Like, there are times, it’s super easy, and then other times it’s utterly impossible. There’s like there’s no in-between


Ira Madison III: or times where it’s $60 to go ten block’s


Louis Virtel: right, always my favorite


Ira Madison III: Yeah, 10 blocks. I would naturally walk in New York, but you can’t do that in LA


Louis Virtel: No, no. In L.A., you’re like, well, it’s a little bit of a hill, so I can’t.


Ira Madison III: And then we’re also going to talk about the SAG Awards this week and dispel people’s notions that Jessica Chastain is getting an Oscar. It’s not happening.


Louis Virtel: I have to say, yeah, we’ll get into every time someone watches somebody, win an award on award show, they’re like, “Well, that’s it, the Oscars all tied up.” I’m like, do you have a fucking goldfish brain? It doesn’t work like that.


Ira Madison III: So we will be back with more Keep It


Ira Madison III: Since our guest today has a filmography a mile long, we knew there must have been at least a movie or two that we best. So we’re doing blind spots again. Joseph Gordon-Levitt addition.


Louis Virtel: Which I find is kind of us. No, this is like our Kennedy Center honors, basically. We’ll be performing a musical tribute. It’s always so funny at the Kennedy Center honors when they honor an actor because what are people supposed to do but stand on stage and be like, You know what you were really good in? Whatever, Patton, or whatever movie comes up.


Ira Madison III: ***Laughing ** Ummm…I love when we do things like this because then I force Louis to watch a comic book movie.


Louis Virtel: No, this is you ever seen. Speaking of Jessica Chastain Zero Dark Thirty, this is a torture moment for me. And we’ll see if I survive it.


Ira Madison III: All right. So you watched The Dark Knight Rises for the first time, correct?


Louis Virtel: And let me just tell you, my problems started right off the bat, which is to say we’re calling him The Dark Knight like he’s a character in medieval literature. Guys, it’s Batman. I’m sorry. Can you just say Batman Rises? That makes more sense to me? And then do you know why I think they don’t call him Batman in the title? Because Batman, as a word, sounds a little bit like a read like, Oh, here comes the Batman into the room. Oh, he’s flying.


Ira Madison III: **Laughng**


Louis Virtel: It just doesn’t feel very complimentary to me, so they had to dress it up and call him The Dark Knight. So I sat down to watch this movie. And also, of course, I haven’t seen The Dark Knight since the Heath Ledger one came out in theaters. That’s something I actually went to the theater to see. I remember that well, but I have to tell you, this is probably a Top 4 Anne Hathaway performance, because at least they give her something amazing to do every time she is on screen. There’s no filler for her character in this, and I didn’t know it was going to be that good. It’s a very companion piece to her work in Ocean’s Eight, where she’s also, you know, embezzling and winking and darting out of rooms. So I was very pleased by that, actually.


Ira Madison III: I love going to parties with wealthy people and just whispering of their ears ” batten down the hatches.”


Louis Virtel: She looks up. She looks fantastic. Also, by the way


Ira Madison III: She actually is a good Catwoman. She’s a good Catwoman. I think this goes to your theory that you’ve posited on the show before that Anne Hathaway’s been in a lot of bad movies, but she’s never given a bad performance.


Louis Virtel: No, she’s always very commanding. And also, I just want to say this movie officially marks the period in history, which I believe is over now, where we would put Marion Cotillard in huge blockbusters. I think it ended with Allied. But remember when we would do this and then Inception, and wasn’t she in that movie with Johnny Depp or there, like is a called Public Enemies? I forget what the name of that movie was.


Ira Madison III: She is in Public Enemies, and I think maybe I’ve talked about this on the podcast Chicago History that was filming when you and I were in school. Was it? Oh, yeah, in college still. And I remember I remember I hooked up with this person at that I met at like Roscoe’s or something ugh local Chicago Gay Bar, and


Louis Virtel: Still there. It’s still great.


Ira Madison III: when we got to his street. It was shut down because they were shooting Public Enemies. So like in the morning when I woke up, they were still like shooting this like shoot out scene between Johnny Depp and other mobsters.


Louis Virtel: And they also shot in the suburbs because I want to say part of it is shot in Joliet, which is near where I grew up, so they were everywhere. The idea that Marion Cotillard might have been near where I grew up just makes no sense and her life, obviously has taken a wrong turn. Sorry


Ira Madison III: Also interesting in Public Enemy and The Dark Knight Rises. Marion Cotillard plays a woman of color.


Louis Virtel: Oh, good. Well she obviously has range and nerve.


Ira Madison III: she is definitely white as hell. OK. She’s not even a white woman of color like my girl Angelina Jolie


Louis Virtel: Right. No this is a French woman, Edith Piaf noted White woman, frankly. Anyway, so watching this movie, I was thrilled at the amount of action Anne Hathaway got to do. But I and I love a lot of the movie. It’s not as super dark as I thought it would be. I remember it like being in the Christopher Nolan world of everything is, you know, everything seems like a really dim Starbucks. Everything seems like, you know, everything’s dark brown and you can’t see or like the way an Abercrombie and Fitch used to be where you’re like, Are those polos over there? I don’t know what’s happening. But then of course it turns. It turns into a normal good guys versus bad guys scenario. And I have to say, does Batman ever look any lamer than when he is in a fistfight? Girl, can you settle this some other way?


Louis Virtel: You look like a fool.


Louis Virtel: The outfit is not built for boxing.


Ira Madison III: I would posit that he only looks weird at fist fights when he’s in these Nolan films. I think that like I think that the camp of, you know, Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher helps you get to see the fist fight as like, sort of fun and entertaining. But when they but when they put him in this clunky sort of like, you know, like militarized suit and all the Nolan films, it looks like he’s like, just, you know, wading through water while fighting.


Louis Virtel: Yeah, right. And also, I think it’s just it’s it’s also clunky because these movies place Batman in the middle of a tragic epic poem, whereas in the original Batman movies, as you said, it’s not just campy. It’s, you know, everybody’s got a sassy one liner every second. So it’s really anything goes.


Ira Madison III: Mm hmm.


Ira Madison III: Well, so what did you think of Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the film?


Louis Virtel: Oh right? The reason we did this! Well, by the way, I enjoyed him. He’s sort of in. He’s not a detective in this movie, but he’s in detective mode and I liked him. Similarly, in the movie, Brick which was one of those.


Ira Madison III: Brick is fucking amazing. I mean, you


Louis Virtel: Neo-Noir


Ira Madison III: that my introduction to Ryan Johnson?


Louis Virtel: Right? Yes. And then of course, he did Looper with Ryan Johnson.


Ira Madison III: Yeah. And you remember his uncredited voice cameo in Knives Out that Ryan told us about?


Louis Virtel: Oh, yes!. Oh, that’s right. We were rad Entertainment Weekly reporters for a minute there actually discovering something.


Ira Madison III: Oh. Side note on that. I love a detour. I finally started working on my book, which is set in which is a lot of essays about the 90s. And I was googling, um, like old SNL, 90s cast members, and I really wanted to read this article of yours which no longer exists.


Louis Virtel: Of mine?


Ira Madison III: Yes, because Movieline no longer exists.


Louis Virtel: I was going to pick up Movieline in another context. We’ll talk about that soon, okay


Ira Madison III: And it says umm,.


Louis Virtel: Oh God, what is it.


Ira Madison III: It was like, it’s Chris Farley, the new Kevin James. Is Kevin “Is Kevin James, the New Chris Farley” was the name of the article, and it was like “Louis Virtel discusses” and I clicked on the link in like the Wayback Machine and the article did not appear.


Louis Virtel: That movie line doesn’t even appear in the Wayback Machine should tell you how scrubbed from the internet half of my career is. It is utterly impressive, that it wouldn’t even be in the thing that’s there to store deleted internet things. But by the way, let’s talk about SEO for a moment. If you see that headline, you’re immediately filled with rage, right? So you click on it and immediately start flaming the author and doxing him and stuff that was made money once upon a time. Yeah, yeah. I used to do a series of articles about i”s blank, the new blank”. I think the one I started with was is Leslie Mann, the new Madeline Kahn, which there are some parallels in some comic delivery. It wasn’t totally hamfisted, but not true. I just want to say that Guy Branham, while you were not here, one time on this podcast said that Channing Tatum was the new Madeline Kahn. I think, my gosh, we have to get him into jail.


Ira Madison III: I did listen to that episode. And you know what? I agree.


Louis Virtel: In what way? In her operatic, like I’m falling apart, nothing’s going right for me. Help me. Her frantic ness.


Ira Madison III: He does that sort of frantic days in like 21 Jump Street. I think that if you made like a Clue reboot, he would come out being the most memorable comic actor in it.


Louis Virtel: Mm hmm. OK. Well, I mean, I want to see who the other actors are. Are they? Are they new actors? Because I just can’t see it?


Ira Madison III: Anyway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt in The Dark Knight Rises. What’s actually most disappointing about his appearance in the film, to me, was that they were clearly setting him up as Nightwing, which is, you know, like the Dick Grayson Robin in the Batman comics. You know, like clearly setting him off for some sort of spinoff series, which for some reason or another never happened. And I like would have really enjoyed Joseph Gordon-Levitt in a sort of like superhero lead role. You sort of get that in Netflix’s Project Power, which is really fun. The movie he did with Jamie Fox and Dominique Fishback.


Louis Virtel: Oh, right, right. No, he gives a capable you believe him as a purpose driven adult in this film. He just has a good, serious face. You know, he kind of reminds me of actors of like the 40s and 50s, someone like Gary Cooper or Gregory Peck, somebody who’s there to throw a brow, but it doesn’t seem camp.


Ira Madison III: So that is what I felt about him when I got into my blind spot, which was the film Snowden,


Louis Virtel: Which is, by the way, a crazy film to pick for this project. But I’m siked about it because it has not that much of a legacy, but it was a moment at the time like, Oh, he’s playing Edward Snowden, this new celebrity.


Ira Madison III: Right? We don’t even talk about Edward Snowden anymore, except I guess we’re talking about him recently because he is in hiding in Moscow.


Louis Virtel: Right? And I think he pops up with takes over like, oops. Like, we we thought you were rader than this at one point.


Ira Madison III: Yeah, it’s, you know, a lot of our a lot of our people who do espionage related things end up not being cool. You know, once you ask them to make pithy jokes online, Its like, thats that, you know, that wasn’t your purpose in life, to be it to be a stand up comedian?


Louis Virtel: Edward Snowden not meant to be Bruce Vilanch. That’s what we discovered on this podcast.


Ira Madison III: But watching this film and I actually watched a few episodes of 3rd Rock from the Sun before I watched the film just to get into how we were sort of introduced to Joseph Gordon-Levitt as an actor. Yeah, and he has that forty’s quality that you mentioned. You know, he’s he’s very stoic in Snowden, but also so good at being awkwardly funny and making Snowden sort of like a really making him an interesting character, even though he’s sort of a person that’s kind of off-putting in the sense that his his his whole idea of being is, you know, I love this country. And, you know, I want to help this country be the best that it can be. And then he works for the Bush administration and the Obama administration, and it’s like, Oh, the country spies on people. And maybe America is not that great. I need to be a whistleblower. And it’s like, how how sweet of you that you never realized any of that before you joined the military,


Louis Virtel: You finally looked up to Wikipedia for this country. I see. Yea. By the way, I have to say, do you know what? I recently watched this. Talk about a detour. Speaking of 3rd Rock from the Sun. So Kristen Johnston gives a legendary supporting performance on 3rd Rock from the Sun. Her other iconic moment is, of course, on Sex and the City when she falls out the window in the sixth season and Carrie and the Russians see her and she goes splat in the episode Splat.


Ira Madison III: It always goes back to Russians.


Louis Virtel: Yes, yes. Kristen Johnston I also saw online this must be, I’ll say, 20 years old. She is the Rosalind Russell role in The Women on stage. I think PBS filmed it, so she gets to be kind of, you know, saying darling all the time and sitting with a bunch of women at a table and playing cards and stuff. She is fa-aaabulous. I was laughing my ass off at this performance. I’m so glad I have another like well of funny material to mine for Kristen Johnston material because obviously 3rd Rock from the Sun was sort of her defining moment for decades and decades, so I really recommend that if you’re looking for more outsized laughs from a born stage performer.


Ira Madison III: Well, I mean, this is very this is very “Ira material”, but she’s also great in Mom.


Louis Virtel: Wait, Mom? Oh, wait, the TV show?


Ira Madison III: The CBS show. Yeah, she on it.


Louis Virtel: I’ve never seen her on that.


Ira Madison III: She’s on it in a recurring role and also French Stewart does. French Stewart is as well. If you’re wondering where he’s been.


Louis Virtel: Wow. Which, OK, if we’re going to go the entire 3rd Rock route. Have you seen Love is Strange with John Lithgow?


Ira Madison III: No.


Louis Virtel: Where his husband is Alfred Molina and they’re a gay couple and they’re in financial dire straits. And Cheyenne Jackson and Marisa Tomei are in it, too. So fucking God. Love John Lithgow.


Ira Madison III: OK. No. John Lithgow has always been sort of an iconic performer to me from 3rd Rock to when he played, but he played evil in a later season of Dexter and was like the best part of the season.


Louis Virtel: I love him playing evil because it just proves, I mean, the actual versatility of that man because he’s he’s like, so approachable in a Mister Rogers like way in most of his work. And then for him to have that reservoir of scary is so fabulous, too. All right. One one more


Ira Madison III: Also in Blowout.


Louis Virtel: Right, right.


Ira Madison III: Yeah. Um, but to get back to Joseph in 3rd Rock, one of the episodes I watched is where he takes over the school newspaper, and so he sort of shifts into this like, well, speaking of Rosalind Russell, you know, he sort of shifts into this like his Girl Friday character. You know, he’s like speaking very like Forties. You know, he’s like,.


Louis Virtel: Oh, fuck, yeah,.


Ira Madison III: Yeah. He’s like, we got to get we gotta get to the bottom of the corruption in this school. And he’s just playing a character like that so hilariously, for someone who’s like a teenager.


Louis Virtel: Right? I mean, he’s so young in this role, is this when he’s dating the Larisa Oleynik character or no?


Ira Madison III: It is. It is.


Louis Virtel: Oh my.


Ira Madison III: And honestly, the hilarious point. The hilarious part of the episode is, I mean, it’s basically sexual harassment. But his ex girlfriend works on the newspaper and, you know, in his warped alien brain, he’s convinced that he broke up with the ex-girlfriend and he’s like, she can’t get over it. And when she writes a bad review of Larisa Oleynik character in My Fair Lady,.


Louis Virtel: Oh My God.


Ira Madison III: He’s like, He’s like, You’re fired, your journalistic ethics are gone out the window.


Louis Virtel: Oh my god. Larisa Oleynik. What a strange journey, because she was the star of The Secret World of Alex Mack. She had this recurring role on 3rd Rock from the Sun. We put her in 10 Things I Hate About You were were


Ira Madison III: Well they’re both in it


Louis Virtel: Correct. She gave maybe the seventh best performance, and then she had that recurring role on Mad Men. And then that’s it.


Ira Madison III: Well, you know, as resident CBS expert, she had a recurring role on Hawaii Five-O for a minute. so, you know


Louis Virtel: Ok ok. So she had to deal with Scott Caan, which I hope that went well.


Ira Madison III: Yeah. And she was in Pretty Little Liars.


Louis Virtel: Which God. Talk about a show that a certain subset was fucking obsessed with now. And now? I never hear about that show anymore, though. If you ever I feel like an acting exercise could just be saying the words Troian Bellisario over and over again.


Ira Madison III: Honestly, I feel like we’re due for a Alex Mack reboot. A gritty Alex Mack reboot.


Louis Virtel: Oh, wow. Well, first of all, she’s she has to be disfigured by the toxic waste. The GC 161 has to have ruined her fucking life. She has to be coming from a place of rage and not just I’m trying to get through high school.


Ira Madison III: Yeah, yeah. At this at this point, Dale Atron, if she’s still chasing after Alex Mack. Come on.


Louis Virtel: No, there’s got to be other issues here, and I was going to say Cocoa Beach, but that’s not where they live. That’s where they live in Shelby Woo. They’re in Florida. I’m positive about that, but no Danielle Atron, the woman chasing down Alex Mack like she did anything wrong after getting barrels of chemicals spilled on her. But l-o-l, this woman would stand at a at a boardroom table and snicker at nothing while her two idiot henchmen would run around trying to get Alex Mack. Actually, the funniest part of Alex Mack is that her sister Annie was like assigned herself the scientist role


Ira Madison III: My sister Annie thinks I’m a science project. I love that theme song. My best friend Ray thinks it’s cool. My sister Annie thinks I’m a science project.


Louis Virtel: And then, but then Annie would be like, All right, here, let me get out my volcano making kit to solve what’s wrong with you? It’s like Annie, you’re dumb


Ira Madison III: I would also go for a Shelby Woo reboot. You know,


Louis Virtel: Always. No, that I was obsessed. In fact, I wish more like kids who are my age like, if you’re born in the mid 80s, I was basically only obsessed with mysteries growing up. It was always Encyclopedia Brown. It was always of the movie Clue. And then the kids book series Clue where you could like solve who did the crimes by figuring out all the clues and then when Shelby Woo appeared I’m like, Oh, finally, I’m being spoken for. So like, there’s a kid’s show about a kid detective. Anyway, if anybody else lived that lives, speak out, speak now.


Ira Madison III: I never knew that there were Clue books. I read, like the Boxcar Children books thoug. They were always solving mysteries. Those homeless kids


Louis Virtel: Also, and living in a boxcar. Sorry, it’s just like, sorry.


Ira Madison III: Actually, not even. Left as orphans and then Daddy Warbuck-exed by this rich man but they, I guess, still had PTSD and need to live in a boxcar that’s behind the mansion that they should be living in. That book is creepy.


Louis Virtel: Yeah, I’m not loving it. You keep describing it, and I’m like their journey isn’t fun. It’s not a literary one I want to be on. Also another book like this the Westinghouse, of course, or the Westing Game? The Weston Game? Yeah, yeah. So anyway, that was a very great conversation about the roles of Joseph Gordon- Levitt. Damn, we suck.


Ira Madison III: Anyway, he’s good in Snowden, you know?


Louis Virtel: Yeah.


Ira Madison III: And Oliver Stone does his Oliver Stone thing.


Louis Virtel: You’re a stan of his, right?


Ira Madison III: I am not. I am not an Oliver Stone “Stan” per se. I feel like the over the top director that I stan more is probably like a Brian De Palma.


Louis Virtel: Oh, sure.


Ira Madison III: I think that Oliver Stone has made some good films, but he’s also made some of abysmal films.


Louis Virtel: Well, also Brian De Palma. Yes, of course. Brian De Palma is one of those people like David Cronenberg where you watch it. And not only are you absorbed by the craziness of what’s happening, but you do at some point have to ask yourself What the fuck is wrong with this man? Like, how did you become this person? Like, it becomes a psychological profile of the director himself. Hitchcock’s a little like that, sometimes


Ira Madison III: Also Snowden, was the last movie that Oliver Stone directed.


Louis Virtel: That’s what I was going to ask you, I was almost sure it was because you never hear his name anymore.


Ira Madison III: Yeah, I thought it was the movie Savages, which for some reason I do love. But that came four years before  That Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively film


Louis Virtel: Taylor Kitsch, Wolf, you really zapped me back to being 22. All right.


Ira Madison III: Well, all right, when we’re back. We talk to Joseph Gordon-Levitt.




Ira Madison III: Our guest today has been acting basically since he’s been ten. And in his decades in the industry since, he’s done it all. A writer, director and producer with two Golden Globe nominations, two Emmys and a SAG Award. He’s currently playing Uber CEO Travis Kalanick on Showtime’s Super Pumped. Please welcome Joseph Gordon-Levitt.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Thanks so much.


Ira Madison III: Thank you for being here. I want I want you to know that we just did a nerdy deep dive in this episode by hitting two of our blind spots in movies of yours we hadn’t seen.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Okay.


Ira Madison III: Because we basically, I feel like I basically seen every film that you’ve been in.


Louis Virtel: I really had. I had to dig hard, but then the one I came up.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt: I can’t wait to hear what it is.


Louis Virtel: I had never seen The Dark Knight Rises because I’m constitutionally opposed to movies like that existing.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt: OK, movies like what exactly?


Ira Madison III: He doesn’t like he’s not a superhero movie person.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Fair enough, yeah.


Louis Virtel: Picture, I mean I have a Sandy Dennis poster behind me. Can you picture me really sitting with the Batman? Can you picture me like watching him? Probably not, right?


Joseph Gordon-Levitt: I mean, yeah, I hear you. Sure, I’m not going to. I’m not going to argue that one. All right, go ahead.


Louis Virtel: But you were you were excellent at it.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Thanks.


Louis Virtel:  But the question that came to mind for me was, you’ve been in these just gigantic movies and then also extremely small movies that like, really stick with me, like Mysterious Skin. And I was like, Do you have a favorite size of movie to make?


Joseph Gordon-Levitt: I don’t have a favorite. I feel like I’d be disappointed if I didn’t get the variety and feel lucky that I’ve been fortunate enough to get to do a wide variety of things. I like to watch a wide variety of things. I like to listen and read a wide variety of things. I’m not one of those people that like has a genre or a I don’t know a that I stick in. The variety is a big part of what keeps it interesting for me.


Ira Madison III: OK, so mine was Snowden.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Uh huh..


Ira Madison III: And what I loved about that was, um, just I feel like the range you have in going from like this very serious, you know, sort of intense character to like more comedic things like, I know actually, what about favorite performances of yours is in Don Jon?


Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Oh, thanks man. I’m pleased to hear that.


Ira Madison III: but I feel like you always play sort of like obsessive characters. And whether it’s comedic or whether it’s serious, the character, like, has this like intense sort of like obsession. I even rewatched a 3rd Rock From the Sun episode where you were a newspaper editor in it and like, you even have the intensity there to


Louis Virtel: the feverish-ness was there.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt: I’m very flattered, you guys. Thank you


Ira Madison III: Do you find yourself like an an an obsessive person with your interests?


Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Unquestionably. Yeah. I mean, but that’s what isn’t that the fun of it? I mean, if you’re not going to care deeply, then what’s the point of any of it, right? It’s I don’t know. I, but it’s actually funny. It reminds me a little bit of you just brought up Mysterious Skin and that movie, that character is particularly someone who’s sort of laissez faire about a lot. And I remember one of the things I remember about that creative process was diving real deep into the novel. It’s based on a novel by Scott Heim. I went to Kansas, where the story is set. I traveled there with the novelist he he took me to meet his family and to all these childhood places where his memories were, where the story is based on and and. And I came to work the first day before shooting and started talking to Gregg Araki, the writer director, about all these things that I thought and all these notes I had made about the novel, etc.. And he was very respectful and receptive and listen to everything I had to say and then was like, “Yeah, I don’t I don’t think you should think about it all that much.” And and you know what, he was 100 percent right because that that is that character. That character’s not and he’s not someone who overthinks things. And and that was actually a real challenge to kind of let go of that obsessive pattern that you’re pointing out.


Louis Virtel: And also, that character was in basically denial about how traumatized he was. So that fits in with that, too.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt: That’s exactly right.


Ira Madison III: I will literally always remember that film because I think it is. It came out in spring of 2005, and I think it’s maybe the first like queer film I watched after coming out.


Louis Virtel: Honestly, you must hear that all the time. You must hear that all the time because it’s it’s a specific niche. From that time, anyway, where like you’d get a new queer movie once every two years that you ended up seeing if you were some somebody like me or Ira. So do gay people just rush up to you and you’re like, Oh, Mysterious Skin, here are the 25 ways it changed my life.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt: I mean, I definitely hear from from people in the queer community about that movie, for sure. And that’s really meaningful to me and but it also just it’s one of those movies that seems to transcend just film, you know, film lovers, people who are down to watch something that’s challenging, that’s that’s going to make you feel strong feelings regardless of the subject matter. I think it’s it’s actually I remember someone once saying to me they hadn’t seen the movie and I was trying to describe it to them and they were like, But it’s it’s about being gay, right? And I was like, well, no, actually, I don’t think so. I don’t think that’s really what the movie’s about. And but you know, when you when you put something in a genre, it’s easy to reduce it. Maybe that’s why I don’t like genres. Maybe that’s why I like to keep it eclectic.


Ira Madison III: So you are in Super Pumped? You know the the battle for Uber. And as I was joking with Louis before this, my current battle with Uber is you can never get one in LA.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Right.


Louis Virtel: Yeah, but we’re all in this together.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Uber is in a very different place than it was back when this show takes place.


Ira Madison III: I just remember I just loved the first scene where you were putting Kyle Chandler into an Uber because it reminds me that the initial Uber experience was glamour.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Mm hmm. That was their brand, yea.


Ira Madison III: It felt like when you got into it, it was like, Oh, this is like a nice, classy thing I’m getting into, and now someone will pick you up in their Volvo and maybe kill you on the 405. But preparing to play Travis, you know, you described even in Mysterious Skin back then you were like, I’m like, intensely making notes for this character, you know, like, how do you prepare for playing like Edward Snowden? Like, how do you prepare playing a character who exists in the real world? And we already sort of have ideas about, although I guess Travis isn’t a person that the general public knows that much.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Yeah, I had never heard his name I don’t think. I didn’t really know him personally. Of course I knew Uber, but it was fascinating to get to know who who was the human being and the human beings plural behind this incredible success. And you know, so there’s there’s a few sides to it. One the show’s based on a book. The book was written by a New York Times journalist who sourced everything very rigorously adhering to the New York Times standard of journalism, where everything in there comes from a direct source and then is confirmed by a secondary source. So that means everything in the book someone who was there saw it happen and told Mike Isaac, the journalist, about it. And so all of the kind of plot points and the the “what” of what you see in the show comes from that book. But for me, I was interested in more beyond just what happened. I wanted to know how it felt, you know, because I’m an actor, I’m not a journalist. I want to portray a whole human being, not just, you know, relay the events that occurred. So I talked to a whole bunch of people that were there, a whole bunch of people that worked closely with Travis and just asking them, OK, so yeah, beyond all this stuff, like, what’s he like? Who is he? What’s it like to have a conversation with him? What’s it like to sit in a room with him and have a meeting? How does he behave? How does he feel? And just heard from a wide variety of people and and learned a lot that I probably wouldn’t have learned had I just stuck to the book and the press? And and in fact, a lot of positive things, you know, you largely hear you largely hear a negativity around him nowadays because I think he did make some really questionable decisions and Uber under him did have some real negative impacts on a lot of people’s lives. And that’s really important, I think, to hold him accountable for that. But what you don’t hear as much is from the people that I heard from were like, “Oh man, he was so inspiring. He had so much energy. He was so incredibly smart. You couldn’t help but get on his side and want to help him on this crazy, ambitious mission of his.” And so I was I was really trying to kind of hit all all of the above,


Louis Virtel: And it makes sense that somebody like that would have charisma. But at the same time, to play that and also his unseemly qualities, that just seems really hard. Did you find that easy to balance?


Joseph Gordon-Levitt: You know, Yeah, I think we all have a certain beast inside of us where, you know, the thing where you’re like, “I’m just going to take what I want and fuck everybody else.” We all have that inside of us. Its basic animal instincts. We’re all animals, right? And that’s how Travis leaned into his work life and and so in a way, there’s something very easy about just diving into that side of myself. And it’s fun and gratifying and cathartic because it’s not a side of yourself you always get to really just let loose. And I think that’s that’s why it was a lot of fun for me to to play and why it’s fun to watch.


Ira Madison III: I want to ask you about working with um.. In Super Pumped. One of the four actresses on my Mount Rushmore,  ugh Uma Thurman.


Louis Virtel: Yeessssss.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Oh yes. Wait who is the Mount Rushmore? Just diversions


Ira Madison III: Angela Bassett. Angelina Jolie.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Yup.


Ira Madison III: Michelle Pfeiffer.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Great. And Uma, for sure.


Ira Madison III: And Uma. Ummm. Is she an intense woman in person?


Joseph Gordon-Levitt: She’s really easy to be around, but she’s a really intense and dedicated artist. She nailed Arianna Huffington, just nailed the accent. And I mean it in a good way, not not in any sort of negative way, but just she she showed a ton of, I think, respect and interest in who the woman was and learned tons about her and just drilled and drilled and drilled and drilled to get that voice down. And it’s just it’s so good she’s not in the first episode. If you watched the first episode, you haven’t seen her yet, but Uma’s performance is honestly my favorite part of the whole show. I could watch an entire series of Uma Thurman playing Arianna Huffington. And for sure, she’s she holds a special place in my psyche. I think just like she does for you, I mean, I was so when Pulp Fiction came out, I think I was 13 or something like that. And that movie just kind of changed everything about how I felt. Not only about movies, about about art, about creativity, about myself, about acting, which I, you know, I’d already been acting for years and I cared a lot about it. And that movie was such a kind of blow the roof off of everything moment, you know, it was through, I think, my exposure to Pulp Fiction than Reservoir Dogs and then the Coen Brothers. And then that was like, Oh, now, oh, there’s art. There’s there’s Scorsese and Coppola from the 70s and like, Oh, wait, but they were watching these European filmmakers from the 60s and but it in in a way it started with Pulp Fiction. And I think that’s that’s true for a lot of people kind of bringing that artistic flair to them and doing it so well that that it becomes mainstream and it’s playing at the mall where a suburban kid like me would see it. And and so Uma is just this, I mean, Mount Rushmore, I love your Mount Rushmore image like she’s kind of her her presence is, is this kind of has this halo in my mind. And so acting opposite her was just just euphoria. I I was just constantly just thrilled being just sinking into her. Her face and her everything.


Louis Virtel: Obviously, you’ve acted for hundreds of decades now you’re about 700 years old, but because you have all this experience in a Kevin Bacon like way where since the beginning you’ve worked also with like luminaries since the beginning of your career. Are there any particular coworkers you’ve had whose voice still kind of lingers in your head like, you know, as sort of inspirational people who’ve you’ve kind of kept you acting and kept you interested in acting for years and years?


Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Well, let’s see who comes to mind? I mean, of course, there’s so many. One of my most memorable experiences, as as you mentioned, you know, I’ve been doing this for so long. And when I was 10, actually the first feature film I got to act in, I’d been, you know, doing little parts in TV shows and commercials and stuff. But when I was 10, I got to be in my first movie and it was A River Runs Through It, which was directed by Robert Redford at the time. I didn’t really know Robert Redford was. I was 10. My but my mom kind of educated me and and this is the first time I was being directed by an actor. So someone who really understood where I was coming from and, well, one anecdote I like to tell about him, which I think is worth repeating, is there was this one scene we were doing where I had to walk into a room and hit my mark and then have this scene with Tom Selleck, who was playing my dad. And you know, the cinematography in A River Runs Through It was very composed and very beautiful. In fact, I think the cinematographer won the Oscar that year. And so when you’re when you’re acting in a scene, you have to, they call it, hit your mark. I mean, stand on this certain piece of tape because that’s exactly where the camera is pointing, and that’s where all the lights are pointing and they’ve set it up in just such a way that it looks beautiful. So if you are, you’re if you’re a little bit off the mark that fucks up all the cinematography. And it’s a bit of it’s a skill that you have to learn to to walk all the way somewhere. Not look down. You can’t look at the tape and still hit exactly where you need to stand. And so after a few takes I had, I fucked it up a couple of times and walked into the room and not stood quite on the mark. And the cinematographer very nicely, but, you know, pretty insistently was, you know, saying, you, you have to you have to stand there or else it doesn’t work. And of course, I got really nervous like, Oh God. OK, so then we’re about to do another take. And all I’m thinking about is I have to stand on that mark. I have to stand on their mark, have to hit the mark. And Mr. Redford came up to me. And he could tell, I think that I was distracted. And it’s not good for an actor to be thinking about hitting a mark. The actor should be thinking about the story and what the character’s feeling and needs to be in it. And and he leaned down to me and he just whispered, he goes, “I never hit my marks.” And only a director who’s acting could tell me that, you know? And so it’s just so much empathy and and so much wherewithal. And I got to say respect for a 10 year old. Not everybody treats kids with the respect that I think they deserve. You know, kids are people, too. And I just loved that he said that. And eventually I did hit the mark, but I also managed to stay focused and I admire him. “Bo”b, he goes by. I don’t want to sound douchey, by like him Bob.


Ira Madison III: I call. I call him Bob all the time.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Okay, good.


Ira Madison III: When we text. Bob, in my thought,


Joseph Gordon-Levitt: that’s how we go. That’s that’s what everyone calls him. And I just look up to him so much. And not to mention, you know, this is the guy who started Sundance, which was single handedly is responsible for independent cinema in the United States. You guys would never have seen Mysterious Skin if it weren’t for Sundance.


Louis Virtel: Also, for somebody who is like secondary occupation is directing, he really has directed two of my favorite movies and performances within those movies, which are not just that movie, but Ordinary People and Quiz Show which are so fabulous. Oh yeah, great finds in Quiz Show. My hands in the air. I’m at church


Ira Madison III: For people listening. Also, Phillipe Rousselot is the cinemetographer for A River Runs Through It  who also  cinematographized Interview With a Vampire. So there you go, I guess. Final question. You’ve also worked with another one of my favorite directors who’s been on this show. Ryan Johnson um who I’ve been obsessed with since Brick. And he knows that. It’s why he has his restraining order against me. What’s it like working with him? And obviously you have a relationship outside of work, you know, because you did a cameo, a little uncredited cameo in Knives Out, which was the film I wouldn’t stop talking about in 2019.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Yeah, I’ve technically been in all of his movies. We keep the streak alive.


Louis Virtel: You’re the John Ratzenberger of Brian Johnson.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Yes, I don’t know that reference. Who’s John Ratzenberger.


Louis Virtel: He’s the guy that used to be on Cheers, and then he’s in all the Pixar movies.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Oh, I didn’t know this at all, and I’m a big Pixar fan. Okay


Louis Virtel: OK, pay attention tune in.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Thank you. Thank you.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Ryan Yeah. What can I say? But he’s he’s one of my dearest friends and favorite people. When we made Brick together he, I think, understood that I was interested in the film making process as a whole. And so he invited me into it. And I remember when he said to me he’s like, “you know, we have a whole crew here and everybody’s crucial, but this is like you, me and Steve, we really have to leave it. Lead it.” And Steve is his cinematographer, that’s that he’s been best friends with since film school and that has shot all of his movies. And he really considered me a collaborator in a way that I don’t think I’d ever quite experienced before. And that just makes you feel so good and so inspired to do your best. And I think he he inspires everybody he works with in this way because he’s so not ego driven. He’s so not about “This is mine, and I’m the artist and the auteur” and blah blah blah. He’s he’s all about just like, “Hey, let’s all figure out whatever it takes to make this the best thing it can be. I’ll take an idea from anywhere. I respect everybody.” It’s really not how everybody is. Not all directors are that way. And like he, he once sat with me. I remember sitting in his apartment for hours and we went through the script of Brick and he told me what he was planning to do with the camera for every moment of that movie. They had, they had planned it out, and he went through the whole plan with me. There was no like, well, you know, we’ll shoot a master and then some coverage and we’ll see what happens in the edit room. That’s that’s not really how he makes movies. And that’s why one of the one of the many reasons why they’re so great. But he didn’t have to sit there and do that. An actor doesn’t technically need to know what the camera’s doing in every moment of the movie. But it accomplished two things: one, I think it can’t help if the actor knows what the camera’s doing so you can play to the camera in a more sensitive way if that’s how you like to do it. But also, like I said, it just made me feel so invested and and included that I just gave everything to that performance and I could go on and on and on about Ryan. Your love for him is well merited.


Ira Madison III: Well, thank you, Joseph. It was nice to have you here.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Thank you.


Ira Madison III: Or Joe, as I’m going to call you now.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Please do, please do. Joey. Whatever you like, Giuseppe.


Louis Virtel: Oh my god. Yeah, you used to be Joey Gordon-Levitt. I remember when you were. I think you were on Celebrity Jeopardy once. And your name was Joey on The Lecturn, and I remember it well.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Well, yeah, when I wrote my name, that’s what I wrote. Yeah. You write it down there. That’s funny. Kirsten Dunst was was another contestant on that.


Louis Virtel: Yes.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt: episode of Celebrity Jeopardy. Teen Celebrity Jeopardy. Oh, Lord.


Ira Madison III: I mean, we we you know, like we said, you’ve had so long of a career, you know, like you’ll have to you need to come back for us to even get into like 10 Things I Hate About You and your whole teen career.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt: I look forward to it. Great talking to both of you.


Ira Madison III: You, too.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt: All right. Cheers.




Ira Madison III: OK, so the SAG Awards were Sunday, which is probably news to most of you because you were either watching the Euphoria finale or you were watching The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City reunion or, you know, you were having your Sunday night wind down with 60 Minutes like Elaine Dennis. But I had to tune in and watch how my votes for my union unfolded, right?


Louis Virtel: No, this was critical union behavior. Us watching Jessica Chastain win awards.


Ira Madison III: Yeah. So let’s get into that. Jessica Chastain won for The Eyes of Tammy Faye, which I still have not seen.


Louis Virtel: I have seen it. Let me tell you this. I mean, it is down the line wikipedia the movie, as in here is the beginning of Tammy Faye’s life. Here she meets Jim Baker. They have a salad days that go very well up. He’s maybe corrupt up. Things are looking bad for Tammy. Up she has she has a slightly redemptive moment at the end, like right down the line. It’s like you’re reading a biographical story of Tammy Faye. I have to say, though, I’m not surprised she won for this. One, it’s I think it’s a really good performance and also a really accurate performance. And it’s ideal for Oscar voting because it’s that thing of she has a very iconic look. So if you achieve that, look, you’re already in everybody’s thrall. They’re everybody’s excited about it. Then if you can capture the character people, I think it becomes very hard to vote against you, like you’re doing the the work of being this person. And then there’s the voice, which is great. We already knew she could do that voice because she’s been in movies like The Help before, and now she’s going to play Tammy Wynette in an upcoming biopic, so she’s going to continue on this streak. But something annoys me about this movie, which is a big part of the emotional crux of it or getting us on Tammy Faye’s side is she has a very sympathetic moment with a fan on air who has AIDS. And so her whole, you know, it’s like she’s this religious woman, but she’s also sympathetic to the LGBT movement. I’m not saying that’s not nothing. It’s just not interesting enough for me to hinge a movie on. I don’t know, maybe 20 years ago that would have been considered really landmark. Now I’m like, Are we giving this woman too much credit? I don’t know.


Ira Madison III: I have not seen it, but I would have been fine if she had won the SAG Award for The Three Five Five.


Louis Virtel: OK, which is a film. Now tell me why you enjoyed that movie.


Ira Madison III: You know what? It’s my it’s my new Salt.


Louis Virtel: Is it that good?


Ira Madison III: The Three Five Five is iconic. It’s it’s bad, but it’s so much fucking fun also the cast. It’s like Jessica Chastain, Sebastian Stan, Lupita Nyong’o. I love when she I love when Hollywood actually lets her be in a film.


Louis Virtel: I know it’s been she’s been in like five movies since 12 Years a Slave, and not including that one where she played like a worm in Star Wars or whatever.


Ira Madison III: Right? She is like one of the most, well, black actresses in the fucking globe. She’s always on a fucking magazine cover, but she’s never in a fucking movie.


Louis Virtel: Yes, yes. I’m very up to date on, say, her Instagram, but her filmography needs more steps.


Ira Madison III: Yeah, she’s in it.  Bing Bing Fan is in it. Remember when she vanished for years?


Louis Virtel: That was a very scary situation. Yes.


Ira Madison III: Penelope Cruz is in it. Penelope Cruz, who I want to win the Oscar, by the way, because she’s iconic and deserves it after that iconic W magazine spread shot by Pedro Almodovar.


Louis Virtel: She is awesome in Parallel Mothers. It’s weird like the lasting impact of that movie, because as you’re watching it, there’s a lot of difficult scenes and a lot of like in a traditional Almodovar way, like huge emotional turns like she finds out this piece of information and then this piece, and some people would just turn that melodrama. But really, it’s she makes it seem pretty real. And I think that’s all on her. So I think it’s less of a melodrama than it would be, given that Penelope Cruz is the star of it. She’s also just a fucking awesome actress. Looks awesome on screen. I wouldn’t mind if she won, either.


Ira Madison III: I think it’s I think it’s her best performance, actually. And like, you know, like jokes about muses aside, you know, I was Pedro Almodovar’s muse when I did Parrallel Mother.


Louis Virtel: Have we even talked about that the Julia Fox clip talking about whatever the fuck that is?


Ira Madison III: We haven’t. I feel like it was dead by the time we got to it.


Louis Virtel: That’s true. Also, this thing happens when you try to talk about Julia Fox. When you realize there’s nothing to say, you’re like, Can you believe she did? I don’t care. Like, there’s nothing there. Oh, you have a weird voice. There’s not. There’s no there’s no interest.


Ira Madison III: She shes a less interesting fox than Star Fox and the fantastic Mr. Fox.


Louis Virtel: Wow. Star Fox. We’re talking about SNES now.


Ira Madison III: OK, she’s less interesting than Foxy Cleopatra, so.


Louis Virtel: That’s a lesser Beyonce role. Yes. I’d take Cadillac records over that.


Ira Madison III: I think it’s I think it’s Penelope’s like best performance, you know, and I think I love that I saw the baby switch story coming mostly just because Pedro still, you know, borrows his stories from soaps and telenovela, and then makes them more and like humanizes them a bit more, certainly more. In his later years, the melodrama is less intense than you know in his All About My Mother era. Another perfect film, but I would love for her to win for that. And I just want to say that Jessica Chastain winning the SAG Award does not mean she is about to win the Oscar. They’re like two different voting bodies who do Oscars versus SAG. SAG is literally everyone who’s ever been an actor. Right? OK, so it’s just someone sitting


Louis Virtel: Like I’m in SAG because of like three times I appeared on Jimmy Kimmel. So just know that.


Ira Madison III: And you know, some some woman named Leslie in Van Nuys is just watching Tammy Faye and like, Oh, she looks so great. I wish I’d done that role. She’s so iconic. And then they vote for her.


Louis Virtel: Right, sure. Also, I think people are a little bit in denial about how many people vote for the Oscars, it’s like also like thousands and thousands of people and not the same. I mean, obviously there’s an overlapping voting body, but it’s not the same block. So one win does not necessarily equate another win. But you know what? I think people need to stick up for Nicole Kidman. I do think she is excellent and real seeming enough in the Lucy movie because she would be that kind of stolid, business driven person in that environment, given how popular it was like she she, I feel like she would be kind of wisecracking in that way, and she really sells it. It’s so much strange dialog for someone who is allegedly Lucille Ball to say, but she really meshes it well. She makes it seem realistic.


Ira Madison III: Here’s what I’ll say. I love Nicole in this film, and I actually love this film.


Louis Virtel: I enjoyed it a lot. I think it’s an I think it’s like an A-minus,


Ira Madison III: But I would say that. We don’t have enough films that follow Aaron Sorkin’s mantra of you know, like anyone who’s just like the good actor could play this role, like it’s not about representing the person to a tee. You know, I think we just talked about this on the show before. You know, it’s like everyone’s used to for a biopic like you got to they’ve got to look exactly like this person, which is why they like fucking Debra Messing. The internet has, and I think that


Louis Virtel: Yea, tell me, tell me, you’re not into actresses without telling me you’re not into actresses. Oh, you saw Debra Messing in a Lucille Ball costume one time. So now she has to play her in a biopic. Get off my fucking lawn.


Ira Madison III: I would posit that Nicole Kidman playing this role on stage would no one would bat an eye


Louis Virtel: Totally, totally. Yeah, because she’s she’s playing it in certain broad strokes. And also, again, I invite you to look back at old clips of Lucille Ball and you realize, Oh, she’s not daffy at all. She’s not, you know,  she doesn’t have a sort of a whimsical spirit about her the way Lucy Ricardo does. So anyway, Nicole fabulous, as always. Did anything else happen at the SAG Awards that we’re interested in?


Ira Madison III: Well, Oscar Isaac kissed Jeremy Strong on the cheek.


Louis Virtel: OK, great.


Ira Madison III: We got to see Oscar Isaac and Jeremy Strong and Jessica Chastain hanging out, and they’re all besties. Because if you recall, just Jessica Chastain went to the defense of Jeremy Strong after that profile. And now I want to see Jeremy Strong in the Three Five Five sequel.


Louis Virtel: Wow, OK. Again, you’ve broken my brain. My brain is now in shards, but


Ira Madison III: I don’t know what I want more. The Three Five Six or Salt 2.


Louis Virtel: Three Five Six? Um Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain, they were in A Most Violent Year Together, and they were also in Scenes From a Marriage Together, which are two things maybe I will watch someday.


Ira Madison III: Hmm. Well, I think as you adressed last week or so that A Most Violent Year is just about the coats.


Louis Virtel: Right?


Ira Madison III: And. Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac’s best performances are just on red carpet, so.


Louis Virtel: Right. I have to say


Ira Madison III: I think I think I think we’re good there.


Louis Virtel: Yeah, that’s true. That’s true.


Ira Madison III: Maybe the best moment of the SAG Awards didn’t even happen at the awards show. It was a Laverne Cox asking Lady Gaga about her dress and she was like, “What’s the story here tonight” and I like Lady Gaga clearly seeming high, was like, “the story I’m telling tonight is the truth.”


Louis Virtel: Wow. But Patrizia Gucci had originally inhabited her body. Now it’s Gloria Allred.


Ira Madison III: I’m gonna miss that bitch of the awards circuit. I’m sad that she’s not nominated for an Oscar only because we won’t get Oscar antics from her cause like Gaga not being not being nominated for an Oscar. It’s like, why would you even bother to show up?


Louis Virtel: Right, right? I had been sick of Gaga’s reign of terror during this awards season, giving, shall we say, under funny people on Twitter, a whole personality that said that’s not on of her that’s on them. So, yeah,


Ira Madison III: Ugh and maybe just the final thing to talk about with the SAGs is you know like, the also the actor race, which is, I think, one of the more interesting best actor races we’ve had in years.


Louis Virtel: Oh, because you got Will Smith, who won at the SAGs, Benedict Cumberbatch.


Ira Madison III: We got Andrew Garfield,


Louis Virtel: who again, it’s like you put all these three of these names up, and it really is. I want to write a five paragraph essay in my senior year of high school to to to solve which of these I want to vote for. But I think.


Ira Madison III: Denzel too


Louis Virtel: I thought I thought Macbeth was great. I thought Frances was great too.


Ira Madison III: Yeah, I’m sad. Frances didn’t get a nomination Oscar nomination, but you know this making Denzel the most awarded, most nominated black actor for this performance, you know, it’s like, Do you want to see Andrew get this Oscar finally? I feel like, NO! Because he still has to pay penance for Hacksaw Ridge.


Louis Virtel: It is weird that his two nominated roles the directors are Mel Gibson and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Like what? What range, if you will?


Ira Madison III: Oh, I would love to see them at brunch together.


Louis Virtel: Oh God.


Ira Madison III: A demure spotting Lin-Manuel Miranda and Mel Gibson at Pastis.


Louis Virtel: Two competitive ponytails. Yeah, from two different worlds.


Ira Madison III: Honestly, Lin-Manuel Miranda will probably write the greatest Mel Gibson Musical Ever.


Louis Virtel: Oh God.


Ira Madison III: The biopic.


Louis Virtel: By which, by the way. You know what could be a musical? Maverick.


Ira Madison III: Oh, sí. Yeah.


Louis Virtel: One of the great Mel Gibson movies


Ira Madison III: I’m surprised Braveheart isn’t one. Or maybe it already is, and someone’s going to tell me,


Louis Virtel: Yeah, it needs to not be that, said Sophie Marceau if you’re out there, call us. We love you.


Ira Madison III: I want umm. I want Will to get that Oscar. I like I. I adore him. It was a great speech, and I think, you know, it’s that’s one of those nice moments you love at the Oscars, where it’s like a beloved actor who’s been in a lot of like blockbuster and like feel-good movies like can also turn out a great dramatic performance, and it’s like you want to award them because I feel like he’s earned it for previous performances, you know, and I think that, you know, it’d be it. It’s fun to hand him one the same way that, you know, like Julia Roberts and Sandra Bullock got their Oscars.


Louis Virtel: I feel like Julia Roberts is a pretty good parallel because it’s not the way you’re phrasing. It’s almost like, oh, well, he’s overdue, and this performance is good enough. But no, it’s a really, really good performance. It’s really


Ira Madison III: It’s really good. And everyone voting, I feel like loves him.


Louis Virtel: Totally. I mean, it’s it’s so much more ideal than, say, when Paul Newman won for The Color of Money, which if you’ve seen that movie is, you wouldn’t put that in his top 25 performances, you know, or like sense of a woman. Another thing where it’s like, Oh, we had to give it to Al Pacino for that. I would put it on par with something like maybe Leo in The Revenant, where, you know, it’s it’s a memorable performance, maybe not my favorite in terms of what he can do emotionally, but it is great. And and you could argue that it’s the best.


Ira Madison III: Yeah. Uh, anyway. That’s all we have to say about the SAG Awards. Oh, but shout out, shout out to Coda and Marlee Matlin. I still need to see Coda, but I love seeing Marlee Matlin on stage anywhere


Louis Virtel: She is full of life. Yes.


Ira Madison III: I know.


Louis Virtel: Also, by


Ira Madison III: One of my favorite Celebrity Apprentice contestants


Louis Virtel: Oh my god, she got to the finals too. No. By the way, I have seen the film Coda. I must have missed the part where they explained that Coda means child of deaf adults. I, like, totally missed that.


Ira Madison III: That’s like the name of the movie, baby.


Louis Virtel: I know, right? I don’t know what I was doing, by the way I want to say about that movie. Shout out to Amelia Jones, the star of that movie who really makes the conflict at the center of the story where she has to choose between basically, you know, serving as, you know, a helper to her family for the rest of her life and like choosing her own destiny seemed very real. And also, weirdly, after the SAGs, I just had this idea I hadn’t seen in ages the movie running on empty. If you know what that is written by Naomi Fulmer-Gyllenhaal, mother of the Gyllenhaal’s, and it was River Phoenix’s one Oscar nominated performance. It is weirdly a lot like Coda, a kid who’s a musical prodigy has to choose between sticking with his family, who in this case are fugitives because they blew up a napalm lab as college students once upon a time. And going to Julliard


Ira Madison III: Desperate Housewives season five, by the way.


Louis Virtel: OK, well, I have to tell you, this is probably better than that.


Ira Madison III: DeRay Mateo as eco terrorists, I doubt it, but


Louis Virtel: I stand corrected. I stand corrected. But I think we need to have a river Phoenix conversation soon, soon, just about how he was really able to do a ton of emotions. What people think. James Dean is he actually was he could do complex emotions and register them intensely, whereas James Dean was pretty much just angry.


Ira Madison III: Yeah, we should get River on the podcast.


Louis Virtel: OK, well, I didn’t say that. There is a new River Phoenix in life, though. The son of Joaquin Phoenix and Rooney Mara is named River Phoenix.


Ira Madison III: Oh, that’s right. OK.


Louis Virtel: Kate Mara’s nephew, if you will.


Ira Madison III: Well, I think we’ve tapped out of the SAG Awards.


Louis Virtel: I did my best.


Ira Madison III: I did my best too. I voted for you, Jennifer Coolidge. I’m sorry. I’m sorry that you didn’t win.


Louis Virtel: Oh, come on. Kate Winslet in Mare of Easttown blew that shit up. That’s one of the best Mini-Series performances I’ve ever seen.


Ira Madison III: All right. When we’re back, Keep It.


Ira Madison III: And we’re back for our favorite segment of the episode. It is Keep It, Louis. Who you Keeping It to?


Louis Virtel: I was trying to have a peaceful Tuesday. I get up out of my bed. You know how I live my life. I get the coffee. I come back. Maybe turn some game shows on. Sam Elliott piped up today. Sam Elliott, Oscar nominee for A Star is Born. Husband of The Graduates Catherine Ross. I hope they have a lovely marriage. I really do.


Ira Madison III: Whenever I hear Sam Elliott, for 10 seconds. I always think people are talking about Sam Neill.


Louis Virtel: Well, I I totally understand. They’re just that sort of you see them about the same amount, too, and they pop up with regularity in any kind of project anyway. Sam Elliott popped off about the movie The Power of the Dog today, which is already not doing that well thanks to its low SAG appreciation. So I’m in Jane Campion’s corner at the moment. But anyway, he was on Marc Maron’s podcast Sam Elliot, and the movie comes up and he goes, and Marc Maron goes, Oh, you didn’t like that? He goes, “Fuck no, why? I’ll tell you why I didn’t like it anyway.” First of all slow down, slow down he goes. “I looked at when I was down there in Texas doing 1883 a movie. I guess he did. And what really brought home to me the other day when I said, there’s a fucking full page ad out in the L.A. Times. There was a review, not a review, but a clip that talked about the evisceration of the American myth. And I thought, What the fuck? What the fuck? This is the guy that’s done westerns forever. The evisceration of the American West. They made it look like, what are all those dancers that those guys in New York who wear bow ties and not much else remember them from back in the day?” So I didn’t know what that meant, but moving on? That’s what all he goes. “That’s what all these fucking cowboys in that movie look like. They’re all running around and chaps and no shirts. There’s all these allusions to homosexuality throughout the fucking movie.” OK? Are you in denial that there could have been some gay people in the American West? I want to be clear, it’s the entire American West. I just I feel like there are some around. And then Marc Mauer responded, “Well, I think that’s what the movie’s about. Obviously, in the movie, it’s implied that Benedict Cumberbatch’s rancher character, Phil Burbank, is a repressed gay man.” And then Sam Elliott added, “What the fuck does this woman” referring to Jane Campion, the director, “she’s a brilliant director, by the way. I love her work. previous work.” Oh, I’m so sure you were sitting there watching Portrait of a Lady mother fucker anyway he goes.


Ira Madison III: He loves. He loves watching Anna Paquin tickle those ivories.


Louis Virtel: Oh, right, right, right. Right up Sam Elliott’s alley. He goes, “What the fuck does this woman from down there, New Zealand, know about the American West? And why in the fuck does she shoot this movie in New Zealand and call it Montana and say, this is the way it was? That fucking rubbed me the wrong way, pal.” I don’t know if Sam Elliott. I feel that Sam Elliott should know that often movies are not filmed where they take place. That’s just how movies are sometimes.


Ira Madison III: He’s been in 700.


Louis Virtel: That’s what I’m saying. Like the movie Jackie. Like, they didn’t use the real White House. They they used a set like, that’s how a movie often occurs.


Louis Virtel: Second of all, that is so offensive to imply that Jane Campion couldn’t have, one, a take on the American West, let alone an understanding of the American West. Books exist, Wikipedia exists, documentaries exist. These are all things Jane Campion is probably extremely familiar with, and to say that there’s a take about the West that you couldn’t possibly have because the information isn’t available. It’s like, first of all, almost every Western since, like the 50s is quote unquote an upheaval of the western or a play on the western or evisceration of a myth, whatever. So for him to come down on her feels targeted in a sexist way. It just feels like somebody’s coming after a woman being like, this is a man’s business.


Ira Madison III: Yeah, I mean, like, I don’t ask, what does Martin Scorsese know about street gangs? So to the director direct the Bad video


Louis Virtel: Gangs of New York? The other bad? Yes.


Ira Madison III: Other detour. I rewatched the Bad video recently, and you know what? I love that I noticed for the first time. You know, in music videos, it’s always like a wind machine and like, people are dancing. And like, it just sort of comes out of nowhere. I love that Scorsese directing this video. It’s like, if we’re going to have a wind machine sequence, we need to show Michael Jackson pulling the grater off like oh yeah, like in a subway in the subway. So that there’s actually a reason why wind is blowing. Beautiful.


Louis Virtel: Yeah, really setting the actor up for success by putting all the things in place there.


Ira Madison III: He he’s a cranky old man. And it’s disappointing because I feel like we had so much Sam Elliott goodwill post A Star Being Born.


Louis Virtel: Yeah, by the way. What does Bradley Cooper know about a star being born? I mean, these are questions you could ask about any movie. No, I like Sam Elliott, and you know, he looks like, you know, an old toothbrush, and we love that about him. But I have no idea where he’s coming from here, and he completely disappointed me.


Ira Madison III: You know, one of the wildest films that I saw Sam Elliott in before was Fatal Beauty. Nineteen eighty seven. Whoopi Goldberg film. It’s basically like her. Beverly Hills Cop,


Louis Virtel: Oh sure because you know, because Whoopi Goldberg did versions of every other movie that was her career for a while, like bad versions of movies that previously exist.


Ira Madison III: She goes undercover. She’s an undercover narcotics officer who has a basically like a romance with Sam Elliott in this film. It is bizarre. And you must watch it


Louis Virtel: He’s kind of Ted Danson shape, so it does work out. If you know Whoopi Goldberg’s dating history,


Ira Madison III: He was romancing her, romancing Cher. How would Cher, Whoopi and Lady Gaga feel about him attacking Jane Campion?


Louis Virtel: Yeah, I don’t like it. By the way, now you got me thinking about Whoopi Goldberg’s late 80s era. Woof. what a flop time for her. I mean, she was in all these like


Ira Madison III: she was solving crime with dinosaurs


Louis Virtel: Batshit. Burglar. Oh my god, I’m so sorry. Anyway, Whoopi you prevailed,


Ira Madison III: the only the only iconic one is Jumping Jack Flash.


Louis Virtel: She’s very much at a computer in that one and I enjoy those scenes where it’s like one of those movies where you have to type in a password five times. Then she looks and sees the password on a countertop and types it in. You know,


Ira Madison III: one of the ten VHSs that was constantly on the TV stand in my grandmother’s home. Was like that and like Jagged Edge with Michael Douglas and Glenn Close. Like just iconic films,


Louis Virtel: I thought Jagged Edge is great. That’s one of Glenn Close’s best 80s movies, and she wasn’t even nominated for it. But anyway,


Ira Madison III: also other detours, speaking of Glenn Close, the cinematographer the Joseph Gordon-Levitt was talking about also did Dangerous Liaisons.


Louis Virtel: Oh, which is why we do this. Oh, come on. White people being bastards and truly whites? Yeah.


Ira Madison III: I want to discuss that genre with you next week. Let’s take a note. White people being bastards, we’re doing that. We’re doing that as a segment,


Louis Virtel: A complete, annotated history


Ira Madison III: Of white people being bastards. Yes. We’ll see that next week from us on Keep It. So my Keep It. This week goes to Gary Janetti.


Louis Virtel: Now, people might not know who that is, so you got to explain.


Ira Madison III: Yes. Gary Janetti is a comedy writer, ugh showrunner. You know, he’s worked on Will and Grace, you know, and like many classics and was married to Brad Goreski, which, you know, I do have sympathy for him for that.


Louis Virtel: Brad Goreski on that show, the Rachel Zoe project. I thought it would have a more lasting cultural imprint because I really did love it at the time. And Rachel Zoe looks like, drumroll please, Sandy Dennis from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.


Ira Madison III: Mostly, I just have sympathy for him with probably being the person who has to hold the camera while Brad Goreski is doing his Real Housewives impersonations, it’s like baby,


Louis Virtel: did he turn to front facing comedy. I didn’t know that


Ira Madison III: he’s Brad Goreski sure did. But just for Bravo.


Louis Virtel: Oh, ok.


Ira Madison III: Everyone’s trying to make money off Bravo these days. I’m like, baby, leave it to Casey Wilson and Danielle Snyder.


Louis Virtel: Yeah, definitely. People turn to front facing comedy the way they used to turn to hard drugs. So


Ira Madison III: The pandemic did a lot of damage. But anyway, I’m not even specifically mad at Gary Janetti, actually. I’m mad at this form of comment, which was on his Instagram. “Maybe not the best weekend to post a photo of yourself at the beach.” Obviously referring to the fact that there is war in Ukraine. You know, I hate this general like rhetoric because it implies that. I don’t know what are we supposed to do, like take up arms and go to Ukraine? It’s like your entire Instagram should just be infographics about the war. And llike et me tell you something about infographics on social media. Most of them are bullshit. Most of them are easily digestible, like pithy or witty little comments for you to share and act like you’re actually doing activism. And then, you know, like if you’re a person who is just, Oh, you know what? I’m going to spend the weekend sharing information about Ukraine in my Instagram Story. Part of me actually feels like that’s the extent of you thinking about the conflict.


Louis Virtel: Also, it’s just complete pretension to jump on somebody else’s Instagram and criticize them for not posting something that they might, by the way, have no familiarity with or they whatever. It’s like I think people are in denial about the fact that social media is basically like a school cafeteria, that you’re having conversations with your friends and we sometimes overhear other conversations and run into tables we wouldn’t normally sit out. That doesn’t mean everybody needs to be covering crucial news. I mean, it’s just so strange. What a strange comment to leave.


Ira Madison III: Yeah, I mean, it’s stuff like that where it’s like people being like, I can’t believe Fashion Week is still going on. And it’s like, Yes, I can’t believe that an industry which employs a lot of people and not just, you know, the mega-rich celebrities you see, like sitting front row, like there’s designers and makeup artists, you know, and stylists and people who are need this week, you know, to like, pay their fucking bills. You know, it’s just like just because something is happening in Ukraine, which is horrible. Does it mean that, like everyone else in the world, needs to halt what they’re doing? Specifically since white people never seem to want to halt what they’re doing when it’s um non-white countries going through turmoil, which happens every day.


Louis Virtel: Interesting point.


Ira Madison III: Let’s let’s pick, let’s pick and choose which conflicts we’re going to like police when other people need to be quiet about, you know, it’s like it’s the same thing as like during like June 2020 you know when some people are like, don’t you post your selfie during like the blacks like Black Lives Matter protest? And for me, I was like, Baby, if you don’t have a thought in that brand, go ahead and post that selfie because I do not want to hear your thoughts on intersectionality,.


Louis Virtel: Right?


Ira Madison III: Don’t share a Shaun King post on Instagram, OK? Post the selfie.


Louis Virtel: Right, thoughts are what’s going to disappoint me more than a photograph, for sure. Definitely. Yeah. No, I mean, I remember I remember the day Michael Jackson died. So that’s what June 2009 I posted something about that. And I was somebody I


Ira Madison III: I was working at Magnolia Bakery. And that is,.


Louis Virtel: Oh, really?


Ira Madison III: where I found out Michael Jackson died.


Louis Virtel: Oh, wow. Well, I could have used a cupcake in that moment. We should have been united.


Ira Madison III: A customer told me.


Louis Virtel: Wow, wow. But I remember somebody I knew from college posted on my Facebook. Like why I care about this when I don’t know what other world conflict was happening. It’s like this one did not educate me about whatever conflict you’re talking about. And two, there are there are layers to concern like you can post about this one thing and still be concerned about something else, even though you’re not posting about it anyway. These are all things that are probably fundamental to our listeners, but should be reiterated.


Ira Madison III: Yes, just a reiteration that everything I post on social media isn’t everything that’s going through my brain.


Louis Virtel: Or the world? Yes.


Ira Madison III: Right. So let people hawk their, you know, their juices or whatever products, OK, baby, post that beach selfie, OK? Just cause there’s war doesn’t mean I don’t want to see a hot body on the beach. OK.


Louis Virtel: Right? Oh my god, put that on your tombstone.


Ira Madison III: People are still horny in wartime, OK?


Louis Virtel: Horny in Wartime. My favorite Salman Rushdie novel. yes


Ira Madison III: It’s every Ernest Hemingway book.


Louis Virtel: Oh yeah, that’s true. Well the the bullfighting metaphors. Look them up. Yeah


Ira Madison III: Oh all right. That’s our episode. Thank you to Joey Gordon-Levitt for joining us.


Louis Virtel: Joey Gordon-Levitt. Yes.


Ira Madison III: Yeah. And we will see you next week.


Louis Virtel: Keep it as a Crooked Media production. Our senior producer is Kendra James. Our producer is Caroline Reston and our associate producer is Brian Semel. Our executive producer is Ira Madison III, but I, Louis Virtel, do a good job too. Our audio engineers are Charlotte Landes and Kyle Seglin, and the show is mixed and edited by Charlotte Landes. Thank you to our digital team Matt DeGroot, Nar Melkonian and Milo Kim for production support every week.