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This is the best way to experience Off Camera- When you get the app, you can instantly subscribe to Off Camera, or buy single issues a la carte. The Off Camera app is a beautifully designed hybrid magazine with the entire television version of Off Camera contained within it, available for any tablet or mobile device.

This e-magazine has all the images and extra content available in the physical version of the Off Camera magazine, plus enhanced HD video streaming so you can enjoy Off Camera your way.

After downloading the app, you will find Off Camera in your Apple newsstand folder. You can play steaming HD video straight from the pages of the app, making this experience truly multi-media.

Off Camera subscriptions available:
Single Issue/episode: (non-subscription): $2.99
6 month subscription: (11 issues/episodes): $27.99
1 year subscription: (22 issues/episodes): $49.99

Available in the Apple App Store and on Amazon:

For the uninitiated, or just those curious about things that seem insane: Motocross could be defined simply as a bunch of guys going around and around a circular track. Watch a race, and you’ll see it’s more like a ballet. Only the dancer is moving at speeds of up to 60 mph across a dirt stage of turns, obstacles and jumps that can shoot him 70 feet forward and send him soaring as high as a three-story building. All while (hopefully) astride a 220-lb bike that has a tendency to come loose, leaving the rider with nothing between him and a head-first plummet to the ground but…nothing. Adding to the fun, he’s dancing with a corps of at least 20 other guys trying to do the same thing – only faster – to a soundtrack that vibrates like a chorus of very angry wasps. Okay, never mind; that doesn’t sound much like dance after all. Nor does it sound any less insane, which why it requires just the opposite: complete cool, control and focus.

And dedication. Ricky Carmichael got his first minibike as a Valentine’s Day gift. He was five. His scored his first win at six in Daytona, Fla., and by 13, he was arguably the fastest minibike rider in world. But if bigger bikes exist, they must be ridden, and Carmichael rode – first 125ccs, then 250s and eventually 450s – with tunnel vision on the scoreboard. He won several main events in his rookie year with the Splitfire Pro Circuit Kawasaki team at age 18, and came back to finish the job by winning all eight main events of the Supercross 1998 125cc East Region. [Supercross is motocross, but on an indoor, tighter track.] In 2000, he jumped to the 250 class and won the 250 National Motocross Championship on his first try. The next year, he won 13 out of 15 Supercross races as well as the championship. In 2002, Carmichael accomplished something previously thought impossible: He won all 24 motos of the 2002 National season. In 2003, he won both Supercross and National titles again. In 2005, he also won all 12 events in the 250cc Outdoor National Championship, winning 22 of 24 motos on a 450. Carmichael also scored the U.S. Open of Supercross title and led Team USA to victory at the Motocross des Nations. Along the way, he battled back from several injuries sustained in crashes as spectacular as his wins. (Search “Ricky Carmichael worst crashes” and prepare to cringe.)

He announced that 2006 would be his last full-time season and then got down to business, dominating the Outdoor National Championship season. In 2007 he raced only select events but still finished with three Supercross wins and six Outdoor National Championship wins, taking every race he entered, remaining arguably the fastest rider on the track, and inarguably, with his record 150 combined SX/MX career victories, the winningest racer in the sport – The Greatest Of All Time.

In his 2007 semi-retirement, he took up another long-held ambition: the sedate pursuit of NASCAR racing, which still involves going around and around a track, this time at about 200 mph. In 2015, he was inducted in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.

Roger DeCoster, the Suzuki team manager responsible for recruiting Carmichael in 2005, said, “He is the most dedicated guy I have ever worked with. He wants to win as much on Mondays as he does on race day. He raises the game of the people around him. He gives his all.” Sounds about right for a guy who told Transworld Motocross at the start of his career, “I won’t accept seconds and thirds.” Coming up, he also paid attention to the off-track commonalities he noted among his racing idols: good sportsmanship and humility. The hype that surrounded Carmichael throughout his career went largely in one ear and out the other, and to this day he’s consistently gracious in discussing his fiercest rivals. Dirt Rider called him “the best bargain in motocross,” opining that top MX sponsors couldn’t pay enough for the PR value he brought to their brands.

These days, he co-owns professional Supercross/Motocross team RCH Racing. Carmichael leads the team’s rider development, testing, and research programs. He’s also helping advance the next generation of riders by hosting a hands-on riding school with instructors who collectively boast over 20 AMA national titles. He lends his name to the Ricky Carmichael Daytona Amateur Supercross, one of five annual major amateur championship events across the country. And, he’s taking what he’s learned on the bigger, better-funded NASCAR circuit to help grow audience and sponsorship for MX/SX, which counts 80 percent of its fans among the coveted 18-35 age bracket. Seems Carmichael’s just destined to keep going around in circles, moving the sport forward the whole time.

This is the best way to experience Off Camera- When you get the app, you can instantly subscribe to Off Camera, or buy single issues a la carte. The Off Camera app is a beautifully designed hybrid magazine with the entire television version of Off Camera contained within it, available for any tablet or mobile device.

This e-magazine has all the images and extra content available in the physical version of the Off Camera magazine, plus enhanced HD video streaming so you can enjoy Off Camera your way.

After downloading the app, you will find Off Camera in your Apple newsstand folder. You can play steaming HD video straight from the pages of the app, making this experience truly multi-media.

Off Camera subscriptions available:
Single Issue/episode: (non-subscription): $2.99
6 month subscription: (11 issues/episodes): $27.99
1 year subscription: (22 issues/episodes): $49.99

Available in the Apple App Store and on Amazon:

When you’re born a month premature in your parents’ small-town Idaho bathroom, there’s no place to go but up, right? So instead of college, why not take your ’82 Corolla, $6,000, and your mom, and head out to L.A. to be an actor? Under those circumstances, a kooky contestant spot on The Price is Right and a string of commercials (Corn Pops, Juicy Fruit, Vanilla Coke) are legitimately “up.”

The wacked-out, frenetic gusto with which the young Aaron Paul pitched those products could be presumed the result of consuming admirable quantities of them. Get to know him, though, and you realize the intensity is that of a guy who’s all-in, all the time. A guy who embraces each new opportunity with the zeal that comes from not knowing if “now” will ever happen again. When you spend seven years doing one-episode guest TV appearances before landing on – and surviving – one of the most critically acclaimed TV shows of all time, you can’t be blamed for thinking that way.

As Breaking Bad’s chemistry student/meth addict/drug dealer Jesse Pinkman, Paul was supposed to be killed off after the show’s first season. Instead, he became the only character besides lead Bryan Cranston to appear in every episode of the show, which went on to win 16 Emmy Awards and two Golden Globe Awards (among many, many others). It won Paul himself the Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series three times. While Breaking Bad may have killed its own with reckless abandon, creator Vince Gilligan showed shrewd discrimination in keeping Paul above ground, telling Details magazine, “Over the years, Jesse became more likable than I originally intended, because Aaron himself is so easy to relate to. He deepened my understanding of the character, and that deepened the meaning of the show.” If viewers related to Jesse, it was because Paul lent him poignancy and a moral compass, even if its needle was inclined to wobble.

Paul’s bantam cockiness as Tobey Marshall in 2014’s Need for Speed exemplifies his gift for letting us sense versus see what goes on beneath his characters’ cultivated personae. There’s no doubting his talent, but that’s an amorphous word. Paul’s best work draws on instinct, and a deep curiosity about people, morality and human contradictions; characters and their stories are one way for him to explore the answers. The fact that he’s the son of a Baptist minister made us especially curious about his experience starring in Hulu’s original series The Path, where he portrays a cult member struggling with questions of faith, power and marriage.

It’s a good career moment for an inveterate seeker like Paul, who loves what he’s doing but loves whatever he may do next even more. Last year alone, he got back in the blood-and-guts biz in the highbrow heist flick Triple 9 with Kate Winslet and Chiwetel Ejiofor and turned in strong, sympathetic performances in both Eye In The Sky and Come and Find Me. He’s been starring in and executive-producing Netflix’s dark comedy BoJack Horseman, and recently sold a one-hour drama to NBC.

And why not? If Paul still sees Breaking Bad as a unicorn, then no better time to be all-in. In a New York Times article, Bryan Cranston recalled an especially punishing location shoot that left the Breaking cast exhausted. “We’re wiping our brows and [Aaron] just said to me, ‘Aw, man, that was so much fun.’ I said, ‘Aaron, that’s my wish for you. I hope you never lose that enthusiasm.’ ” We’re not worried.

This is the best way to experience Off Camera- When you get the app, you can instantly subscribe to Off Camera, or buy single issues a la carte. The Off Camera app is a beautifully designed hybrid magazine with the entire television version of Off Camera contained within it, available for any tablet or mobile device.

This e-magazine has all the images and extra content available in the physical version of the Off Camera magazine, plus enhanced HD video streaming so you can enjoy Off Camera your way.

After downloading the app, you will find Off Camera in your Apple newsstand folder. You can play steaming HD video straight from the pages of the app, making this experience truly multi-media.

Off Camera subscriptions available:
Single Issue/episode: (non-subscription): $2.99
6 month subscription: (11 issues/episodes): $27.99
1 year subscription: (22 issues/episodes): $49.99

Available in the Apple App Store and on Amazon:

Crazy? Depressed? Obsessed? Then hey gang – let’s put on a show! A show about an unhappy lawyer who upends a cushy Manhattan life in a delusional move to West Covina (where?) to revive a decade-old romance! Oh yeah, and let’s make it a splashy musical! What’s not to love, right? Since being pitched to (and rejected by) most networks, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has been hailed for its ambitious production, oddly charmingly characters and insightful, if uncomfortable look at modern life and love, all set to giddy song and dance numbers. The New York Times called its Golden Globe-winning star, co-creator and writer Rachel Bloom “the kind of unspoiled voice the industry should be cultivating.” The Times did its part, naming Crazy Ex-Girlfriend among best TV shows of 2016.

Crack open the That Explains A Lot file, and you’ll learn Bloom was exposed to musical theater from a young age by a piano-playing mom and a grandfather who was an amateur director and standup comic. “The first song I learned was “All I Do Is Dream of You” from Singin’ in the Rain, and soon after that I started to get up and sing at family functions.” Until she was 18, her musical diet consisted solely of show tunes.

The passion that led her to perform “Adelaide’s Lament” from Guys and Dolls in a seventh-grade lip-syncing contest, along with a penchant for sweat pants and self-administered haircuts did not grease the path to popularity. In fact, she recalls ages 11-13 as being some of the most miserable of her life. Ah, the joys of being a theater geek. But that experience sparked something that down the road led her to turn the genre she loved on its ear. Bloom noticed the pop culture embraced by her peers glorified teen-hood as something glamorous and mysterious, versus the awkward, messy horror show it so often is. She gamely pursued singing and dancing lessons and at first, a musical theater degree at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Once there, she discovered sketch comedy, joining the school’s Hammerkatz troupe. Sketch writing was a revelation, teaching her discipline and certain rules of comedy. She performed with Upright Citizens Brigade to hone her skills, along with her point of view.

“I fucking hate the word ‘cute’ when it comes to comedy, especially in musical theater, because ‘cute’ usually means predictable and not laugh-out-loud funny or soft,” she told the Dallas Observer in 2014. She believes if you’re not being honest and vulgar (two qualities she thinks can’t be separated), then there’s no point. For Bloom, the magic isn’t in the genre’s glamorous illusions, but in ripping them off like a waxing strip (just Google “The Sexy Getting Ready Song”). But Bloom was “going there” in her own music comedy videos long before going there on the show, using pop culture to skewer itself. She began posting numbers like “You Can Touch My Boobies,” “I Steal Pets,” and “If Disney Cartoons Were Historically Accurate” online. But it was her Britney-esque “F*** Me, Ray Bradbury,” a raunchily heartfelt tribute to her favorite science fiction writer, that changed everything. It garnered three million YouTube views, and got her a job writing for FOX’s Allen Gregory and eventually, brought her to the notice of The Devil Wears Prada screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna, who approached her about co-creating Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

The show was created for Showtime, but sold to The CW, which required commendably few cleanups for network TV. But Bloom believes being offensive for the sake of being offensive is lazy and narrow minded. The show largely uses its more outrageous bits to unmask feelings people really have, and deftly employs pop tropes and glitzy music sequences to reflect the heightened emotions we assign to those feelings in our own heads. In the process, it’s also managed to cultivate one of TV’s most diverse and talented casts and bring new generations to a genre they might otherwise reject.

Is Bloom a Sally Bowles for Gen Y? Who knows? But Crazy-Ex has no doubt given her momentum, and it’s exciting to ponder where her smart, fearless, nut-job sensibility might take her. So kids, don’t fly your freak flag at half-mast or hide your jazz hands behind your back. They may get you laughed at for a while, but as Bloom herself found, “I remained myself and the world got cooler around me.”

This is the best way to experience Off Camera- When you get the app, you can instantly subscribe to Off Camera, or buy single issues a la carte. The Off Camera app is a beautifully designed hybrid magazine with the entire television version of Off Camera contained within it, available for any tablet or mobile device.

This e-magazine has all the images and extra content available in the physical version of the Off Camera magazine, plus enhanced HD video streaming so you can enjoy Off Camera your way.

After downloading the app, you will find Off Camera in your Apple newsstand folder. You can play steaming HD video straight from the pages of the app, making this experience truly multi-media.

Off Camera subscriptions available:
Single Issue/episode: (non-subscription): $2.99
6 month subscription: (11 issues/episodes): $27.99
1 year subscription: (22 issues/episodes): $49.99

Available in the Apple App Store and on Amazon:

In “No Method to Her Madness,” a review of the Noah Baumbach film Greenberg that could’ve also been titled “Ode to Greta Gerwig,” A.O. Scott wrote that the actress, “most likely without intending to be anything of the kind, may well be the definitive screen actress of her generation.” He goes on (at length) to praise her performance: “She comes across as pretty, smart, hesitant, insecure, confused, determined – all at once or in no particular order. Which is to say that she is bracingly, winningly and sometimes gratingly real.” He’s still talking about Greenberg, but the same could be said of her work in films like Frances Ha, Mistress America and Maggie’s Plan.

Ben Brantley, Scott’s colleague over in the theater department, seemed equally smitten with her stage debut as Becky in The Village Bike: “She registers as guileless because we can detect every confused emotion that crosses her face… She reads as so transparent that her feelings come to seem like our own. There’s no barrier of glossy, movie star charm between her and us.”

If you don’t see many mainstream titles on her IMDb page, it may be because studios serve up most of their features with a generous dollop of gloss. It could also be because Gerwig knows what material suits her. And she should – she’s co-written and co-directed a lot of it, mostly with independent filmmakers like Baumbach and Joe Swanberg. Though these are no doubt some of her most acclaimed performances, even in her occasional mainstream forays (2011’s Arthur and No Strings Attached) she’s often singled out as the only part of the movie worth watching. Taken as a whole, the applause seems to boil down to this: It’s very hard to catch her acting. As a performer, she is unselfconscious in a way that lets us look through her and see ourselves, and she’s not pulling any punches in the reflection.

She’s a natural if there ever was one, but for a long time the question seemed to be, a natural what? A fervent aspiring ballerina, fencer, trumpeter, aerobics instructor (that was all before graduating high school), Gerwig embraced her interests with both arms and all her passion. In college, she intended to become a playwright (or maybe study musical theater) before meeting Swanberg, who cast her in 2006’s LOL. For a while she worried about not feeling the same singular purpose or calling as some of her peers; there was also a period when she worried a move from mumblecore to mainstream might never happen. But now that hopping genres, creative capacities and even distribution platforms is becoming the industry’s new normal, it seems like a very good time to be someone who can be almost anyone – on either side of the camera.

This month, she’s in front of it in 20th Century Women along with Annette Bening and Billy Crudup. In 2017, she’ll step behind it with Lady Bird, which stars Saoirse Ronan and marks Gerwig’s first solo directing effort. She’s also working on the script for a film adaptation of Little Women – and we can’t think of a better (or more interesting) woman for the job.

For some artists, picking a lane seems not only unnecessary, but foolish, especially for an artist who’s all-in, all the time. “You could always not invest, but where’s the fun in that?” she told The Guardian earlier this year. “It’s like when people say, ‘I don’t really care about Christmas, it’s just a day.’ Of course it’s just a day, but this is all we’ve got! We go around one time… Let’s invest. It’s not always logical to do so, but what else are you gonna do with your life?”

 

This is the best way to experience Off Camera- When you get the app, you can instantly subscribe to Off Camera, or buy single issues a la carte. The Off Camera app is a beautifully designed hybrid magazine with the entire television version of Off Camera contained within it, available for any tablet or mobile device.

This e-magazine has all the images and extra content available in the physical version of the Off Camera magazine, plus enhanced HD video streaming so you can enjoy Off Camera your way.

After downloading the app, you will find Off Camera in your Apple newsstand folder. You can play steaming HD video straight from the pages of the app, making this experience truly multi-media.

Off Camera subscriptions available:
Single Issue/episode: (non-subscription): $2.99
6 month subscription: (11 issues/episodes): $27.99
1 year subscription: (22 issues/episodes): $49.99

Available in the Apple App Store and on Amazon:

“A fat guy sat on my back while I was doing splits, and I was looking for my mother in the group of mothers on the sidelines…I remember sitting there, watching all of these kids do cartwheels—it just looked terrible to me. I envisioned myself getting sick, and worried about what the other kids would think, and what it would be like to not have friends for the rest of my childhood. All of those thoughts were running through my head as I searched for my mother and couldn’t find her.”

The story of Garfield’s start in gymnastics sounded more like a recurring nightmare than what it was: just another day in the life of a nervous, emotional kid, who later turned those emotions into a brilliant and original acting career. For someone who’s described himself as overly sensitive and weary of fame, acting seems an odd, if not masochistic choice of profession. Or exactly the right one. Garfield’s early troubles containing his feelings became a trademark openness and vulnerability that had him landing the kind of roles that few actors are offered so early in their careers.

Garfield made his American film debut just three years after graduating University of London’s Central School of Speech and Drama. Not in the horror flick or teen romance that typically make up the first rung of a young actor’s career ladder, but in Lions for Lambs, with Robert Redford, Meryl Streep and Tom Cruise. Well, you have to start somewhere. Garfield didn’t expect to be noticed in such company, but critics spotted a young actor they knew they’d need to keep their eyes on. And they did, even when he returned to England to make the haunting Boy A, playing a notorious killer trying to find new life after prison. It aired on BBC’s Channel 4 but was widely and glowingly reviewed across the pond. The Houston Chronicle wrote, “Whether we care depends on the actor in question, who’s forced to generate viewer sympathy while the screenplay parcels out flashbacks to his ugly criminal backstory…In Boy A, we do, and we have one man to thank for it: Andrew Garfield…His story might close with a string of ambiguities but there’s no doubt about the intelligence and sensitivity of his portrayal. It makes us feel sympathy for the devil.”

Back in the U.S., director David Fincher was starting work on The Social Network and asked him in to discuss the role of Mark Zuckerberg. The story goes he didn’t like Garfield for the part. He found Garfield’s “incredible emotional access to his kind of core humanity” better suited to Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin. If Fincher was looking for a guy who could portray the quieter half of the team whose drama was largely internal—without being wiped off the screen by Jesse Eisenberg’s peripatetic Zuckerberg—he’d found his man. Among the incoming barrage of praise and award nominations was Rolling Stone’s review: “Garfield delivered a vulnerability that raises the emotional stakes in a movie. “Keep your eyes on Garfield—he’s shatteringly good, the soul of a film that might otherwise be without one.”

With a start like that, it isn’t easy to raise the stakes. Fortunately, along came a Spider. The significance of taking on 2012’s The Amazing Spiderman went beyond the weight of helming a $750 million juggernaut. Garfield’s mom once dressed him as Spidey for a Halloween party, explaining to the four-year-old that Peter Parker was kind of a scrawny kid who stood up to bullies anyway. Garfield, who’s always felt for the oppressed and those with limited rights, saw a kindred spirit in the web-slinger. His combination of innocence, anger and droll humor breathed new life into the franchise, and audiences related. Few actors can make us see ourselves in a rubber-suited superhero. The same year, he earned raves for his Broadway debut in Death of a Salesman opposite Philip Seymour Hoffman.

With adjectives like sensitive, vulnerable and intelligent continuing to flutter around him like a sweet but persistent swarm of butterflies, you have to wonder if Garfield ever longs for a part where he can just blow stuff up. If so, it’s not looking good. As the lead in Mel Gibson’s WWII drama Hacksaw Ridge, he plays Pfc. Desmond Doss, an army medic who refuses to handle any weapon out of religious principle. In Martin Scorsese’s Silence, he plays a Portuguese Jesuit priest, ministering to Christians in 17th-century Japan. And next year, he returns to the stage as Prior Walter in Angels in America at London’s National Theatre.

For all that, Garfield has said, “I don’t deem myself successful. I put most of my happiness down to luck, and I’m enjoying it as much as I can, and being as generous as I can with it as well.” After a run like his, we’d argue there’s more than luck at play. But maybe it’s just a karmic extension of who he is. Speaking out once on marriage equality, he demanded to know, “How can anyone argue against compassion and understanding?” How, indeed.

This is the best way to experience Off Camera- When you get the app, you can instantly subscribe to Off Camera, or buy single issues a la carte. The Off Camera app is a beautifully designed hybrid magazine with the entire television version of Off Camera contained within it, available for any tablet or mobile device.

This e-magazine has all the images and extra content available in the physical version of the Off Camera magazine, plus enhanced HD video streaming so you can enjoy Off Camera your way.

After downloading the app, you will find Off Camera in your Apple newsstand folder. You can play steaming HD video straight from the pages of the app, making this experience truly multi-media.

Off Camera subscriptions available:
Single Issue/episode: (non-subscription): $2.99
6 month subscription: (11 issues/episodes): $27.99
1 year subscription: (22 issues/episodes): $49.99

Available in the Apple App Store and on Amazon:

You keep up on things. You know what’s going on in arts and culture. Then inevitably, it happens. Someone who wasn’t even on your radar is suddenly everywhere, making you question not where they’ve been, but where you’ve been. Meet Riz Ahmed. By now, you probably recognize him from HBO’s The Night Of, but for years, Ahmed’s been busy making wide-ranging, significant, and accomplished work.

In person, he’s not some frenetic perpetual motion machine, but he does seem to function at a brisk and constant clip, creating, provoking and questioning. He approached Naz Khan, the role that’s brought him to recent wide attention, with a simple theory: “If you see the world in a certain way, the behavior follows.” Applied to Ahmed himself, it seems an apt description of how he creates art, and with it, change.

Born in London to Pakistani immigrant parents, he won a scholarship to north London’s Merchant Taylors’ school, where he found himself and most Asian kids a subclass in a sea of diplomats’ kids in full prep regalia. He decided to do something about it, specifically, rigging a vote to force the school into electing its first Asian head boy. When other frustrations were expressed more overtly – he threw a chair intended for another student through a window – one teacher had a suggestion: “If you can muck about on stage, you get applause for it, not a suspension.” Good idea. At Oxford University, he studied philosophy, politics and economics, and also put on the only play with two non-white leads staged during his time there. When he decided to put on a drum and bass night but didn’t have immediate takers, he printed up flyers minus the venue and kept at it until he found a club willing to fill in the blank. College confirmed something he’d sensed all along: You can make yourself an insider, but the world will send you occasional reminders that status is temporary. It’s a perspective that’s informed his work across genres, including film, TV, stage and music.

He did manage to work in some drama studies, and made his film debut at 23 playing a member of the real-life Tipton Three in Michael Winterbottom’s The Road to Guantánamo. He also made a three-hour debut at the Luton Airport, where he and another actor from the film were detained under the Terrorism Act by Special Branch upon returning from the Berlin Film Festival. We’re sure the Branch boys were just exercising caution; we’re also pretty sure that wouldn’t have happened to Matt and Ben.

Ahmed was nominated for his first British Independent Film Award for Shifty, and highly praised for his effortless, persuasive chemistry with other actors. His second came for Four Lions, Chris Morris’ hilarious satire on terrorism. Mira Nair, who directed him in The Reluctant Fundamentalist, recognized his unique ability to play characters that shift between worlds. “It’s the most demanding, complicated role for a young person to carry a film on his shoulders, and to be somebody at once absolutely authentic to the Lahori universe, yet absolutely comfortable, elegant and savvy in the Wall Street universe; to spout the poetry of Faiz at one moment and ruthlessly cut out a factory in Manila the next.”

Eventually American filmmakers saw his work (or at least got hold of reviews routinely peppered with words like “charismatic” “brilliant” and “natural”) and wanted in. His performance opposite Jake Gyllenhal in Nightcrawler was outstanding, and in its review of Jason Bourne, RogerEbert.com wrote, “Only Riz Ahmed makes any impact on a performance level, doing a lot with very little – watch the way he subtly plays a successful businessman who knows the skeletons are about to fall out of his closet. There’s a much better version of Jason Bourne that focuses on him…” This year’s been a big one for him. He’s in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and puts a new spin on the gumshoe genre in City of Tiny Lights. He’s also working on a multi-generational Pakistani-British family story he aims to make for U.K. television.

If the industry (ironically) helped Ahmed’s early career with its tendency to see in stereotypes, it’s also allowed us glimpses of a depth we’d otherwise miss by occasionally looking past them. Needless to say, that goes for society as a whole, and Ahmed is not shy about voicing that opinion. But he knows that if you’re going to be an unapologetic button-pusher, you best avoid righteous self-aggrandizement and do it with some humor. And some serious rap. Under the handle Riz MC, he’s put out three albums of songs that have been critically acclaimed (and in one instance, banned) for their biting – and bitingly funny – take on immigration, race and other issues.

Ahmed specializes in playing, and being, an insider-outsider. If you’ve never felt like an outsider, don’t count yourself lucky; it’s a perspective that benefits us. Which is why we need this guy to keep acting, rapping, writing, and if necessary, throwing the occasional chair.

This is the best way to experience Off Camera- When you get the app, you can instantly subscribe to Off Camera, or buy single issues a la carte. The Off Camera app is a beautifully designed hybrid magazine with the entire television version of Off Camera contained within it, available for any tablet or mobile device.

This e-magazine has all the images and extra content available in the physical version of the Off Camera magazine, plus enhanced HD video streaming so you can enjoy Off Camera your way.

After downloading the app, you will find Off Camera in your Apple newsstand folder. You can play steaming HD video straight from the pages of the app, making this experience truly multi-media.

Off Camera subscriptions available:
Single Issue/episode: (non-subscription): $2.99
6 month subscription: (11 issues/episodes): $27.99
1 year subscription: (22 issues/episodes): $49.99

Available in the Apple App Store and on Amazon:

If you’re an actor who’s signed on to share scenes with Michael Shannon, you’ve got yourself a bit of a dilemma. On one hand, you can count on people watching; on the other, you can be pretty certain they won’t be watching you. To be fair, nothing could be further from Shannon’s intent; co-stars and directors routinely praise his generosity and dedication to the success of any project he’s in. It’s just that the guy is – inherently, chronically and helplessly – riveting.

Evidence of this seemingly hypnotic power came to light most publicly with his fairly small role in Revolutionary Road. Variety wrote, “The pic’s startling supporting turn comes from Michael Shannon, who’s mesmerizing as the clinically insane son of local realtor and busybody… When Shannon is onscreen, it’s impossible to watch anyone else.” In that instance, “anyone else” included Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. Or take 99 Homes, which Time magazine called “a showcase for Shannon, who magnetizes all eyes, like a cobra in the corner.”

Those are just two in a canon of some of the most consistently beaming reviews an actor could ever hope to paste in his scrapbook, though Shannon doesn’t seem like the kind of guy to keep one. If he did, it would be encyclopedic, as he’s piled up over 50 award nominations and an impressive number of wins over a career that comprises at least 100 film, TV and stage credits. So why is he not a household name? Hard to say, unless actors have to become “stars” to claim any permanency in our memory banks.

What’s more confounding is that Shannon never planned to be an actor. He was a troubled, late-blooming kid who floundered in school and only defaulted to drama to get out of sports. He left school at 16 and with no formal training, was on stage in a year, TV the year after, and in Groundhog Day the year after that. Shannon tried working with an acting coach only once in his career, and said it was the worst audition he ever had.

With fate apparently having done the heavy lifting, an impressive range of directors were quick to capitalize, including Michael Bay, Cameron Crowe, Oliver Stone, Peter Bogdanovich, Sydney Lumet, and even Tom Ford. As did HBO, casting him as Boardwalk Empire’s repressed G-man Nelson Van Alden. But no one has taken better advantage of Shannon’s facile embodiment of complex characters than Jeff Nichols, who directed him in Take Shelter, Midnight Special, and Shotgun Stories. Nichols has said, “Shannon makes me a better writer. He certainly makes me a better director. I wanted [Midnight Special] to be a very lean screenplay in terms of narrative and exposition, and if you’re writing that part for Mike, he’s going to be able to fill those spaces with all the subtext that you don’t want to have to write about. He can carry all of that on his face, and that makes him a very powerful tool for a writer/director like me.”

What more directors need to take advantage of is Shannon’s range, which seems to be hiding in plain sight. He’s known for playing menacing, angry, possibly crazy guys whose ability to keep it all just beneath the surface keeps us in their thrall – quiet bears you do not want to poke. While he plays them subtly and brilliantly, he also made a surprisingly good low-key romantic lead in Frank & Lola. His comic chops are most evident on the stage, where he still spends as much time as possible. Look no further than his portrayal of showbiz huckster Felix Artifex in the comedy Mistakes Were Made, a role he’s reprised several times to wildly enthusiastic crowds and ticket sales. The New York Times theater critic Charles Isherwood said Shannon shouldered the part “with a full arsenal of gifts: a subdued but strong natural presence, a voice rich in grit and capable of imbuing Felix’s wheedling and needling with a variety of emotional colors, a keen understanding of how pathos can feed comedy and vice versa.” Roger Ebert put it more succinctly: “His performance in Mistakes Were Made was one of the most amazing I have ever seen.” Given that it’s a one-man play, it may also be the only performance in which Shannon risked being upstaged.

For all the taut wiring that sparks below his surface, Shannon says he’s learned to relax a bit more these days, and that approach has made him a better actor. Besides begging the question whether it’s possible for him to be any better, it also demonstrates a broad interpretation of the word “relax”. He already has eight projects in the works for next year, including Horse Soldiers, a Special Forces drama with Chris Hemsworth, and Signature Move, which he’s executive producing. He admits he may have a small problem turning down a great script. All the better for us. Maybe Shannon wasn’t looking to become an actor, but sometimes fate just gets things right.

This is the best way to experience Off Camera- When you get the app, you can instantly subscribe to Off Camera, or buy single issues a la carte. The Off Camera app is a beautifully designed hybrid magazine with the entire television version of Off Camera contained within it, available for any tablet or mobile device.

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A bit of geek trivia: Halt and Catch Fire (HCF) was an early computer command that caused the machine to run as fast as possible. The AMC show of the same name has had similar effect on Mackenzie Davis, accelerating her career and causing the actress to catch fire (the good kind) herself. Despite the fine early indie film work that constitutes her still-young career, playing the volatile personal computing prodigy Cameron Howe on Halt and Catch Fire brought her to wide attention in 2014. It widened further when the network made the critically praised season-two decision to focus on the relationship of its female protagonists.

Another bit of trivia (or is it irony?):  Davis actually became aware of the role while helping a now-former boyfriend run lines for his audition for the show. But what’s really fascinating about Halt is that it takes place in the 1980s, foreshadowing startup mania as well as the plight of smart women dealing with sexism and finding their voice in the tech world. It lets us go back in time and watch Silicon Valley evolve – and in many respects, sadly, stay the same. What’s also interesting is how Davis’ role echoes her own spirit, ambition and experience in the industry.

Acting was always Davis’ plan, and she was eager to leave Vancouver, BC and get going. Her parents insisted on an education first, a demand she says she doesn’t regret, as her degrees in English Lit and gender studies lend valuable perspective – and a distinct point of view – to her work. She started out in modeling but found she hated it, in no small part for the expectation to be pretty all the time. She started booking some stage work, and while acting at NYC’s Neighborhood Playhouse, she was discovered by Drake Doremus, who cast her in her first feature, Breathe In.

As she began getting parts in indies and shorts, she ran into the dilemma facing most young actresses in Hollywood: the roles you need to take to build your career often still play to gender stereotypes. She’s confronted her fair share of “surprise” nude scenes that somehow weren’t included in the scripts she auditioned with.  But she’s managed to stretch those tropes, even in films that put her on the edge of them. The Hollywood Reporter gave her props for holding her own against “movie-girlfriend default settings” in That Awkward Moment. Other movies, like this year’s brilliantly entertaining Always Shine allow her to comment on them while ostensibly acting in a thriller. Davis and Caitlin FitzGerald play two friends, both actresses, finding differing degrees of success. One is resigned to roles that reflect the industry’s narrow definition of femininity; the other refuses any part that smells of simpering or victimhood. (Guess who’s more successful, and which role is Davis’.) IndieWire said, “Davis and FitzGerald communicate each emotion perfectly. Between the genre and the size of the film, these are the types of roles that don’t generally get recognized during awards season, but they’ll likely be among the year’s best performances.”

Still other movies have Davis playing directly against female stereotype. Los Angeles Times praised The Martian’s adroit casting of Davis in one of its many nerdy roles, an eagle-eyed satellite image viewer. In describing the roles she seeks, Davis has said, “I want to play active people who can solve problems, not people who have things thrust in their lap and need somebody to solve their problems for them.” Though the part was a small one, it wound up fulfilling her biggest acting dream since…ever. The Martian director Ridley Scott also helmed Blade Runner, Davis’ favorite movie of all time. When she heard he was planning a sequel, well… Of course she’d have to kill you if she told you anything about Blade Runner 2049, but suffice it to say she’s in it.

The ever-restless Davis doesn’t like not working, which we doubt is something she’ll have to worry about anytime soon (though she was a terrific waitress, if you’re not too picky about health codes). In addition to Blade Runner 2049, she’s wrapped the haunting, still-to-be-released Memory Box and is filming 2017’s Tully with Charlize Theron. All while not halting Halt.

 We’re watching Halt and Catch Fire because it’s a story very much still being written.  We’re watching Davis because hers is, too – and just as intriguing.

This is the best way to experience Off Camera- When you get the app, you can instantly subscribe to Off Camera, or buy single issues a la carte. The Off Camera app is a beautifully designed hybrid magazine with the entire television version of Off Camera contained within it, available for any tablet or mobile device.

This e-magazine has all the images and extra content available in the physical version of the Off Camera magazine, plus enhanced HD video streaming so you can enjoy Off Camera your way.

After downloading the app, you will find Off Camera in your Apple newsstand folder. You can play steaming HD video straight from the pages of the app, making this experience truly multi-media.

Off Camera subscriptions available:
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Available in the Apple App Store and on Amazon:

Getting in with the right high school crowd isn’t necessarily a prerequisite to an acting career, but if that crowd includes pals like Emilio Estevez, Charlie Sheen, Robert Downey, Jr., and Sean Penn, it doesn’t hurt. Nor does an almost farcically handsome exterior. Rob Lowe saw Oliver! when he was eight, and for no clear reason he can recall, knew then he wanted to be an actor. So when auditions for Francis Ford Coppola’s The Outsiders became virtually a Santa Monica High extra curricular activity, and Lowe was cast as Sodapop Curtis, his career (along with quite a few others’) got an enviable start.

It continued just as enviably (and quickly) with roles in Oxford Blues, St. Elmo’s Fire and About Last Night. Here’s where we probably need to acknowledge the impossibly handsome elephant in the room. In its review of Saint Elmo’s Fire, The New York Times noted, “In the case of Rob Lowe, whose irresponsible pretty boy becomes the film’s central figure, a matinee-idol future is assured, and perhaps something more…”

But when your living depends on your ability to disappear into other people, the looks that perhaps opened some doors can also make them really hard to squeeze through. Consider his audition (yes, he had to audition) for the role of Sam Seaborn in the Aaron Sorkin-penned The West Wing. It was a part Lowe, a true political junkie, wanted more than anything.  Sorkin was determined not to cast him. With Martin Sheen already part of what was supposed to be an ensemble show, he thought adding another handsome “movie star” would throw it off balance. “Then [Rob] read the first of three scenes he’d prepared,” Sorkin told The Hollywood Reporter. “I don’t remember the second or the third because he’d already gotten the part one page into the first, and I was already thinking of stories for a character who has no idea he looks like Rob Lowe.” Lowe’s 37-year CV (and six Golden Globe nominations) would argue that keen artistic instincts might be at play here, too.

So is fearlessness. He’s taken on some risky biopics (JFK in Killing Kennedy, alleged murderer Drew Peterson in Untouchable) and maybe his bravest role yet: Rob Lowe, in one of Comedy Central’s most popular celebrity roasts to date. The real core of his success seems to be a hard-earned personal grace, and a sense of humor we suspect has been there all along. Winking at his looks and the role they’ve played in his career is where he shines, and where we most love to watch him. He can play narcissists, jerks and even naïve optimists whose utter lack of self-awareness only makes us like them more. His turn as Chris Traeger on Parks and Recreation is one example, but the one we wish we’d seen more of is The Grinder, his recently cancelled Fox show.

It was frustrating for Lowe, because he produced it and played its lead Dean Sanderson, an actor who once starred as a lawyer on a TV show and begins fake-lawyering with his actual-lawyer brother. It’s frustrating for fans, not just because it’s Lowe at his best, but because for network TV, it was clever, original stuff. Thirty years after speculating Lowe might perhaps have “something more” to offer, The New York Times said of The Grinder: “You can’t overstate how essential Mr. Lowe is, and how well the character is pitched to his abilities. Mr. Lowe gives Dean a well-meaning sweetness…But any other person, man or woman, is bound to be a supporting player in Dean’s Life of Dean. In this comedy, he’s both the star and the joke, funny because it’s true: For man-children like them, of whatever age, there will always be a second act.”

True of the show, and true of Lowe. Quick, sharp and a surprisingly good writer, he’s penned two books – Stories I Only Tell My Friends and Love Life – that make obvious his talent for setting a scene and finding moments that touch us all (just read his Love Life musings on his eldest son’s leaving for college).  He’s returned to series TV in Code Black and is returning (in a way) to the Capitol as the producer of reality series Potomac Fever, which chronicles the lives of young adults in Washington, D.C.

With as much as he’s done to date, we think Lowe’s holding out on us. This guy has a more to offer as an artist and a producer. Lowe himself told Vulture, “If I’m engaged and inspired and learning something and contributing above and beyond just standing on a mark and wearing makeup, I can do that forever.” We hope he does.

This is the best way to experience Off Camera- When you get the app, you can instantly subscribe to Off Camera, or buy single issues a la carte. The Off Camera app is a beautifully designed hybrid magazine with the entire television version of Off Camera contained within it, available for any tablet or mobile device.

This e-magazine has all the images and extra content available in the physical version of the Off Camera magazine, plus enhanced HD video streaming so you can enjoy Off Camera your way.

After downloading the app, you will find Off Camera in your Apple newsstand folder. You can play steaming HD video straight from the pages of the app, making this experience truly multi-media.

Off Camera subscriptions available:
Single Issue/episode: (non-subscription): $2.99
6 month subscription: (11 issues/episodes): $27.99
1 year subscription: (22 issues/episodes): $49.99

Available in the Apple App Store and on Amazon:

As Luke Cage, Mike Colter’s most notable superpower is his impenetrable, bulletproof skin. As Mike Colter, it may just be his impenetrable, bullet-proof equanimity. Which doesn’t sound nearly as cool, but it’s likely to be just as useful as he prepares to be the most insanely popular new star in the Marvel universe. Colter first donned the crime-fighting mantle in 2015 as the co-star/love interest in Netflix’s Jessica Jones; in September, he took on his own solo series, Luke Cage. It means Colter also takes on worldwide recognition, hype and, given Netflix’s binge-inducing full season releases, an insane schedule.

Colter once told Heed magazine, “You go about your business and try to do whatever you were doing before, because as quickly as you have been appreciated and recognized, you can’t allow that influence who you are.”

Colter’s cool in the face of it all is more impressive when you consider the series arrives with an extra helping of subtext. Luke Cage is Marvel’s first African-American lead in a title series or movie since the company rejiggered its Hollywood playbook in 2008. The character first appeared in printed comics as a jive-talking, open-shirt-wearing, Harlem-defending crime fighter in 1972, so any new translation is bound to be fraught. The fact that he enters 2016 in a hoodie – and bulletproof, when so many young black men aren’t – carries a whole other layer of significance.

Wisely, Colter keeps the pressure in perspective. Also to Heed: “It is not like you have a great year and then all of sudden you have arrived. You are as good as the last project. To me, staying in the business is the definition of success. You can’t control the roller coaster.”  So where does he come by the cool head? Maybe it was the years of struggle and patience it took to build his career. Or maybe being a powerfully built 6’3” Rutgers acting MFA whose breakout came as a boxer in Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby just makes you harder to ruffle in the first place. Actually, Colter admits that breakout froze him for a while. Reluctant to be typecast, he turned down the athlete roles that started coming in, not sure what to do. But he drew confidence from the memory of transforming himself into a blues singer overnight to audition for a production of A Soldier’s Play (he was the only contender who didn’t know how to play the guitar). He got the role of CJ Memphis, and has said the play’s success made him realize he could do more than what people assume from his surface.

And so he has, in films like Salt, Men In Black 3 and Zero Dark Thirty. He’s also built up an impressive 14-year television CV on shows like Ringer, American Horror Story, and most notably as Lemond Bishop in The Good Wife. It would’ve been easy for him to play a powerful, threatening drug kingpin almost by just standing there. Instead, he chose to show us Bishop in more subtle, fuller dimension – take away the heroin, and he’s just a single dad and businessman with an interest in politics.

To say he’s calm is not to say he’s unmotivated. He uses every memory of being told he couldn’t do something as motivation to prove he can. After all, Colter was voted “Most Ambitious” as a high school senior. It’s just that his aspirations don’t run to superstardom. He is not looking for bigger parts, but characters “with a certain amount of intelligence and mental acuity,” and quality projects with people he wants to work with.

So whatever the Marvel universe has in store for his career, he’s ready. And despite the social implications, Colter reminds people Luke Cage is also just a great action yarn. Yes, with an imperfect crime fighter whose biggest struggle is to be a better person. Proof that any heroes among us are just as likely to be wearing a hoodie as a pair of yellow boots.

This is the best way to experience Off Camera- When you get the app, you can instantly subscribe to Off Camera, or buy single issues a la carte. The Off Camera app is a beautifully designed hybrid magazine with the entire television version of Off Camera contained within it, available for any tablet or mobile device.

This e-magazine has all the images and extra content available in the physical version of the Off Camera magazine, plus enhanced HD video streaming so you can enjoy Off Camera your way.

After downloading the app, you will find Off Camera in your Apple newsstand folder. You can play steaming HD video straight from the pages of the app, making this experience truly multi-media.

Off Camera subscriptions available:
Single Issue/episode: (non-subscription): $2.99
6 month subscription: (11 issues/episodes): $27.99
1 year subscription: (22 issues/episodes): $49.99

Available in the Apple App Store and on Amazon:

Sometimes your calling finds you before you even know you had one. As a kid, Thandie Newton was studying dance at England’s Tring Park School for the Performing Arts  with no idea of acting. On a break, she went to an on-campus audition for the 1991 Australian film Flirting. They needed an “African girl” and she was the only one in the school. So there you have it – kind of. The director told her the audition was horrible (what do you want from a 16-year-old novice?), but if he was lacking in the sensitivity department, you can’t deny his eye for raw talent.

Newton went on to study social anthropology at Cambridge but landed back in front of a camera four years later with Tom Cruise in Interview with the Vampire. More hints of that talent – and an emerging gift for nuance – surfaced in her performance as slave/ mistress Sally Hemings in Jefferson In Paris the following year, but full-blown proof came with her searing performance as a mentally disabled woman in Jonathan Demme’s horror drama Beloved. If an actor’s stock in trade is control of her own instrument, maybe the rarer skill is letting it go. In his review of the film, Roger Ebert mused, “Thandie Newton does an interesting thing with her performance. She inhabits her body as if she doesn’t have the operating instructions. She walks unsteadily. She picks up things as if she doesn’t quite command her grasp. She talks like a child. And indeed inside this young woman there is a child…”

Newton was becoming recognized for the unusual combination that she is: An artist with leading lady beauty and the rap sheet of a character actress. Perhaps the social anthropology homework helped, too. Newton is at her best inhabiting roles and stories that reflect our world and the people in it for what they are, or better put, for what they aren’t: black and white. If you require our source material for that thesis, go back and watch The Pursuit of Happyness, Crash, The Slap, For Colored Girls and W. Even films that didn’t flip critics’ thumbs to the upright position couldn’t stamp out her charisma. The New York Times didn’t love the mega-budget Mission Impossible: II, but said Newton “displayed enough warmth to bring life to a laminated corpse, at least in the scenes she was in.” Regardless of role, she’s never just “the girl.” She never could be; Newton is too outspoken and concerned with issues like women’s rights, racism and sexual abuse to avoid taking roles that underline them.

For someone whose charisma is almost impossible to stamp out, her most interesting role to date might be in HBO’s Westworld, a serialized version of the 1973 Michael Crichton film. She plays an Old West madam who also happens to be a robot. She’s also set to star as the guest lead (make that guest lead villain) in the next series of the hit BBC drama Line of Duty. She also recently signed on to an untitled dark comedy for Amazon, joining the intriguing company of David Oyelowo, Charlize Theron, Joel Edgerton and Amanda Seyfried.

If Newton stumbled on her calling accidentally, it wasn’t without some spark of predestination. In a much-covered 2011 TED talk, she recalled struggling to find herself as a bi-racial child growing up in two distinct cultures. But that very sense of “otherness” is essential to anyone who has to understand others for a living. And for anyone who also hopes that living serves a higher purpose. “You are her. You are her, and she is you,” she told Vanity Fair. “It makes me feel quite emotional. That’s how we are going to figure out things in the world, and I mean it.” We loved talking to her, and we mean it.

This is the best way to experience Off Camera- When you get the app, you can instantly subscribe to Off Camera, or buy single issues a la carte. The Off Camera app is a beautifully designed hybrid magazine with the entire television version of Off Camera contained within it, available for any tablet or mobile device.

This e-magazine has all the images and extra content available in the physical version of the Off Camera magazine, plus enhanced HD video streaming so you can enjoy Off Camera your way.

After downloading the app, you will find Off Camera in your Apple newsstand folder. You can play steaming HD video straight from the pages of the app, making this experience truly multi-media.

Off Camera subscriptions available:
Single Issue/episode: (non-subscription): $2.99
6 month subscription: (11 issues/episodes): $27.99
1 year subscription: (22 issues/episodes): $49.99

Available in the Apple App Store and on Amazon:

Our talk with Mark Duplass will take you about an hour to absorb, and we sincerely hope you will. But say you only have about seven minutes, 13 seconds, and access to YouTube. Watch his 2003 short This Is John and you’ll have the CliffsNotes on who he is as a filmmaker: A genius at distilling our most towering personal fears, frustrations and joys into one seemingly inconsequential or silly event. The simple task of recording an outgoing phone message becomes a study of existential loneliness and self-doubt. The cold fingers-on-your-neck sensation comes when you realize you know exactly how he’s feeling.

Another early Duplass trademark? The entire cost of the wholly improvised film was about three bucks. Duplass, along with his brother and producing partner Jay, became known for making studies of the human condition that masquerade as movies; and for making movies that fit whatever budget, props and actors were available.

Two years later, Mark wrote, produced and acted in his debut feature, The Puffy Chair, which The New York Times called “a scruffy little miracle of truthfulness.” It was a true Duplass production – highly personal, built around a couple of props they already owned, and featuring mostly their friends, who mostly improvised the dialogue. Though it was seen by just 25,000 people in theaters after screening at Sundance, Mark and Jay suddenly found themselves fielding calls from well-established actors who wanted to be in their next indie. Stars like Ed Helms, Jonah Hill and John C. Reilly were fine swapping trailers for couch surfing in exchange for a collaborative, improvisational experience that used their talents beyond saying a line and hitting a mark.

Major studios got interested, too. As the movies and the budgets got bigger, Mark and his brother sometimes struggled to walk the line between commercial filmmaking and the subdued, human and outright weird aesthetic that set their work apart in the first place. It’s a creative POV that feels as much a part of who he is as what he does, and therefore to be valued above any potential box office take. And they largely succeeded in maintaining that sensibility. “What’s intriguing about Cyrus,” wrote Roger Ebert of Duplass’ 2010 feature about an overgrown kid with creepy mommy issues, “is the way it sort of sits back and observes an emotional train wreck as it develops. The movie doesn’t eagerly jump from one payoff to another, but attunes itself to nuance, body language and the habitual politeness with which we try to overlook social embarrassment.”

Jeff, Who Lives at Home, The Do-Deca-Pentathlon and Creep followed in quick succession, all bigger, all largely well reviewed. And all great for a Duplass, a guy who wants beyond little else just to make films that people see. Even so, he realized his and Jay’s approach is not the stuff of which blockbusters are made. Enter the golden age of TV, embodied in this instance by Netflix. It’s a platform made for an artist seeking creative freedom in getting niche projects to a significant number of people who are actually looking for something different, and Duplass has taken full advantage of it. The guys at Netflix are no dummies, either. “[Mark and Jay] are singularly the most informed and instinctive filmmakers and businessmen in the industry,” says Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer. “They know how to get a film made, and they know how to get it seen.” Probably why they now have a four film production deal with the company, and why Mark has become somewhat of a fairy godmother to countless up-and-comers he now helps. Consequence of Sound wrote in 2015, “The simple fact that with all of his success, [Mark] still pushes tiny projects… is proof that he may be independent film’s most valuable asset.”

Amid all this, it’s easy to forget that on top of all the writing, producing, directing and mentoring, Duplass is a fine actor, earning praise for his performances in many of his own films, as well as others’, including Safety Not Guaranteed, Zero Dark Thirty, The Lazarus Effect, and TV series like The League and The Mindy Project. Not bad for a guy who early on almost quit in despair of ever becoming a filmmaker. Yet he’s said his questions about happiness and why it can be so hard to achieve is a theme he continues to explore in his work. Just our two cents, but maybe it’s as simple as doing what you love. And proving time and again that whether they cost three bucks or $10 million, great stories are always worth telling.

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