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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:

When a 16-year old Ron Howard was hanging out on set with Henry Fonda (as one does), Fonda gave the young actor a bit of advice: If he loved acting, he should focus on theater, but, “If you love movies, become a director.” Ron Howard loved movies.

The Oklahoma-born son of two actors, his earliest memories are of memorizing dialog from his dad’s summer stock plays as a 3-year old. Walking unaware into an MGM kids’ casting call in 1959, Howard senior mentioned he had a son who was a fine actor. They called young Ronny in, had him do a scene, and asked his dad if he could do anything else. “I really don’t know if he can.” Ron Howard entered our living rooms a year later as Opie in The Andy Griffith Show, and didn’t leave for the next 25 years when Happy Days ended in 1984. That’s when we really saw what else he could do.

He started directing in 1977 by convincing producer Roger Corman to let him helm Grand Theft Auto (Howard agreed to act in Corman’s Eat My Dust! in exchange). Next came Night Shift, and then, at a point where most directors are still paying off film school debt, he delivered Splash, Cocoon and Parenthood. They were all charming, funny, well reviewed and commercially successful; and yet we still hadn’t seen the extent of what he could do as a director.

What Howard excels at is telling stories that tell us something about ourselves; real tales of real people – albeit writ large – whose lives and worlds double as themes he wants to explore: family, teamwork, hubris and adversity, to name a few. Another particular genius is his ability to translate those worlds visually, forging a direct connection from our eyeballs to our gut or heart, as the story demands. Consider a tale that takes place largely inside the head of a brilliant but unstable mathematician. In its review of A Beautiful Mind, The New York Times called his technique “as simple as it is inspired,” adding, “Mr. Howard has found an accessible cinematic way to present this insight: Schizophrenia does not announce itself as such to those it afflicts. Mr. Howard leads us into its infernal reality without posting a sign on the door.” The film, an unexpected success, earned him an Academy Award for Best Director.

When he took us into Formula One racing with Rush, a lot of people went along reluctantly, only to be surprised at how one tight shot of a violently vibrating tire could make their heart race as fast as the motor shaking it. That shot signaled danger more effectively than any deadly crash. Variety thought so, too. “To witness this level of storytelling skill (applied to a subject only a fraction of the public inherently finds interesting) is to marvel at not only what cinema can do when image, sound and score are so artfully combined to suggest vicarious experience, but also to realize how far Howard has come since his directorial debut.”

He was able to make equally dramatic cinema from two men sitting across from each other, talking. “You expect something dry, historical and probably contrived. But you get a delicious contest of wits, brilliant acting and a surprisingly gripping narrative,” said the Washington Post about Frost/Nixon. “Howard’s cinematic treatment deftly exploits very conventional narrative techniques without one ever being quite aware of them.”

But of course the film that feels closest to his core as a filmmaker is Apollo 13. It has it all: exploration, heroism, history and the compelling factor of being true. Noting that the subject matter demanded Howard’s reverential treatment, the Los Angeles Times called it his most impressive film to date in a 1995 review. “Howard’s willingness to be straight ahead with his directing, the film’s derring-do aspects have the advantage of showing the men simply being heroic as opposed to acting like heroes.”

If some critics have made cynical dismissals of a perceived gee-whiz, all-American, hero-worshipping aesthetic, Howard makes no apologies. “I’m drawn toward celebratory stories. I feel that they are every bit as valid and useful as the darker, cautionary tales. And my favorite thing is when the celebration is not up front and in your face, but something that evolves. It’s something you can understand, that flawed characters can be a part of moments that are worthy of celebration and respect.” That’s sounding pretty good to us these days.

Howard’s work continues to follow his fascinations, from the depths (In the Heart of the Sea) to music (Made in America, The Beatles: Eight Days a week) to boxing (Cinderella Man). We explore along with him again in National Geographic’s first-ever scripted series Genius. His new anthology drama chronicles the world’s most brilliant innovators, kicking off with the famous physicist Albert Einstein. In it, and all of his work, Howard approaches his subjects with eye of a historian, a fan, a geek, and a loving adherent to detail.

So, how to summarize the life’s work of someone whose 63-year career spans two Golden Ages of Television and some of the most acclaimed and successful movies of every genre? Fortunately we don’t have to; it’s still very much in progress.

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’ve watched Veep’s depressing and hilarious press secretary Mike McLintock struggle to keep his administration out of hot water, it’s easy to see why Matt Walsh received an Emmy nod for his work on the show. But if that’s where you came into the picture, you’ve witnessed only the tip of a very funny iceberg.

Walsh is so connected in the comedy world he’s become a virtual Zelig of droll, double-take film and TV appearances; but any footprints he’s left on those projects will remain dwarfed by the crater-like impression he’s made as a founder of the legendary Upright Citizens Brigade. In that regard, he’s not only marked our modern comedy world, he’s literally helped create it.

Not that he had any idea he was doing something so influential when he, Amy Poehler, Ian Roberts and Matt Besser founded UCB in 1993. “We had no real plan, we were just doing shows and wanted a clubhouse.” Okay, it was a converted strip club, but never mind that – it became an iconic showcase, school and launch pad for ultra-talented, under-exposed performers like Aziz Ansari, Ellie Kemper, Nick Kroll, Ed Helms, Donald Glover and Kate McKinnon. Most of them have less than six degrees of separation from UCB and Walsh, making him sort of a Kevin Bacon of sketch and improv (or Kevin Beeken, for purveyors of inside jokes).

Though he was bitten by the funny bug in a variety show at his Chicago high school, Walsh graduated college as a psychology major and worked in an adolescent psych ward after graduation. But nights spent studying improv with Del Close convinced him he wasn’t long for the day job. He began making his name (and finding his voice) at the Improv Olympic in 1989, eventually meeting fellow comics that would become the UCB Founding Four. Walsh was so committed to the cause he left a prestigious gig with Second City to continue building the struggling troupe, using money from side jobs to stay afloat.

In 1998 UCB scored a three-year show on Comedy Central. Splitsider called The UCB Show “a show for comedy nerds, people who care about whether and why a sketch works with near-academic intensity.” It opened the floodgates to a parade of TV roles – on The Daily Show, Reno 911!, Party Down, Community, Parks and Recreation, to name a very few – and in movies like Drillbit Taylor, Step Brothers, Cyrus and 2016’s Ghostbusters. He’s also a consistent figure in Todd Phillips movies, where you’ll find him playing characters named Walsh, or ‘Valsh,’ as the situation demands.

Along the way, Walsh (the real one) also managed to write and direct several of his own projects, which are notable for being almost 100 percent improvised, and bold examples of alternative comedy. As an actor and writer on Players, he transformed loosely outlined situations and characters into surprisingly watchable TV, largely due to a cast of improv pros who knew how to lift and level the jokes. In its review of the pilot for his Dog Bites Man, IGN wrote, “If subsequent episodes of the show maintain this level of quality, this is going to be one of the best comedies on television. The chemistry of the cast is amazing, the writing is sharp and witty, and the timing is perfect.” On the big screen, he’s gathered improv cohorts for cult classics like High Road and Martin & Orloff, the latter in which he is Martin Flam, an advertising costume designer who is agonizing over the death of an actor dressed as an egg roll with no eye holes, who stumbled into the river and drowned. Guilt-stricken, he attempts suicide; the movie starts with Flam’s return home from the hospital as he cleans his own dried blood from the bathroom floor. If that intro alone has you sniggering to yourself, maybe you’ll sympathize with tech issues Walsh encounters in turning his friends loose in front of a lens. When the cameras keep shaking and lights start moving around because the crew can’t stop laughing, you’re in for a long day of shooting, but he loves every minute of it. In discussing High Road with Collider, Walsh cited Christopher Guest as inspiration. “He got to make four movies with his buddies. That alone is a huge success to me.”

If Veep is only now bringing him attention he’s more than merited all along, you get the feeling he’ll use it for the same purpose he always has – championing comics. He believes they have a harder job than they’re given credit for in comparison to their dramatic counterparts. “Comedians have to be relatable, so the pedestal gets smaller.” Hopefully not too small to accommodate a guy who truly deserves one.

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:

Freida Pinto didn’t rise to fame as much as she instantly found herself in its spotlight. It’s a story almost more Hollywood than Hollywood – kind of like the one in the small film that started it all. Set and filmed in India, Slumdog Millionaire emerged as a surprise sleeper, grossing nearly four hundred million dollars on a budget of only $15 million. It was the most successful film of 2008, winning eight of its ten Academy Award nominations. It was also the first film Pinto ever made. She had a mere 20 minutes of screen time (and no formal acting training) to convince viewers she was a girl worth crawling across the earth for. First she had to convince director Danny Boyle, sort of. He saw hundreds of girls on videotape, but “The first time I saw her audition, I remember thinking, ‘Well, that’s her.’” It was.

The ironic part was that it took a British filmmaker and an American studio to launch the career of someone who’d grown up in Mumbai, the capital of Bollywood, which regularly outpaces its U.S. industry counterpart in production spending, ticket sales – and competition for roles. The daughter of a banker and school principal who was never going to become either, Pinto was keen to act from an early age. Seeing her country’s pride in Sushmita Sen’s 1994 Miss Universe win, she wanted to inspire her nation’s admiration as well. She went to college (English literature, psychology, economics), but Charlize Theron put her over the edge. Watching 2003’s Monster, Pinto knew she had to find such transformational opportunities for herself. She modeled to finance auditions, scoring chewing gum and phone commercials and even a travel show for India’s Zee channel – while film rejections piled up.

What audition after audition couldn’t do for her in Bollywood, Slumdog did overnight. She quickly landed roles in films by some of the businesses’ most iconic directors, including Woody Allen, Michael Winterbottom and Terrence Malick. There’s your acting school right there. What seemed to elude them was knowing exactly what to do with her. Pinto’s roles in smaller movies (You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, Knight of Cups) and larger blockbusters (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Blunt Force Trauma) seemed underwritten and one-dimensional.

The exceptions were small, but revelatory films. In Trishna, the India-set adaptation of Tess of the d’Urbervilles, we saw what Slumdog hinted at. “The movie is dominated by the performances of the beautiful Freida Pinto…and Riz Ahmed,” ran The Guardian’s review. “Both are actors with striking presences playing people uncertain of their identities, discontented with their lots and seething with doubts about their roles in evolving India.” As the lead in Julian Schnabel’s biographical, political Miral, she won praise for her performance as an orphaned Palestinian woman who grew up in a refugee camp in Israel, but its most profound effect on her was personal, as she told Interview in 2011. “There was a lot I had to learn, because all the news channels say is, ‘Israeli soldiers’ and ‘Palestinian terrorists’ — we’ve already compartmentalized them.” In describing the film, she said, “There are people who are trying to make a difference in a very civil manner, not just by picking up a gun. I felt that if I became part of this film and I gave it my all, that’s exactly what I would be doing…I knew the film was not going to be accepted too well, but I did it hoping that somewhere in the future it would be referred to as one of those films that started the conversation.”

She’s determined to continue it, spending half her time advocating for women and children around the globe, working with organizations like We Do It Together and Because I’m A Girl, and being a producer on the devastating and controversial India’s Daughter. “It’s definitely not a career decision. It’s more of a human decision.” That said, the career decisions are holding their own. She’s recently joined Idris Elba and Babou Ceesay in Showtime’s Guerrilla as a woman whose values are tested when she liberates a political prisoner in 1970s London. She’ll also appear in Love Sonia, a tough film about the global sex trafficking trade, and in next year’s Jungle Book: Origins, which is already giving off franchise whiffs.

If the business was unable to figure out her “place,” well, lucky her. When you belong nowhere, you can go anywhere, a feat few “ethnic” actresses manage to accomplish. She’s played women of all nationalities and religions; she’s been eye candy, heroine, muse and badass, all without ever being confined to a type. Perfect, for someone who’s said she rather enjoys being an outsider. “I don’t want to be fitted in somewhere. I fit into the world. I’m a human being before anything else.”

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:

Not everyone is born with a complete set of parts. Some people are missing a fifth toe or a sense of smell. Jenny Slate appears to have materialized with no discernable sense of shame or filter. That’s a drawback if you’re, say, a president, but a real plus if you’re a comedian. You can follow your uncensored brain out loud without much worry wherever it takes you; in Slate’s case, that’s places both wild and mundane, each fertile ground for amusement. “If your brain is going the way that my brain goes, everything is cast in a comedic light. Everything is funny and most people are really funny.” Her humor has less to do what’s going on around her than what’s going on inside her head, which seems like a very interesting place to be.

Slate’s comedy goggles were never rose-colored, though, and that’s likely what led to her breakout film role in 2014’s Obvious Child, “a comedy about abortion.” It followed the life of a young standup comic as she grapples with an unplanned pregnancy and eventual abortion, and was widely acclaimed, with Slate’s performance especially praised. If Slate’s balanced and relatable performance surprised critics and just about everyone else who saw it, they can’t be blamed. If they knew of her prior to that film, it was from sitcom appearances, comic voice work, Late Night sketches and Saturday Night Live, where (besides a famous f-bomb) she was best known for impressions (Hota Kotb, Lady Gaga, Kristen Stewart) and characters like Tina-Tina Cheneuse, home shopping purveyor of personalized doorbells, alarm clocks and car horns.

Dig into the toy box of any really funny person, and you’ll almost always find more than characters and jokes. Piled beneath them are smarts and curiosity, and often a middle child with a need for attention. Slate and her older and younger sisters were born in Milton, Massachusetts to poet/author Ron Slate and Nancy, a ceramicist. After graduating (as valedictorian, no less) from Milton Academy, she entered Columbia University as a literature major, where she met her other (comic) half, Gabe Liedman. In 2008 they launched Big Terrific with Max Silvestri, performing standup shows in the back bar of the Williamsburg record store Sound Fix. Over its seven-year run, it emerged as the best comedy show in the city, partly due to guests like Sarah Silverman, Chris Rock, and Aziz Ansari, but mostly due its founders, whose comedy Vulture called “individually and consistently hilarious.” She followed that with her one-woman UCB show, Jenny Slate: Dead Millionaire.

The farther Slate’s imaginings stray from conventional comedy platforms, the more odd and wonderful they get. In 2013 there was her web series Catherine, which Hollywood.com tried valiantly to define. “Frightfully mundane – there’s no other way to aptly describe the kooky series besides smashing two opposing adjectives together and hoping it all makes sense. Catherine goes to work, talks to co-workers, orders bread and butter sandwiches, and… that’s pretty much it. But it’s oddly fascinating. It’s an odd experiment in comedy and tone…but paired with subtle musical cues, everything begins to feel really creepy, like something is seriously wrong with these people.”

And then, of course, there’s Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, a stop-motion film created in her apartment with director Dean Fleischer-Camp. Slate voices the anthropomorphic seashell, who despite being outfitted with a creepy single Oobi eye and a pair of miniature shoes, is absolutely adorable. In pseudo documentary style, Slate improvises Marcel’s dialog as he discusses his activities, hobbies, hopes, and disappointments. It won AFI Film Fest’s Best Animated Short and the Grand Jury and Audience Awards at the New York International Children’s Film Festival, not to mention tens of millions of views on YouTube. Studio offers rolled in, complete with merchandising opportunities, which Slate is tabling until marketers agree to make plush toys no larger than Marcel actually is (he’s quite tiny – what would you expect from a chap who wears a lentil for a hat?).

Last year she and her father co-authored About the House, sharing family memories, quirks, and confessions in a singular collection of stories, essays, and poems about their (possibly haunted) family home. She kicked off this year by playing a woman figuring out her family, her marriage and herself in Landline, which Collider called “a reminder that Slate should be leading way more movies by herself.” Coming up are Polka King with Jack Black and the more somber Gifted opposite Chris Evans. And that’s just this spring.

Maybe Slate moves so fast to keep up with her frenetic talents, or perhaps to keep anyone from putting too specific a finger on them. Or maybe it’s simpler. As Marcel says, “Really, what you just have to do is take a ride.” We call shotgun.

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:

After being singled out by fate (and Brian De Palma) for a small part in a big video, it looked like Courteney Cox might be forever known as the Girl Who Danced with Bruce Springsteen. But those 30 some-odd seconds were an unimagined launch pad for the 20-year-old Birmingham native who abandoned architecture to pursue modeling and acting. The breaks followed quickly, first with commercials and soap operas, then parts on TV series like Misfits of Science, Family Ties and Seinfeld. Movies opened up next. Masters of the Universe, Mr. Destiny and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective were coveted opportunities for someone starting out, even if they did make more use of her looks than her talent and didn’t raise her profile as much as that of her male co-stars.

Returning to TV seemed like a good way to maintain visibility, so ten years after being The Boss’ most famous dance partner she auditioned for the role of Rachel Green on a new series called (among many other things at first) Friends. She was cast instead as Monica Geller, and along with the rest of the cast, became a pop culture phenomenon. Friends ran for ten seasons, had 62 primetime Emmy nods and hit the biggest mass entertainment sweet spot of the 90s. Did it continue to be popular in the aughts? Well, its series finale in 2004 had 52.5 million viewers in America alone. What’s more, it somehow continues to resonate. New York magazine noted last year that, “the central pleasure of watching Friends — the feeling of being cosseted in a familiar place, free of worries, surrounded by friends — has never been quite so longed-for as it is now.”

But Friends, and Cox’ part in it, was important in other ways. As co-star Lisa Kudrow told Vanity Fair in 2012, “Courteney was the best known of all of us, and she had guest starred on Seinfeld. She said, “Listen, I just did a Seinfeld, and they all help each other.” Several seasons later, the cast would become the first to use solidarity as leverage in salary negotiations. The show also gave Cox the long-awaited chance to prove that beautiful women could also be funny.

A ten-year reputation as one of the most likeable women ever on TV is something most actors would guard with their life when looking around for their next gig. Cox chose Dirt. USA Today wrote, “It’s brave of Cox to choose such an unsympathetic character for her post-Friends TV return.” Cox just thought playing a cynical tabloid editor would be a fun change of pace – if not a sort of meta-jab at the paparazzi that had become a permanent fixture in her life by then.

Bill Lawrence, who found her to be “comedically fearless” when he cast her in a three-episode arc on Scrubs, offered her the lead in Cougar Town. Her comic chops were in full evidence on screen, but a lot of the humor (and Cox’ is on the ironic side) stems just from her choice to do the show. A real life example of the media obsession with looks, aging, and how women deal with it, Cox made herself the primetime fictional subject of it as well. As the camera pans the show’s landscape of Botoxed, bleached, low-cut-spandex-clad 40-somethings in an opening episode, Cox, as Jules Cobb, says to a friend, “I know I’m one of them, I just don’t feel like one of them.” Off screen, she was honing her talents as a director on several episodes. Cox seems to have split vision – one eye trained on the job at hand, the other on what’s next.

While continuing to act in films, she also began directing them. There was Talhotblond, based on a real-life story about an internet obsession that leads to familial disconnection and eventually murder. The Huffington Post wrote, “Cox paces the film slowly, letting the jeopardy of the situation build. There are many close calls and Cox presents them in a way that makes this movie full of nerve-breaking suspense.” And in 2014, she made the black comedy Just Before I Go. The Los Angeles Times praised her juggling of genuine emotion and raunchy humor, noting, “Cox steers this tricky ship with a deft hand and a strong sense of timing, comic and otherwise.”

She’s also directed music videos, and has two new TV series in the works, both of which she is executive producing. While Cox has always denied she’s as OCD as her famous alter ego, there is a sense of restlessness about her. She seems perpetually dissatisfied in the best, self-challenging way. No doubt she’ll be indelibly (and deservedly) remembered as Monica, but what’s most exciting is everything she’s yet to be known for.

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:

Hank Azaria’s relationship to the most iconic cartoon of a generation is a question of prepositions. He is indisputably on The Simpsons (his voice work on the show has won him four Emmys); also, he is The Simpsons – or at least a good percentage of the regulars that populate their world: Moe the Bartender, Apu the Kwik-E-Mart proprietor, Chief Wiggum, Comic Book Guy, The Sea Captain, Carl Carlson, as well as a one-man army of walk-ons like Cletus Spuckler, Professor Frink, Dr. Nick Riviera, Lou, Snake Jailbird, Superintendent Chalmers, Disco Stu, Duffman and the Wiseguy.

A gifted mimic at five, Azaria had no idea his impressions were an unusual talent. “I just loved Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Foghorn Leghorn,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “Then when I got old enough to realize it was all the same guy, Mel Blanc, I lost my mind.” Memorizing comedy routines he saw and doing funny voices remained a diversion while he was growing up in Queens, NY, but became an obsession once he did a high school play. He decided on acting and studied drama at Tufts University and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Apparently not an optimist, he’s said he didn’t expect to be successful as a professional actor, but determined to hang on until he was 25 just so he wouldn’t regret not trying.

His path proceeded along the standard Hollywood lines – a move to L.A., work as a catering bartender and plenty of auditions. His debut was in the 1986 ABC series Bash, a one-line part he told all his friends about, only to discover it was cut. But a little humiliation is a small price to pay for a SAG card, right? Parts in sitcoms like Family Ties and Growing Pains followed, as did Hollywood Dog, his first-ever voice role. The pilot failed, but prompted a casting director to ask him to audition for Moe. Simpsons exec producer Matt Groening kept asking him back, a rogues gallery of voices was compiled, and a stable career was born.

Live action work picked up around the same time with recurring roles on Friends and Mad About You. A small part in Pretty Woman was his first feature film; subsequent roles soon became bigger and more diverse – Quiz Show, Along Came Polly, Dodgeball, Cradle Will Rock, Night At the Museum, Godzilla – but none more memorable than Agador – Spartacus – in The Birdcage. As a dialed-to-eleven Guatemalan houseboy, he made us laugh harder than the movie’s stars, comic icons Robin Williams and Nathan Lane.

Every industry has a “guy” – the one you go to when you want the reliable best in the business, and Azaria became the go-to for making any line funny just by saying it. Playwright Jenelle Riley said, “[Azaria’s] appeal can best be summed up by, of all things, his hilarious cameo in the goofy comedy Dodgeball. As Patches O’Houlihan, he delivers a pitch-perfect performance in an instructional video in which he chain-smokes, encourages a child to pick on those weaker than him, and steals the film from a cast of comedic greats. It’s a wonderful, odd moment that could have failed miserably in the hands of a lesser actor, and he manages to pull it off with only seconds of dialogue…Pound for pound, Hank Azaria is the best actor working today.” Azaria humbly passes most of it off to “dumb celebrity impressions,” but that’s dismissing the work of a master mixologist. Patches O’Houlihan? “Essentially a bad Clark Gable impression, but I tried to add some young Rip Torn in it.” Moe? Al Pacino, with some gravel thrown in. Agador? Puerto Rican street queens, tempered with his grandmother. Apu? Peter Sellers in The Party. We’ll end the list there so as not to ruin a potentially amusing Azaria-watching parlor game for you.

Those indelible characters can make it easy to overlook Azaria’s fine dramatic work in series like Huff and Ray Donovan, and his touching AOL series Fatherhood. Variety called his Emmy-winning performance as Mitch Albom in Tuesdays with Morrie “the most layered and sensitive work of his career.” As it often happens, genius work in one arena overshadows equal work in another. As they say, it’s a blessing and a curse. In his new IFC dark comedy Brockmire, Azaria is a famed major league baseball announcer who suffers an embarrassing public meltdown live on the air and decides to reclaim his career in a small rust belt town calling games for a minor league team called the Morristown Frackers. So mostly, a blessing.

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
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Maggie Siff was born and raised in the Bronx by a Jewish father and an Irish mother, but always felt more “culturally Jewish.” If that sometimes resulted in typecasting, she didn’t mind. In fact, when she was called to read for the part of Peggy Olson on Mad Men, she asked to read for department store heiress Rachel Menken Katz instead. She saw such women as intelligent, strong, direct – and still sensual. Smart choice. The role brought her to L.A., and changed her life and career.

After a year on Mad Men, she landed her first major TV role on Sons of Anarchy, another show that started off with a cult fan base (albeit of a slightly different ilk) and subsequently ballooned in popularity. She described her character, Tara Knowles-Teller, as “a bridge for the audience. She represents the person with the more normative job situation and a morality that people relate to more.” But as a doctor who tries – and dramatically fails – to extricate herself from the motorcycle club world of her husband, she also became half of a rivalry that divided viewers so strongly that Siff had to stop reading fan boards for a while. Though critics agreed she was one of the best actors on the show, her character was killed off in season six (hey, you’re lucky to last six seasons in television these days).

Around the same time, film work started coming along in smaller features like Michael Clayton, Push, Concussion and a brief but philosophical turn as Rabbi Zimmerman in the acclaimed Leaves of Grass. Recently the roles have gotten more complicated and meaningful, perhaps none more so than Anna Baskin, an exhausted, workaholic 40-something actress who abruptly flees a successful but intolerably boring TV role, returning to her past life in New York to reinvent herself in the indie A Woman, A Part. The Hollywood Reporter praised her handling of the tricky role, which intrigued Siff with its parallels to her own life and some issues she understood as an actor in L.A. “There is just an ocean of roles and scripts that you’re sort of reading through that are really trite and redundant. There are a lot of tropes for women you encounter over and over again, depending on your type,” she told IndieWire. When you read something that’s actually got depth and warmth and feels real, it almost feels like a shock to the system.”

By nature or will, Siff has held onto some principles that the business can loosen one’s grip on. She stays open to opportunities that surprise and mystify her; she’s her own devil’s advocate, analyzing her choices to make sure she’s taking parts for the right reasons. And, she looks for roles that allow her to bore into who she is versus how she looks. In a Huffington Post interview, she said, “I don’t want to just play a role that is subjugated to a small corner of a romantic nook of a world…I’m just looking for interesting, complicated, unusual roles.”

She’s hit the interesting-complicated-unusual trifecta with Showtime’s Billions. How else to describe Wendy Rhoades, a psychiatrist and motivational coach for hedge fund power players by day, and wife to a U.S. Attorney General by night. She’s a woman who enjoys not only dealing with huge egos, but more often than not, holding all the cards. Siff has said she likes playing the characters that can swim with the sharks, male or female. Watching Siff navigate those waters, it also appears she’s having some fun with the dialog which The Guardian called “so fast and so smart, it makes the characters in The West Wing sound monosyllabic.”

Not surprisingly, she’s eager to do more independent film and get her hands into other areas of the process. Sounds like another smart choice. As great as she is in Billions, we have a feeling that the projects that truly match her capabilities as an artist are still in front of her. So as they say in therapy, let’s explore that.

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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For a comedian of notoriously low-key style, Jerrod Carmichael knows how to make an entrance. His debut HBO comedy special, Jerrod Carmichael: Love at the Store, also happened to be his first-ever stand-up TV performance, and the first for which The Comedy Store’s legendary Original Room permitted cameras inside. Oh yeah, and it was directed by Spike Lee, and the DP was Matthew Libatique, who shot Black Swan and Iron Man. Carmichael was 26. His delivery is casual – he’s known to bring notebooks on stage and abandon lines mid-act if he decides they don’t work – but his jokes have all the languor of a heat-seeking missile. Some of them rattled even Lee, who suggested he not do his Trayvon Martin riff in the film – advice Carmichael politely declined to heed.

So how does a 20 year-old who never did standup before moving to L.A. from North Carolina command that kind of attention, not to mention his own network TV show a few years later? Out of context, it seems incredible. With some backstory, you might’ve seen it coming. Despite coming from a neighborhood that could be tough (two of his friends were murdered, some sold drugs) and low on access to cutting-edge entertainment, Carmichael was an autodidact, with parents who fostered debates about entertainment, religion and politics. The boys he hung out with did funny shows for girls in the neighborhood, and in school, he learned what it felt like to hold (if not win) a room. He also learned that his largely minority, under-funded school system wasn’t going to get him where he needed to be. In his mind, that was L.A., opening for guys like Louis C.K. Once he decided standup was an option, he figured that’s where he should be.

And that’s where he ended up, working small standup clubs and showcases. He got his big break playing Garf in Neighbors; when you nimbly steal scenes from Seth Rogen and Zac Efron in your first feature movie, people notice. For all the auditions that opened up for him, he walked out of quite a few. Carmichael seems artistically incapable of taking any roles that don’t feel right just to get his name out there.

It’s getting out there anyway, even if it doesn’t always go down easy. Chappelle Show creator Neal Brennan said, ‘‘at its best, Jerrod’s standup shows America/humanity at its worst — capitalist, cutthroat, cynical, narcissistic.’’ If his disarming, cheerful delivery adds to our discombobulation, it also powers the laughs – most of the time.

In a major 2016 profile, The New York Times Magazine wrote, “At work here is a fundamental reconsideration of a joke teller’s function: With Carmichael, the goal is not only to orchestrate a series of raucous eruptions — signaling, as they do, a simpatico mind meld with the audience — but to generate rifts of displeasure, confusion and anger too.” If his tendency to punch down induces some queasiness in his audience or provokes critics to label him a race-traitor, his intent is to rattle us out of our assumed worldview.

Following that line of thought, consider his new NBC sitcom The Carmichael Show, in which no topic is off limits for his fictional opinionated family, including Carmichael’s old-school father, Joe (David Alan Grier), his devoutly religious mother, Cynthia (Loretta Devine) and his progressive live-in girlfriend Maxine (Amber Stevens West). Through each, Carmichael raises a skeptical eyebrow without ever telling us which view to take. And this is important. It’s a standard-format, prime time sitcom…for adults. We’re invited to a conversation instead of being cudgeled with one joke after another. Maybe that’s why the great Norman Lear himself is a fan. ‘‘Jerrod helps America look at itself in the mirror. He sees the foolishness of the human condition — he understands that there is humor to be found in the darkest of places.’’

As for Carmichael, “I think there’s a responsibility as an artist to try and push in the direction you think comedy should go. The biggest thing I could do for the art that I love is keeping it art: keeping it special, keeping it honest, keeping it truthful.” Whether we like it or not.

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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Maybe it’s just us, but Gillian Jacobs feels like a secret everyone suddenly discovered at the same time. That would be 2009, the year she was cast as Britta Perry on NBC’s Community. In the four years prior, she’d made appearances in a few episodic TV shows and four fairly small films. Since, she’s averaged between four and six films a year. Only The New York Times would’ve made money on an early career bet back in 2006, when they wrote of her performance as a rape victim in the Off-Broadway play Cagelove, “Make sure to remember the name of Gillian Jacobs, a stunning Juilliard graduate who has the glow of a star in the making.”

Hearing her talk about her childhood, you could almost imagine her as the investment banker she said she wanted to be in first grade instead of the actress she became. She was an only child with a nice doll collection who spent a good deal of time in the company of 60-year-old-friends listening to NPR and reading books. Cat lady also sounds like a not-unpredictable outcome. But those same sexagenarians also fostered a love of plays and theater, and by the time she was eight, she’d decided she wanted to be an actress. In an effort to channel her “dramatic tendencies,” her mom enrolled her in acting classes at Pittsburg Playhouse. (Oh moms, channel if you must, but don’t you know containment is a fool’s errand?) By 11, she was dragging her parents to George Bernard Festivals and participating in the Shakespeare Monologue Contests at the Pittsburg Public Theater.

She was a good and dutiful kid (she did cut school once – to go to a museum), and on graduating high school, gained admission to Julliard. Suddenly, she was the student on probation with a faculty whose main objective seemed to be critiquing away any shred of confidence she’d ever had in herself. The biggest lesson they taught her wasn’t about acting; it was that obedience will only get you so far. Their fabulous parting gift? Convincing her she was terrible at theater. She decided she was better suited for the lowbrow world of movies and TV.

After a few episodic roles – including the requisite L&O – she went to L.A. to audition for Community, arguably the worst looking specimen in the room (flu, bad pants and a complete lack of hope will do that to a person). To creator/producer Dan Harmon, she just seemed authentic. “Gillian made me believe that my horribly written character was a real person.” It was essentially Jacob’s first comedy, and as awareness for the cult sitcom grew, so did the industry’s appreciation for her ability to combine droll sarcasm with razorblade timing. As the unpredictable, annoying and somehow sympathetic high school dropout/aspiring psychologist, she gave her character a depth remarkable among the population of 30-minute network shows. When NBC cancelled Community in 2014, there was probably only one person who wasn’t disappointed: Judd Apatow, who seized on the break in Jacob’s increasingly busy schedule (she also had a recurring role on Girls) to snatch her for his new Netflix show Love. Now starting its second season, the show’s been highly praised for its authentic look at dating. Regarding Jacob’s performance as Mickey Dobbs, a (very) flawed radio program manager, The A.V. Club made an observation that seems to apply to all of her work: “[Jacobs] makes you feel like no one else could play her part.”

But as often happens, one great show or two can often overshadow an actor’s most profound work. It’s Mike Birbiglia’s Don’t Think Twice where her exquisite, unflashy performance proves the Times’ prescience. As a talented member of an improv group struggling with ambition, success, and the fear of losing what she loves, her work is so pure and nuanced, it doesn’t dawn on you until later just how good she is. With no improv experience, she played so naturally among a cast of vets that you have to wonder if she shocked even herself.

If so, she’s not looking to stop. Like the best of artists, she wants to do what scares her. She recently directed her first film, the documentary short The Queen of Code, the real life story of Navy Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, who worked on the first computer and headed the team that was eventually responsible for the groundwork for the programming language COBOL. And you get the feeling that Jacobs will be responsible for more stories that call attention to the unheralded accomplishments of women. She’s going to have to work around Love (which has already been renewed for a third season) and two upcoming films. It took Juilliard, time and some therapy, but it feels like she’s where she’s meant to be. First grade ambitions aside, the investment is paying dividends we’ll hopefully be enjoying for a good long 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:
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Being known as the least nasty character on Veep, while not exactly a compliment, speaks to the unflappable, idiotic enthusiasm of Richard T. Splett, and similar qualities in Sam Richardson, who was supposed to play him for one episode and wound up a permanent cast member. Before that starts sounding like an insult, Richardson himself once told The A.V. Club that being an idiot “is my bread and butter. I am that person, and I wish people didn’t know.” Well, they know now, even if they’re not likely to agree. The Detroit Free Press called him one of the show’s comic high points, and GQ went further. “Even among competitively funny company, it’s usually the best bet to keep your eye on Richardson.”

As Splett – and comedy props to whoever came up with the last name – he is confidently incompetent and does not question the power he has in no way earned. You can’t blame him, then, for being more nonplussed than flattered when real White House staffers compliment him on the accuracy of his portrayal. And any self-deprecating comments about his own IQ aside, Richardson has one thing figured out: Nothing’s funnier than someone who’s unaware of his own blind spots.

As a kid, he made regular trips from his hometown of Detroit to visit family in Ghana. These trips, and the lack of any siblings close in age, gave him plenty of time alone to watch the everyday cast of characters around him. As a result, he’d compiled a vast grab bag of impressions before he’d even hit high school. That’s when a small disaster struck. It wasn’t until after he’d been admitted to University of Detroit Jesuit High that he realized it was an all-boys school. When a busload of girls rolled up one day to audition for a school play, one more hormonal boy discovered his love for the theater.

While still a teenager, he took comedy and improv classes with a Second City Detroit troupe. He graduated and enrolled in Wayne State University to study theater, but soon dropped out to perform full time with Second City sketch theater groups in Detroit and Chicago, where his range of characters became his comedy calling card. He set out for L.A. in 2012 and made appearances in several movies as well as episodes of The Office and Arrested Development. The move led to steady work on Veep, Detroit stills looms large in his heart; his deep, blind love for his hometown inspired his new Comedy Central show Detroiters, on which he and co-star/co-writer Tim Robinson play two local ad men whose work is not the stuff of Superbowl halftimes.

As Richardson describes it, it’s “Mad Men’s Sterling Cooper, if it was run by two idiots.” Their agency has gone “from ads for Pan Am to ads for a local wig shop.” If you question the comic potential of the premise, recall for a moment the exuberant, unsophisticated and unintentionally hilarious used car, appliance and carpet pitchmen of your own late-night TV youth. And who better than a genius at embodying those very qualities to bring them to life?

Detroiters (which has been shooting locally) is also a love letter to a city whose people and reputation seem ripe for a more balanced portrayal than what they’ve received in the news media. The bonus gift Richardson is giving us non-Detroiters is embedded in the show: Braying, antic yet somehow poignant thirty-second spots that we suspect have a stand-alone future on YouTube. As far as Richardson’s future is concerned, the safest prediction has already been made: But wait…there’s more!!

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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The literary critic Harold Bloom observed, “Without Shakespeare, we would not have seen ourselves as what we are.” Kenneth Lonergan also wields the mirror, minus the cinematic frills that embellish and distract from most of what passes for “character” films these days. He’d likely scoff at Bardly comparisons, but at the very least, both dramatists serve the hypothesis that as humans, we’re endlessly fascinating to ourselves. If the acclaim surrounding Lonergan’s work could be distilled to a few common points, one would surely be that he possesses one of the most acute, truth-detecting radars of any modern play or screenwriter. Tim Sanford, who’s produced some of Lonergan’s plays, said, “His understanding of character is so rich, he finds the essence of what makes people click.”

If there’s any complaint to be lodged about his projects, it may be the lag time between them, which can be long enough to render newer fans unfamiliar with some of his finest work. We trust the current buzz surrounding Manchester By the Sea, which he wrote and directed, will prompt some much-deserved rediscovery. If notoriously and self-admittedly cranky, slow, recalcitrant and prone to “always sitting home in a depression,” he is also painstaking in his adherence to the authenticity of every phrase, of every shot and cut. The small, ordinary moments that comprise his work are what hit home the hardest, only they don’t hit as much as sink in, absorbed through our porous shared experience.

Lonergan’s mom and stepdad were both psychoanalysts whose clients were (anonymously) subjects of dinner table discussion, inspiring his fascination with real people and their individual experience of the world (it also inspired the idea for Analyze This, a film he wrote solely to make money and has never seen.) He began writing plays in the ninth grade, and his play The Rennings Children, written when he was 18, was produced by the Young Playwrights Festival in 1982. His real theater breakout came 14 years later with This Is Our Youth, which was nominated for the Drama Desk Award for Best Play and continues to be regularly staged. Four years later, The Waverly Gallery was nominated for a Pulitzer, and he followed with Lobby Hero, another Drama Desk contender. In his review of that play, Spectator’s Toby Hill wrote, “…within about five minutes, any sense you have of being a member of the audience…has vanished. You’re totally absorbed in what’s going on. Lonergan is particularly good at showing how good intentions can be undermined by unconscious desires. Few of his characters are capable of resisting their own malignant impulses.”

All along, Lonergan was also screenwriting, sometimes for his own artistic fulfillment, sometimes for hire. In 2000, You Can Count on Me brought him to the wide and sudden attention of the film business. The plot was simple – a young man (Mark Ruffalo) in financial straits moves in with his sister (Laura Linney) in their small hometown – but the characters and story sang. The New York Times wrote, “There was such intense realness about it, the way people really talk, the way lives are actually lived, that was unlike anything else on screen, radical almost, in its attention to the genuine messiness of human lives.” It was eleven more years before he wrote and directed his next film, the beautiful and devastating Margaret. It crushed Lonergan in the process. Release was delayed for years over a ruinous legal battle with the studio over (mainly) the length of film. He agonized over the artistic compromises he was forced to make and disavowed the version released by the studio, which basically dumped it. As a result, most people missed a film The New Yorker said would be “…remembered, years and decades hence, as one of the year’s, even the decade’s, cinematic wonders.”

The blow was lasting, prompting friends like Matt Damon to step in. To cheer him up, Damon commissioned the script for Manchester By the Sea, and five years after Margaret, we’re looking at another masterpiece. Like most of his work, it gives voice to mundane people leading mundane lives, but without condescension – or resolution. Singular events and problems may be settled, but questions of his characters’ destinies go largely unanswered. How can they be? Like ours, they’ll continue to unfold slowly and haphazardly. If you believe life should be tidy, you believe we have the ability to control it. Nice idea, shaky premise.

Amazon snatched up rights to Manchester for $10 million, and with more platforms becoming studios, no doubt Lonergan’s subtle, resounding voice will reach the wider audience it merits. If it’s a bit slow in happening, that’s okay. We’ll wait.

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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David Oyelowo has a favorite phrase from St. Francis of Assisi. “Preach the gospel, and every now and again use words.” You could see why. One of the most remarkably talented film and stage actors working today, he employs words to stunning effect, but it’s between syllables that one sees his real power. There’s something in his being that telegraphs a certain dignity, a deep human awareness and an underlying joy that he seems incapable of turning off, on screen or in person. “He’s kind of an amazing balance of import and also a kind of levity and light,” said J. J. Abrams, producer of Oyelowo’s upcoming film The God Particle.

He’s best known for his acclaimed portrayal of Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, in which his embodiment of a man raised to sainthood status as one also troubled by fear and doubt was praised most widely for its authenticity. That lack of hagiography may be partly due to an outsider’s perspective. Race played a significant, but different role in his life. He was born in London to Nigerian parents who moved the family to Lagos when he was six, and back when he was 14. Comparatively privileged in Nigeria where classmates called him coconut (white inside) and in more humble circumstances in the UK, he never completely fit. He took nothing for granted other than his own self-worth, and the importance of bettering himself.

Despite being a hard worker and ambitious, he admits to enrolling in a youth theater program only because a girl he liked invited him. Oyelowo didn’t share his decision to pursue acting with his father (who was thinking along more lawyerly lines) until he’d secured a scholarship to London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. He was offered a season with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and in a major landmark for color-blind casting, became the first black actor to play an English king in a major production of Shakespeare. He was soon getting parts in a number of British films and TV series, most famously, officer Danny Hunter in the British TV drama series Spooks (MI-5 to North American audiences).

Problem was, given British producers’ fondness for period pieces, he found the choice of interesting roles for black actors if not insulting, at least limiting. When he looked at the careers of his acting heroes – Will Smith, Sidney Poitier and Denzel Washington – he realized they were made in Hollywood. So that’s where he went. Catching the eye of major directors like Ava DuVernay and Lee Daniels opened opportunities for more nuanced characters, and recognition. His work in The Butler, Red Tails, Intersteller, and Disney’s Queen of Katwe garnered a wider audience, but his 83-minute masterwork may just be HBO’s Nightingale. Writing about the 2014 film, which essentially starred Oyelowo and a room, The New York Times called his performance nothing less than amazing. “Mr. Oyelowo gives a riveting, disorienting and suspenseful tour of an unraveling mind. The music and cinematography are artful, but the props are mundane: a coffee maker, a mirror, a laptop. Everything is in Mr. Oyelowo’s voice, face and body.”

He found time for an all-too-brief return to the stage last year in an “electrifying” Othello opposite Daniel Craig, something we’ll be kicking ourselves for a long time for missing. “Mr. Oyelowo is Olympian in his anguish,” read the review in the Times’ Critics’ Picks. “His Othello is the real thing — a bona fide tragic hero, whose capacity for emotion is way beyond our everyday depths.”

Early on in his career, Oyelowo told his agent to put him up only for non-race-specific parts, an edict he worried was naïve when offers were initially slow in coming. But holding steadfast has given him a chance to prove his range. And while he remains adamant about not playing one type of character, he is interested in a recurring character trait. He believes virtue is “something to be celebrated — entertaining, compelling, dramatic.” It’s not something you hear from many actors, and maybe that’s for the best. In the hands of an artist of lesser skill and subtlety, the intent might be noble, but the result one-note or worse, pandering and corny. In Oyelowo’s work, we’re able to look past even the most cynical parts of ourselves, and see something to hope for. In him, we have actor we not only can’t look away from, but simply don’t want to.

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