Kyle McMahon: In this episode of Pop Culture Weekly, I talk to Guy Pearson and Alexander Carey about their new series, A Spy Among Friends. Then I talk to Daveed Diggs about his Apple TV Plus series, Extrapolations. Let's go!
Intro: Welcome to Pop Culture Weekly with Kyle McMahon from iHeartRadio. Your pop culture news, views, reviews, and celebrity interviews on all the movies, TV, music, and pop culture you crave, weekly. Here's Kyle McMahon.
Kyle: Na-na-na-na-na-na. Hello and welcome to Pop Culture Weekly with Kyle McMahon. I, of course, am Kyle McMahon and I thank you so much for hanging out with me for the next hour-ish and, you know, doing pop culture.
This is an all interview episode. I've got a really cool lineup of guests today. Okay, so I talk with Daveed Diggs about his new Apple TV Plus series, Extrapolations. So if you have not yet seen Extrapolations because it came out today, it is really, really, really an intriguing drama series.
First of all, it is created by Scott Burns who has written the screenplays for Born Ultimatum, Contagion, which is really good. The Informant. He also produced An Inconvenient Truth, which won an Academy Award, the documentary. And The Report from 2019 with Annette Bening and Adam Driver.
Really, really, really, really intriguing series. So basically it's kind of an anthology and premieres today. It essentially depicts the effects of climate change on the planet through all of these various different points of view of different cast members across the world.
So, you know, they are obviously related, the different episodes, but we get how it's affecting that character in their episode in their part of the world. It is really, really incredible. It's got Meryl Streep, Sienna Miller, Edward Norton, Kit Harington, Diane Lane, who I talked to as well. Gemma Chan, David Schwimmer, Keri Russell, Marion Cotard, Forest Whitaker, Tobey Maguire, Heather Graham, Michael Gandolfini, Sherry Jones, Judd Hirsch, Ben Harper. Like, it's a huge ensemble cast and they're all incredible.
I really, really, really love this series. It is exclusively on Apple TV+. It is an Apple TV series. And it's eight episodes. And I highly, highly, highly suggest that you watch it. Who I talked to, I talked to a bunch of the cast and you'll see that over the next few weeks as we do interviews with various, you know, artists, talent from the series.
Today, I talk with the one and only Daveed Diggs. You may know him from a little show called Hamilton, where he originated the roles of Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson. And by the way, he won a Tony Award for Best Actor in 2016 for his role in Hamilton.
Kyle: He also won a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album in 2016 for Hamilton. He stars in Snowpiercer, the series, the television adaptation of Snowpiercer. Oh, and I forgot that he was in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, one of my favorite shows.
Kyle: I love that show. It's so funny. And he will play, he is playing Sebastian in the upcoming Little Mermaid live action film, where he will reunite, where he has reunited with Lin-Manuel Miranda, who co-wrote some new songs for the film. So this guy is a freaking powerhouse. I loved talking with him. I am just going to get right into it. Let's listen to my interview with the one and only Daveed Diggs.
Daveed: Kyle, what's up, man?
Kyle: So first of all, the series is absolutely incredibly powerful. For you, you know, what is it like to play something that is not, you know, it doesn't just serve as entertainment, but has a real message built into it as well?
Daveed: Yeah, I mean, it's a difficult thing to pull off, I think, a project like that, because it has to be entertaining first, I think. And so the reason I said yes to it was because I read the scripts and loved them, thought they were genuinely entertaining. And the creative team behind it had made really entertaining stuff in the past. And so like that, I think, has to be, you know, we have to enjoy it or it doesn't really matter what we're talking about. You can't, people don't consume things that way.
And so, yeah, I thought it had a really good shot at being a thing that was, that could help a little bit in this discussion about climate science and the moment we're in right now, which is like the stakes are really high right now. Right? Stakes are high. We just re-released that Daylight album. Like that's right now.
Like, it's, we got to, you know, and so I think this series being, has an opportunity to be one of hopefully a lot of things that culturally we can keep reminding ourselves of in order to sort of not go down. It's not inevitable yet, but like these things are starting to happen. You know, when we look at the sections that happen 10 years from now, 20 years from now, like that stuff's going to be hard to avoid already. Right?
Kyle: But maybe further down the road than that, we can, we still have the ability to affect change, but we do have to be thinking about it all the time. So one of the great things about working in popular culture, right, is like if you create something that is entertaining, it gets stuck in people's heads and people talk about it later. And it exists longer than just the runtime of the thing. And that's what I think we're really hoping for here is that people will, it'll stay with us long enough to actually contribute to the way we change our behavior.
Kyle: Absolutely. And I think it does that expertly. It really is. You know, I'm a huge fan of those big, you know, kind of dumb disaster movies, which this isn't at all. This is very, you know, very smart. And really the heart of it is the people, you know, in my opinion, these stories that of these people that we, you know, come to know and follow in the scope of this kind of big disastrous, you know, elephant in the room kind of thing. And that's why I think it works so well is because, you know, it has both sides of it. And so, you know, if somebody is going to see the big, dumb disaster thing, they may just learn, you know, a thing or two or may, as you said, just like kind of awaken something in them to be like, wait a second, that, you know, that that show I saw the other night or whatever, you know.
Daveed: Yeah. Yeah. I think generally it's a brave, but generally I think really rewarding kind of art making to do a genre piece where you don't ignore the real world, the stakes of the real world. Right. That's really all that this piece is doing. Whereas like a lot of times we imagine futures where the stakes that we're living in right now didn't affect anything. And that's like because it's escapist, like we tend to think that like the genre, a genre piece doesn't have to take those into account. And this one just didn't. This one just says, no, we're going to our future is going to exist based on where we are right now and us not changing anything. And I think that's it is a hard thing as a writer, I think creator to keep your mind on. But it's an incredibly rewarding one if you can do it, because we all feel even more connected to it than we would. And I think you still get all the fun and you still get all the flashiness and engagement.
Daveed: And like you said, it's character driven. So we get to see ourselves and these people and the choices that they're making.
Kyle: And speaking of characters, your character, Marshall, is a rabbi, which I feel is particularly interesting. I mean, you know, I'm in I'm doing I guess everything I consume is in the lens of my own life. Right. And, you know, it made me think about like spiritually, where would I be if I was kind of facing this future? Is that something that you, you know, pulled into Marshall as you were, you know, putting him together for the series?
Daveed: Yeah. Yeah, that's really interesting. And I think it took this right. This little girl asking him, like, why would God do this? How could God let this happen for him to have this moment where like, oh, what have I been doing for the last 20?
You know, because I think when you're when his religious practice was particularly connected to his life, to his practical life, everything made a lot of sense. He was asking questions all the time, but also like out working with real people. And as he grew older and that, like most of us, like get complacent in their work, that spiritual practice became a little bit disconnected. That was just the thing that he was doing. But it wasn't as directly affecting his work. And it took this little girl coming in and being like, hey, what do you why are you teaching us this crap when like we can't do anything about the fact that the synagogue is flooding? What are you talking about? And him having to reengage with having a faith leader have to reengage with his faith, I think, is an interesting character, which is why I wanted to play.
Kyle: And you do it. You do it so well. What do you want someone seeing, you know, extrapolations? What do you want the takeaway to be?
Daveed: Like I said, I hope they are entertained and I hope it's something that they talk about with their friends. I hope we like go and start comparing like what our favorite episodes was or like, oh, did you realize how this plot point here paid off later? I think the more time we can have collectively talking about this show is one of the many elements that need to go into us helping attack this problem. But like the more it will affect the way that we make choices in the practically in the real world, just because it's sitting in here, just because the same way your favorite piece of music sticks in your head and like this, something that's truly entertaining can have that same ability. And if we think about it a lot, it can help us affect change in our regular lives, even the small things like cumulatively, those are going to add up.
Kyle: Absolutely. David, thank you so much for speaking with me today. I can't, I legitimately can't wait for everybody to see Extrapolations.
Daveed: I appreciate you so much, man. Thank you. Have a good day.
Kyle: All right, he is going to be one of those. He got, oh my God, I'm an idiot. Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony winners. He's got what? The Grammy and the Tony. And wait, does he have the, he's got the Tony, he's got the Grammy and he was nominated for an Emmy. He's going to, he's going to end up being an EGOT. He's got half of it already.
Kyle: So anyway, Extrapolations is out right now on Apple TV+. I highly recommend you watch it and then come and join the conversation with me on social, pop culture pod CA on Twitter, pop culture weekly on everywhere else. So come and join the conversation. Let's talk David and Extrapolations.
All right, next up, A Spy Among Friends. So I talk with Guy Pearson and Alexander Cary. Alexander is the producer of the series. This is a limited series. It's based on the New York Times bestselling book that was written by Ben McIntyre. It's a six episode limited series. It's on exclusively on MGM+.
It is so good. It's like one of those page turning edge of your seat thrillers. And it is the true story of two British spies. They're like best friends for, you know, their entire lives. Nicholas Elliot and Kim Philby. So Kim Philby became essentially like the most notorious defector from Britain and a Soviet double agent. Right? Like how insane. And his betrayal, and this takes place during the Cold War, his betrayal resulted essentially in the gutting of British and American intelligence during that period. But it wasn't just a betrayal to essentially his country. It was betrayal to his best friend, too. So it is really, really, really interesting how this is double, you know, double the thrill, double the emotional impact.
It is awesome. And I really, if you're like a fan of either historical drama or true drama or even like thrillers or spy type of things, you will love A Spy Among Friends. So without further ado, let's just get into my interview with Guy Pearce, who stars in A Spy Among Friends. And he stars as Kim Philby, like, you know, the guy. And and I talk with the executive producer as well, Alexander Carey.
Kyle: Hey, Carl, you as well. So for both of you as creatives, what was it like? You know, obviously, oftentimes you work in work works of fiction. What was it like to do something like this where not only was it very real people, but there's a historical significance to it for you, Guy, as an actor? You could start if you don't mind.
Guy Pearce: Well, there's always a sense of responsibility when you're playing characters who have actually existed before.
But at the same time, I find there's a massive sense of responsibility, even when you're playing a character that hasn't existed before. It's fascinating playing non fictional characters because there is usually research material that you can delve into and books that you can read. So it's quite fascinating. You can become quite indulgent in it.
But I also find that there comes a point where you have to sort of let that go and remember that the script is the thing that you're that you're working with. I'm not doing all that research to create the script. I have a script already in front of me. And that's the thing I'm to work towards. But it really is exciting to sort of dip in and out of all the either documentaries or the books that exist. And there's something that happens when you when you're really reminded every day that this was real. This really happened. This actually happened. There's a sense of there's a sort of a weight to that that is that is quite powerful. Particularly, particularly something like this.
Kyle: Absolutely. And how about for you, Alex, as you know, as an EP and screenwriter?
Alex: Yeah, I mean, there's a responsibility, I think, to the historical sort of larger facts. I think there's a responsibility to characters, you know, people who've actually been alive and what they've done and all the rest of it. But but I mean, I'm not really smart enough, I think, to answer the question too precisely, knowing that I've had to fictionalize stuff and all the rest of it. But what I will tell you is my responsibility or the responsibility I I chose to to adopt was a responsibility to the theme of.
speaker 2: Of of a story about friendship and to examine the truths of friendship and betrayal as closely and as I could, and that's really what sort of drove me all the way through this, you know, staying within the sort of tramlines of truth. But to do that, you know, I took I definitely took a few liberties with history, with the true story to to to so that I could properly explore that theme.
Kyle:I love that. And, you know, it brings me to to my next question. You know, obviously, there is some creative liberties to make this a cohesive and entertaining piece for both of you again. You know, in what regard do you have where as a fan, you know, as as somebody who consumes art, were you - especially you, Guy -reading the script, were you kind of at the edge of your seat in this, you know, this narrative that is, you know, coming alive on the page for you?
Guy: Absolutely. It was one of the most compelling things I've read ever. So I was completely gripped by it and it was it's such a great feeling to read something great. It's like reading a great book. You just you can't put it down. You want more of it. You don't want it to end. And the idea of getting to play in this world and particularly where I believed that I could I've read things that are good in the past and gone.
Guy: Oh, but I just don't know how I would do this. I'm just not right for this. But to read something like this, that's this good. And to really feel like, yeah, I know what I can do here was very exciting.
Kyle: Awesome, thank you both so much. I really appreciate your time. I can't wait for everybody to see this.
Kyle: I'm telling you, A Spy Among Friends is so good. It is like, like I said, it's an edge of your seat thriller. You got to watch it. You will absolutely love it. And I can't wait to talk with you. No, I can't wait to talk to you about it. It's really good. It debuted Sunday on MGM+. Episode two comes out this Sunday. You, oh, I can't wait to talk to you about it. Just hurry up and watch so we can talk. All right. That's our show for this week. Next week , next week we have some great guests that I can't wait to talk to. I will see you next week. Hit me up on social. Let me know what you think about A Spy Among Friends and Extrapolations. All right. I love you. We out.
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