John C. Reilly
Support for NPR and the following message. Come from HBO while everyone is talking and no one is listening. Bill Maher is ready to get real and all new season of real time. With Bill Maher returns live on January eighteenth at ten pm only on HBO it'll be cheaper than therapy from WHYY in Philadelphia. This is fresh air. I'm Dave Davies infra Terry gross today. John C Reilly who stars as Oliver hardy in the new film standing Ali about the icon of comedy duo, laurel and hardy Riley says replicating their physical comedy with co star Steve Coogan required the discipline and practice of a ballet dance. What looks like very nonchalant. Just kind of normal human behavior from the outside inside. Stephen I going five four three two turn wait two three turn. And we'll talk about the film, the sisters brothers, which Riley produced and stars in alongside Joaquin Phoenix. You can't tell what what Keane is going to do next when you're watching him on film. I describe. But it jokingly almost as like watching a raccoon go through the garbage cans like what what is it is climbing on top. What does he also Maureen Corrigan have used the new novel ghost wall, which she says melds the uncanny with social commentary? Our guest today. John C Reilly earned a Golden Globe nomination for best actor in a musical or comedy for his performance in the new film. Stan and Ollie about the comedy duo laurel and hardy last year Riley earned critical acclaim for his role with Joaquin Phoenix in the western the sisters brothers Riley's appeared in more than seventy films including boogie nights. Magnolia chicago. Talladega nights walk hard, the Dewey Cox story and stepbrothers for standing Ali Riley had to wear heavy prosthetics to play the two hundred eighty pound Oliver hardy, the film explores Hardee's relationship with his partner STAN laurel in their older years as laurel and hardy tried to revive their sagging career with a stage show tour in England. Here's a scene from late in the film when they finally had a successful performance in London there backstage after the show with people waiting for them downstairs at a party. But they start working on ideas for seen for their next movie. Steve Coogan play STAN laurel. John C Reilly as Oliver hardy speaks first line that Robin Hood has about stealing from the rich and giving to the poor a gag this somewhere, isn't it? The goes gonna be waiting for his downstairs definitely wants us to beat these people from his charity mind about them, not going anywhere. We just need to work through this just a little bit more. Hey when is Muffin coming to see the show? He didn't say he should have been here. Tonight went big tonight. That was a crackerjack wasn't it. Ross how about this. How about we tell Robin Hood? You've got it all wrong, you ought to steal from the poor and giving. That's not bad. No, it's. Well. All right. Okay. How about this tap you on the show that I say? Ali. I got an idea. How about we give to the poor, but stealing from the poll that way, we cut out the middleman. All from the rich to give to the poor who ever heard of such ridiculous. I it's communism. John C Reilly. Welcome back to fresh air. Congratulations on the film, and your Golden Globe nomination. Thank you very much. Good to be back. You know, I watched laurel and hardy movies as a kid on television. This is a kind of physical comedy that. I guess is a holdover in part from the silent era, which their careers overlapped with. It's not yet slapstick, exactly. But it struck me that watching you and Coogan doing their some of their routines that required an awful lot of careful timing. I mean, like, there's you know a bit with two doors where you're trying to find each other to train station and manage to miss each other talk a little bit about getting that kind of comedy to work. That is the really interesting part of of the story of laurel. And hardy is that they started as silent comedians in the silent era, and when the movie business transitioned into the sound era. It left a lot of people behind an STAN laurel actually specifically. Talked about this transition. He said, no a lot of performers who were silent performers when they got the chance to speak on film. You know, a lot of those filmmakers would fill the movies with dialogue from beginning to end because everyone was so excited about being able to talk on film, and STAN laurel thought very wisely thought, you know, what we're doing this silenced of very well. Let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater. Let's try to keep doing what we do. Really? Well, and and we're dialogue will enhance what we're doing. Let's have dialogue, and so they were kinda stingy with their dialogue, even when they moved into the sound era, which really it helped them a lot because it made them keep doing what they were doing. So well, a ready. The brilliant thing about their work when you watch it, it seems so nonchalant it seems like they're doing it for the first time, and you know, that some of these routines like the double door routine, you mentioned in our movie where we keep missing each other going out one door coming out of it was too like a waiting room in a railway station is the way we did it. Onstage. And in order to get that comedy to look. Right. So it just looks like we're just accident-free missing each other fifteen times in a row in order to do that requires this diligence with the timing. And it's almost like a ballet or a piece of music that you're playing when you're doing it because what looks like very nonchalant just kind of like normal human behavior from the outside. Inside is Stephen I going five four three two turn wait two three turn. Right. So it's almost like this choreographed thing in our mind. Did you guys know each other before him because, you know, just as, you know, standing Ali kind of worked together all those years, you really must've had develop a close relationship on this thing we were in a similar position as STAN and Ollie when we started like we were accomplished performers in our own, right? We knew each other a little bit. And we were told by producer camman boys, come up with an act. You know, we have the luxury of copying or being. Spire by the actual work of laurel and hardy, but it was really interesting that part of it was very interesting. What it takes to create chemistry with someone what it takes to create an act, and what it takes to find a shared sense of humor about things you really get to know someone very well when you're like, well, if I repeat that one more time is that funny or do I wait a beat? And then say it again is that funny. And then when you go back and forth with each other about these little details is when you really discover like, oh, this is what makes him laugh. You know, you get to know each other. And and that's the kind of beautiful back story of of the time period that we set our film in in nineteen fifty three was the last theatrical tour that these guys did because they couldn't get money in Hollywood anymore. They weren't getting any work in the movie business. So they started doing these theatrical tours just in order to connect with audiences and make some cash and they both. Both said that in their heyday when they were making other films when they were the most popular film stars in the world for about five years there. They didn't really know each other. So well as people because they were very different personalities. Stan was like a workaholic who loved to just right, right? Right. Right. And an edit an edit in constantly think about the act and how to refine it and Oliver worked very hard when he was at work. But as soon as the work was over he would be off golfing or going to great restaurants with friends, or whatever, you know, wine women and song was kind of Oliver's life or the race track. You know, he's he loved to gamble. So they didn't spend a lot of personal time together when they were in their heyday. But when they were old men, and when they're looking back on their lives, and they were trying to like still make it. They did these theatrical tours where they were in every train car every hotel room every backstage together all the time. And they both said like that is when they learned to love the other, man. Can you know as a person as a human being as opposed to a component in the act? You had to be a fat guy this movie. I mean, you had to go through a lot to get the physical look of Oliver hardy, and I got to say, it's pretty remarkable. Because you don't look like a guy wearing a fat suit. You really look like a fat guy. I mean, you know, your hands are beefy, and what was the physical transformation? Would it consistent? You know, the truth is I thought of myself as looking very different than all over when I started this process, and that was one of the things that was really nervous about I thought I don't want 'em wanted to be some bad makeup job. Or like, you said it looked like some guy in a fat suit. Like, I really I really want this movie feel very very human in real. So that transformation? Yeah. That was one of the first things that was like it was almost like a door being opened for me when I saw the mockups of the computer near the do these computer generated kinda mockups of what the makeup will look like right before they actually do it when I. Saw the first mockup from Mark. Julia. Who's like an hour an award winning prosthetic makeup designer when I saw those pictures I thought, wow, maybe I can do this. Maybe I can because I will look like the guy I know that now and restrict your movements your either your facial movements. I mean, you you had dancing this thing. Right. I mean. Yeah, I had to wear this cooling suit underneath it, which was like a t shirt filled with plastic tubes. And then you plug those tubes into like a cooler with a pump in it that has ice water in it, and it's cycles ice water all around your body in the inside of the suit. Look, I've never done hard drugs. But I have I have a feeling that it feels a little bit like that cooling sued coming on, you know, after you've done that way out west answer few times in that fats in the makeup he plug that thing in it was like. And it was literally keeping me alive because you know, if you if you work that hard, and your that covered up your body will get heat stroke in you'll just shut down. So that cooling suit really saved my life. But no, I didn't respect my movements. At all. Actually. In fact, I had them add weight to the inside of that foam suit that I was in to that. I would always have an awareness of what how is carrying you know, I will just say I mean, I looked at a little bit of the old laurel and hardy film way out west, and I'm looking and I'm looking at Oliver hardy, and I looked at his face Simpson man that guy really does look like John C Reilly. So I don't know about. Yeah. No it. I really do nail. It. There's also the voice, you know. It's interesting that Steve Coogan who placed Dan laurel, actually has a very naturally deep voice. I mean, he's sort of an impressionist by trade in part. He's an actor and a comedian. Steve is a virtuosic. Yeah. He's impressive horrific at at it. And I'm wondering and he manages to hit that higher. Register that STAN laurel hat in in his dialogue. Did you have to work on Oliver Hardy's voice? Yeah. I'll had a very interesting voice. It's funny because the two of them, you know, STAN laurel is from Overson England the north of England, and and an Oliver was from Georgia here in America. So it's almost like stands English accent rubbed off on Auburn offers American American accent rubbed off on stand. Kostanic lives in America for a long time. Yeah. Oliver's accent was really an interesting one for that reason. You know, he would say girls, you know, for girls girls, this kind of southern gentlemen kinda thing it because that's the way he was raised. But then he went up to New York when he started his career, and then eventually out in Hollywood and had this sort of it was interesting his voice because in a way, it's part of the act, you know, in a way all hardy was his characters MO was he was always aspiring to a station higher than himself. Right at first glance, it looks like he's dressed in this formal clothes. And then you when you look at the clock. Up close like, wait. There's a patch on the pants and the Jack is missing a button. And you realize like that was part of the essential quality of their act was Oliver being very proper and formal, and please forgive my friend and Stanley was the one always making mistakes. I dunno. It's kind of a worldview led me to the accent. Because Oliver's worldview was was that of a romantic, you know, when things go wrong. It was always in reaction to what he the way he wanted things to be. Why don't you do something to help me? You know, he would get frustrated when when the world wasn't this romantic ideal that he was aspiring to you know, right here is saddled with this idiotic best friend. I wonder if we should play the scene where there's the real confrontation between the two of you Oliver did a film without stand because their contracts didn't expire at the same time with the studio. And there was some. Ongoing resentment. Maybe we should listen to that you want to set this up. This is at a reception in England, right? Yeah. So it's funny because you know, in a friendship, sometimes, you know, you can see a conflict coming in a friendship, and sometimes it comes at the best of times. Right. Oliver and STAN have just done, you know, all this work to get their tour going. They finally get a big show put together in London. They have one of the most successful nights of the entire tour and afterwards this betrayal from the past is brought up in conversation. And it's when STAN and Ollie both realized like, wait a minute. We do have some unfinished business here. And they really let each other have it in a way that they haven't done before. So let's listen to this. This is Steve Coogan, and our guest, John, she Riley in the film, STAN and Ollie, and this is STAN laurel and Oliver hardy, arguing it begins with STAN bringing up the fact that Oliver hardy had done a film without him years before and what and how much it hurt him. Let's listen. I I can sleep the days when they told me what you did. And I couldn't sleep when I did it. But you still did it. You betrayed me betrayed friendship. Friendship. We have friends because how Roach put us together. And the only reason we stayed together with because the audience wanted I have real friends, and yes, we play golf, and we go to ball games, and we have sauerkraut on how broad west people will remember I'll move is long after you finish Jehad dot. You know, something interesting. Lazy ass got nutty because you met me lucky. Spend my life with a hollow man who hides behind his typewriter. You're not real stand. Yeah. Empty? I loved us. You loved laurel and hardy, but you never left me. So what? And that Steve Coogan and our guest John C Reilly from their new film. Stan in Holly. You know, it's tracking listening to that. And I'm hearing your voice as we're having this conversation, and I hear the voice of you as Oliver hardy, and boy, you can really hear the transformation. Well, partly partly. It's because I'm fighting a cold today. My voice. Probably sounds a lot different than a lot of my performances. But yeah, I appreciate your noticing the transformation there in a way was like every morning when I would have that make put on it because I was wearing Brown contact lenses also in a wig. And like this whole thing was applied to me every day. And as almost like by the end of that process. I didn't have a choice whether to be myself. I was this other person I had a little party for the crew at my house at the end of the shooting and had always kept having all these weird conversations with people on the crew at this party. And Finally, I turn to someone like why is everyone acting kind of like strange with me? Like, I I know these people been working with them for three months. And finally, the director said John you can understand most of these people have never seen you outside of the makeup. And all that they've never seen. You look is. They've never seen you with that hundred pounds off of you. It's a little weird. The first time after working with you for three months. So that was interesting the transformation, you know. It was like working inside of a mask that that your whole body was in in a way. Wow. I want to hear a lighter moment in the film, where you're on stage in the two of you sing a song you want to just tell us a little bit of this is part of a stage show that you're doing again, you and STAN laurel travelling around England doing these shows in half filled theaters, just tell us a little bit about the songs set the software. Well, the that's the thing. A lot of the show that we do in the film. They're stage show. There is no film of it. There's no real record other than some scripts and personal accounts of people had seen it. So a lot of that stuff. We had a kind of create from the ground up, you know. And then there are things that we do we lift right out of their movies. The way out west answers. How we begin the film? We do this famous dance that they did. And we did that almost with like forensic attention. Into detail because we wanted to get it. Exactly right now. One of the things that we do in the on the stage show. That's also from there from the actual work is is the song lonesome pine which which ironically became a number one hit in the nineteen seventies in England at one point. But anyway, it's it's from that same movie that way out west and once they get into the bar after that famous dance they start all over gets inspired by the singing Cowboys around him. And he begins to sing this song a join in and then stand joins him in harmony. And then all of a sudden standing goes off the rails starts doing this, like very low comedic voice kind of ruining the song and offer gets frustrated and hits him on on the head with with a mallet that he gets from the bartender. So yeah, we recreate that scene on stage in a, and it was a it was a great little moment to get to show a side of Oliver that he was very proud of which is his singing voice. He. Could've he was actually at one point this firing to be a singer. And he had a beautiful high tenor voice. It's a real shame that there aren't more recordings of him outside of their films. But one of the most famous songs at the ever did was was the song lonesome pine yellows. Listen to it. This is from the film standing Ali, our guest, John C Reilly and Steve Coogan. Ridge mountains, Virginia on the trail of the lonesome. In the pale shine, a Hodson Twi, where's she to name? And I have my old shoe. June just lying on like. I am known some. Rich shop. On the trail of the lonesome. The. Joe on the trail of the lonesome. In the pale shod ought sitting twenty five wishy called the name a die Cobb. I'd just like the mountains. Blue like the. Load soon Foy. And that was our guest John C Reilly and Steve Coogan singing on the trail of the lonesome pine from the new film stand in Ali as you can see there like after he does that low voice, and I hit him with the hammer. It turns into this high soprano voice, which which then, you know, he collapses onto the floor after that many classic bit of laurel and hardy Johnson Riley stars in the new film stand in Ali about the comedy duo, laurel and hardy after a break Riley will talk about playing a contract killer in the old west with Joaquin Phoenix in the film, sisters brothers, and Maureen Corrigan reviews, the new novel ghost wall by Sarah moss Davies and this is fresh air. Support for this podcast and the following message. Come from duck, duck go in a time when some big tech companies are surveilling your every move online. Duck duck. Go has a private search engine that allows people to search without being tracked, plus their mobile, apps and browser extensions. Block sketchy add trackers across the web. Visit duck duck go dot com slash listen to take back your privacy, repeating with actor Johnny Riley who plays Oliver hardy in the new film standing Ali about the iconic comedy duo, laurel and hardy, you also had a film out this year. The sisters brothers about two contract killers in the eighteen fifties guys who carried guns in the Pacific northwest. It's based on a novel by Patrick DeWitt. And I guess this was really kind of your project you and your wife fell in love with the novel and got the filmgoing along time ago. Right wh-what appeal what appeal to you about the story. Well, it's a brilliant book. I mean, it takes place in the west, but it's not about Cowboys and Indians. And it's not about the good guys in white hats. It's about all these morally ambivalent characters, and and these men trying to find a new way to be a human being and and the dawn of civilization or at least the next chapter of American civilization. There's all kinds of refreshing really, original ideas in there that I'd never seen in that Jon r- before. So it was a no-brainer in terms of trying to make it into a film took a while to do it. But right, but eventually we hooked up with the great Jack ODI ARD, who's one of the best film filmmakers in the world in right? And then we're off to the races your character ally sisters, they're both contract Keller's they worked for a guy who goes by the Commodore, and he gives them jobs that carry them out. But he ally is less committed to. The business of of killing his brother, Charlie maybe you could just describe ally. And kind of how you got into the mindset of being a guy who could do this kind of work. Yeah. Allies sisters and Charlie sisters are these two boys who had a very traumatic childhood and they had to kill their father who was an abusive alcoholic. And then this this guy the Commodore discovered these two little ragamuffin boys who are very good at killing. And he took them under his wing, and he became their sort of father figure and and hired them to go to kill people into, you know, settle scores and Eli. It's an interesting dynamic the two of them. Charlie. Played by Joaquin Phoenix is is a much more willing killer. He's he's got a very short temper, and he's he almost revels in in the violence is in it. At least the way he describes it to himself allies in it to protect Charlie. And in a year where I played a lot of played in a lot of duos. It was really intense. Duo to be locked in that relationship with Joaquin he and I spent a lot of time together there in Spain and Romania where we shot the film. So yeah, you know, you live with someone that was kinda close to my heart. I've been in a lot of those brotherly relationships in my life. And I know what it's like to be hitched to another person for better or worse. Let's hear a scene from the sisters brothers. This is after an evening in which your brother Charlie played by Joaquin Phoenix has has had a rough night drinking, and you had an argument the night before and he's he's slapped. You he's clearly the more volatile of the two tends to drink a lot more. And you're seeing each other than the next morning right after this nasty argument and Charlie recognizes that you're kind of sullen in distant, and he speaks I. Wrong. What happened last night? Yes. You remember that you hit me? I hit you. Stop pretending and spare me the outta remember t-. You hit me in public trolley? So sure you're looking right now, I'm leaving. No, wait. Wait. Wait. All right. What do you want? Each other in public, I slapped you use me back even. So then couldn't he hit me. What is your home? The shovel you do remember. John C Reilly our guest with Joaquin Phoenix in the film, the sisters brothers. Tell me a little bit about the relationship between you and walking Phoenix. I mean, this the relationship between the brothers is intense, and he sort of known as an actor who, you know, very intuitive. You never get the same performance twice. When you when you re shoot a scene just tell me a little bit about the relationship. Yes. So joaquin. Yeah. Yeah. He is a very intense reputation as as an instinctual actor, and for good reason, I think walking is pure Lous among actors myself included, you know, watching him on film, like, for instance, in the film, the master. I there's not many people in the whole world that can do that. And that can that can perform in such a way, you know, films such a prepared art form so much for hersal and discussion and set up in lights and Cam all of it. And then they say action and you're supposed to act like you've never done it. Before you know, and it's very hard to do to be spontaneous. After all that preparation. And Joaquin is just amazing that way, you can't tell what what Keane is going to do next when you watching him on film. I describe it jokingly almost as like watching a raccoon go through the garbage cans like what what is it climbing on top. What does he is? Like, you know, what watching keen on film is like watching a wild animal? I mean that that says a lot right there that statement watching him on film. That's one thing is it like that being on the set with them. You don't know. What's gonna? Yeah. That's that's that's how lives his life. And I really I have a lot of admirations for Joaquin in that way. He takes things moment by moment. He doesn't like to over analyze things or discuss about the future or reminisce about the past. He's very much living in the you know, he finds the groove and is living in the moment. And I think that's a really great way to live. I mean, I don't think it's an easy road for him. All the time because the rest of the world is not living in the moment. A lot of the time. But for an actor. I don't think there's a better quality than than that. And can you go for us at first because we didn't know each other. We knew each other little bit just briefly socially. But here we were supposed to play two guys. Who are symbiotically connected. You know, this these brothers who've spent every Suns rise and sunset together from the time. They can from the time they can remember. And here we were to actors were suddenly in Spain together, you know, practicing riding horses and shooting guns while we have a we have a steep mountain to climb in order to find the intimacy that these two brothers supposed to have in the way. I did it once, you know, I'm I'm pretty good at adapting to people. That's one of the reasons I think I keep doing duos over and over 'cause I work well with other people I can tell when I need to adopt. When I need to be the beta as opposed to the alpha, you know, I'm good at kind of like being adapted to people. So what I realized with Joaquin was I just have. To listen, not talk this listen. And if there's nothing if he doesn't wanna say anything, then that's okay. And be okay with the silence. So we would take these, you know, three hour long hikes together or horseback. Rides together or car rides together. We were living together for periods of the film where cooking dinner for each other. We would just be each other's presence. And that's how we found the relationship. I would just try to get my shoulder as close to his shoulder every day for as long as I could. And we'd be whether we're napping in a boulder together or were driving home after the end of shooting day or were cooking dinner together. That's how we found that relationship. And can you think of a time you're shooting scene and walking did something really unexpected that and you had to react to it? And it worked gave you something really create that was a daily occurrence. You know, you know, film is a very high pressure thing for actors. There's you're supposed to be very confident and act like you don't care and that ease is good on camera. But the fact is you really under the gun you're on the hot seat every single day and the tendencies to kinda wanna talk about things beforehand to make sure you're in a good spot. And you know, I did that a couple time with Joaquin a couple times with Joaquim. I said, hey, you know, when you say this. I'm thinking this, right? He's like why are you doing that? What are you doing what? I'm just talking about the scene. He's like man, we don't need to talk about that. It should just happen on film. What are you doing? You're killing it, you're killing the moment. And and made the mistake of doing just maybe once or twice with him. And it was such a great lesson. You know, like you said I'm veteran actor have been doing this for a long time. There's not, you know, not many people, I meet that that that teach me lessons at this point about acting. But I was so grateful for that lesson from Keene. I thought you know, what you're exactly right and the. Only reason I'm talking about this before we shoot it is because I'm nervous. I should just be okay with being nervous, and let us discover something on film because that that's really what films all about catching lightning in a bottle. You know, it's not about like executing. Well, what what what you've thought would would be good here. You know, it's about it's about discovering something on camera. That's that. I mean, if you can do that that's audiences find that very very engaging. So I'm really grateful for for those lessons that working taught me about staying in the moment, something I already knew being an actor who loves to improvise, you know, improvisation the heart of improvisation is be here. Now be in this moment, not the next one or the one that just happened. But right now, so that was a really good strengthening thing for me as an actor working with Joaquin tow. It reminded me of what all the important stuff was there are a couple of details on wonder. To ask you about one is the scene where you're lying down to sleep you sleep outside and a spider tarantula crawls into your mouth. And I guess you swallow it that looked so real how did you shoot that? Well, I had a hold very still the spider that we use his actually not venomous spider. It looks really scary. But it's not a train spiders spider Wrangler. I would just lay there and then close my mouth, and then as soon as they cut the camera open my mouth, and they get the spider out of my mouth. So that was a real spider. Crawling in your mouth. Yeah. No. Of course, it wasn't it with CGI. But isn't it interesting that we are now having this conversation that you are watching a special effect in the movie, and you can't tell another words if I tell you, it's a real sputter, you believe that it's a real spider. That's it's almost like the robots have one, you know, we're now at a place with special effects where you literally just have to know the behind the scenes truth in order to detect it. And I think that's a really exciting moment in film making when the illusion become so complete that we can no longer tell what is allusion what? Israel that in a way that is like movies coming into their own in the past with these kind of things you would kind of go. Well, that's a computer affect or that's a that's a rubber spider. Of course. They couldn't get a real spiders do that. Now, we we've gotten to a place in film, where the effects are so good that you know. Okay. Complete. There was no real spot. Let me be clear lows pulling your leg before to make a point was no real spider. All right spiders were harmed in the making of the sisters brothers. John C Reilly stars with Steve Coogan in the new film stand in Ali. He also appears with walking Phoenix in the film, the sisters brothers. We'll talk more after a short break. This is fresh air. Support for this podcast is brought to you by discover card. You check things all the time like your, Email or social media. But discover asks what about checking something as important as your credit score. Well, discover makes it quick and easy with their credit scorecard wishes free for everyone, even if you're not a customer, see your FICO credit score and other important credit information, and once, you know, your score, you should check to see if your current credit card is the best fit for you. Learn more at discover dot com slash credit scorecard. Limitations apply. What's unique about the human experience? And what are we all have in common? I'm guy Roz every week on Ted radio hour, we go on a journey to the big ideas, motions and discoveries that fill all of us with wonder find it on NPR one or wherever you get your podcasts. This is fresh air. And we're speaking with actor John C Reilly he stars with Steve Coogan in the new film. Stan and Ollie the fed. A lot of great work lately are nominated for a Golden Globe. Anything you haven't done. You wanna do? Well, this one I say direct. But because it is that's that's sort of the elephant in the room after doing almost eighty movies and working with some of the greatest directors in the world. I I should know something about how to put a movie together at this point. So I've directed a lot of plays. And I think I might I might do that next. And if a movie comes along that it seems like I'm the only person who could direct it then then maybe that. Yeah. Do you? I mean, you've obviously worked with a lot of different directors have all different kinds of approaches. Do you have a vision for like this is what I want to do on a set? Well, that's the tricky thing. And that's why haven't directed yet is because I think I've been directed by actors before and sometimes they do really well with it because they really understand what it means to be an actor. So they can get a lot of you and other times it can be difficult for actors to direct because you have to be ready to cede the spotlight, you know, to to give over give the floor to an actor and directing is different discipline than acting. And I think that's a really big leap to make to be ready to say, okay. I'm not gonna be the one telling the story. I'm going to be the one guiding it from behind and that I think that's a really important leap to make them. I'm almost there. But acting has to seem less fun than that in order for that to happen. You know what I mean? And I just keep getting amazing offers one after the other as an actor from Oliver hardy ally sisters like those are not parts that that you should pass up. So. We'll see. We'll yeah, I've done direct a lot of kids plays so far, and that's been very rewarding. And it's been a great way to learn how to work with people who are trying to come into their own as actors, so yeah, I've done a lot of kids plays in my children's schools. And I'm hoping that the those will be a great training ground for for working with adults one day you've directed kids place at your children's schools. Yeah. Yeah. What do you think you've learned from directing kids? I've learned well, it gives you an appreciation for for what it means to be a director gives you an appreciation for the responsibilities and the role, you know, as a leader I've been someone who's always been comfortable more, comfortable, not being the leader than someone who's like a very loyal soldier. But I don't like being the general. I don't haven't liked the responsibility of saying no, this is what we should do. I know. I'm right. You know, always been someone is much more collaborative and adaptive to situations. But directing plays has taught me, you know, you have a really important role as a leader here. And even if you're scared or even if you feel like, oh, God, this is not going. Well, you cannot show that to them you have to be this. You know, you have to be the fearless leader the one who saying don't worry. You can do it even when inside your thinking like, I'm not quite sure they can do it. You have to be the one thing. Don't worry. You can do it. And yeah, I'm not quite there yet in terms of fully embracing that leadership kind of mentality. But, but I do the older I get I look around me think like, well, I still feel like a twelve year old kid, but I guess I'm the adult in the in the room. Now, go onto a movie said Dave these days, and I'm the oldest person on the set by far not just the other actors, but the entire crew, you know, filmmaking is kind of a young person's game in terms of the behind the scenes, you know, the work that needs to be done. So the older I get them were. I'm kinda like settling into this displace of like, well, maybe you do have something we're saying maybe do have some earned thirty at this point. But the confidence it takes to be director and to be a leader to be responsible for other people's paths is is not one that take lightly. So yeah, that's something. I think you have to be ready to. Do because once you do say, you're going to do it. There are a lot of people really depending on you for that leadership. And you can't let them down. Yeah. We'll see we'll see I'm hoping to at least to develop more things for myself and produce more things. And I mean, look the truth is I wanna do everything I can do in this life. I wanna give everything I can. I don't wanna die thinking like, oh, I should have done that are should have done this. I wanna I wanna leave it all on the stage. And and maybe directing we'll be one of those things that that comes my way Johnson Riley. It's great to have you back. Thanks so much. My pleasure. Dave. Thank you. John C Reilly co-stars with Steve Coogan in the new film. Standing Ali coming up Maureen Corrigan reviews, the novel ghost wall by British writer. Sarah moss. This is fresh air. Support for this podcast comes from the John S and James L. Knight found. Dacian helping NPR advanced journalistic excellence in the digital age in the Trump era. The news moves faster than f- nippy. Our politics podcast is there to keep you informed. Every time there's a major political story. We get our best correspondence together to sort through the noise. The NPR politics podcast. What you need to know. Right after it happens. Novel called ghost wall by Sarah moss. Popped up on several prominent best books of the year lists in Great Britain at the end of twenty eighteen our book critic Maureen Corrigan decided to find out what all the fuss was about. Here's a review last fall, a slim and eerie novel came out in Britain. That tells a story about the lingering force of walls that novel which has just been published here is cold ghost wall and its author. Sarah moss possesses, the rare light touch when it comes to melding the uncanny with social commentary. Ghost wall is set in the nineteen seventies. In the rugged countryside of the far north of England. Our narrator is a sheltered seventeen year old girl named Sylvie who's accompanied her parents on a summer field trip of sorts with some university students and their professor the professor teaching. Ecorse in experimental or Kiala g that requires his students to reenact the daily lives of iron age Britain's for two weeks. This small band will forage for roots and berries capture in skin rabbits, where scratchy woven tunics and crouch round the fire at night moss. Vividly renders the natural world here. Coaxing readers into experiencing everything from stepping on a pebble in thin moccasins to being sucked into a bog Sylvie endured that horror years ago when she was on a ramble through the Moore's with her dad, she recalls the bog seals around you. And it will of course, fill the inner skins of every orifice seeping and trickling through the curls of your ears rising tide in your lungs. It will embalm you from the inside. Side out. Even without such calamities, the northern landscape seems both haunted and hostile to the campers. But the first hint that this is going to be more than just some outward bound adventure tale comes. When Sylvie tells us that she made a failed effort to sleep with the students in order to give her parents some privacy. Dad didn't want privacy. She says he wanted to be able to see what I was up to. I did not know what my father thought I might want to do, but he devoted considerable attention to making sure I couldn't do it Sylvia's tone here is cheeky, but it shifts a few pages on when she glances at her mother and flatly observes there was a new bruise on her arm. That's when we readers understand that there's something menacing in. Her father's surveillance, and that Sylvia's deadpan voice. Voice is the voice of a girl who's grown accustomed to domestic violence. Another revelation that slowly gathers force while all these characters are reenacting life in the iron age has to do with class, Sylvie and her family or working class. Her father is a bus driver. Her mother a supermarket cashier. Moreover, her father's fierce lifelong interest in the world of early Britain's stems not from an elite education, but rather from nationalism Sylvia's, rather 'push French name, for instance, actually derives from sue Leyva a goddess of the Celts and Britons during a conversation around the campfire with the professor about Roman invasions in the area. Sylvia's dead insists that the ancient Britons put up quite a fight and sent them packing in the end. And they're. Weren't dark faces in these parts for Niane two millennia after that were there the professor hesitatingly objects to this racist spin. But as the adventure continues, I n age attitudes, particularly relating to gender begin to predominate. The women are told to forage in cook. While the men bond over killing things when the men announced that they've decided to build a ghost wall, a magical fortification topped with skulls that ancient Britons erected as a defense against the Romans. It's clear they've gone off the deep end in terms of channeling the patriarchal tribal past it also seems clear that the women as usual will suffer the consequences of these fantasies. Ghost wall is such a weird and distinctive story. It could be labeled a super. Natural tale a coming of age chronicle even timely meditation on the various meanings of walls themselves, all this packed into a beautifully written story of one hundred thirty pages. No wonder I read it twice within one week Maureen Corrigan teachers literature at Georgetown University. She reviewed ghost wall by Sarah moss on tomorrow's show, how American immigration policy has evolved and led to the current debates over border security NPR correspondent Tom gelatin says until the nineteen sixties the rules favourite immigrants from northern Europe the nineteen sixty five Immigration Act made us more diverse country. And Chilton says raises new questions about what it means to be an American his book is a nation of nations. Hope you can join us. Fresh Air's executive producer is Danny Miller. Our interviews and reviews are produced an edited by Amy salad Phyllis Myers. Sam brigger, Lauren crendall, Heidi soman, Theresa Madden. Zedi Fe Challenor Seth Kelly for Terry gross. I'm Dave date.