The American Masters Podcast features new interviews with contemporary artists and cultural figures, along with previously unreleased material from the American Masters series’ 30+ years of award-winning documentary films for PBS. Powered by PRX. Subscribe now!
Actor and playwright Wallace Shawn
Although he became famous for his work as an actor in films like “Clueless”, “The Princess Bride” and “Toy Story,” Wallace Shawn is also an Obie Award-winning playwright and author, known for his experimental and challenging writing on class politics and morality. Josh Hamilton talks with Shawn about this dichotomy, as the duo explore the ways in which we identify ourselves and find value in our work and life.
Musician Miles Davis
Miles Davis is widely regarded as one of the most innovative, influential and respected figures in music. To celebrate the new documentary on the jazz legend, American Masters - Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool, filmmaker Stanley Nelson talks with Miles Davis’ nephew and drummer, Vince Wilburn, Jr.
Theoretical physicist Dr. Michio Kaku
The beginning of the universe might be the greatest origin story of all time, and theoretical physicist Dr. Michio Kaku has made a career exploring this subject and others like it. Dr. Kaku is the co-founder of string field theory, which some suggest will crack the final code toward understanding the universe. Dr. Kaku talks about building an atom smasher in his childhood garage, the influence of his hero, Albert Einstein, and why he thinks science is the greatest tool towards progress.
Comedian Maria Bamford
Fresh off the heels of her brand new stand-up special “Weakness is the Brand,” comedian Maria Bamford sits down to discuss her disarming approach to comedy, including the hilarious ways you can turn life challenges into comedy gold. Recently, Bamford has brought her signature honesty and openness to the new interview series, "What’s Your Ailment?!," where she engages in candid conversations around mental health issues with fellow comedians and artists, all while stressing the importance of communication and the value of breaking down taboos.
Writer and director Noah Baumbach
Noah Baumbach (“The Squid and the Whale,” “Margot at the Wedding,” “The Meyerowitz Stories”) talks about how and why he makes movies. Through equal parts comedy and drama, Baumbach’s films frequently deal with the pains of family life with stunning clarity. His most recent film “Marriage Story,” now nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture, explores the complicated fallout of a failing coast-to-coast marriage.
Playwright Lynn Nottage
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage talks about the origin of her Broadway play, “Sweat,” and the time she spent developing the story through her conversations with working class residents in Reading, Pennsylvania. Her focus on the struggles of this de-industrialized Rust Belt town predicted a national conversation around identity, race and economy that remains a focal point of political discussions today.