Spall plays J.M.W. Turner in the new film Mr. Turner; Ken Tucker says Black Messiah is as adventurous as any fan could hope for; Cleese'smemoir, So, Anyway..., covers his boyhood and early career.
Simmons was a regular on the HBO drama, which depicts the brutality of life in a maximum security prison. He spoke to Terry Gross in 1998.
The biopic of landscape painter J. M. W. Turner depicts a man whose mind is barely engaged by anything other than his work. He's a mystery, and his art is magically indefinite — just like the movie.
Meryl Streep won a Golden Globe for her performance as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. She talks about preparing for that role and how her perceptions of herself have changed over the years.
Ahead of The Colbert Report's last episode, Fresh Air listens back to interviews with Colbert. "I didn't realize quite how liberal I was until I was asked to make passionate comedic choices," he said.
In Gay Berlin, Robert Beachy describes the rise of a gay subculture in the 1920s and '30s, how it contributed to our understanding of gay identity and how it was eradicated by the Nazis.
Fresh Air rock critic Ken Tucker says Black Messiah is as adventurous as any fan could hope for.
The co-founder of the Monty Python troupe admits he wasn't "naturally gifted" at physical comedy, and learned a lot by imitation. His new memoir, So, Anyway..., covers his boyhood and early career.
Making new sounds while staying mindful of the past is a common theme in the Fresh Air music critic's year-end list.
The 19th century painter wasn't always "very pleasant" and he was a "man of massive contradictions," Spall says. So Spall says he had to "dig deep" to play the title role in Mr. Turner.
This year, Fresh Air's book critic rejects the tyranny of the decimal system and picks 12 titles published in 2014 — all with characters, scenes and voices that linger long past the last page.
Chris Rock talks about finding the line between funny and "too far"; Geoff Nunberg declares "God view" as the word of the year; National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson talks about her memoir.
The film, based on Thomas Pynchon's novel, is set in 1970 in a beach town south of Los Angeles. With wonderful actors, it's like a gorgeous stoner art object: groovy, campy, dreamlike and funny.
When writer Jill Soloway's father came out as a trans woman, Soloway says, it was a huge relief. And it helped her create the series Transparent about "boundaries, legacy, gender, family."
Writer-director Richard Linklater says picking the film's star was vital because he had to guess what he'd be like at 18. "I just went with a kid who seemed kind of the most interesting."
Fresh Air jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews three box sets featuring memorable pianists.
Scott Saul's new book Becoming Richard Pryor describes how Pryor went from being raised by a grandmother, who was a bootlegger and madam, to being a transformative figure in entertainment.
Uber's "God view" shows a map of the cars in an area and the silhouettes of the people who ordered them. Linguist Geoff Nunberg says Uber-Santa doesn't just know when you've been sleeping, but where.
Woodson won the National Book Award for young people's literature for her memoir Brown Girl Dreaming. She says that growing up in South Carolina, she knew that the safest place was with her family.
Rolling Stone's Matthieu Aikins reported on this year's opium harvest — the biggest in Afghanistan's history. He also talks about traveling with a rescue crew in Syria and a Shia militia in Iraq.