Marc Maron takes one more step from acting out to acting
|Toronto Star 17 Jul 2019 at 10:07|
LOS ANGELES‚ÄĒMarc Maron is fumbling through his glove compartment looking for coffee. A certain record store owner in East Los Angeles lets him trade the nice blends he‚Äôs occasionally sent for discounts.
‚ÄúBarter economy,‚ÄĚ he shrugs.
At 55, he‚Äôs in a place where he is finally enjoying stability after years of struggles and he doesn‚Äôt spend his money on much, but he likes his records, invested in some good equipment and has found himself in a pretty deep dive on jazz these days.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm not bringing you garbage records this time,‚ÄĚ Maron announces as he walks through the door. ‚ÄúJust four bags of coffee!‚ÄĚ
Every little bit counts when the good jazz albums can run a person $140 or more and the owner has an eclectic stack of albums on hold that he thinks Maron might like. So does the man working at the second shop we visit. And after some conversation and browsing, Maron walks away from both with an arm full of new goodies: A William S. Burroughs recording, Robert Johnson‚Äôs King of the Delta Blues Singers and The Modern Lovers among them.
Maron is doing this hometown record store tour to promote the film Sword of Trust in which he plays an ornery pawnshop owner who can wax poetic about Charley Patton. The charming indie comedy from director Lynn Shelton, now playing at Toronto‚Äôs TIFF Bell Lightbox, finds Maron‚Äôs character on an adventure trying to sell a Civil War-era sword that may or may not prove the South actually won.
It‚Äôs almost entirely improvised, and includes a show-stopping monologue from Maron that Shelton says affectionately is one of her ‚Äúfavourite performances by anyone in anything.‚ÄĚ She said it even made him cry at the South by Southwest premiere ‚ÄĒ a detail Maron doesn‚Äôt offer himself.
‚ÄúHe‚Äôs one of the most natural actors I know,‚ÄĚ says Shelton. ‚ÄúHe is just built for it in a way. He has a complete lack of self-consciousness. I don‚Äôt even think is he really aware of where the camera is.‚ÄĚ
Maron ‚ÄĒ who was recently in Toronto filming the David Bowie biopic Stardust, and who‚Äôll be performing standup comedy in Toronto in September as part of is adjusting to this new reality where he has the freedom to choose what he wants to go out for.
‚ÄúFor years I didn‚Äôt even have an agent. Acting was not where I was going,‚ÄĚ Maron says. ‚ÄúI was barely surviving in any way before the podcast.‚ÄĚ
But the success of the podcast WTF with Marc Maron, which is turning 10 this year and has over 1,000 episodes in the books, including famous interviews with Barack Obama and Robin Williams, begat more success: His own show, which ran for four seasons on IFC; Netflix‚Äôs GLOW; and more interest in his standup.
It‚Äôs certainly afforded him a level of fame he didn‚Äôt predict when he purchased his old home under his own name and started a podcast in his garage, or when he decided to make revealing highly personal information about his relationships, his demons, his enemies and his daily mundanities part of every episode. His candour and introspection has endeared him to millions, but it‚Äôs also something he‚Äôs had to reevaluate.
‚ÄúPeople who listen to the podcast know me pretty well, and it‚Äôs all good. They have a relationship with me that‚Äôs one sided, but it‚Äôs real and I try to be as gracious about that as possible,‚ÄĚ he says. ‚ÄúMy particular little slice of the show business world is very me specific and it‚Äôs very personal and usually that‚Äôs a good thing. But I‚Äôve had to learn how to balance how much of my life I reveal and what I keep to myself and try to find a little space.‚ÄĚ
That included moving to a different area in Los Angeles. People had been showing up at his place, which he says ‚Äúwasn‚Äôt horrible,‚ÄĚ but it got ‚Äúa little weird if they knocked on the door.‚ÄĚ
Right now, he‚Äôs satisfied with how things are going professionally, although he wishes he could channel the energy and spontaneity he feels while doing an improvised scene into the scripted work he does. The long days on set can be tedious.
‚ÄúI think that would be a good trick to learn in evolving my craft,‚ÄĚ he says, over-enunciating the last three words as though they‚Äôre in air quotes. ‚ÄúActing is a lot of time and is a big investment and my life isn‚Äôt really like that. I can‚Äôt really go out an audition and for something that‚Äôs going to be shooting for four months in Bosnia.‚ÄĚ
Still, he‚Äôll audition for some big things, like small parts in Joker (which he got) and James Cameron‚Äôs Avatar sequels (which he didn‚Äôt, and is kind of relieved about). His own pop culture legend just keeps growing, too, whether he can fully appreciate it or not. Even his big gets on his podcast wash over him a bit nowadays (‚ÄúIt‚Äôs hard for me to tell what‚Äôs culturally big and what‚Äôs big for me,‚ÄĚ he says). And something like getting to play himself on The Simpsons was ‚Äúcool‚ÄĚ but not some landmark moment in his life.
Plus, he says he‚Äôs usually being hired to play some variation of himself.
‚ÄúEventually I‚Äôd like to get the skill set where I can lose myself in a role that is not anything like me,‚ÄĚ says Maron. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm not there yet and I don‚Äôt know if I‚Äôll get there but I‚Äôll keep it in my wheelhouse for now.‚ÄĚ
He‚Äôs not jaded, ungrateful or unambitious, but more of a realist about why he‚Äôs doing it at all.
‚ÄúI didn‚Äôt get in it to be the greatest Shakespearean actor in the world, or to be a circus clown,‚ÄĚ he says. ‚ÄúA lot of it was about self-realization and managing my own emotional and psychological issues and sort of resolving them in a way by doing what I do.‚ÄĚ
So it‚Äôs understandable that he might not want to stray too far from that.
‚ÄúI think I have a fear of losing myself,‚ÄĚ he adds with a chuckle. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs taken so long to find me.‚ÄĚ