Henry Winkler


From WHYY in Philadelphia. I'm Terry gross with fresh air today. Henry Winkler he won an EMMY for his performance on the HBO dark comedy series berry as a self-important acting teacher who urges his students to dig deep and draw on their past. You know, I use my pass all the time in my work. If I want pure sorrow, I call Princess Diana's death or the day that my dad fell off the roof when I was a kid. Ca punk. Barry is no in its second season Winkler became famous for his role on happy days as the fonz a guy, so cool. He could attract any woman with just a snap of his fingers. Never actually snap your finger in real life. Women will break it off. And John powers considers why game of thrones has come to define our era. The final season starts Sunday. Support for this podcast comes from the Neubauer family foundation, supporting WHYY's, fresh air and its commitment to sharing ideas and encouraging meaningful conversation when Henry Winkler accepted his EMMY award last September for his performance in the HBO dark comedy series berry. He said, I only have thirty seven seconds. I wrote this forty-three years ago. The forty three years ago is a reference to when he became known for his role on happy days as Arthur Herbert funds Ereli, aka Fonzie, aka the fonz a network sitcom version of a cool guy with slicked back hair, a motorcycle and a leather jacket who could attract girls with a snap of his fingers since then he's been in movies and TV shows, including recurring roles and parks and recreation and arrested development in Barry, which is now in its second season. And just got renewed for third winter plays, gene Cousteau, a self important acting teacher who sees himself as a wise, experienced mentor. One of his students berry is played by Bill Hader, an alum of Saturday Night Live who co created the series gene tries to get his students to draw on their emotional truths. But berry is hiding his truth. He's a veteran who fought in Afghanistan and after returning home, use the skills, he learned to become. A hitman. He first came to the acting class on assignment to kill one of the students. Someone else ended up taking care of that. But berry becomes increasingly drawn to acting and wants to stay in the class and changes life. Here's a scene from last Sunday's episode genus having his students tell their own stories for show. He's putting together. Barry, reluctantly reveals a little bowed himself and tells the story of the first time he shot and killed someone in Afghanistan. Gene is so moved by Barry story, and so unaware of what Barry is still hiding. He tries to convince berry to tell the Afghans STAN story onstage, but Barry tries to get out of having to do it. Here's Henry Winkler is gene coup. Snow and Bill Hader as berry Sukur snow. I don't really have to tell the story. I told yesterday in front of an audience. Of course are good. Thank you know, that version is just the beginning see during rehearsal, and this is just my instinct, you're gonna find more complex. Gated up details. Those we have to hear right? But you know, you said that this is story that has to define us. And I just I don't think that's the person that I am Barry, you're justifying the nervous. I will not hear a word about switching it out. One iota for something less compelling. You, sir. Like doing Afghantistan? I want to do a story about meeting you go on. Yeah. You know being in this class and the senior teach and you want to tell the story of meeting me. Yeah. Allow it. That's great. I think it'd be way better than Afghantistan. I can be as involved as you need me to be in order to craft this space Arkan stay on the sidelines. I totally understand either ways. Okay. I don't think any new would know more about me than me. That's a good point. I don't think you need to be involved at all. You know? I I was there. I remember scrapbooks. Oh, cool. If you need them. I've got diaries have got pictures. I've got tapes sparing. I have got a lot of tapes. I think I'm good, Mr. Cousteau. No. Thank you. Henry Winkler welcome to fresh air. You're terrific in this role. I'm so glad to have you on our show. So your character Gina so intent on getting truthful performances from students and have them dig deep into their souls. But he's also so narcissistic and wrapped up in the mystique. He's tried to create around himself in this little class. This must have made you think a lot about some of the best and worst acting teachers you had now that you're playing an acting teacher have you gone gone back to look at your past and your acting teachers I have I've had about fourteen teachers from Emerson college to Yale drama school, just inbet- those seven years, and what was amazing is that some of them were inspirational some of them were mean, some of them lost their way and some of them had nothing to say, what is one of the worst acting exercises. You were obligated to do when you are a student. I did an exercise with one of my favorite teachers his name was Bobby Lewis. He was a member of the group theatre. Bobby Lewis had us pick a painting pick a character in the painting. Get some element of clothing that represented that character take the pose step out of the pose and create who you thought that person was I am so dyslexic. I got my piece of costume. I struck my pose I stood there. And he said is there any reason you are mirror opposite to what is in the painting. I said, no, I'm not I there's no reason at all. And I just turned around and immediately struck the pose in the other direction, and he started to cry. He said you're making a mockery of my work. And I. I had no idea what he was talking about. Well, that seems really harsh except that he was the man to be honest. Most of what I know most of what I use in my well of education comes from the great Bobby Lewis. So do you tribute this like a mirror reverse thing that you were doing to the dyslexia? I do I had no idea. And I of course, had no sense of self at that time. I was an unrefrigerated bowl of jello. Just before it congeals. I just thought. Well, that's it. My career is over my they're going to kick me out of school. So is that an example of bad teaching when you kind of ruin somebody's when you're lower somebody's toughest, even lower than it already was is that is that helpful. You know, what I think a lot of acting teachers they they talk about breaking bad habits. They talk about breaking you down. And I totally get that. But I have also I've taught four classes in my life. And I think you can get an actor to move off their position or her position without making them feel like poop from a at the bottom of the ocean. And by the way, you didn't know you had dyslexia at the time did not until I was thirty one. And you find out found out at the age of thirty one because. Yes, after my stepson was tested because he was so verbal and he is so smart. And but he couldn't do reports. He couldn't write. He couldn't organize his thoughts. And when we had him tested, everything that they said about jed was true about me. And I realized oh, I'm not a stupid dog. I actually have something with the name. How is that helpful to have a diagnosis? The first thing I got very angry because all of that all of the arguments in my house with the short Germans who were my parents were for naught, all of the grounding was not granting grounded like your ground. Yes. Yes. Yes. Like, I couldn't go to the dance on Friday night because your weren't watch. My grades were horrible. I am in the bottom three percent academically in America that is calculated. And then I went from all of that anger too. I now understand possibly if I didn't fight through my dyslexia. I would not be sitting at this microphone chatting with you. Right. So you really had to work hard to work through the dyslexia. So you can learn your parts. I mean if reading is hard Hagan memorize apart. Well, memorizing is different from the reading the reading was is still difficult for me. I when we did happy days, I embarrassed myself for ten years reading around that table with the producers the other actors director the all of the department heads on Monday morning, we read the scripts I stumbled over every word, I was completely IMB. Harassed memorizing if it's written. Well, my brain is then able to suck it up like a vacuum cleaner. I wanna play another scene from berry. This is from the first season. And you the acting teacher has just found out that one of your students has been murdered. This happens to be the person that berry who's a hitman and a student in your class. He came to your class because he was assigned to murder the sky, but the guy was already murdered by the time berry got their nevertheless, it's wing heavy on his soul. Yeah. So yeah. This is you talking to the class right after you found out that your student Ryan has been murdered. And you're telling the students about it. Yes. Focus. Focus. I wish I could say that. This was the first time that one of my students was gunned down in the street, but it's not and just much as it pains me to say, it is most likely not the last. So where do we go from here? I say we do what Ryan would have wanted us to do. And we use it. Silenced. Snow? What's that mean? He's it use Ryan's death. The way that Hugh are feeling right. Dissect the sorrows of rage. The term. You know, I use my pass all the time in my work. If I want pure sorrow, I call up Princess Diana's death or the day that my dad fell off the roof when I was a kid ca- punk with the next day when he went right back up. I did. I just I just thought since everyone was so bummed out. Maybe we could share some was up I playing characters and putting on some wigs. Wakes? Well, this is not play time to Harry them. This is not cheers. I am not Sam Malone. You wanna blow off steam to do it after I I know that no I'm actually quitting my job. So I can focus on this more that. He's great. That's that's my guests in rewind cler as the acting teacher and Bill Hader as his student who is also hitman berry. So is legis left. How like self important and self involved. That is that's in the class. That's in that theatre that I own outside when I'm additioning. I am just a poor schlub auditioning for the man in the back of the line. So the advice that, you know, gene, your character gives to the class of like. Yeah, we're all grieving the loss of of Ryan who was a member of this class. But let's use that grief is that good advice to use this fresh shared grief as a kind of. Well, it is part of the tool box of the actor. The only thing is that you don't talk about what feeds your emotional under life. You you you latch onto something. You keep it you a magin. It you use it in the play or the movie of the television show. But if is soon as you give it a name as soon as you reveal what that emotional. Trigger is in your in your work, it you can never use it again it will dissolve into dust. But some people hate talking to me. Why because I'm asking things about their craft. And if some people really feel like you just said, if you say what it is you're drawing on you've ruined it. But I know that some people feel in the some actress feeling the same way that's magicians feel like you don't tell how it's done because no one's the magic. Well, not only does it ruin the magic. And I'm so that is a magic trick. But I'm talking about for you, personally, if I'm using something, my cat died, and I always picture in my mind, my cat and how I love the cat. And I I don't particularly care for cats. But and I actually say to somebody. Well, I draw on my cat to get me to that emotional place. You can never use the cat as soon as you give words to your emotional. Well, you can't use it again. So how did you get the part in berry? My wife, and I had just left an estate planning meeting. I didn't understand one word that the two we're talking about. That's not your true. Yes. I don't know. But I really didn't get it. And all I kept saying was gas. That sounds like a great idea. And oh, yes, the kids are taking care of. That's good. And then we were driving down Ventura boulevard. I got a call in the car from my then agent iris who said they want you to come in. You're on a short list its Bill hater, I went Bill eight or Saturday Night Live, and it's H B O H B O. And then I said, okay. I'm on a list is Dustin Hoffman on that list. Because if he is I'm not going in. 'cause he's getting it. They said, no he's not on that list. I said, okay. They sent me a script our youngest, son. Max who is a director directed me in the scenes for the audition. And it was very strict. So you see you said of. Esten Hoffman is on the list. I'm not doing it. Why did you think of destiny decimo v star? Well, there's a lot of an Oscar winner. I know, but you know, where have you been at the same height? Okay. Did you ask why they thought of you? I never did. I was so flummoxed that they wanted to see me. Now I have to audition. I auditioned for Bill. I hate her. I made him laugh in the audition. Then you, you know, you're you wait until someone calls you. And then you your entire nervous system starts to eat you alive. And the truth. And then you get a call from bill's, and hey, I just wrote to new scenes last night wanna come in and play. And I said, no, I really don't wanna do that. Because maybe I won't be as good as I was the first time that made you call me the second. So I of course, I want to come in just sent me the script. So he wrote these two beautiful scenes, I now Email them to max, our son max directs me on the phone, and I go in the next day and now Alec Berg is there. But he is not just a co writer. This man is like the Krim de LA creme of comedy in American television. You know, he's Norwegian, and he his vest is so close he I think it's tattooed on. And he doesn't give anything away, and I made him smile, and I thought okay. So this is it I walk out of the room. I'm walking down the stairs. There's a young lady there. Her name is Sarah Goldberg. I said oh you trying out for Barry. She said, yes, I am. I said you seem wonderful. I wish you the best break a leg, and I left, and I lost my car in the parking lot. And Sarah got the part. And I got the part and Sarah is the star of my class. Did you find your car? Eventually, I did I guess you weren't paying attention. That's hello. That is the watchword of my life. Okay. So you got a primetime EMMY for your performance as the acting teacher in berry. Did it take a long time for you to unfunded yourself in the eyes of the yesterday? It did not with me. But yes, I literally saw it. I was going to beat the system the funds was so popular in so many countries. I thought this is gonna be I'm not going to be typecast. I'm gonna go from mountain top to mountaintop. And then I had a rude awakening that you don't beat the system. And it took me maybe eight years after the fawns to really get a good acting role. And that's when I started producing we did macgyver and sightings and so weird and directing a little bit. I wanna talk a little bit about happy days. How would you describe the series and your character to people too young to have seen it? It was a a story about a family about the trials and tribulations of living together. It was set in the fifties. Where the music was great. And my character was a tough a tough guy who wrote a motorcycle war leather jacket and had a very soft heart. Your character exuded? Good good. I I don't think you got to the more goofy parts of the character. What would what would that be that in your mind? Okay. That he thought he was like it, you know, that he was just like the the greatest most handsome people treated him like that. Right. I don't know that he thought he was because when he, you know, the first thing I said to the producers when they called me on my birthday in one thousand nine hundred seventy three and said would you like to play this part? I said, hey, when he takes the leather jacket off when he takes his jacket off who does he have to be cool for in his apartment. If you let me show the other side, it would be my pleasure to play this character. What did you really like tell them who the character needed to be before you accepted the part? No, not you. I would not tell Gary Marshall rest his soul who I thought he had to be. But I put the character on. And then they let me so it onto my being. My guest is Henry Winkler. He co stars in the HBO dark comedy series, Barry which is now in its second season. After a break. We'll talk more about the fonz and Henry Winkler will tell us about being the son of German Jews who got out of Germany just in time. And John powers will talk about had game of thrones has managed to become part of the global zeitgeist. The final season starts Sunday. I'm Terry gross. And this is fresh air got the papers on the traffic. Are you still get those? You ain't gonna rock and roll them. Don't don't that. With that. Are you don't go out? Don't go that you just put on your. Support for this podcast and the following message. Come from mayo clinic when the search for the right answer becomes the most important journey of your life. When a clear diagnosis would mean the world to you when finding new options could help you find hope, you know, where to go mayoclinic, find out more. At mayo clinic dot org slash answers. This is fresh air. I'm Terry gross back with Henry Winkler who want an EMMY for his performance as a self important acting teacher in the HBO dark comedy series, Barry, which is now in its second season Sunday nights and was just renewed for third when we left off we were talking about the role that I made him famous as the funds on the seventies sitcom happy days, so your character when he was in public, and especially when who is around girls exuded confidence a comic confidence. But confident this confidence is something you told us you were greatly lacking in. That's true because of your dyslexia. And because your father was always like punishing you and insulting you for not doing well in school not realize because you had dyslexia. So was it. What was it like for you to be this comic character who just like exuded confidence? He'd snap his finger and girls would like walk over to him. He was here's my advice. Never actually snap your finger in real life. Women will break it off. That's good advice. Yes. Thank you. Yeah. But you know, here I got to be everybody that I wasn't. And I understood even then that the confidence I was feeling from the success of the character was cotton. And if God forbid rained the cotton would just squish into nothing what were some of the gestures or sounds or whatever including the fingers. That you came up with yourself that weren't in the script. Well, the gestures were written a was written. And I then I mean how about a y y y exclamation point. Right. You don't do that. Well, I also used it to reduce a lot of language to one sound. So if I had attitude about being hungry that girl was pretty don't mess with me. Let me think about it. I could use that one sound to say all of those different things and my favorite sport at the time was horseback riding. So I added the sound. Whoa. Oh, because that's what you say to your horse. Yes. That's interesting. Okay. That's another thing. I would not slow a woman's progress across the room with whoa. That was really good on TV. Okay. It's you exemplify the kinds of things you should not say or do regarding women. We're going to play a scene from happy days in which are talking about how to deal with women in your you're talking to Richie's parents hear about that Richie's there too. Take a seat. I'll tell you about women, right? This could be very enlightening. You gotta understand women. They anot real people. Excuse me. Listen, they expect the guy to make pets they get angry believing expect. But now this is crucial. But. Them feel. Dunked passed from hand to hand unwanted sight unseen, and you've got hurt feelings. Maybe he's right that maybe. He's wrong. I look I don't wanna hear anymore about this. We are going to tell the truth. And I don't wanna earn the arguments of funds is wrong. Okay. Some bad advice there. Let me just say the worst advice ever given out of a person's mouth specially. But you know, the there were many writers there were like twenty writers in the room from twenty one year olds to seventy seven year olds. And when we were doing this in the seventies. There was a completely different dynamic between people not that it was more. Right. It was just different. But if you know, I I now when when a fan comes and wants to take a picture, I asked if I can put my arm around them to take the selfie because we live in a very different time with a very different expectation and level of respect does some of the dialogue from happy days. Make you cringe listening back. No. 'cause it was what it was. And I love doing that show and. And I didn't know better. So you've told the story before about how early on in happy days, you're only allowed to wear your leather jacket when you were with your motorcycle. That's right because otherwise it looked to what ABC thought I would be associated with crime. So Gary Marshall in his wisdom because of the leather jacket. Look, yes, what you look like like with like a hood. I mean, like one of the people who made the leather jacket famous and movies as Morlin Brando. Yes. That's right. So he was a motorcycle, you know, like thug with us. Oh hilarious considering how many leather jackets and vegan leather jackets are out there. Now to think that like the leather jacket had such power that the network was afraid of you wearing it that is really a different time. It's amazing. And now that but I all those leather jackets from the tiniest leather jacket that the person had when they were three to the new leather jacket that they are wearing now I have signed. Silver. So I wanna ask you about your parents. I don't know if they're still alive are not. They're not. Okay. So you're know your parents were German immigrants. They came were here in nineteen thirty nine they did. So and and you're Jewish so it's good. They came when I did I think the door closed. Them. Yeah. So what what how do they know to to leave? I always want to help people know the time is right. And they'd better. My father knew that it was time. He got a six-week visa from Germany to come into work in New York, but was expected to come right back. I have told this story that he took his mother's jewelry. Bought a box of chocolate melted. The chocolate down put the pieces of jewelry in the in the chocolate box melted. The poured the chocolate over the jewelry put the box under his arm. So when he was stopped by the Nazis, and they said are you taking anything of value out of Germany? He said, no you can open every bag. We've got nothing and the jewelry that he encased in chocolate he sold when he came out of Ellis Island into New York and was able to start a new a new life here, slowly. But surely, I have the the actual letters from the government each time my father requested to stay a little longer, and they would say, yes. And I was born in thank God. Because I love our country. This is the US government giving him permission to status and. You had an ankle who stayed behind a little longer and couldn't get out Helmut, and he was supposed to escape with a submarine that that was supposed, you know, they had a meeting place, and they a lot of friends we're going to get on this submarine and get out. And he said, no, no, no. I'm just gonna stay one more day. It'll be fine. I'm having a white dinner jacket made at the Taylor. And I I would I think I can wait one more day. Now, be okay. And he was taken out wits. And I just did a show called better late than never where I traveled around the world. And I saw the plaque in the street that commemorated my uncle and every other Jew that was taken from Berlin. And it said his Helmut Winkler his date of birth. When he. Lived in the building the plaque was in front of and a what year he was taken to Auschwitz. So was it was your family religious where you will. You raise my family was religious. They are certainly more religious than I am. I am proud of my religion. My children were all bought and bar mitzvah d-. But I I'm not as traditional or keeping the tradition as my parents were we we said the prayer over the bread and the wine and the candles on Friday night. We had Shabbat dinner. My parents went to temple every week. They my father was president of the temple. Do you think that the holocaust made your parents feel more strongly about being observant? I don't have an answer to that question. Okay. I didn't like them so much. I didn't pay attention a lot isn't like, that's yeah. I didn't. Now, certainly now I've I've mellowed, but a lot of my life was fueled by the fury of these two people who were so. Non present. On who I was on the earth. Do you think that your parents having gotten out just in time, you're having died in Auschwitz, you know, the knowledge of what happened to everybody all the juices stayed behind Germany. Yes. Yes. Do you think that that made your father more disappointed in you in in in your difficulties reading and everything because it's like what do you have to complain about? Why can't you'd be better? Look, what happened in Germany like, you know, what I don't know. If that is true, listen, I figure the trauma of leaving your country losing your family. The holy cost of what was happening in the world at that moment, certainly affected the way they were. But on the education part the being lazy the not living up to my potential being Duma hunt, which is dumb dog. I think that was in his DNA. I think that they brought that with them with or without a war. Okay. Let's break here. And then we'll talk some more. If you're just joining us, my guest. This Henry Winkler any no co stars in the HBO comedy series berry as an acting teacher will be right back after this break. This is fresh air. We'd like to thank our sponsor who brings you this message. Discover who alerts you if they find your social security number on any one of thousands of risky websites. Discover believes there are some things you just need to know. It's just another way. Discover looks out for you, not just your account and best of all social security alerts are free for discover card members. All you have to do is sign up online. Learn more at discover dot com slash free alerts. Limitations apply. Heo fear is here from NPR's asked me another need a break from the new cycle will then head over to ask me another this month. We've got puzzles games trivia and more women comedy joining us as Reta from NBC's parks and recreation grittily, endlessly Hedlund from the Netflix series, Russian doll and many more. Listen now. My guest is Henry Winkler any now stars as an acting teacher in the HBO comedy series, Barry, which is also a drama series. And it's on Sunday nights season two is now underway. So in addition to your acting, you also have co authored a series of novels about a boy named Hank who has dyslexia as do. And it's in a special typeface, which I thought was really interesting for dyslexic people. We you know, what there wasn't oh. An dad in Holland came up with it and the publisher penguin Putnam chose the typeface. It was the first time it was ever used in America. And I have to say I am so proud because I could've used it. It just makes the I track so much more easily across the page. Ila makes different the the sending line of the t the descending line of the g the c is there's a different distance in the in the in the opening of the c they are more weighted at the bottom of the letter. So they sit more comfortably on the line. So that they don't float. There are so many things he was a. A he is a graphic designer. And he's dyslexic, his children are dyslexic. And when you look at the novel itself when you look at the page go I get it's just so much more friendly. There's a little more space between the letters to. So that it's also. Yeah, it's easier to distinguish letters. Yeah. And it slows down I think the slows down the speed that you have to read at because there's fewer letters in words on the page. So let me just ask you. Yeah. I need to slow it down because it's so difficult for me. Even today. I cannot sound words out the word schedule is written out and taped to my computer because I use it all the time. And if it wasn't there, I cannot sound out the word or visualize spelling words, you know, how you said earlier the embarrass yourself at the Monday re. Readings happy because he had such trouble reading new scrip. Yes. Does a similar thing happen when you're reading berry? Yes, we're sitting around the table. And sometimes they people who sit next to me have to point out that I have dropped a line that I just missed it on the page. And I'm sitting there thinking, oh, God, I wonder whose line it is there's a big silence here. It turns out. It's may. So is it still embarrassing? Can you just say like I have to do it more? Slowly, I can say that. And I'm still embarrassed. Yeah. You know and not like that. But also, I want to be perfect, and I hate when I missed the timing or I screw another actress timing up because I have screwed the lineup so badly or I have to go back again, or oh, I hate it. Sometimes I just I hate my brain. Well, let's not healthy to hate your brain. No. Well, I'm not healthy. So you know, I can't end the interview without asking about jumping the shark. Sorry. Sure. Sure. You're tired of talking about this. I'm not you're not not with you. Thank you. So the expression has come to mean win. Some thing has kind of ended when it's time is over. So I want you to describe the scene in happy days where you literally water ski over a shark. That's kind of confined in a lake that you're water skiing on. Okay. So three facts one. My father the short German said to me every day for years to galley more shoes that you voters keep a data. I don't think I'm going to do that. No, no, tell him you water, skis, valium portent. I finally tell Gary my father wants you to know. I water ski. Okay. That's number one. Number two. I was a water ski instructor at blue mountain camps. And in Strasburg, Pennsylvania and I loved water skiing. We water skied on male pack lake just north of New York, and I did all the water skiing except for the jump itself, which they I I don't know how to do that stunt and they brought somebody in from Sarasota springs, Florida. When I hit the beach at the end when I've jumped the shark I land on the beach, and I step out of my skis. And I'm smiling. I'm thinking it is great half the smile is Henry going. Oh my God. I can't believe you just did that and the other half is the funds going right here. And I did it. I'm very cool. What was it about that scene or that episode that came to signify when something's time is up when it's over, you know, what I don't know to them of the fawns water skiing was just like the last straw. The only thing is it wasn't to the audience because we were number one for years after that. So it didn't much Matt anybody I should mention in that senior wearing your leather jacket over your SIM, the the lining is ripped out. And I think I I had very nice legs at that time. So how does it make you feel that you're seeing came to define it's over? Okay. Here's the truth. Are you ready? Yes. I'm ready. I don't care. Okay. I think it is wonderful, and we're still talking about it in two thousand nineteen. I think this is all great. This is America. Henry winkler. It's just been great to talk with you. Thank you. So you. Henry Winkler co-stars in the HBO series. Bury the second season is being shown on HBO Sunday nights. It was just renewed. For a third season. The final season of game of thrones start Sunday on HBO after a break. John powers will talk about why it caught on around the world. This is fresh air. Support for this podcast comes from REI co op as do the following questions. Where do you see yourself in five miles? What does silence sound like can bear spray? Help you sleep. What's the easiest version of climbing a mountain dew mosquito fund me attractive REI can help you. Find out for yourself with gear classes and eighty one years of outdoor experience. Learn more at REI dot com. 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. As everyone has surely heard by now on Sunday night HBO will begin airing the final season of game of thrones a show with a Utah and fanatical international fan base. Although HBO hasn't made any episodes available for screening our critic at large. John powers couldn't resist talking about why it's a show that defines our era when game of thrones premiered eight years ago this month. I was skeptical. I mean who wanted to see a dungeons and dragons epic loosely based on the fifteenth century war of the roses. Then I watched the first episode which built to the most shocking ending. I'd ever seen on TV a night who's been caught making love to his own. Sister pushes a ten year old boy from one hundred foot tower that got my attention, and obviously not just mine as it starts down the homestretch on Sunday. This HBO franchise has become the world's most popular show, some journalists or even writing elegiac art. Nichols about how given are fragmented media environment game of thrones. Maybe the last TV series that everyone watches at the same time in order to be part of the conversation. It's easy to understand its popularity said on the imaginary continent of west rose, invented by novelist. George are Martin game of thrones tells a juicy story of heroic knights Kenny Unix religious fanatics, psychopathic kings, fire breathing, dragons, savage wars, strong, women, naked women and men whose castration anxiety is caused by actual castration. All this lurid. Steph is deathly orchestrated by series, creators, David Benny off and db Weiss who gives us a changing world of changing characters, for instance, Nikolai cluster, wall, handsome villainous Jamie, Lancaster, he's the one who pushed the little boy off the tower, gradually, develops a complicated. Moral sense over the years game of thrones has risen from being a nifty potboiler to a timely expression of zeitgeist that contest everything from gender to climate change to immigration, heck, west rose. Even has a big wall to keep out aliens is become so much of our cultural lingua franca that when liberals compared Donald Trump to king Joffrey or conservatives compare Hillary Clinton to Searcy Lancaster. They assume you know, what they mean? Of course, like any truly great piece of pop entertainment, the show doesn't make an obvious political statement. But as a stew of energizing contradictions in fact, it sometimes feels like a strange collaboration between Dick Cheney and Rachel Maddow the world. It depicts is Cheney esque in its doom Laden vision of life as a dog. Eat dog struggle for power without power this show suggests you are nothing and your ideals are pointless without strong authority. There is chaos at the same time. The series is shot through with jaunty Madda west liberalism, a belief that not only is compassion possible. But that the most compassionate people are apt to be outsiders, the debauched honorable dwarf Tyrian Lancaster played by Peter. Gingrich who gets the show's best lines kit Harrington's bastard. Jon snow who is literally resurrected to help save the world and Amelia Clarkston nearest target Orion. Who after being? Forced to marry a hunky barbarian mothers, three dragons, and becomes the slave freeing Khalidi who offers potential followers, a rather. Steely vision of freedom as we can here in this speech from last season. I'm not here to Mata and all I want to destroy is the wheel that is rolled over rich and full to the benefit of no one. But this SE non of the woth. I offer you a choice Benz the knee and join me together, we will leave the well to better place than we found it will refuse. And by from the show's beginnings, we've heard dark mutterings that winter is coming the shows obvious analogue to climate change. And with the arrival of the white walkers humanoid ice creatures that will slaughter everyone in their path and season after season. We've watched this existential threat be ignored by leaders and would be leaders sunken. They're smaller obsessions with revenge family. Sadistic pleasure. And of course, personal power in the upcoming episodes. The main characters will face the consequences of such carelessness and game of thrones true vision will finally reveal itself will western be saved by the alliance between John snow and the mother of dragons will stare say truly join with others to fight the army of death or will she still be scheming. And if the latter who will finally kill her. The smart money is on her brother in lever, Jamie. I'm not kidding. There are already gambling pools on who will live and who won't. That's because the series great narrative strength has always been its ruthlessness with most shows, you know, who safe Don Draper isn't going to die in season two of madman. But here you don't major characters have been killed off every season. And we knew that some of our favorites will die this time out. In fact, what makes the show special is that given the Hobson in reality of west rose. We can't be completely sure they won't all die naturally. I don't hope that this will happen. But I do find it exciting that for once it just might John powers is our critical large wanna congratulate our classical music critic Lord Schwartz who was also a poet and just received a Guggenheim fellowship in poetry, fresh Air's executive producer is Danny Miller. Our interviews and reviews produced an edited any salad Phyllis Myers. Sam brigger, Lauren Frenzel, Heidi soman. Theresa Madden moves eighty Challenor and Seth Kelly. I'm Terry gross.

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