Do you have plans on Thursday? Are they important? Well, you better cancel them right now because Jay and Mark Duplass are coming into town to talk about their (amazing) new book Like Brothers. It’s a beautiful story of tenacity, faith and the hardships of making a movie about a blowjob.
Seriously though, it’s an addicting read about two very talented people who have a bond so strong you’ll doubt every relationship you’ve ever had. So when we called up Mark and Jay, we knew we had to present a united front (lest they smell the fear on us). So we played it doubles tennis style, BYT writers Kaylee and Jenn vs. Jay and Mark.
Before Jay got on the line, we chatted with Mark about New Orleans and how to pronounce their last name. Just to get you caught up.
(And yes, they are just as dreamy as we imagined they would be.)
I think the most surprising thing to come out of reading Like Brothers was all the free therapy. I’m already in therapy and I brought their book to my therapist and told him it should be required reading for anyone who wants to see real examples of two people who know how to work shit out with love and respect. This book absolutely made me cry and it made me want to be a better person. You don’t have to be an aspiring writer to appreciate their journey to Hollywood because their advice translates to whatever you’re trying to do. So do it! And if you’re an aspiring human there are some SOLID examples of how to get there as well. If none of this sounds like your thing, you’ll also find an entire chapter devoted to defending The Karate Kid Part II which is a feat in and of itself.
Jen: Hi Jay. Welcome to the interview.
Mark: Why don’t you play it for Jay?
Kaylee: Yeah, absolutely. So Jay, we were super worried about mispronouncing your last name. Jen and I were googling it, trying to figure out the correct way. Instead of just going on YouTube and finding a video, some interview, where you said your name, we went to howtopronounce.com and there are two entries. So we just played both of them for Mark, but I’ll play both of them for you.
Jen: This is how you know you made it. This is it.
Kaylee: Yeah, so here’s the first one:
[Robot voice says Mark Duplass]
And here is the second one:
[Robot voice says Mark Duplass]
Jen: That’s like if the Speak n’ Spell was going to say your name. So both of those are wrong?
Mark: They are both wrong, but it is tricky though.
Kaylee: Are they both wrong in the same way?
Jen: How do you say your last name?
Mark: We say DUPlass. It’s more of a stress in the first syllable, and a kind of a soft O.
Kaylee: Now we know. We never have to google it again.
Jen: Maybe we can do our own howtopronounce.com but its just for your last name.
Jay: That sounds great.
Mark: We have some people, friends, who we’ve been friends with for 15 years and they still say it wrong. We are too scared to correct them now because its been too long.
Jen: Did you guys get, because children are cruel, were they shitty about the fact that the word ass is in your last name growing up? Because my last name is Tisdale and everyone called me Jen No-tits-dale, and that’s fine, that’s great. Were kids terrible?
Jay: Yeah, you gotta laugh. We got that for sure.
Mark: There were like comments, but we weren’t bullied. We were kind of between the cracks. We could hang out with football players and the dorks, and we were okay.
Kaylee: Yeah, that makes sense
Jen: We will officially start…the reason why there is two of us because in the spirit of your book, Kaylee, who is the other voice, and I am Jen, just to catch you up Jay, decided to collaborate on our interview with you both.
Kaylee: We are best friends.
Jen: Yes, we are hugging each other right now.
Jay: That’s sweet.
Jen: It’s a true collaboration! We are going to alternate with questions, so to kick it off…
Kaylee: Jen you go first.
Jen: I am only 60 pages into the book, but I am already loving it. The first thing that I was struck by is that I’m very envious of your relationship, because it’s very beautiful but also I’m an only child, so this isn’t something I’m very familiar with. Do you have advice on how to culminate a similar relationship with a human being when you are someone like me, who is an only child and can’t really slide into your shoes very easily. Does that make sense?
Jay: I think it makes it harder to cultivate the relationship with other people, because that’s one thing Mark and I struggled with very early on. We were so close that it was hard to get close with other people. We understood each other in ways we never thought other people would. It was sometimes limiting our ability to cultivate our relationships with other people.
Mark: I agree, that made it difficult for us to find relationships outside of our unique little bond. If you are an only child looking to find that one person, that can be that bond for you, I would have no idea how to advise on that.
Jen: Yeah, its interesting from an outsider’s perspective, reading about your love and friendship with your brother. It was very sweet.
Mark: The only thing I can say that we can speak to is sustaining it. That is something that we do now. I think the book speaks to that a lot. I think it’s a lot about going to therapy, and trying to check our egos at the door as much as possible. And having an awareness, in particular when you are trying to do something difficult, that is greater than yourself, having a partner with you to help you climb that mountain. It is invaluable and you might want to consider subordinating a lot of your own bullshit to keep the partnership intact. It becomes much more complex when you get to the top of the mountain and maybe you don’t need each other as much as you used to. Which is where we are now and you have to figure out a whole new way of relating, which is the second half of the book.
Kaylee: Yeah absolutely, and I am about to finish the book, I am ten pages out, so please do not spoil the ending for me.
Jen: You guys are still together right?
Kaylee: You are still brothers, hopefully by the end?
Mark: Jay is dead!
Kaylee: So one of the things that really struck me while I was reading it, you guys got really emotionally vulnerable, and really let the reader into the fold, as much as you could. It gets really raw with you two. When you were writing the book, were you worried about just airing these things in the open?
Jay: Not really. I think very early in our careers there were a lot of myths that we chose to not dispel, if you will. When we made our first feature film, The Puffy Chair. There was this myth going around Hollywood that we had just woken up and made this movie, it was kind of our first movie. That was not the case, but we did nothing to dispel that myth because it was helpful to our careers.
Mark: Everybody thought we were 5 years younger than we were.
Jay: Oh, at least.
Mark: We didn’t let them know.
Jay: We didn’t say shit. We wanted them to believe that we woke up and took a shit and The Puffy Chair came out. We basically shit cool movies. It was weird, they thought we basically still slept in bunk beds. You’d be in a meeting and 30 minutes later they were referring to “our house” or whatever. We didn’t want to say we are grown men and we are married and actually, one of us is having a child soon. We would just let that stuff go. Now we are past that, we feel that it is safe to talk about the fact that we made shitty movies early on and it’s safe to admit this partnership is hard. It’s a marriage. It takes a lot of work.
Mark: We realize, in these 15 minute interviews that we often give, it comes across as a reductive representation of our relationship as the sweet brothers that get along. “We will never be like them.” Thats not the truth. If the book is worth anything, it’s that it’s extremely complicated, very difficult. We thought it may be valuable to just be honest about that. To be clear, A: it’s much harder than we often make it sound, and B: it’s not only still worth it but, all of that pain and all of that stuff we go through, it enriches our relationship, it makes it better. I don’t know, if you go through the book, I think we celebrate it a little bit. That we can go in there and be with each other, transcend it and come out the other side. It makes us closer in the long run and it enriches it. We didn’t shy away from it, I think we actively move into it.
Jen: I have so many favorite parts, in the 60 pages I have read so far, so I’m very excited to finish. Its hard for any filmmaker, or anyone who loves movies, and Kaylee and I are both movie lovers, not to brag, to narrow down your favorite films. I enjoyed the process of you guys narrowing it down. So Kaylee and I thought we would tell you guys our one favorite movie. And maybe where would that live inside your top 10, our personal favorite movies.
Kaylee: Or if it didn’t make your top 10. If it’s in your top 500.
Jen: Or if you are horrified and think that movie is categorically terrible.
Kaylee: The Silence of the Lambs is my favorite movie.
Mark: I will give The Silence of the Lambs, very easily top 10 of the most re-watchable movies of all time. I find myself revisiting that movie every four to five years and I get something new from it. I can’t put it in my overall, but as a subcategory, easily top ten in the re-watchables, which also includes Dumb and Dumber, high on the re-watchability list. And I think The Crying Game is really high up for me on that list. I tend to re-watch that one a lot. I forget the spoiler and then I get surprised every time.
Jen: It’s like you have movie blindness.
Kaylee: You’re living Memento with The Crying Game.
Mark: What I wouldn’t give for selective amnesia.
Jen: My favorite movie of all time is Back to the Future.
Jay: Oh Wow, That’s some classic shit.
Jen: In my opinion, its the perfect film, even with the weird mom stuff and the causal racism of the time, which you address yourself in your book with The Karate Kid Part 2.
Jay: Yeah, we discussed those anachronistic sort of nuggets in these movies, like the fact that basically Revenge of the Nerds involves a rape as a major plot point… and she likes it. It’s pretty incredible when you revisit.
Jen: The same thing with 16 Candles.
Mark: I have a really exciting thing for you to look forward to with Back to the Future, that will reinvigorate your love of that movie. Wait until you sit down with your child and watch it when your child is like 8 or 9 years old. And you get to watch them watch the movie for the first time. Its better than the first time you watch it.
Jen: I watch it once a week. My dog’s name is Lorraine Baines McFly. Like, its getting bad at my house, I think.
Mark: I am telling you, when your 8-year-old child does an impression of Doc screaming when the chord comes unplugged, you’ll know you’re put on this planet for a reason.
Jen: Alright, we have so many more questions and we don’t have any more time, unless you just wanna keep going, just kidding.
Mark: Give us one good one.
Kaylee: If you had to audition a third brother, what would that like?
Jay: Thats a good question
Kaylee: What would be the categories?
Mark: We do have some suitors, going around.
Jay: We have some honorary brothers.
Mark: It would probably be a sister.
Kaylee: Oh okay, or a sister.
Mark: We have some brothers, Jay Deuby, our editor. He’s been with us for the longest time, thats a huge one. And then, Mel Eslyn, who runs our company. She is in the honorary sister category. If it had to be someone we didn’t know, if we were truly auditioning them. I think it would take like a year. I think there would be some hiking involved. Some in depth conversations.
Jay: Some crying. Force them to watch some movies and see where they laugh and where they cry. There would have to be a lot of both. What kind of hazing would we do? That’s the only hazing thing we do, do they cry? We would try to make them cry, but not with cruelty.
Jay: Yeah, but like early 80s, very personal hard hitting dramas.
Mark: We could simplify this right here. Anyone who could sit through Starman and enjoy it unironically is automatically…
Jen: You don’t want to watch Jeff Bridges being born in under a minute? I do! Every day of my life.
Mark: Anyone who would actually and genuinely enjoy is right for the spot.
Jen: Oh shit, I think I just won.
Kaylee: Jen, I think you just won. I think you are the third Duplass sibling.