Terry sits down with “The Cool Kids Table Podcast”

Tune into a great conversation between Terry Knickerbocker and the delightful Maggie & Spiro of Niko Frank Productions’ “The Cool Kids Table Podcast.” They talk following your north star, staying grateful, and making great connections.


MICHELLE: Hi, I’m Michelle Shocked.  Community-based independent media like Radio Free Brooklyn gives a voice to musicians you’re not going to hear on mainstream media.  Your support makes it possible.  Please make a donation today at radiofreebrooklyn.org.

SPIRO: Hello and welcome to another episode of The Cool Kids Table. If anybody is listening for the first time, my name is Spiro Marcos. I am one of your hosts and I am the co- executive producer of Nico Frank Productions. And I’m here with my bestie.

MAGGIE: Yeah. my name is Maggie. And if you are listening for the first time, how dare you?  You’ve missed so many good ones. I’m just kidding, welcome. Yeah, so, we are the co-founders of Nico Frank Productions. We’re very excited because we have a brand new book coming out called “Dear Future Producer.”  If you want, you can follow us on Instagram and stay up to date with all the info and when it’s coming out. It’s very very very soon.

SPIRO: The second we know exactly when it’s gonna be out, you’re going to hear about it on our Instagram and our Facebook. So check us out and follow us. Be sure to keep in the loop because it’s an awesome, awesome, awesome book. All about how you can produce your own work.  How you can produce sketches and podcasts and music videos and all those things. And we learned from trial and error, a lot of error and a lot of trial and you can learn all about it yourself as well.

MAGGIE: Yeah.  It’s gonna be great because so many people are thirsty for this knowledge and especially right now during the COVID times, people want to be proactive, they want to learn something new. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, creating your own work is some of the most empowering things you can do for yourself and if you need to uplift your confidence, now is a great time to learn all the behind the scenes things because you, my friend, could be a producer also.

SPIRO: Yeah.  And Maggie, speaking of which, it’s so interesting that you mention that, COVID-19 and all that.   Maggie is back in New York City. What has it been like there?  How does it feel to you? And what’s– what’s it like?

MAGGIE: Well, you know what? It’s been, actually, a lot better. I was here actually a couple months ago when it genuinely felt unsafe to be here.   I mean, my neighbors were coughing through the walls. I felt like everyone in my building had COVID-19.  A lot of my friends had it. I almost had a panic attack just going to the grocery store.  So when I returned, things felt much different.  First of all, I felt safe enough to go on the subway. Which was huge because I didn’t know when I would ever be able to do that again.  And let me just tell you, the subways are the cleanest they’ve ever been since I’ve been here and I’ve lived in New York for more than a decade. So, I mean, I’ve never seen it look so pristine.  I would honestly say 90% of people are wearing masks. Which makes me feel more comfortable. You know, people are social distancing. People are respecting the rules.  It just feels much safer and cleaner in general.  And I feel like, you know, as a New Yorker, we’ve been through so much shit and we’re just in this together and it feels like a community.

SPIRO: I actually just saw that gyms are actually starting to reopen and fitness centers. So, you know what, honestly New York City is doing great apparently.  I can’t wait to see it. I’ll be back there in September and I’m really excited to step back into the city and see how it’s been. I miss it. I really miss the city, I’m not gonna lie, Maggie. I miss you.

MAGGIE: I miss you too, you’re little face. I haven’t touched you or hugged you in years it feels like.

SPIRO: Ah, those were the days.

MAGGIE: I was  reading about that whole gym thing. And the thing is that  I would go to the gym wearing a mask, but what I wouldn’t do is– I wouldn’t go to like spin class or hot yoga class wearing a mask.  You know?

SPIRO: Yeah, no.  I mean, there’s definitely a lot of protocols.  But a lot of people are  really desperate to just get their bodies moving and even though it’s 30% capacity, apparently– uh, it’s better than nothing.  I guess you make appointments to work out.  We’ll see.  I mean, I hope it works out. I come from the fitness field.  And there’s a lot of my coworkers that have been out of work. So, I just hope they can get back to work.

MAGGIE: Ditto.

SPIRO: Alright, so Maggie. We actually– we had an awesome feature on our Instagram.

MAGGIE: So  I don’t know if you guys have ever checked out “ryethenewsguy.com.”  That’s, “R-Y-E,” like the bread. It’s an entertainment Broadway platform that focuses on positivity through interviews and reviews and it has guest posts. And as of recently, it’s been focusing on producing.  So Rye the News Guy has interviewed some of the biggest names in the biz.  I don’t know if you know this, Spiro, but Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, David Hyde Pierce, Billy Porter.  Some of these people we’d love to have on the podcast. But you can check out ryethenewsguy.com and be sure to follow him at @ryethenewsguy on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.  And he did such a lovely little write up of us and our podcast.  Specifically the  episode that featured Victoria Clark.

SPIRO: Which actually leads me into our next thing that we love to do every episode. We love to talk about some random facts of kindness.

*Random Facts of Kindness music plays*

SPIRO: So I actually have a really good one.  I saw that Viola Davis had posted this video of this young boy dancing, in a rainstorm, barefoot on the pavement and he’s doing ballet; like a beautiful ballet piece and she wrote, “Reminds me of the beauty of my people.  We create, soar, can imagine, have unleashed passion and love.  Despite the brutal obstacles that have been put in front of us, our people can fly.”  And apparently this video got so much attention, that ABT– American Ballet Theatre– in New York City has found it and has offered him a three week scholarship for next summer in order to dance at their ballet program.

MAGGIE: Oh my goodness.  That’s the power of Instagram, y’all.

SPIRO: I know, it’s crazy.  And then to top that all off, they made sure that he had internet set up at his home so that he can continue to do their interactive program and continue to dance during this pandemic.

MAGGIE: It’s nice to know that there are some good things that have happened in this dumpster fire of a year we call “2020.”

SPIRO: So, you know what else it is?  It’s the time to take class online.  And we actually have an amazing guest who’s actually teaching online classes.  Do you want to talk about who we got on that podcast today?

MAGGIE: Yeah, I’m so excited.  So today on the show, we have Terry Knickerbocker joining us.  Now, Terry is the founder of Terry Knickerbocker Studio in New York City, a conservatory setting for actors that focuses on a holistic training approach and the belief in encompassing the total actor; their mind, body and soul.  Now, Terry spent over 30 years training and teaching with William Esper who was, if you don’t know, one of the protégés of Meisner.  He coaches actors for TV, film and Broadway.  And Terry is also a core faculty member at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.  He’s the trusted coach of Oscar winner, Sam Rockwell and so many other celebrities.  Terry loves to help actors excel and I am so excited to share this episode with you.  We actually recorded it a couple weeks ago and we got some gossip.  I mean, we got to talk about not only Sam Rockwell, but Emmy Rossum who’s one of our favorite actors.  So sit back, relax and enjoy this episode with Terry Knickerbocker right here on Radio Free Brooklyn.

*It’s The Cool Kids Table music plays*

SPIRO: Alright ladies and gentlemen. We are here with Terry Knickerbocker, himself. Welcome. Thank you so much for joining us. How are you doing, Terry?

TERRY: I’m great. Thank you for that nice welcome, Spiro, and hi Maggie. I’m doing well. You know, I’m a little bittersweet because I just finished, like an hour ago, teaching an amazing group of– You know I teach this Two Year Meisner Technique.  And these are first year actors who started in January, obviously in person. And when the virus hit, they pivoted as we did.  And I’m just so impressed with their grit and determination and open-heartedness and generosity.  And so I’m feeling bittersweet because I just watched their last scenes.  We started at 9:30 this morning and it’s a three and a half hour class and we went a little bit over.  So I’m full.  I feel like I had a very good meal.

MAGGIE: Oh that’s so nice!  Did you feel like you saw tremendous growth in all of them?

TERRY: I did. I did. You know some people– it’s like that um, “The Tortoise and the Hare.”  You know, sometimes someone gets out of the gate real fast and then they sort of stall a little bit.  And sometimes, other people, you’re waiting for something to happen and it– sometimes they’re late closers.  Which, um, when I was a director directing plays… those would be the actors who– when it finally happened, you’d be grateful but you’d be tearing your hair out, you know, towards the last part of rehearsal.  It’s like, “Oh my god, I cast this person.  Are they going to come through?”  But everyone came through, yeah.

SPIRO: I actually have a question about that. You know, it’s so interesting because I feel like this Coronavirus, this quarantine, has made people a little more vulnerable.  Because everyone’s, you know, forced to be alone with their own thoughts.  Do you think that had an effect on your actors and on the work they were doing?

TERRY: It did, and on me and on my approach to them.  You know, so, I work on Zoom.  There are twenty people in a class.  I’m in gallery view.  I’ve got twenty different boxes. And you know, sometimes you’ll see someone sort of leaning back with their arms crossed.  And then I’m there like, “No, no, no, Bob. Come on. I’m not the show.”  Right?  Like it seemed like I had to be a little bit more of a birthday clown.  You know, “Come on, kids! Come on.  Who wants to play pin the tail on the donkey?”  Which makes no sense, given that they’re paying money to train.  I mean, no one’s making them do this.  They came to me.  But I think the virus and the current political climate and everything else, there’s so much going on– it’s easy to collapse in that.  And it calls for a kind of renewed commitment to yourself and to the life you want to have.  I’m a member of a wonderful group called The National Alliance of Acting Teachers and we’ve been enormously helpful to each other.  Normally we’d just meet, like, in workshops and a thing we do once a year but every Saturday since [March 14th], we’ve met on Zoom.  And it’s been very helpful to compare notes.  “How do we do this thing? How do we teach acting online?”  But, you know, one of my colleagues, a wonderful teacher named Peter J. Hernandez who teaches at Columbia, said he tells his students, “Do not let this virus be the excuse for why you didn’t do what you were supposed to do.”  We’re not on pause. There’s nothing pausing about this at all.  I’m older now than I was in March.  The writers are writing now.  They’re just waiting for it to be safe to get back on set.  And so for you to be smart and have an edge, work and prepare yourself.  If you’re a boxer, you’re not just hanging back.  Maybe you’re not doing bouts with people.  But you’re working on footwork and jump ropes and speed bags and whatever and so.  But the other thing is, I think, because things got so isolated, the chance to be in community– which a class is– and the chance to do something that has a purpose behind it, a soulful purpose, something you care about.  Which is making art, acting, being creative made this an easy call on a certain level.  Like, this is– I mean, how much Netflix are you going to watch?  This is a great thing to do.  And, yes, sometimes people would come to class and I’d say, “Did you warm up your voice?”

Because I take attendance and I go, “Sally..”


And I go, “Sally!  If I were at the theatre, I’d want my money back.  Where’s your voice?  Did you warm up your voice?”


“Sally!” —

You know, so, they needed a little bit more coaching and pushing.  But they came.

MAGGIE: I think a lot of what you just said is really good to take in.  Because I think that during this time, as many down days as there have been,  I mean I’d be lying if I said I haven’t “Netflix and chill’d.”  But I also feel like I’ve gotten done more things than I would have normally.  Instead of running around and going to auditions and, you know, going to the day job and all these things.  I’ve had more time to focus on writing and more time to focus on my goals.   So even though we all do feel really stuck, it is a good time to tap into your creative mind.  I think that was really, really on point, Terry.

TERRY: Yeah, that’s great.  Yeah and I’ve also felt really– have you guys been busy?  I feel busy.  I mean, it’s not like I’m less busy.  My calendar is packed, it’s crazy

MAGGIE: Yeah, definitely. Absolutely.  Well, like with the podcast, we usually start at the beginning.  And correct me if I’m wrong, but you grew up in Brooklyn, right?

TERRY: I did. Oh, wow.  How did you get that information?  Yes I did.  Brooklyn Heights.  And when I was seven my family moved to Massachusetts.  My dad got a change of jobs.  And so I spent the rest of my growing up time there.  And then came back to New York to go to NYU Undergrad for Acting. And then have stayed here ever since.

MAGGIE: Okay so in that short period of time where you were in New York as a child, were you immediately sort of thrust into the arts?  Did you go and see Broadway shows and things?

TERRY: Yeah, not as a performer.  But– I mean– I don’t know, my dad used to carry a picture of me at age four in his wallet.  In some sort of costume and a beard.  So I don’t know what that was from.  But yeah we went to, um– My dad loved classical music.  So we went to concerts a lot.  And he listened to music a lot.  And he took us to, yeah, plays.  Broadway.  My mother grew up on plays for family.  She grew up in the Bronx.  And so her family always took her to Broadway and so we did that alot and we went to the ballet every year.  We would  see The Nutcracker at New York City Ballet and my dad was really into Gilbert and Sullivan.  You know, H.M.S. Pinafore and Pirates of Penzance and um… I loved that stuff.  And when we moved to Boston, you know Boston– it’s not anymore– but Boston was a farm team for New York shows. You know, so you’d always try out a show in Boston or do previews in Boston; or Boston, Chicago, Detroit, before making it to Broadway as you tweaked a show and got it ready.  So we saw a lot of theater there.  You know, there were only like four / five theatres and this was before, like, A.R.T. and stuff like that.  But like the Colonial Theater in downtown Boston and, you know, we’d see stuff there and shows would come.  And so, yeah.  I am extremely grateful to my family.  I give them full credit for exposing me to… to the arts, all kinds of arts.  And to valuing art.  You know?

MAGGIE: Right.  And what was it about NYU that you were drawn to?

TERRY: You know, I don’t know really.  I mean, at the time– it’s weird– NYU… now everyone goes. “NYU? That’s one of the best schools.”    When I went there, was 1977, was my freshman year.  NYU was a safety school.  Like if you didn’t get into a good school, you’d go to NYU and they’d let you in.  So I don’t even know if I’d get in now.  I mean, you know.  But I was doing all this acting.  I went to BU for a year.  I did theatre in high school, I did some in junior high.  I liked it but I was a French major.  I had an ear for sounds and for dialects. So I’d (in French accent) “do a french accent and all that kind of stuff.”  And speak French.  And so I went to BU but I went to, like, one week of classes.  I had no interest in– it was a French major.  And then I saw an audition notice for an obscure French operetta by a guy named Jacques Offenbach who wrote Tales of Hoffman– which most people haven’t heard of– but they do it at The Met every 20 years.  And this was for a strange operetta called The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein and this was by a group at BU called The BU Savoyards.  And if anyone knows Gilbert and Sullivan, it was performed at the Savoy Theatre in London.  So it was a Gilbert and Sullivan club at BU.  And for once they were doing something non Gilbert and Sullivan.  So I loved to sing.  I’d always been singing and in choirs and things like that.  So I went and I auditioned and I got to be in the chorus.  I was a soldier.  And then that led to me doing a lot of shows.  There was a real underground Gilbert and Sullivan scene in Boston.  Weird, right?  And you didn’t have to go to the schools to be in their shows.  So Harvard had one, MIT had one and BU had one and I was in all those shows.  And I did a little night music at Harvard and had one of the leads.  I played the older guy who falls in love with the woman who sings “Send in the Clowns.”  Was it Frederic?  I’m not sure.

SPIRO: Yes, it is Frederic.

TERRY: Yeah.  Which is built on the Ingmar Bergman movie Smiles of a Summer Night and I was like, “Wow.” I mean, Sondheim is a different league than Gilbert and Sullivan.  Which was cool but a little bit silly.  And then I did an Ionesco play at Harvard and I wasn’t going to Harvard but they didn’t have a theatre program.  It was  just– do shows there.  And at that point I went, “Okay.  If I want to go further in this thing that I love, I need training.”  I was just winging it, you know, and learning on the job.  And that’ll only take you so far.  So applied to NYU, took the train down.  That was the only place I applied and they let me in and it changed my life. I don’t know where else I would have applied, you know.

SPIRO: So when you were in New York at NYU, were there teachers that were really inspirational to you or that were super kind or kind of shaped your development, like, at NYU?

TERRY: I had thought about someone I currently work with as someone to mention about that but then as I started to just let my mind open as you were setting up, teachers came in.  That’s who came in.  First my mom and dad and then these teachers.  So… God I’m going to get upset.  Nikos Psacharopoulos, who founded Williamstown Theatre Festival.  Which was a very important summer program.  Audra McDonald was supposed to do Streetcar there this summer were it not for the virus and I’ve coached Sam Rockwell on a couple shows up there, including Streetcar.  And an amazing theatre scene that Nikos founded, that was where Kevin Kline went and Blythe Danner and… So he was my acting teacher in my first year.  NYU had outsourced to a bunch of different studios, that was their system.  So they had the Strasberg Studio at NYU, Stella Adler at NYU, Playwrights Horizons at NYU and, at the time, Circle in the Square which is still a theatre school but no longer associated with NYU.  So I was placed at Circle.  And my first acting class was with Nikos.  And Nikos was also teaching at Yale and running Williamstown and there were like, god, fifty people in that class?  Fifty people in an acting class.  And it was once a week.  And it was a scene study class for like three, four hours. And freshman year, first scene, A Streetcar Named Desire.  You know, like crazy, crazy stuff.  A Moon for the Misbegotten.  And what he would do is he’d be sort of looking at all the students for the first semester and then he’d make a cut.  Which was really upsetting because most undergrad schools don’t have cuts. And they’re not cutting you from the program, they’re just cutting you from Nikos’ class.  So talk about “cool kids.”  If you were cool, you were in Nikos’ class.  Well, I didn’t make the cut.  And I didn’t know why but it ended up being an incredible blessing because– and I felt terrible at the time, I was hurt because I was taking other classes with these kids.  I was taking movement and voice and they’d go, “Well I have to go to Nikos’ class.” I was like, “Okay… Yeah, yeah.  I’m going to the loser class.”  But it wasn’t the loser class and it was a total blessing and my teacher was an amazing teacher and an amazing actress who just died a few years ago named Jacqueline Brooks.  Mostly a theatre actress.  She happened to be the lover of my other acting teacher, a woman named Terry Hayden, who died last year, who trained with Lee Strasberg.  But she was just so kind.  So kind and so encouraging.  And, you know, I’d say, “I want to play– I want to do the gentleman caller scene from The Glass Menagerie.” She’d say, “You do that, go ahead.”  And I’d say, “And I also want to play Stanley Kowalski in Streetcar.”  She’d say, “Do that too.”  Like whatever you want to do and there was none of this like, “I don’t know, Terry.  You’re not that guy.”  And she just gave me so much permission and encouragement.  She was like the warmest mother figure. And, I mean, yeah.  I’m gonna get upset because she was so special and beautiful and encouraging and she was an actor herself. You know, so she understood how challenging it is to be an actor and bear your soul and learn how to do stuff.  So that’s the first person who came to mind at NYU.  I later transferred, after two and a half years at Circle, to finish up at a place called The Experimental Theatre Wing at NYU.  I took this class in Contemporary Experimental Theatre.  About people like Robert Wilson and Grotowski and all these downtown folks… The Wooster Group.  And the guy who ran it was a guy named Ron Argelander, he was a professor.  And he started The Experimental Theatre Wing with Mary Overlie who’s the founder of The Viewpoints who just died earlier this year.  And Wendell Beavers who was her husband at the time.  And I was there like, “Well this sounds cool.”  Because at Circle at the time–Circle… We were taking classes at where Circle is now, like, near the Gershwin Theatre on Broadway.  So kids would come to class but they’d be dressed for auditions.  And like, okay, you’re nineteen years old and of course you can audition.  But like, why are you training?  And then the teacher would say, “So who wants to work today?”  And [someone would say,] “Ah, I’d like to work but I don’t want to wreck my pantyhose because I’ve got an audition later.”  And I was just there like, “This focus just doesn’t seem right to me.”

MAGGIE: Right.

TERRY: And something about experimental theatre, besides– yeah, it’s weird– but it’s an all in kind of thing.  And it’s all about the process.  You know, when I got there the space was just empty.  Like there were no chairs, there was no nothing.  It was just like a dance studio.  And we started to move and get into our bodies and get into a physical approach to acting.  So I’m grateful to Ron and I’m grateful to Mary who was my teacher and my colleague because I later taught at NYU for 30 years.  And a wonderful Israeli teacher named Rina Yerushalmi who put me into her company.  She had a a company at La MaMa which, if people don’t know, was a wonderful experimental theatre Off-Off Broadway on East 4th St.  You know, it was founded by Ellen Stewart who was a Black woman, from Louisiana, who worked at Saks 5th Avenue as a seamstress and then started a theatre club on East 9th St. and moved around in the East Village and… That was where Hair started.  That’s where Sam Shepard got his start.  I mean, the people who started there is a “who’s who” of American theatre.  She was astounding.  And we did a couple shows there while she was alive and she would always ring a bell at the start of every show and say, “Welcome to Cafe La MaMa.”  Dedicated to the playwright.  That was her thing.  And she had a thing about plays where she didn’t read them.  So if someone came to her and said, “I want to do a project.”  She said, “Give me the script.”  And like a psychic, almost like a psychic, she’d feel the script and put it next to her head and said, “Yeah.  You do this one.”  And then that got on the season.

Kindness.  So, Jackie was kind to me.  I don’t know if Ron was kind to me but I’m grateful to him.  And I graduated from NYU and I was working but I had that feeling that maybe you and some of your listeners have had, if they’re actors, which is a feeling of the work being hit or miss.  Like some days you can do it and some days you can’t.  And that frightened me.  Meaning some pieces you can do.  Like, “Oh I can do this part.” And then I get another part and am like, “I don’t know what to do with this.”

MAGGIE: Right.

TERRY: But last week, I knew what I was doing.  And so around that time, at La MaMa, I was working backstage and there was an actor in it named Joel Rooks.  And he was brilliant.  And I saw him, like, night after night.  And night after night, he was brilliant.  And I was so turned on by his consistency and his skill and his talent and I said, “How do you do that? That’s what I want to do.”  And he said, “Well, I don’t know.  I trained with a guy named Bill Esper.  So why don’t you go check him out?”  And I met with Bill and, like, that was it.  Bill accepted me into his class.  And I had some jobs lined up.  I was working, at the time, with Anne Bogart who people may know from the SITI Company.  She did–


TERRY: She hadn’t done that yet but she was my teacher and I did about nine shows with her.


TERRY: And I was scheduled to do another show.  And I– just on my way out of Bill’s office, setting up for the fall– said, “Oh, I might just miss a couple classes for tech rehearsals in the fall.”

And he looked at me and said, “What are you talking about? What’s the show?”

And I said, “Well, it’s an Off-off Broadway thing. Anne Bogart.”

He said, “It’s not Broadway?”

I said, “No.”

“It’s not the Public Theater?”

I said, “No.”

“It’s not Manhattan Theatre Club?”

I said, “No.”

“I don’t think you should do it.”

I got so mad.  I said, “What are you talking about? Why”

He said, “Because we’re going to learn how to win races here and we’re going to start with crawling. And we’re going to start at the beginning.”

Because I’d also said, “You know, where would someone like me, who graduated from NYU, start in your school?”

He said, “At the beginning.”

I said, “Well, as someone who went to NYU…”  You know.

He said, you know–

*Spiro laughs*

TERRY: “At the beginning!  Right?   That’s where you start because we don’t know where the holes are.  Everyone starts at the beginning.  So we’re working on process here and if you go from my class to rehearsal or my class to performance, you’re gonna maybe put some… inorganic…” I was going to use a word that began with “B” and ended in some stuff there. “You’re gonna do some stuff there that you shouldn’t be doing because it’s about results.”  And so, I got so mad and then I slept on it and I went, “You know what? There’s something about this guy and there’s something about Joel’s acting.”  So that’s the next person on my gratitude list, is Bill Esper.  Which started a 35 year relationship and, um, he gave me my toolbox and that’s Meisner’s toolbox.  So I’m grateful to Meisner, although I never met him.

MAGGIE: I love this gratitude list.  It’s all the people who have inspired your own career.

TERRY: One hundred percent.

MAGGIE: And I think that I think the types of teachers that people really gravitate to are those who have experienced the types of things you’ve experienced and have taken little things from each person and wound it up into your own personal way of teaching.  And just from reading your testimonials, I mean, you have so many people– like, you’ve changed so many lives.  I’m sure your name is on so many other people’s gratitude list as well.

TERRY: Well, it’s nice.  It’s nice.  It’s nice to give and it’s nice to be given to.  And we stand on the shoulders of the people who taught it to us and it’s, I think, our job to pass it forward and to pay it forward.

MAGGIE: I heard you talk about the importance of having the goal of being the best actor that you can be, right?

TERRY: Yeah.

MAGGIE: With your talent, your body and your DNA.  And the importance of not having goals like, “Oh, I’m gonna go win that Oscar or I’m gonna win that Tony award.”  Can you talk a little bit about your philosophies in general for teaching.

TERRY: Yeah.  I just want to make a slight adjustment to what you said.  It’s not that I don’t believe in goals because “being the best actor you can be” is a goal.

MAGGIE: Of course.

TERRY: It’s a north star and goals are very important.  In fact, the first question I ask any potential student is, “So what are your goals?”  But when they say, “Well, I want to win an Oscar” or “an Emmy” or “a Tony,” all of which are nice to get and I’ve worked with people who have gotten those and been thanked for helping them.  Right?  And that’s nice too.  Because a lot of actors don’t acknowledge that they have coaches but most of the good ones do.  But you can’t control that.  You can’t control– a lot of awards are really based on marketing.  So for instance: Sam Rockwell, who I’ve worked with a lot on a hundred projects at least, did an amazing movie called Moon, directed by David Bowie’s son.  And for some people, that was the male lead performance of that particular year.  This was before streaming.  So Sony had a choice that year of which horse they were going to back for the Oscars.  Meaning, which screeners they were going to send out to people.  Which DVDs they were going to print and send out because they didn’t have the budget and the marketing to take out ads in Variety and The Hollywood Reporter and everything to back all these movies.  And Sam lost out that year to Chicago.  Now that’s a great movie.  It was a wonderful movie of an amazing play and interesting full circle because he played Bob Fosse and kind of came back to– you know, Gwen Verdon was part of that whole thing too– so that’s sort of… So–“Why didn’t Sam win the Oscar?” Because he was never in the picture.  Does that mean that his performance is anything less? No, it was a beautiful performance.  So you can’t control whether you get an Oscar.  But you can control your own work and so I like goals that you can have some control over.  So “being the best actor you can be.”  To me, that’s a north star you can work on the rest of your life, you know.  And that involves all kinds of things.  That involved acting class, that involves going to theatre, that involves going to listen to actors talk when they have talks, that involves going to the museum, that involves taking scene study classes when you’re already working just to keep things tuned up when you’re between jobs; that involves going to the museum, that involves people-watching, that’s like– that involves working on your voice, that involves going to therapy–

MAGGIE: Right!

TERRY: Right? Like, everything you can do to make this body and talent– you know talent’s what you’re born with and technique is what you do for yourself.  And so, that you can do something about.

SPIRO: I love that.  Our next question is: Is it easy to separate, like, your work life from your personal life?  For example, is it easy to turn off, like, the teaching Terry when you go see a show, when you’re watching a TV show or watching your actors perform?  Or are you able to just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride?

MAGGIE: I love this question.  I just want to chime in because we’ve seen videos of you coaching people and it’s so interesting to watch because you’re so invested.  And you’re jumping in when they’re talking and, you know, pushing them to be the best version they can be. And I’m trying to imagine what it would be like being you watching a show.

TERRY: It’s maddening.  You know, you ask me about personal life.  I mean, you met my seven year old.  He’s really into this Playstation game called Minecraft Dungeons right now, so, that’s what we do.  Me and my wife and Henry play Minecraft Dungeons.  I’m not thinking about acting right then. But when I watch a show, I don’t think Michael Jordan can watch basketball as a civilian.  You know? We’re just going to see stuff that other people don’t see and it’s opinions.  You know, I mean, you know.  Some people might think a show’s amazing and I’m like, “Bleh! I don’t know what you’re seeing.”  So I can’t turn on and off what I know but I try to enjoy it.  But sometimes it makes it even richer.  I mean, I’m watching the Mark Ruffalo show on HBO right now which is gut-wrenching and he plays twins, you know, and one of them is 30 pounds heavier and mentally ill.  And he shot all of the first twin, the more “normal” twin, Dominic, for 15 weeks.  Then took five or six weeks off.  I mean, 15 weeks for a six episode mini-series is extraordinary anyway.  And then took five or six weeks off to gain 30 pounds and get ready for the other part and then shot all of that.  And the work is just–

MAGGIE: I Know This Much is True?

TERRY: Yeah! Oh my god.  And it’s got Melissa Leo who’s an actor’s actor.  And it’s got John Procaccino in it and it’s just, oh, the cast, the director is amazing.  And there’s all these close ups and it’s a very gut-wrenching story about life and these twins and what it’s like to have a brother who’s got special needs and…  It’s so tragic.  But his– Mark Ruffalo’s work, as it always is… I mean that’s just, that’s acting class and…

SPIRO: Yeah.

TERRY: He’s so generous and he does not care whether he looks good.  There’s no vanity, it’s all truth.  It’s hardcore work and it’s beautiful work.  So when I watch that, yeah I’m watching it through the eyes of an acting teacher but I’m also appreciating it through the eyes of an acting teacher.  You know, talk about gratitude.  I mean if I saw him now, I’d just write him a fan letter because–


TERRY: I’d cast him in anything.  I mean, he is truly an astounding actor.  Plus he’s a good human.  He cares about, you know, the environment and stuff like that. And goes on Twitter and talks about politics.  He’s not afraid to put his money where his mouth is.  He does great projects like Spotlight from a couple years ago which was great.  So he’s just– he’s the real deal.

MAGGIE: I was gonna ask– just based on what you were just talking about– Spiro was looking at me and laughing because he and I have completely– when I tell you, completely– different opinions about shows.  He’ll see a show and, like, absolutely love it and I will like, “I don’t understand it at all.”  Or vice versa.  We’re just, like, on two totally different polar opposites when it comes to enjoying theatre.  Is there anything that you’ve seen in the past couple years that you were just astounded by that you left and just couldn’t stop thinking about it?

TERRY: I’m always sort of in the moment, so um… I mean, my favorite movie is The Godfather.  And I can watch that a zillion times and always find new things.  Godfather I and II. III is sort of a mistake in many ways but… Duvall, Pacino– I mean, every– John Cazale, Diane Keaton.  I mean just, there’s just so many– James Caan.  Everybody is so great.  Robert DeNiro.  What an amazing– and Coppola’s work telling that story is just classic.  So I love that.  I love The Wire.  I love some of these HBO shows.  The Wire was great.  I’ve watched The Sopranos twice all the way through.  And that’s just brilliant.  Gandolfini, Edie Falco, Michael Imperioli and so many of those people.  And, you know, Steve Buscemi and just great, great, great acting.  I’m currently watching two things that I love.  One is I May Destroy You on HBO.


TERRY: Woah.  This is this actress– I can’t remember–British actress.  She had another show on HBO.  It’s a BBC show called Chewing Gum that was on Netflix and now it’s not available.  She’s– she’s hardcore.  It’s a half hour show.  It’s still currently running so we haven’t seen the ten or twelve episodes about–

MAGGIE: Michaela Coel?

TERRY: Yeah, Michaela Coel.  God, she’s just brilliant.  And it’s funny and disturbing.  It’s, it’s a half hour drama with amazing casting, primarily people of color.  And it’s brilliant. And she goes there.  I love that.  And then I’ve been watching– I’ve been bingeing a German show on Netflix called Babylon Berlin.  That’s fun and, you know, it’s about Germany.  So it’s in Germany so you have to be good with subtitles.  But there’s some great acting in it and it’s about Germany between the wars.  So  it’s– that was the roaring twenties which was an interesting time right after the Spanish Flu.  So the Spanish Flu and World War I was like this dark, dark time.  I’m just, like, wondering if that’s ahead of us.  And then the pendulum swung in the other direction.  And it was free.  It was sexual.  People loved to– that’s when the Cotton Club was– you know, just like wild and amazing and dancing.  And it’s got politics, and it’s got sex, it’s got crime, it’s got beautiful character work.

SPIRO: What else could you ask for?

TERRY: Yeah.  That’s a party, yeah.  And then I’m rewatching Curb Your Enthusiasm, so that’s just– he’s so outrageous.  That’s what I appreciate about him.  He’ll say anything.

MAGGIE: We love that show in this house.  We watch it all the time. It’s so light.

TERRY: Yeah.

SPIRO: You’ve had the chance to work with a lot of talented actors.  You’ve mentioned a lot of them.  And they’ve all praised you for your technique and your work ethic.  Can you just talk about, maybe, some memorable students and what working with them has taught you about the business and that end of it?

TERRY: Yeah, I mean.  And I sometimes meet new ones, which is cool.  And that’s fun and that’s an honor.   I love Sam.  I mean, Sam was the best man at my wedding.  Sam… I’ve known Sam since he was in his early twenties and I’m a little older than him by a bit but not by a lot.  I mean, I saw him in Bill Esper’s class and immediately recognized this incredibly wild spark of talent that is so unique and so beautiful.  And, um, we started to work together and we’ve worked on a lot of stuff.  And it’s been such– so gratifying.  And I have such pride in him.  Not pride in myself but pride about his, his path.  And how generous he is in the work, how talented he is, how much fun we have working together.  I mean, it’s a real– Sam will describe it– it’s like, sort of jazz musicians playing.  We have this rhythm at this point.  No matter what the project– and each project has its own special demands– but we have a way of working together that’s just totally free.  It never gets– he doesn’t take it personally if I have a problem with a moment he’s doing.  He doesn’t go, “Oh great. I suck.”  You know, there’s no ego in it, even though he has an ego.  We’re both just about, “How do we make this work? And how do we make it interesting?” And how do we tell the story of the writer and the character, but also put Sam’s mark on it?  You know, like, he’s done some roles– you know it’s always so interesting for an actor to do a role that someone else has done.  So he did Streetcar.  He did Fool For Love on Broadway, which Ed Harris put his stamp on.  And Streetcar, obviously Brando is the main one we think of.  And those are heavy shadows, big shoes to fill.  And right now, just before the virus– literally the week before the virus– he was supposed to go into previews for American Buffalo with Lawrence Fishburne and Darren Cris.  And that’s a part that Duvall played, most famously, Duvall.   But also, Pacino played it.  W.H. Macy played it.  That’s scary.  That’s scary to want to do a part that someone else has done so well that when they think of the part, they think of that person. That takes real hutzpah and real cajones, right.  And so it’s fun to work with Sam because he wants to reach for those things.  Some people, like, will be on a show and have a guaranteed paycheck for a long running show for like, I don’t know,  SVU or whatever.  And that’s cool.  But for me, it would be death.  Because the cool thing about acting is playing new parts and being an explorer.  You know, why are you climbing Mt. Everest?  Because it’s there.  And when you climb Mt. Everest, you don’t want to climb it again.  You want to climb Kilimanjaro.  And so I love that about Sam.  I mean, there’s nothing else Sam could do.  Sam would be the first one to tell you that.  When he wasn’t acting, he was delivering burritos.  And I bet if he wasn’t acting, he’d probably go back to delivering burritos because that’s all he can do and he grew up in an acting family.  And his mom and his dad were actors and– he’d do more than delivering burritos– but that’s really his whole life is about that.  He loves the craft, he loves the art form.  He studies it.  Especially movies of the 70’s are like his sweet spot and he draws a lot from that.  Movies like Deer Hunter and maybe early 80’s like Kramer vs. Kramer and Midnight Cowboy and obviously The Godfather.  And, you know, that’s– he’s an expert on that.  He’s watched them thousands of times.  So he really studies those performances to really dig into what that’s about.  So I love working with him.  I think– as much people that know about him– more people should know about him because I think he’s one of the best people out there right now.  And he can do comedy and he can do drama.  He can break your heart and crack you up.  And that’s pretty amazing.

SPIRO: He was unbelievably fascinating in Fosse/Verdon.  I mean, he just blew my mind.  Insane.

TERRY: I agree but tell me why, Spiro.

SPIRO: I just think, like, I never wondered whether I was watching an actor on that camera.  I think I always was just so focused on the story and everything that was breaking him apart and causing him to feel all this pain– I wasn’t thinking about the show he was producing, I wasn’t thinking about, you know, the things that were happening.  The whole time, my focus was like, “Man. What is he going though?”  To me, it’s all about the inside work for me when I watch him.  And, you know, he’ll just be standing there and I see so much happening in his brain and in his mind.  And that’s always the kind of acting that I love.  Is the one where there’s so many layers, it’s so deeply rooted.  I just, I love that.

TERRY: He worked his butt off on that part.  That was hard.  That was the hardest schedule of anything he’s ever worked on.  TV will kill you.

MAGGIE: Right.

TERRY: I mean, movies are hard but TV they’re just like moving, moving, moving.  I think, too hard.  I don’t think it leads, sometimes, to quality work. The budget and the time schedule.  But he had to learn how to dance.  Because, you know, that scene where he and Michelle Williams’ “Gwen” meet, the audition.  I think it’s an eight page scene.  Which in TV script land is huge.  A typical scene is two, two and a half pages.  And in that scene, they have to not only meet, have the acting going on, but have choreography that he gives her; he teaches her a dance and they dance it together.  And so it’s walking and talking at the same time. I mean, it’s like– they shot that and then Michelle and Sam went to Tommy Kail, the director, and said, “We need another shot at this.”  And so they shot it again…


TERRY: … Like, a week or two later.  So kudos to the network for letting him do that and spending the money on that.  But it pays off because it’s a beautiful scene.  He had to do aging.  He had to do drug work.  He had to do alcohol work.  He had to do pain, heart attacks.  And do some pretty uncomfortable stuff in 2019 related to “me too” stuff and, like, you know.  Back in the 70’s and 60’s when Bob was working, it was a different time.  And directors and choreographers, men and women, relations and stuff like that were just different– I’m not saying it was better, but it was the norm.  And so Bob could come across as a creepy lech, but he was kind of– he’s not Harvey Weinstein.  And so that was the thing.  Like– Sam, I’m speaking as Sam– “Do I want to show that kind of guy when he’s gonna be the villain?”  And that’s what he embraced.  He said, “I’m going for the truth of this guy.”  And he also loved his daughter and he also cared about Gwen and he also loved to get high; and he loved women.  He loved women and he loved dancing and all that’s in that show and so, I’m so glad you loved that, Spiro.  Because it’s brilliant work, really beautiful work.

SPIRO: Yeah, I mean, some of those close ups of his– I mean– I would pause.  I’m just like, “Oh my god!”

TERRY: Yeah.  That death scene, he’s like a child.  And they linger on him and the relationship between the two of them.  You know, he’s going across the street for the preview… and he just– they just took their time with it.  That was beautiful.  The soft shoe he did at Paddy Chayefsky’s funeral.  That just gives me shivers.

MAGGIE: Yeah, that was quite the undertaking.  And what a proud moment.  I didn’t realize that you had worked on the movie with him.  That’s really amazing.  Thank you for sharing some of that.

TERRY: I just want to say something about Emmy Rossum.

SPIRO: She’s our favorite as well.

TERRY: I’ve also been with her since her twenties.  And she’s not as old as Sam.  But we’ve worked on everything since then and nine seasons of Shameless. And we’re prepping this Angelyne show that she had started to shoot until the virus hit and now, we’re just waiting.  I mean, it’s supposed to probably go back in a couple weeks.  But California’s taken a turn for the worse and so that probably will be delayed.  But Emmy is one of the hardest working people I know.  And she’s all in.  And is really good at the work.  Like she– we did an episode of Shameless. You know, the turn around– again, that’s that fast paced thing.  They’re just pushing, pushing, pushing.  So she’d send me the script on a Tuesday, I’d read it.  And this was all on Skype because she was in L.A. and I was here.  Sunday we would meet for an hour–maximum an hour and fifteen minutes and do all her scenes.  Then she’d shoot it the next week, I’d get the script again.  We’d do that, during that, for like twelve weeks straight.  And put a lot of shape into that work.  I mean, you know, TV writing is not always as good as it can be.  Although, that was a very good show.  But one of the weird things about– when you are a lead in a TV series or a movie, you make line changes. And especially– I mean that’s kind of a well kept secret and I don’t recommend it.  I don’t think– I mean, you’re not going to get away with it if you’re a co-star or something like that.  But if you’re a series regular, they’re writing for you.

MAGGIE: Right.

TERRY: And so, we did a lot of script changes.  My credits, my– I’m not in the credits as having written some stuff, but I wrote a lot of lines for that show.  But she is a hard working lady and all in.  And for instance, for Angelyne, she’s working on singing, she’s working on her voice, she’s working on physicality, she’s doing incredible research, she’s producing the show; so she’s running the writers room.  It’s a huge project that just came out of her reading this article in The Hollywood Reporter, buying the rights for it and it became a bidding war between Hulu, Amazon and Netflix.  And then ultimately it went to Universal.  It’s a 50 million dollar show.


TERRY: That all came out of her dream.  Right?  Because everything created started as a thought.  An iPhone started as a thought.  Your podcast started as a thought.  And dreams plus action equals stuff.  And so she made that dream happen and I’m really honored to work with her.  And that was the first person that I thought about when I thought about kindness.

SPIRO: Awh, that’s so good to hear.

MAGGIE: She is such an inspiration to us.  We produced this project called Ladies in Action which was four films, all they were all written by and directed by and starring women.  And I remember when we were just finishing up the project.  And we were just starting to think about this podcast and who would be on, like, our star list.  You know, “Let’s reach for the stars.”  And she was on this list from the very beginning just because not only is she an amazing talent on screen, but she inspires me so much when she pushes herself to also direct.  I love watching the things she’s directed.  She fights for her pay equality which–

TERRY: Amazing.

MAGGIE: I thought that was just so incredible.  And, you know, she’s just a bad ass, hard working woman and it feels like– I don’t know her.  We’re not friends or anything but it feels like, in my heart, that we are friends because she’s the type of woman that I aspire to be because it seems like she just doesn’t take any shit and she knows what she’s worth.  And she not only works hard for what she has, but she also approaches it with that true acting heart behind all of her projects.  So I love that you talk about her  because I love Shameless— so does Spiro– and we’ve been huge fans of the show and huge fans of Emmy.

TERRY: Good for her. You know, and thank you for– she also puts her money where her mouth is.  She’s got causes on animal rights.  She’s got causes on women’s rights.  Her Instagram, her Twitter, is political.   You know.  It’s like, what she cares about.  And she’s incredibly helpful to me.  You know, my studio–for our first graduation– I asked her to be the graduation speaker.  She came and did it.  I asked her to come and do an actor talk.  She brought Sam Esmail, her husband, and we did an actor talk.  When we went into the virus time, my studio was drowning.  Because, I mean, a lot of studios closed.  And people were telling us, potential students, “No, I’m going to wait until you’re not online.”  And we had to really reach out to people and talk about how this could be a valuable thing to do.  And Emmy did a Skype session with me, which we recorded and made part of our marketing.  So she’s been incredibly helpful to me– as helpful as I’ve been to her– she’s been incredibly helpful to me.  And she’s a good person. And she invited me and my wife to her wedding where I met Patti Felker.  Patti Felker was the lawyer who got her the money and we were at the same table.


TERRY: And that story’s pretty cool because basically after seven seasons, her contract was up.  And she was making… not great money.  W.H. Macy was making the money. And Patti said, “Okay, we’re gonna go for pay equality… retroactive.  Not just season 8 and 9 will be the same.  We’re going to go back to season 1 to now.”   And it was like, “Are you fucking kidding me?”  He said, “Yeah, we’re gonna give them a take it or leave it.”


TERRY: Make them an offer they can either refuse or not refuse.  And they were prepared to walk.  And Showtime needed her.  And they went for it.  And that was just like–

MAGGIE: Ah! I just got chills.

TERRY: Woman power, right?  You know.

SPIRO: Hell yeah. I have a question about Shameless actually.  About Emmy.  Have you been working with her since season 1?  Because, if I’m because honest–

TERRY: We did the pilot.  We did the audition.   

SPIRO: I think about her growth from season 1 through the rest of the show.  To me, is one of the greatest tales I’ve ever watched in person.  Because– and I don’t know if it was the writing or what it was. But like, the way I feel like she grew between seasons 1 and 2 and the rest of the series– to me was one of the greatest leaps I’ve seen from an actor in my memory.

TERRY: I think that’s– that’s her.  That’s– thank god, John Wells who’s the showrunner and the writing room kept up with her and started to write for Fiona.  And I, frankly, think it was also me helping to make those episodes really tight so that they had to pay attention to her and give her more stuff to do.  She delivered.


TERRY: You know… She’s Michael Jordan.  When the– you  know, “Give me the ball.”  We were always looking, you know, because the writing wasn’t always clear.  She fought back against certain things because they really wanted to sexualize Fiona.  Because she’s got a bunch of boyfriends, a bunch of naked scenes.  And she’ll do them.  But she’s not just gonna be naked, giving someone a blow job for no reason.

MAGGIE: Right.

TERRY: So, she would say “no” to some of that stuff and good for her.  We just talked through everything.  We argued a lot.  Emmy and I argue.  It’s interesting.  She’s a strong lady.  She doesn’t, you know– it’s a little bit sweeter with Sam. But I don’t mind because that’s her feistiness and that’s her power and at the end of the day, we work it out and it’s great.  You know.  So mostly she gets the credit, a little bit to John Wells and the writing room and a little bit to me.

SPIRO: Well, that’s awesome.  Well, I’m thankful because I really– I love that show so much.  I think that’s one of the best ensemble casts on television that we’ve had, you know, since something like The Godfather, to be honest.  In my opinion.

TERRY: Yeah, it’s great.

SPIRO: I mean, not The Godfather.  The Sopranos.  That’s what I meant.

TERRY: And you watch those kids grow up.  You know, Emmy is not a student at my studio.  And Sam Rockwell’s not.  So that’s a part of my life that’s about coaching.  And I do some coaching.  I don’t love coaching for auditions because you could give the greatest audition and not get the part for all kinds of reasons.  You’re not tall enough, you’re not short enough, you’re not old enough, you’re not ethnic enough.  So I’m expensive when it comes to that and so my favorite coaching is when you have the part.  When you have the part, then we can work on something.  The main part of my life is training young actors.  And not so young actors.  You can’t throw a rock in New York City without finding an acting studio.

MAGGIE: Right.

TERRY: So… and most of them will take anybody.  You know, if you have a heartbeat, a pulse, and a mastercard– you’re in.  But I carry on the tradition of the Neighborhood Playhouse and the Esper Studio and…  We’re really choosy about who we take and who’s right for us.  So if you’re sort of a dabbler, that’s not really what we’re about.  I mean, we have a summer intensive which we’re in the middle of which sometimes people do because it’s a taste of the work, an intense taste of the work.  But the main thing is– people who come to my studio, we say that we’re about training “the passionate actor committed to excellence.”  So if your north star is, “I want to be the best actor I can be so that I can play leading roles in projects I care about.  And I believe in training.”  As opposed to, “Oh I can’t take a class because it’s pilot season.”  I mean, it’s a real hard ask right now, getting people to train for two years.  They go, “Do you have a weekend workshop?”

MAGGIE: Right.

TERRY: I mean, you can’t learn ballet in a weekend and you can’t learn the violin in a weekend.  But it’s amazing how many actors want to shortcut that.  So if you’re the kind of actor who loves to act but feels like they don’t quite know how to do it consistently.  Like maybe you’ve been out there a little while and you’ve noticed that you’re not booking.  Or maybe you’re just beginning and you know that you need training and you didn’t get into NYU or NYU is too expensive.  We try to position ourselves as an affordable alternative to an MFA program.  We’re in Brooklyn in Sunset Park.  We have a beautiful studio which is empty right now because it’s not safe.  And we’re doing it online.  And we’ll start the fall online but we hope not to finish the first year [online].  It’s a two year program and we don’t audition.  We just do it by interview because we’re meeting people and they’re checking us out and we’re checking them out.  Like, “Are we a good fit for you and are you a good fit for us to spend two years together doing really intimate, beautiful work?  And if it’s not, let’s figure it out now and I’ll send you some place else.”  And we’ve got an amazing faculty and we are a conservatory.  So we teach acting, we teach movement, voice.  We have an on-camera class for people once they’ve done the two years.  Once they have this foundation.  And it’s the Meisner work which is the best training I’ve ever seen.  And when I was at NYU, as I said, I did experimental theatre, I trained at the Lee Strasberg Institute, I used to sneak into Stella Adler’s classes.  So I got exposed to some really amazing approaches to acting and, for me, the Meisner work is the one that works.  And it works very well and I’ve been teaching it for over 30 years and I love doing it.  I love teaching.  I love helping actors reach their potential.  That’s exciting.  So when you asked me about my class– that’s what we started with today– “Did I see any growth?”  Yeah and it’s thrilling.

MAGGIE: Well and it’s also thrilling having a teacher that lives for what they do.  Coming from two people who have gone to so many classes.  We both went to musical theatre colleges.  You know, sometimes you can be in a room with someone and feel like, “Why are they doing this?  Do they even enjoy it?”

TERRY: Some teachers are unhappy failed performers and some teachers… that’s their gift.  And you’re lucky to be in their presence.  And I feel that about my teachers, many of them.

SPIRO: And we feel that about you.  Thank you.

MAGGIE: So, we’re going to go into our fun little game that we like to play called “Wingin’ It.”  But before we do, it’s just one final question we like to ask everyone because we believe in the power of visualization.  Where do you see yourself in five years, Terry?

TERRY: I see myself in the classroom.  Just, a few more people.  I have a sense there’s expanding my studio wants to do.  It feels like– I’m holding my hands like– it wants to expand.  More of the same, better, happier, joyous, with my son, my wife.

MAGGIE: I think it’s wonderful when you’re doing, already, what you love and you’re just happy and content and joyous and following your dreams and following your heart.  And so I think that’s a lovely answer.

TERRY: And with people.  I want to get back to Broadway.  I want to get back to Yankee Stadium.  I want to get back to being in restaurants together.  I want to travel again with people.  So, that’s gonna happen too.

MAGGIE: Absolutely.

Alright! Well, Spiro, should we do it?

SPIRO: Let’s do some “Wingin’ it.”

*Wingin’ It tune plays*

SPIRO: On this week’s Wingin’ It, we’re going to play a really fun game.  And we totally made it up.  It’s called “Guess Who?”  And it goes like this.  We’re gonna recite a random fact about one of your famous quote unquote students and you just have to guess who this random fact is about.  And now– this is the best part– so if you get them all correct, Terry, you win absolutely nothing.  So–

TERRY: Perfect.

SPIRO: The stakes– the stakes are really high here.

MAGGIE: So this starlette received her High School Diploma at 15 years old via an online program created by Stanford University for the gifted youth.

TERRY: Oh my god.  I’m going to say Jordana Spiro.

*Sad music plays*

MAGGIE: No, it’s Emmy Rossum.

TERRY: Fuck, okay.

SPIRO: No, but she is another who I absolutely love.

TERRY: Yeah, she’s great.  Ozark.

SPIRO: I love Jordana Spiro. I love her writing.  I’ve seen movies she’s directed.  Love her, love her.  And she has a great name.  Alright.  Number two.  In 1984, this Leo played a friend of Madonna’s boyfriend in her “Borderline” video.

TERRY: Oh my god.

*Maggie laughs*

TERRY: I’m going to say: Yul Vazquez.

*Sad music plays*

SPIRO: No, it’s John Leguizamo on that one.

TERRY: Okay.

MAGGIE: Come on!  Duh.  Madonna’s “Borderline” video.  He was probably in the background.

TERRY: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

MAGGIE: This actress, raised Orthodox Jewish, was 15 years old when Woody Allen cast her in Everyone Says I Love You, which led to appearances in almost 30 films over the next 10 years.

TERRY: … This is horrifying.

*Maggie laughs*

TERRY: Oh my god.  Jewish Orthodox–

SPIRO: You can do it.

TERRY: Oh my god.  Diana Ross.

*Spiro laughs*

*Sad music plays*

*Terry laughs*

MAGGIE: It’s Natasha Lyonne.

TERRY: Oh, Natasha Lyonne.  Yeah– yes, of course, of course, of course.

SPIRO: You’re gonna be thinking about these questions after we’re done.

TERRY: I’m turning purple.  I’m embarrassed.  This is horrifying.

MAGGIE: We purposely picked, like, the most obscure, random facts because we found that when we do a Wingin’ It and someone gets every question right, it’s not as fun.

TERRY: Yeah, go ahead. Yep.

SPIRO: So.  This actor once injured himself in an audition when a director asked if he could do the speech in a handstand.  He said, “Yes,” but then bruised his tailbone when he fell.

TERRY: I think Sam.

*Sad music plays*

MAGGIE: Jonathan Majors.


*Maggie laughs*

TERRY: I’m competitive.  I’m very competitive.

SPIRO: It’s all good, we got three more.  You got this

TERRY: You’re killin me, man.

SPIRO: Okay.  When she was 16 years old, she won a modeling competition on Oprah’s show.

TERRY: Okay, okay, okay… okay… Leslie Bibb.

*Ding Ding!*


TERRY: Yes. Okay. Yes.

SPIRO: Wooh.  You got one.  You should feel–

TERRY: Alright.

SPIRO: A little bit better.


SPIRO: Alright.  This actor has other artistic talents as well.  He released a book of poetry, he’s a skilled photographer and also a very accomplished sculptor.

TERRY:Boyd Holbrook.

*Ding Ding!*



SPIRO: Now you’re on a roll

MAGGIE: Last but not least.  This actor who’s known for loving Hawaiian shirts, starred in a Miller Lite commercial in 1994, which enabled him to quit his job and focus primarily on acting.

TERRY: Sam Rockwell.

*Ding Ding!*

MAGGIE: Yep! There you go. You finished that strong.

TERRY: Thank you. God, okay.  Yeah.

*Maggie laughs*

MAGGIE: Alright, Terry.  Well, before we go, where can people find you?  What’s your website and plug yourself.

TERRY: It’s terryknickerbockerstudio.com with a “K.” K-N-I-C-K-E-R-B-O-C-K-E-R.  I think, “terryknickerbockerstudio” on Instagram.  Just do the Google and you’ll find us and, you know, we do it by application.  So if you go on the website, there’s an application.  Or you can just send an email and we’ll get right back to you.  I’ve got an amazing staff, an amazing faculty and we’re very good about replying to emails.

MAGGIE: Well, thank you so much for joining us.  This has been an absolute pleasure.  You’re so sweet and I hope you have an amazing day with your family playing the video games.

TERRY: Thank you.  I just want to say– you asked me where I’m going to be in five years.  I hope that we’re at a time, five years from now, where the thing that has been unleashed because of  the murder of George Floyd, that we’ve made some movement on.

MAGGIE: Absolutely.

TERRY: And I am really committed to that and for hearing from all the voices.  That’s really important.

SPIRO: I love that, Terry.  Thank you so much for that.  And thank you so much for such a wonderful interview.  We so appreciate it.

TERRY: Thank you so much.  I hope we can meet sometime.

SPIRO: We will.  For sure.

TERRY: Alright.  Great.  Thank you so much and keep doing what you’re doing and keep promoting kindness.  That’s lovely, really.

SPIRO: Thank you, thank you, thank you.

TERRY: Alright.

SPIRO: We’ll talk soon.

TERRY: Okay, bye.


*Outro music plays*

SPIRO: The Cool Kids Table is executive produced by Spiro Marcos and Maggie Stiggers.  Music is by Bree Cade and Zach Silva.  If you’d like to hear more, before to subscribe, download and share this podcast with a friend.  Also, check out our sketch show, Theatre School Dropouts, currently streaming on Amazon Prime.  Stay cool.  Stay kind.