Tag Archives: stephen rodrick

People, Let Me Tell You ‘Bout My Best Friend

Photos by Wikimedia Commons

Ringo first met [Harry] Nilsson after the singer did a gonzo version of Ike and Tina Turner’s “River Deep-Mountain High.” “It was bordering on madness, and so we thought, ‘We gotta meet this guy,’ ” says Ringo. While Nilsson’s destructive friendship with Lennon got the ink — they drunkenly heckled the Smothers Brothers at L.A.’s Troubadour, and Nilsson infamously ruined his voice doing a cover of “Many Rivers to Cross” with Lennon sitting at the console — it was the drummer in the world’s most famous band and the songwriter who hated playing live who became inseparable as they drank away the 1970s.

“He was my best friend,” says Ringo softly. “Yeah. I loved Harry.”

The two made an unwatchable Dracula movie together and tried to collaborate through their drug-and-booze haze. “I had one song with 27 verses that I gave to Harry to edit, and he got it down to about eight verses,” Ringo says. “It never got recorded.”

—Stephen Rodrick, profiling Ringo Starr for Rolling Stone.

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How McLovin Was Cast From a Camera Phone Headshot

Christopher Mintz-Plasse at Comic-Con, 2013. Photo by Wikimedia Commons

[Allison] Jones began her career with the two-beats-and-a-punch-line sitcoms of the nineteen-eighties, but, in working with Feig and the director Judd Apatow, she was required to try something revolutionary: find comedic actors who, more than just delivering jokes, could improvise and riff on their lines, creating something altogether different from what was on the page.

In the process, Jones has helped give rise to a new kind of American comedy. In 1999, she cast Seth Rogen, James Franco, and Jason Segel in the critically acclaimed, poorly watched teen series “Freaks and Geeks.” The show, created and written by Feig and produced by Apatow, was a coming-of-age story set in the suburban Michigan of Feig’s youth. Jones won the show’s only Emmy, for her casting. Several years later, she met with a young, sweaty Jonah Hill, who was desperate for an introduction to Apatow. She told Apatow that Hill was weird and hilarious. That sufficed; Apatow expanded a cameo part for Hill in “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” as an odd but lovable eBay customer. Two years later, Hill was cast with Michael Cera in “Superbad,” a raunchy teen comedy that Apatow produced. It was left to Jones to find their nerdier-than-thou friend McLovin. Jones posted notices seeking high-school students in L.A. After seeing thousands of candidates, she caught a glimpse of a camera-phone head shot sent in by a sixteen-year-old named Christopher Mintz-Plasse. She called the director, Greg Mottola, and excitedly said, “I think I found McLovin; he’s like Dill from ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’ ” Jones told me, “You could tell he was a kid who probably had seen the inside of a locker.” Since then, Mintz-Plasse has starred in six movies.

Stephen Rodrick writing about casting director Allison Jones for the New Yorker.

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More stories by Stephen Rodrick from the Longreads Archive

The Magical Stranger: A Son’s Journey Into His Father’s Life

Stephen Rodrick | The Magical Stranger | 2014 | 11 minutes (2,779 words)

Below is the first chapter from The Magical Stranger, Stephen Rodrick’s memoir about his father, squadron commander and Navy pilot Peter Rodrick. Our thanks to Rodrick for sharing it with the Longreads community. Read more…

Longreads Best of 2013: Here Is What Happens After You Write a New York Times Story About Lindsay Lohan

Here Is What Happens When You Cast Lindsay Lohan in Your Movie

Stephen Rodrick | New York Times Magazine | January 2013 | 31 minutes (7,752 words)


Stephen Rodrick (@stephenrodrick) is a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, contributing editor for Men’s Journal and author of The Magical Stranger.

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Longreads Best of 2013: Best Life Lessons from Lindsay Lohan in a Feature Story

Jason Fagone (@jfagone) is the author of Ingenious, a book about modern-day inventors; his stories this year appeared in Wired, Philadelphia, Grantland, Men’s Journal, and NewYorker.com.

Here Is What Happens When You Cast Lindsay Lohan in Your Movie

Stephen Rodrick | The New York Times Magazine | January 2013 | 31 minutes (7,752 words)

Steve is a good friend, but I don’t think anyone will accuse me of stacking the deck for picking his widely praised tale of the making of Lindsay Lohan’s “The Canyons.” It’s the story from this year I remember the best—not just because it’s a textured portrait of Lohan, one that made me feel for her and actually like her, but because there are so many indelible moments. Lohan crying in her room: “It began quietly, almost a whimper, but rose to a guttural howl. It was the sobbing of a child lost in the woods.” Lohan negotiating with a pack of paparazzi to clear room for a film shot at a mall: “Lohan turned to her good side and hiked her floor-length skirt up to show a little leg. ‘O.K., five, four, three, two, one. Now you have to go.'” And of course there’s the moment when director Paul Schrader, “the son of dour Calvinists,” takes off his clothes to make a stubborn, emotional Lohan feel more comfortable taking off hers for a film scene:

Naked, he walked toward Lohan.
“Lins, I want you to be comfortable. C’mon, let’s do this.”
Lohan shrieked.
[Producer Braxton] Pope heard the scream and ran up from downstairs. He turned a corner, and there was a naked Schrader. Pope let out a “whoa” and slowly backed out of the room.
But then a funny thing happened. Lohan dropped her robe.

As detailed and wackadoo as this story is, there’s also something universal about it. We are all naked Schrader, coaxing and begging our inner Lohans.


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