More stories

  • in

    In 'Flee,' Jonas Poher Rasmussen Animates His Friend's Story

    COPENHAGEN — Midway through Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s latest documentary, a decrepit boat crowded with Afghans fleeing violence crosses paths with a gleaming Norwegian cruise ship somewhere in the Baltic Sea.The passage for the migrants so far has been harrowing, and most of them greet the ocean liner with joyous relief, convinced their salvation has arrived. But the film’s protagonist, Amin, takes in the well-groomed passengers on the ship’s deck, snapping photographs of the refugees below and only feels “embarrassed and ashamed at our situation.”“Flee” tells, in animated form, the true story of how Amin, Rasmussen’s close friend since high school, fled Kabul as a child in the ’80s with his family, before heading to the Soviet Union and trying to reach asylum in Scandinavia. For the subsequent 20 years, Amin kept the specifics of this perilous five-year journey a secret, and in this emotionally nuanced documentary, we discover the story’s twists and turns much as Rasmussen did.When Amin told him about the cruise ship incident, the director was initially surprised by the weight and impact of his friend’s shame. “And then, I had to say, ‘but, you know, I’m the cruise ship now,’” Rasmussen said in an interview at his home in Copenhagen. “I’m the one standing up there looking at your story.’”Rasmussen, whose other documentaries include 2012’s “Searching for Bill,” is acutely aware of the responsibility that comes with telling another person’s story. Amin is not his protagonist’s real name; at his friend’s request, “Flee” keeps Amin’s true identity hidden, even as the film tells a deeply intimate story in arresting detail.Over the last year, the documentary has garnered a slew of awards, including at Sundance Film Festival, and now looks like it might be an Oscar contender. Opening in theaters in New York and Los Angeles on Dec. 3, the film has had so much positive attention in its native Denmark — a European country that has taken a comparatively hard line on refugees in recent years — that there are hopes that it may change the debate on migration.Rasmussen, now 40, has known he wanted to tell the story of Amin’s flight from Afghanistan for nearly two decades, even though he only vaguely knew what his friend went through. The two met when they were both 15, and Rasmussen noticed Amin on the train to school. As he recounts in the film, Rasmussen was drawn to the Afghan’s stylish clothing (“In rural Denmark,” he said, “people did not commit to fashion,”) and from there the two struck up a friendship..css-1xzcza9{list-style-type:disc;padding-inline-start:1em;}.css-3btd0c{font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size:1rem;line-height:1.375rem;color:#333;margin-bottom:0.78125rem;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-3btd0c{font-size:1.0625rem;line-height:1.5rem;margin-bottom:0.9375rem;}}.css-3btd0c strong{font-weight:600;}.css-3btd0c em{font-style:italic;}.css-1kpebx{margin:0 auto;font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.125rem;line-height:1.3125rem;color:#121212;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-1kpebx{font-family:nyt-cheltenham,georgia,’times new roman’,times,serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.375rem;line-height:1.625rem;}@media (min-width:740px){#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-1kpebx{font-size:1.6875rem;line-height:1.875rem;}}@media (min-width:740px){.css-1kpebx{font-size:1.25rem;line-height:1.4375rem;}}.css-1gtxqqv{margin-bottom:0;}.css-1g3vlj0{font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size:1rem;line-height:1.375rem;color:#333;margin-bottom:0.78125rem;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-1g3vlj0{font-size:1.0625rem;line-height:1.5rem;margin-bottom:0.9375rem;}}.css-1g3vlj0 strong{font-weight:600;}.css-1g3vlj0 em{font-style:italic;}.css-1g3vlj0{margin-bottom:0;margin-top:0.25rem;}.css-19zsuqr{display:block;margin-bottom:0.9375rem;}.css-12vbvwq{background-color:white;border:1px solid #e2e2e2;width:calc(100% – 40px);max-width:600px;margin:1.5rem auto 1.9rem;padding:15px;box-sizing:border-box;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-12vbvwq{padding:20px;width:100%;}}.css-12vbvwq:focus{outline:1px solid #e2e2e2;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-12vbvwq{border:none;padding:10px 0 0;border-top:2px solid #121212;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-rdoyk0{-webkit-transform:rotate(0deg);-ms-transform:rotate(0deg);transform:rotate(0deg);}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-eb027h{max-height:300px;overflow:hidden;-webkit-transition:none;transition:none;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-5gimkt:after{content:’See more’;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-6mllg9{opacity:1;}.css-qjk116{margin:0 auto;overflow:hidden;}.css-qjk116 strong{font-weight:700;}.css-qjk116 em{font-style:italic;}.css-qjk116 a{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;text-underline-offset:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-thickness:1px;text-decoration-thickness:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:visited{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:hover{-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}One of Rasmussen’s grandmothers was the daughter of Russian-Jewish refugees and had to flee Nazi Germany, which may also explain why the two 15-year-olds recognized something in each other.When they were both in their 20s, Rasmussen asked Amin if he could make an audio documentary about his story, but the latter said he wasn’t ready. By 2014, he was. Even then, their arrangement was tentative, and they explored whether Amin felt safe recounting his history for the first time and, if so, whether Rasmussen could find an effective way of telling it. To start, he drew upon a technique he had learned in radio, asking Amin, with his eyes closed, to recount a story in the present tense.“You’re asking them to paint an image for you,” he said. “What does the house look like? What are the colors on the wall? That gives you a lot of information that we could use in the animation, but it also brings him back, so he kind of relives things instead of just retelling them. It’s really about making the past come back to life.”Amin is not the protagonist’s real name; at his friend’s request, Rasmussen keeps Amin’s true identity hidden in “Flee.”Final Cut for RealThis became the structure for the film’s interviews, which took place over four years, at the same time as the refugee crisis erupted in Europe. With a center-right government newly in power, Denmark took a much harder line than other Northern European countries, drastically limiting the number of asylum seekers it accepted and the benefits they received, as well as passing legislation that required them to hand over valuables. Although the crisis heightened the project’s relevancy, it also pushed Rasmussen to make the film feel even more personal.“In the beginning, of course I wanted to tell my friend’s story, but there was a political aspect to it,” Rasmussen said of his determination to remind his fellow Danes of the human beings behind the label of “refugee.” “That became less so because the debate here was so harsh and so polarized,” he said. “I didn’t want to be a part of that.”That polarization continues in Denmark, with school lunches as well as laws around the processing of asylum seekers becoming cultural flash points. The stridency of the debate makes “Flee,” with its intimate tone and complex lead character, stand out all the more.“A lot of Danish documentary filmmakers have made films on refugee topics,” said Kim Skotte, the film editor for the Danish newspaper Politiken. “Those show the suffering of thousands of people, but after a point you kind of block it out. This is a much easier film to watch in some ways because you’re drawn into one person’s story.”Animating the documentary, with actors voicing the dialogue Amin remembered, helped emphasize this focus on one individual’s story, while the anonymity made it easier for Amin to recount his past. “This is life trauma, and it’s not easy for him to talk about,” Rasmussen said, who hadn’t worked with animation before “Flee.” The fact that Amin isn’t now a public figure, “that he wouldn’t meet people who would know his intimate secrets and traumas, was key for him to feel safe.”Rasmussen was also drawn to the creative possibilities that animation offers. While he conducted the interviews, the director noticed changes in Amin’s voice. “When he came to things it was difficult for him to talk about, you could feel that he was in another place. I thought we should see that visually,” he said.Understand the Taliban Takeover in AfghanistanCard 1 of 6Who are the Taliban? More

  • in

    Brandon Kyle Goodman, a Nonbinary Voice of ‘Big Mouth’

    The actor and writer also stars in the spinoff “Human Resources.”Name: Brandon Kyle GoodmanAge: 34Hometown: New York CityNow lives: In a one-bedroom apartment in Hollywood with his husband, Matthew Raymond-Goodman, and their dog, Korey.Claim to fame: Mr. Goodman is an actor and writer best known for “Big Mouth,” an adult animated sitcom on Netflix about preteens surviving puberty. He is the voice of Walter, a bisexual lovebug.Mr. Goodman is also a Black and queer activist who hosts a weekly podcast, “Black Folx,” which features conversations about diverse Black voices. “Being a nonbinary gay Black person in Hollywood is an uphill battle” he said. “As a storyteller, I, too, want the chance to play with all the colors in the crayon box of humanity instead of being sidelined as a trope.NetflixBig break: After graduating from the Tisch School of Arts at New York University in 2009, Mr. Goodman began writing a pilot about three queer friends in New York City in search of love called “Sweet Boys,” filled with poignant observations about modern romance drawn from his own journey.His agent submitted it to “Big Mouth.” “They loved it and thought that it fit with their world,” he said. “I remember one of the creators of the show, Jennifer Flackett, saying the characters in my pilot reminded them of the ‘Big Mouth’ kids as grown-ups.”Latest project: Mr. Goodman just finished playing Walter again, this time on “Human Resources,” a spinoff of “Big Mouth” set in a workplace. His co-stars include Randall Park, Keke Palmer and Aidy Bryant. “It’s a dream to be part of the ‘Big Mouth’ universe as a writer, and then to be trusted to join its legendary roster of comedic icons as a voice on the show is nothing short of an honor,” he said. “I’m still pinching myself.”Michael Tyrone Delaney for The New York TimesNext thing: Mr. Goodman is working on his first book, a collection of essays on Black queerness to be published next fall by Legacy Lit Books, a division of Hachette Books focused on BIPOC authors. “My hope is that, if you’re white, cis and het, you’ll have a really candid look into what it is to be Black and queer,” he said. “And if you’re Black and queer, or you’re living in the intersections, you’ll have language that articulates your experience because that’s what I missed growing up — language that articulated my experience.”Going Live: Every week, Mr. Goodman goes live on Instagram to answer questions about queer sex. “I know that to the outside this all could look raunchy, but to me, it’s activism because sex positivity and talking about how much shame there is around sex is super-important, and I wanted to create a safe space to do that,” he said. More

  • in

    With ‘Encanto,’ Stephanie Beatriz Finds Yet Another Voice

    The actress, also featured in “In the Heights” and on the series “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” discusses her lead role as Mirabel in the latest Disney animated film.The actress Stephanie Beatriz said goodbye to her memorable breakout role as a stern detective on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” in September as the hit comedy show wrapped after eight seasons.“I’ll be happy if my name is always connected to Rosa Diaz. That’s an honor,” Beatriz said of the fan-favorite character.But 2021 was largely a year of fresh starts for the 40-year-old actress. Early in the summer she appeared as Carla, one of the salon ladies in the film adaptation of the Lin-Manuel Miranda musical “In the Heights.” She also became a mother for the first time.Voice acting, a skill she can trace back to when she and her sister pretended to host radio shows with a Fisher-Price tape recorder, also represents a steady aspect of her output, most recently in Netflix’s acclaimed animated limited series “Maya and the Three.”A self-anointed “Disney adult”— her bachelorette party was held at Disneyland — Beatriz felt overjoyed when she was cast to voice Mirabel, the Latina heroine in the studio’s 60th animated feature “Encanto,” set in Colombia. Becoming part of the legacy of magical tales she grew up watching (“Sleeping Beauty” is a personal favorite), in an adventure about her father’s homeland, stunned her.“When your actual dream comes true, it’s very bizarre,” she said.Beatriz voices Mirabel, center, in the Disney film “Encanto.”DisneyBy phone from London, with her newborn by her side, the actress discussed finding Mirabel’s voice and reminisced about her favorite animated shows growing up. Here are edited excerpts from the conversation.You were born in Argentina to a Colombian father and a Bolivian mother, and you grew up in Texas. How do you understand your Latino identity?I feel like an American Latino, meaning that there’s stuff that I cling to that feels specifically American in my Latinidad, which is my love of Selena [Quintanilla] and of country music, because I grew up in Texas. But there’s stuff that feels specifically Bolivian and Colombian, and there’s stuff that feels very much my experience as an immigrant growing up here from the time I was 2. The thing that I identify with the most about Mirabel is her feeling of not belonging. That’s reflective of my own identity in the United States.In your formative years, did you feel represented in American media?We recently did a bunch of media interviews and John Leguizamo and I were paired together. He is an icon to me and one of the first Latinos I ever saw on TV. I saw him in the filmed version of “Freak,” one of his one-man shows. In that production, he talks about seeing the character Diana Morales in the play “A Chorus Line” for the first time. And so here I am watching this Latino actor talking about watching another Latino in a play and deciding that that was the moment he realized he wanted to be an artist. For me, watching him was when I realized I wanted to be one too.“Unlike so many Disney heroes, she doesn’t have a sidekick to guide her through the story,” Beatriz said of Mirabel.Kalpesh Lathigra for The New York TimesTell me about the process of finding and creating Mirabel’s voice for “Encanto.”I originally thought that she should sound younger, and I was leaning into a higher pitch. But the directors pushed me toward making her sound more mature. We discussed how she’s often had to take care of herself because there are so many stars in her family. It’s up to her to make sure that her needs are getting taken care of, and with that comes a level of maturity. At the same time, she’s playful. Unlike so many Disney heroes, she doesn’t have a sidekick to guide her through the story. Mirabel sometimes is the sidekick and the therapist for her family. She uses comedy all the time. There wasn’t some other character doing sight or audio jokes. It was Mirabel, and that was very freeing and fun.You’ve found a career in voice performance for popular animated series such as “Bob’s Burgers” and “BoJack Horseman.” What do you enjoy most about this work?Five Movies to Watch This WinterCard 1 of 51. “The Power of the Dog”: More

  • in

    Don Johnson Is Back as ‘Nash Bridges.’ Why?

    The actor was already having a renaissance thanks to “Knives Out” and “Watchmen.” But those works don’t have a pedigree that includes Hunter S. Thompson.BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — On “Miami Vice,” Don Johnson, as the undercover cop Sonny Crockett, tooled around in speedboats and Ferraris, busted gunrunners and dope dealers and somehow made going sockless look good. The hit series transformed what a police procedural could look, sound and feel like — according to Hollywood lore, the show was pitched as “MTV cops” — and made Johnson an international star.But there is another, perhaps less appreciated contribution to Johnson’s global celebrity, one that predates his recent supporting roles in critically acclaimed films like “Knives Out” and TV series like “Watchmen.” From 1996 to 2001, he played the title character in “Nash Bridges,” a CBS police procedural that, like “Vice,” was set in a gorgeous city (San Francisco) and featured a buddy cop sidekick — played this time by Cheech Marin, one half of the stoner comedy duo “Cheech & Chong.” Twenty years on, Nash remains one of Johnson’s favorite roles.“I liked his nimbleness, how he could be funny one moment and dead cold serious the next,” Johnson said on a recent afternoon here at the Peninsula hotel. “And I was curious to see if I could capture that kind of lightning in a bottle again.”Cheech Marin, left, is back for the revival as well, as Nash’s buddy-cop sidekick, Inspector Joe Dominguez.David Moir/USA NetworkAt first blush, a leading role in the two-hour TV movie revival, “Nash Bridges,” debuting Saturday on USA, may not seem like the most obvious — or necessary — move for Johnson. But as with many a CBS procedural, the show’s popularity, and pedigree, belie the relative lack of attention it has received from the chattering classes. At its peak, “Bridges” had a sweet prime-time slot and a then-and-still-whopping $2 million-an-episode budget, with a weekly audience of more than 8 million viewers. In syndication, the series has found audiences in dozens of countries. And it’s a trivia lover’s dream, with origins tracing back to the writer Hunter S. Thompson.For Johnson, it is also his first time leading a police procedural in two decades. “I wouldn’t have been so excited about it if I had to write it for someone else,” he said.Johnson, who wrote the new movie with Bill Chais and Carlton Cuse, the creator of the original series, spoke candidly about his reasons for revisiting the ’90s procedural, in a wide-ranging conversation that also touched upon some of the stories from his younger, wilder days. Those reasons included love, money and the curiosity befitting a man who, at 71, is naturally given to reflections on the ways people change — or don’t — over time.He wanted to know what Nash — an amiable police inspector and amateur magician who patrolled San Francisco in an early ’70s bright yellow Plymouth Barracuda — would be like 20 years down the road. Not that he didn’t have ideas. Ideas derived, perhaps, from his own experience.The original series featured plots such as an undercover cop (played by the wrestler Stone Cold Steve Austin) kidnapping a chimp as part of a scheme to capture a terrorist animal rights activist. Spike Nannarello/CBS“I imagine him to still be very fit, and very capable,” Johnson said of Nash. “I imagine him to be wiser, and more thoughtful about things.”“He would still slap the crap out you,” he added, using a cruder term. “But he’d think about it first, and make sure it was coming from a good place.”The decades since “Vice” first made Johnson a star, in 1984, have given him plenty of material. They have, in fact, been the stuff of legend — not all of which is verifiable, and not all of which he remembers. He married Melanie Griffith (twice), set a world record in powerboat racing and released two hit singles (one with his then-girlfriend Barbra Streisand). There were struggles with substance abuse, stories of women’s underwear virtually raining from open windows. There was Miami in the ’80s.Along the way, Johnson had five children, including a daughter, Dakota (of the “Fifty Shades” franchise), who is racking up A-list anecdotes herself these days. More recently, he has undergone a kind of renaissance, transforming himself from a leading man into a versatile character actor, specializing in a kind of winkingly scuzzy, unreconstructed American male in films like “Machete” (2010) and “Django Unchained” (2012), and in TV shows like “Eastbound & Down” (2009-13).When Johnson first took on the role of Nash Bridges, he had been looking for a change. Despite the structural similarities of “Bridges” and “Vice,” its two lead characters were very different. While Sonny skewed toward the tormented and dour, Nash was upbeat and funny, quick with a snappy line. Johnson appreciated the break.“I’d just done a stint on ‘Miami Vice’ for five years, and the show and the character had just gotten darker and darker,” he said. “After a while, it was like, how dark and desolate and without hope can we make Sonny? And I said, ‘I’m not doing that again.’”“I’d just done a stint on ‘Miami Vice’ for five years, and the show and the character had just gotten darker and darker,” Johnson said about his choice to do the original “Nash Bridges,” which was considerably lighter.Ryan Pfluger for The New York TimesThe series began as something of a favor to Thompson, the iconoclastic journalist and writer of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” among other books, who was a neighbor and good friend of Johnson’s in Woody Creek, Colo., at the time.“I was hanging out at his house, and he allowed to me that he was broke,” Johnson said. “And I had this 22-episode commitment at CBS. It was probably 3 a.m. in the morning, and I said, ‘Let’s just conjure up something, and I’ll take it to CBS and see if we can get it done.’”They sketched out an idea about two off-duty cops hired to protect a senator’s wife with Tourette Syndrome, called, what else, “Off Duty.” Later that day, Johnson looked at what the two had wrought.“It was unmakeable,” said Johnson, who became an executive producer on the eventual show. The premise was rejiggered into a procedural about two on-duty cops who were always getting into mischief with off-hours, get-rich-quick schemes. Johnson had the writers watch the 1940 screwball comedy “His Girl Friday” to get a taste of the snappy repartee he wanted.“We were still adjusting the tone of the show through the first order of 12 episodes,” he said. Thompson ended up writing two episodes and making an uncredited cameo as a piano player in the first season.The show had notable talent above the line. “Bridges” was the first series Les Moonves greenlit as head of CBS. Cuse, the creator, went on to become a showrunner of “Lost,” among other series. Writers included Jed Seidel (“Terriers,” “Veronica Mars,” “Gilmore Girls”) and Shawn Ryan, the creator of “The Shield.”Damon Lindelof got his start on “Bridges” before going on to cocreate “Lost” and create the acclaimed HBO series “The Leftovers” and “Watchmen.”“I was a writer’s assistant before ‘Nash Bridges,’” Lindelof said. “Don and Carlton gave me my first big-boy job.”The show garnered strong ratings for six seasons before being unceremoniously dropped in 2001, the result of a dispute between CBS and Paramount, one of the show’s producers. The whole thing “left a sour taste in my mouth,” Johnson said.Johnson with Jamie Lee Curtis in a scene from “Knives Out,” one the many more recent films and TV series that have demonstrated his prowess as a character actor. Claire Folger/Lionsgate, via Associated PressThe new movie, he said, was one way to remedy that. Johnson has a deep, protective love of the character, so much so that when the actor’s business partners at Village Roadshow, who co-own the rights to “Bridges,” approached Johnson about reviving the show, he couldn’t imagine anyone else playing Nash.“When Michael Mann was going to make ‘Miami Vice’ as a movie, he didn’t call me, and I didn’t call him,” he said. “But I knew it was a mistake, and a no-win situation for Colin Farrell. Because everybody on the planet identified me with that character.”And of course, there were also the financial benefits of bringing back a property that Johnson’s production company owns a big piece of, including a portion of the original show’s 122-episode library.“If I didn’t think there was something worthy here, I wouldn’t do it,” he said. “But there’s no question there was a business component to it.” He hopes the “Bridges” movie might eventually lead to a series of some sort, or maybe a run of two-hour specials.In the revival, we catch up with Nash after 20 years — he’s still charming, still in San Francisco. (“We owned the city of San Francisco,” Marin recalled of the experience of shooting the original. “If you’ve gotta own a city, that’s the one to own.”) He and Marin’s character, Inspector Joe Dominguez, have evolved, but not so much that they aren’t befuddled by the changes that millennials and the intervening decades have wrought on the department.Production began in San Francisco in May. Johnson’s colleagues are quick to talk about what a fun and giving guy he is to work with and for, and the attention to detail he gives to every aspect of the show.“He knows the name of every crew member,” Marin said.Others mention his special skills, like his apparently uncanny abilities behind the wheel. For most driving sequences onscreen, the car is placed on a trailer so the actors don’t need to actually drive; sometimes they’re shot in a studio using green screens or projectors. The opening scene of the movie, which has Bridges zipping around San Francisco with a discombobulated Marin riding shotgun — that’s all Johnson.Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas starred in the hit ’80s TV series “Miami Vice,” which made Johnson into an international star and sex symbol.Sleuth “Don will hold the car at exactly 40 miles an hour to keep pace with the camera car, while doing a two-minute-long scene of dialogue perfectly,” said Greg Beeman, a director on both the original “Bridges” and the new one. “I’ve tried it after ‘Bridges,’ and no other actor can do it.”What co-workers won’t do is tell any Don Johnson tales out of school, even those they might have heard thirdhand or seen splashed across a tabloid.But Johnson will. That story about how he got sent to reform school at the age of 12 after hot-wiring a car? “Yeah, I probably made that up,” he said. The time he was snorting cocaine in the men’s bathroom of a club and ran into Jimi Hendrix? “That was a club in New York called the Hippopotamus,” he explained.Those wild “Vice”-era parties at Johnson’s home, where U2 and dozens of models might show up? Well, Johnson couldn’t go out back then. He was the hottest guy on the planet’s hottest show, so the party was brought to him.“What went on behind closed doors, I have no idea,” he said.These days, Johnson’s life is a lot more serene. In addition to his hopes for more “Bridges,” he has plans to do a film for Netflix, and has other projects in the works that he declined to name.Johnson can pick and choose projects “to a certain extent,” he said, but he still likes to be asked, as he was for “Bridges.”“I still like the idea that somebody asked for you,” he said. “I like the idea that someone sends a script and says, ‘We want Don Johnson to do this.’” More

  • in

    They Adapted ‘Mrs. Doubtfire,’ and Their Personal Beliefs

    Wayne and Karey Kirkpatrick have come a long way from their beginnings in Christian rock, but they’re glad to be creating a family-friendly musical comedy.Wayne and Karey Kirkpatrick “could spend hours discussing the psychology” of growing up the sons of a Louisiana pastor and ending up in show business.Wayne, 60, the older brother, made this remark with all due seriousness, during a break from polishing a musical version of the 1993 comedy “Mrs. Doubtfire” ahead of its Dec. 5 opening at the Stephen Sondheim Theater. That will be nearly 21 months after the show closed three performances into previews, shuttered by the pandemic.Karey, 56, is more talkative, but the brothers complete each other’s sentences with the rapport of siblings who began recording pretend radio shows as kids. Over two hours in a hotel lobby in Manhattan, he and Karey recounted their religious Southern upbringing, their early careers and how they went from singing in Southern Baptist churches to writing Broadway musicals.And yet, as they shared colorful anecdotes, one could draw parallels between their own professional and personal evolutions, and the changes they’ve made to their source material for “Mrs. Doubtfire.”“The sensibilities of the world we live in today are different than 1993 as we relate to all kinds of things,” Karey said. For example, the show’s producer Kevin McCollum interjected, “a man in a dress.”Three decades ago, Robin Williams raked in box office receipts by donning fake boobs and plaid skirts. As Daniel Hillard, Williams played a newly divorced father so desperate to spend time with his children he disguised himself as a Scottish nanny and became a housekeeper for his ex-wife.With help from John O’Farrell, a British satirist and co-writer of the book, the stage version of “Mrs. Doubtfire” has been updated to reflect the cellphone era, greater racial diversity and our 21st-century understanding of gender. The adaptation was seven years in the making, and along the way, further changes were necessary in the wake of the #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter movements, O’Farrell said.Rob McClure as the title character.Sara Krulwich/The New York TimesIn the film, Sally Field portrayed the ex-wife, an imperious interior designer prattling on about Regency-style tables and Flemish tapestries. The musical finds her character, Miranda (Jenn Gambatese), designing sleek orange-and-pink athleisure wear for women who “work hard and then work out.”With Rob McClure, who plays Daniel, sitting next to her onstage, Miranda plays a confessional piano ballad, called “Let Go,” about her unfulfilling marriage. That spotlight moment supplants a less sympathetic number, “I’m Done,” which was cut after the 2019 Seattle tryout. Reviews for that production were mixed, though McClure’s performance was roundly praised.To better contextualize the man-in-a-dress schtick, the costume designer Catherine Zuber helped create the contrasting character of Andre, Daniel’s gender nonconforming brother-in-law (played by J. Harrison Ghee, who took over Billy Porter’s role in “Kinky Boots”).Andre wears flowy caftans as fashion rather than a joke. And he saves the day by distracting a court-appointed social worker who shows up at Daniel’s ramshackle apartment.McClure, meanwhile, changes in and out of his Doubtfire costume and winds up with a pie in his face, reprising an iconic image from the film. “This is all going to end badly. You do know that, right?” Andre deadpans after the ordeal.Championing families and fatherhood is what drew the Kirkpatricks to the “Doubtfire” story.Their first Broadway musical, the 2015 show “Something Rotten!,” about an Elizabethan theater troupe struggling to compete with Shakespeare’s Globe, was completely original.They had hoped their second would be too, but McCollum persuaded them to choose from a library of 20th Century Fox films he’d been hired to work on. The team settled on “Mrs. Doubtfire” because “we could relate to this story of a dad who would do anything to be with his kids,” Karey said. (Collectively, the three writers and their producer are fathers to 10 children.)The Kirkpatricks’ own father was a Southern Baptist music minister later called to the pulpit himself. He moved the family from Alexandria, La. to Baton Rouge to lead a nondenominational church.Household routines included hymn singing, piano practicing and no cursing. To this day, their mother will voice her displeasure with one of the brothers’ projects with a single word: “Language.”“I used to write everything knowing our parents would read it, and not swear or do anything offensive,” Karey said. “I had to liberate myself from that.”Brian d’Arcy James, second from left, in “Something Rotten!,” the Kirkpatrick brothers’ first Broadway musical.Sara Krulwich/The New York TimesWayne added, “Growing up in that environment, there was so much taboo.” But thankfully, their parents had long been supportive of their artistic interests, even dressing their young sons in matching outfits to perform patriotic numbers like “Yankee Doodle.” As adolescents, they took guitar lessons at Bible camp and came home begging for a Sears catalog guitar.As soon as Wayne learned how to change chords, he was transcribing songs and writing his own. Karey craved the spotlight more, acting in shows at their arts magnet high school. Yet he said he sensed that his older brother was the greater musical talent.“At age 18, I decided I was going to be his manager,” Karey recalled. His chance to play impresario came in 1983, when as a freshman studying music business at Belmont University in Nashville, he was assigned to interview someone from the industry. He picked Amy Grant, the first solo Christian music recording artist to have an album certified gold.“But I had ulterior motives,” he said. He had a crush on Grant and wanted to promote Wayne, so after the interview, he invited the secretary from Grant’s office to lunch and slipped her a three-song cassette.Sure enough, Grant’s manager called. He liked the songs. Were there more?Karey returned with another tape. The manager called again, and this time he said, “Can I meet your brother?”“I’m not a self promoter,” Wayne said, admitting that were it not for his loquacious brother, the duo might never have embarked on their parallel careers. Karey soon dropped out of Belmont to pursue acting. By 1993, the year “Mrs. Doubtfire” came out, Wayne had written more than 200 contemporary Christian songs, including multiple chart toppers for Grant (like “Good for Me” and “Every Heartbeat”) and Michael W. Smith (“Place in this World” and “Go West Young Man”).Five Movies to Watch This WinterCard 1 of 51. “The Power of the Dog”: More

  • in

    ‘Moulin Rouge!’ Has a New Satine. She’s Amazed She’s Back on Broadway.

    Natalie Mendoza walked away from “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,” and figured she would never work on Broadway again.That was 11 years ago, and now the 45-year-old Australian actress is back, starring in “Moulin Rouge! The Musical,” a title with which she has a singular history: Mendoza, who succeeds Karen Olivo in the role of Satine, had a small part in the 2001 film from which the Tony-winning show is adapted; she is the only member of the film’s cast performing in the stage musical.Born in Hong Kong to a Filipino jazz musician and an Australian dancer and television personality, Mendoza grew up in Sydney and Melbourne, with five artistically inclined siblings, and has led a nomadic life. She has lived in Asia, Europe and America; worked in music, film, television and theater; and has repeatedly left the performing arts for school (most recently, she studied French and French history at the Sorbonne) and spirituality (she has spent time at Vedic and other monasteries).Mendoza as the doomed Parisian chanteuse in “Moulin Rouge! The Musical.”Matt MurphyAnd as the villainous Arachne in “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.” She left the ill-fated show before opening night. Sara Krulwich/The New York TimesIn 2010, she was cast in the ill-fated “Spider-Man” as Arachne, a villainous spider, but left during previews after suffering a concussion and then witnessing an actor injured in a fall. That was not her only difficult experience with the entertainment industry; in 2017 she said that 15 years earlier Harvey Weinstein had groped her while she was working on a film he was producing.But in an interview earlier this month at the apartment tower where she is staying, she said she loves being onstage, and hopes to become a director.These are edited excerpts from the conversation.We’re talking in a conference room because, citing Covid, “Moulin Rouge!” won’t let me backstage. So let’s just pretend we’re in your dressing room. What would I see?They have this tradition here where you’re allowed to paint your dressing room. First, I felt a little ridiculous, and then I went for a light violet. I wanted something very peaceful and tranquil. There’s a prayer of St. Francis, to remind me to be a better person every day. And beautiful art. I collect art.“You think you’re enlightened on top of a mountain, and you go back into the city and you’re like, ‘How awake am I in this stressful setting?’”Mark Elzey for The New York TimesAnd do you keep a good-luck charm, or mementos?Not really. I’ve checked out of my career many times. I became a seeker very early. I learned meditation, and on and off I’ve been a monk, so when I say I’ve left, I really left. And so to re-engage with the world is always a little bit of a shock. It’s sort of Larry Darrell in “The Razor’s Edge.” You think you’re enlightened on top of a mountain, and you go back into the city and you’re like, “How awake am I in this stressful setting?”I want to come back to spirituality, but let’s start with “Moulin Rouge!” How did you wind up in the film?Many, many moons ago, when I was still living in Australia, I had been cast as Eponine in “Les Misérables.” Baz [Luhrmann] came to see “Les Miz,” because he was wanting to cast Satine, and I ended up at the final audition at his house in Sydney with his whole crew of creatives and bohemians. And we basically workshopped the role.A couple of weeks later, I heard that the glorious Nicole Kidman got the role, which didn’t surprise me. But Baz kept calling me, and saying, “Listen, we want you involved; we’re going to create a character for you,” and sure enough, that’s what happened. He created China Doll. It set my career in a different direction. All the people I met on that film set helped shape my tastes. This girl from the suburbs of Australia suddenly started dreaming about the streets of Paris, and life in London.You had taken a break from performing when you were cast in the London production of “Here Lies Love,” which is how you met Alex Timbers.Being an Asian actress, I would see other young actresses careers take this very clear trajectory, [but] I would play a really interesting role, and then all of a sudden I’d drop off because there wasn’t another role to continue that upward trajectory. Rather than wait around, I’d just go off to India, or go off and study something, and then I’d pop back in. The National Theater contacted me just when I’d left a monastery that I’d been at for a year. So that was a dream come true. And it was hugely successful, and then I just disappeared again.Mendoza and Aaron Tveit in “Moulin Rouge!” She replaced Karen Olivo, who originated the role of Satine onstage.Matt MurphyNow it’s six years later; Timbers is directing “Moulin Rouge!” and he reached out to you again.It had been so long. I just thought, “Can I do this?” Even when I’m not in a monastery, I still very much live that lifestyle. I’m very quiet. I teach meditation. I don’t speak a whole lot. I certainly don’t sing. But I just threw caution to the wind. And I realized I knew this character, because I was there right at the beginning.Karen Olivo, who originated the role of Satine onstage, left citing abuses in the industry. Did that concern you?I messaged her, before opening night, and I just thanked her, because she’s part of this character. I’m benefiting from a lot of the work that she did. And it’s always wonderful when a woman wants to take a stand based on her principles. I know that she cared deeply about the company and the cast, and she was incredibly gracious in saying that she was happy to leave the show in my hands.You had your own experience speaking up, about Harvey Weinstein.It was actually incredibly clumsy of me. The way it was portrayed in the press was far more heroic than the truth. I was reading an article about an actress [who was describing her] experience, and he sort of had a script, and I had encountered the same script. My initial impulse was to comment [on Facebook], and somehow it got leaked.He affected the arc of your career?I had signed a three-picture deal. But after that first movie, I decided Hollywood’s not for me, because I could see the cost. I never see myself as a victim. The thing is Harvey can only be Harvey because there’s a collective agreement that allows it to happen. We’re now seeing these collective shifts, these waves of a change, which is so beautiful. But at that time, that wasn’t going to happen. And so I just went off and kept being an artist in the way that I knew how. But of course, it affected my career. My career was full of potential at that point — I was young and I had some great opportunities, but I took the quieter road.You’re sort of a child of the world. How do you think about your own identity?I do think of myself as a citizen of the world. Growing up in Australia, I was literally like one of two Asian girls in my school year. So I never identified with being Australian. I couldn’t relate to the culture. I would look in the mirror and I would see an Asian girl. And I was drawn to all things Asian. I then left. I started touring and living all over Asia by the age of 16. I was connecting with the different spiritual traditions. And this is what piqued my interest early and then I just started seeking out my own path.“It’s always those devastating blows that propel you, if you allow them to,” Mendoza said.Mark Elzey for The New York TimesSpeaking of your path, I looked through your Instagram and you mention Transcendental Meditation, Christ, the Divine Mother, the Buddha, Lao Tzu, Ram Dass, Rumi, a Hindu god, Saint Francis of Assisi. What’s going on?I really honor the essence that permeates all the great faiths, including the faith of quantum mechanics. The intelligence that allows a flower to bloom. That invisible essence that connects and permeates all. We see the crema on top of every great faith. There’s just this commonality that they all share, which is love and peace and compassion. I’m a fan of all of them and a devotee of all of them.Your last Broadway appearance was “Spider-Man.” You left after a concussion. Tell me what your thinking was about coming back.I realized there’s some unfinished business here, because it brought up some strange feelings, like, “Do I want to revisit that?” And I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to perform on Broadway again, because sometimes when things like that happen, you become untouchable. “Oh, you know, she was part of that production.” And so the opportunity to be given this chance, and to change the narrative, because I’m certainly not a quitter — it is the last thing I would ever have expected, but it’s incredibly beautiful to be doing this.How do you view “Spider-Man” in the rearview mirror?It’s its own Greek myth, isn’t it? It was a really powerful turning point for me. To get that close, and to suddenly not be doing it, was a pretty devastating blow. And at the same time, it’s always those devastating blows that propel you, if you allow them to, in a direction spiritually that can be the greatest gift of your life, and certainly that’s what happened. I am so thankful to have gone through that experience, and also to carry so many of the lessons from that experience into this experience. It’s all beautiful.When I heard you got this role, the first thing that occurred to me is that Satine flies. Did that freak you out?Not at all. People thought I left that show because I was scared, and I wasn’t. I was making a stand. People’s safety is important, and it wasn’t my safety I was concerned about. I’m a rock climber. I’m not scared of heights. I’m not afraid. I don’t think any show is worth putting anybody’s life at risk, particularly these dancers that have spent their entire lives training to be up on that stage. You have to treat those bodies with so much respect, because that’s their livelihood. I would never want stardom so much that I would compromise my own integrity. And I have no problem taking a stand for anybody. More

  • in

    Jon Batiste on His 11 Grammy Nominations: ‘I’m So Over the Moon’

    The jazz pianist and bandleader on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” received the most nominations for the 2022 awards. Music “connects us to the sacred, the divine,” he said.With his second studio album, “We Are,” the jazz pianist Jon Batiste sought to make music without genre, a mission that might not seem to align with an awards show built around firm categories.But the boundary-bending approach of Batiste’s latest work paid off in the nominations for the 64th annual Grammy Awards: He earned the most nominations with 11, covering R&B, American roots and jazz.Eight of the nominations came from “We Are,” including album and record of the year for his track “Freedom,” which also received a nomination for best music video. (He filmed it in his New Orleans hometown.) Three were for his work on the Pixar movie “Soul,” which won an Academy Award earlier this year for best score.Batiste, 35, appears nightly as the bandleader on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert,” and over the last year and a half, he has become a familiar face during times of crisis. When the pandemic shut down indoor performing arts venues, Batiste played in the open air. And when protesters hit the streets after the murder of George Floyd last year to rally against racism and police violence, Batiste staged a series of protest concerts, leading crowds of people in song.Batiste chatted in a phone interview shortly after the nominations were announced on Tuesday. The following are edited excerpts from the conversation.With “We Are,” you set out to make an album that didn’t fit into any one genre, and as a result, you were nominated in three genres, as well as the general categories. Did your mission for the album succeed?.css-1xzcza9{list-style-type:disc;padding-inline-start:1em;}.css-3btd0c{font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size:1rem;line-height:1.375rem;color:#333;margin-bottom:0.78125rem;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-3btd0c{font-size:1.0625rem;line-height:1.5rem;margin-bottom:0.9375rem;}}.css-3btd0c strong{font-weight:600;}.css-3btd0c em{font-style:italic;}.css-1kpebx{margin:0 auto;font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.125rem;line-height:1.3125rem;color:#121212;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-1kpebx{font-family:nyt-cheltenham,georgia,’times new roman’,times,serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.375rem;line-height:1.625rem;}@media (min-width:740px){#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-1kpebx{font-size:1.6875rem;line-height:1.875rem;}}@media (min-width:740px){.css-1kpebx{font-size:1.25rem;line-height:1.4375rem;}}.css-1gtxqqv{margin-bottom:0;}.css-1g3vlj0{font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size:1rem;line-height:1.375rem;color:#333;margin-bottom:0.78125rem;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-1g3vlj0{font-size:1.0625rem;line-height:1.5rem;margin-bottom:0.9375rem;}}.css-1g3vlj0 strong{font-weight:600;}.css-1g3vlj0 em{font-style:italic;}.css-1g3vlj0{margin-bottom:0;margin-top:0.25rem;}.css-19zsuqr{display:block;margin-bottom:0.9375rem;}.css-12vbvwq{background-color:white;border:1px solid #e2e2e2;width:calc(100% – 40px);max-width:600px;margin:1.5rem auto 1.9rem;padding:15px;box-sizing:border-box;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-12vbvwq{padding:20px;width:100%;}}.css-12vbvwq:focus{outline:1px solid #e2e2e2;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-12vbvwq{border:none;padding:10px 0 0;border-top:2px solid #121212;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-rdoyk0{-webkit-transform:rotate(0deg);-ms-transform:rotate(0deg);transform:rotate(0deg);}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-eb027h{max-height:300px;overflow:hidden;-webkit-transition:none;transition:none;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-5gimkt:after{content:’See more’;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-6mllg9{opacity:1;}.css-qjk116{margin:0 auto;overflow:hidden;}.css-qjk116 strong{font-weight:700;}.css-qjk116 em{font-style:italic;}.css-qjk116 a{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;text-underline-offset:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-thickness:1px;text-decoration-thickness:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:visited{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:hover{-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}It was so rewarding to be nominated in multiple categories and multiple genres. And of course, for the two big categories in the general field. I’ve always made an effort to show that the genres are all connected, just like people in all of our lineages are connected. I’ve said that many times, and it just feels so great for it to be recognized on music’s biggest stage.How does it feel to be the most nominated artist in any genre?My goodness, I’m so over the moon. We made this album throughout the pandemic and we had so many things going on. We recorded the soundtrack and the score for “Soul” during the pandemic. It was so much. You always put your blood, sweat and tears into the craft of making an album, but it was doubly so during that time.You released an early iteration of the title track, “We Are,” in June 2020 as you were in the middle of crafting the album. Why did you make that decision?“We Are” is a song that features my grandfather, who is an incredible activist. He’s somebody who grew up during the Memphis sanitation strike. He was a protester, he was somebody who basically fought for the rights for me to be able to be where I am today. And he’s on the record.The lyrics in that record reference all of the things that we were fighting to maintain during the protest for Black lives. So it was really just one of those things where I made the song, not knowing that the moment would come for the song before the album was finished.“The lyrics in that record reference all of the things that we were fighting to maintain during the protest for Black lives,” Batiste said of his title track, “We Are.”Hiroko Masuike/The New York TimesDid the experience of performing the song in the context of protests shape the final version that was nominated for the Grammy? Did it evolve any more after that?No, it actually didn’t because it was already so much of the spirit of the moment. I didn’t have to do anything to it.Over the past year and a half, you’ve spent a lot of time playing outdoors for the public, whether at protests in the summer of 2020 or roaming performances during some of the worst months of the pandemic. How did these events change how you see yourself as an artist?It made me realize that music is bigger than the entertainment structure, it’s bigger than commerce, it’s bigger than a marketing or business plan. Music is something that’s used from the beginning of time, going all the way back to the first communities, as glue within communities, as part of the fabric of everyday life. It brings people together and it’s used as something to transmit wisdom from generations, to pass on traditions and give people hope. It connects us to the sacred, the divine. I’m not against music as entertainment, but I think if we remember the origin of what music is all about and what it can be used for, it would be very useful in this time.You’ve also said that the album reflects the passage of your life thus far. What does the album say about where you were in your life when you recorded it?It’s me coming into myself. You go through this process of resurrection as an artist, you go through a birth and a rebirth and a rebirth and you’re constantly becoming. And I was at this transitional point and the album was a time stamp of that moment of being reborn. So I really believe that when I look back on this album in 15, 20, 30 years — God willing — I’ll be able to, to appreciate it in a different way, because I’ll have gone through similar rebirths, but none will be the same. More

  • in

    Prince Paul Dives Deep Into Music History

    In “The 33 ⅓ Podcast,” the acclaimed producer finds himself in some unexpected pairings to explore classic albums from Steely Dan, Janet Jackson and more.When the music producer Prince Paul received a call inquiring if he’d be game to host a podcast for Spotify, his immediate reaction was shock. Why, he wondered, would the company want him to host “The 33 ⅓ Podcast,” its new show exploring individual works of classic albums, based on the Bloomsbury book series?Never mind that Prince Paul is considered a music nerd’s music nerd, best known for his influential studio wizardry with the hip-hop trio De La Soul. His eclectic, seemingly haphazard, career trajectory may not have made him an obvious choice for the show. Though he’s produced albums for Vernon Reid and MC Paul Barman, assembled the horrorcore group Gravediggaz and released albums of his own like “A Prince Among Thieves,” his music credits over the past decade and a half had slowed to a trickle. One of his more-prominent roles during this time: serving as the co-host of “Ego Trip’s The (White) Rapper Show,” a short-lived reality competition program on VH1.Prince Paul, born Paul Huston, didn’t bother asking the Spotify emissaries why they chose him. He said he didn’t want to ruin the moment with too much probing. But the first episode of the show, which debuted in September, illuminates the company’s thinking. Prince Paul welcomed Posdnuos from De La Soul to chat about “Aja,” the 1977 album by Steely Dan, known for its meticulous, jazz-inflected rock compositions. What might seem at first like an odd pairing of host, guest and album is actually an inspired one.On “3 Feet High and Rising,” De La Soul’s debut album that Prince Paul produced, the band sampled the duo’s song “Peg,” not a particularly common, or welcome, move in the rap world in 1989. As the two men banter and reminisce, listeners get a sense of Steely Dan’s influence on De La Soul and how sampling “Peg” made perfect sense for the album they were creating.“What made you pick that song in particular, especially for our first album?” Prince Paul asked.“Just as a single it was a song that we heard and we felt, and it felt good, and it felt happy,” Posdnuos said, remembering how “Peg” just clicked for him when he first heard it as an 8-year-old in the Bronx. “But it was also very rhythmic, like the bass driving. It felt like an R&B record, to be quite honest. You could easily connect to it.”“Did it feel dated or anything at the time?” Prince Paul asked in a follow-up question.“Not at all,” Posdnuos said. “It felt like a classic joint; it’s timeless. I look at that song as a timeless record to now be applied to what we were doing. I didn’t look at it as an older record to now breathe some life into it.”“33 ⅓” is the latest music-focused production from Spotify, joining the likes of ““Black Girl Songbook” and “No Skips with Jinx and Shea” and fitting snugly into Spotify’s larger podcast ambitions. Other episodes in the 12-episode season feature an eclectic mix of albums and guests including Janet Jackson’s “Velvet Rope” and the singer-songwriter Victoria Monét, David Bowie’s “Low” and the rapper Danny Brown, and Metallica’s “Metallica” (best known as the Black Album) and the Hole drummer Patty Schemel.Deciding which albums to feature — there are more than 150 books in the Bloomsbury series — was not “super calculated,” said Yasi Salek, the show’s producer. Instead, the focus is on “what would be really fun to bring to life.” Choosing the guests, however, involved a more thoughtful process. Salek said she looked for guests who knew the artist, were involved in the making of the project or have talked about the album’s influence on them. In the “Velvet Rope” episode, Monét tells Prince Paul how Jackson was a role model for her. “I needed to see that as a young girl just to be able to look at her and see myself,” she said.In keeping with his uncalculated approach to his career, Prince Paul is hands off when it comes to the decision-making process, saying he’s open to whatever is sent his way. Which helps explain the riotous, and expletive-filled, exploration of Guns N’ Roses’ “Use Your Illusion” I & II with Sebastian Bach of Skid Row and Riki Rachtman, co-owner of the Hollywood nightclub The Cathouse (a magnet for heavy metal bands till its closing in 1993). It’s a record that doesn’t quite fall in Prince Paul’s wheelhouse — he opens the episode by letting the audience know that his “knowledge of metal and rock are limited” — but the choice underscores his willingness to be a student.Hosting the show, Prince Paul said, is “forcing me to learn classic records and appreciate music all over again.”That willingness to try something new seems to be the fuel that has propelled him to each juncture in his career — whether that’s producing comedy albums for Chris Rock or a hip-hop children’s concept album about kid dinosaurs, serving as one half of the genre-bending duo Handsome Boy Modeling School or composing the score for last year’s six-part documentary “Who Killed Malcolm X?”“Everybody wants to do whatever’s cool,” Prince Paul said. That’s not his style. “This is what I feel like doing,” he said. “And as unpopular as it is, as nerdy as I am, I’ll just be that, but I’ll be me dictating me. And that’s, I think, the most important thing.”“There’s something to be said about going out there and not knowing where this path will take you,” he added. More