Lola Kirke in Conversation with Griffin Newman

Griffin Newman and Lola Kirke were introduced in 2002. They both went to the same school and summer camp, Buck’s Rock Performing and Creative Arts Camp, where Lola commented that “everyone was a fuckwad, and they all grew up and became really successful.”

Upon meeting as young adolescents, Newman said that Kirke was the “most confident [person he] had ever encountered,” while he characterised himself as a “disgusting bundle of self-loathing and unease.”

15 years later, they are both featured in their own half-hour Amazon programs, which debuted new seasons this year.

Lola Kirke, daughter of Simon Kirke (drummer for Bad Company) and sister to Jemima Kirke (actress and painter), was born in England and relocated to the United States when she was five. 

She portrays the main character in the Amazon Prime TV series Mozart in the Jungle, which follows an oboist who is trying to make it in the classical-music scene in New York. 

She also acted in Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig’s Mistress America (2015), in which she played a similar role as a novice writer struggling with the challenges of turning life into art.

Kirke has expanded her career to include public performances as a singer-songwriter-guitarist. Her music has a classic sound, incorporating elements of country-and-western and ’90s alternative, and features beautiful, melodic tunes.

For the past ten years or so, Griffin Newman has featured in several independent films and TV shows, like Vinyl and Search Party, typically in the role of a character actor. His full name, according to IMDb, is Griffin Claude Beresford Dauphin Hunter Newman.

Recently, he was cast as Arthur in the new adaptation of The Tick, which is based on the comic series from the 1980s. This iteration of the show combines satire with a genuine appreciation of the genre’s conventions.

It is filled with comical dialogue and exaggerated action sequences, with Newman at the center as a fragile, yet humorous protagonist. He complements his masculinity and assertiveness with a monotone deadpan delivery.

Alongside David Simms, the film critic of The Atlantic, Newman hosts the comedy podcast, Blank Check. 

The show’s objective is to examine the works of directors who have found success in Hollywood and have subsequently been given a figurative “blank check” by the industry. 

Featured directors have included Kathryn Bigelow, Steven Spielberg, and M. Night Shyamalan, with their respective blank-check films being Point Break, Jaws, and The Sixth Sense.

In the beginning of the year 2018, Kirke and Newman had a relaxed talk in which they covered their progress in the business, as well as references to Gandhi, Scorsese, and ABBA.

— Ross Simonini

It can be said that Simonini has an appreciation for the finer things in life. He finds joy in the small moments of beauty that are all around us, such as the scent of a flower or the sound of a bird singing.

He also takes pleasure in exploring the unknown, be it a novel idea or an unfamiliar place. Ultimately, he is someone who seeks to savour the present and savour life.


Types of Max Fisher can be broken down into distinct divisions.

QUESTION: Do you remember the three and a half hour performance you put together that was based around a meta-representation of the connection between us?

Griffin Newman remarked that the play, which is now often referred to as “The Lola Play”, was originally titled Class of 2009. However, he noted that it wasn’t remembered very well due to its lacklustre title.

QUESTION: Is it possible to hint to an audience which is not yet present, but will be in the future?

Yes, I’m certain.

QUESTION: Right, so to give a summary of this play: Griffin created a really long performance, running for a total of three and a half hours, based on me, Griffin, and another companion. It was like Rushmore, only with enthusiastic applause and the finale tune being “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” by Wilco. It was a very serious production.

ANSWER: It was extremely important to us. We need to make sure everyone knows what happened. We were friends since summer camp and attended a strange school that resembled the one in the movie Rushmore.

It wasn’t an exclusively arts school, but it was heavily focused on the arts. Our school was always on the verge of expelling us due to us being a bunch of peculiar Max Fisher types. We always argued that they didn’t understand how essential it was to us.

We were a group of exceptionally ambitious youngsters who considered the task at hand to be the most significant ever accomplished. It was likely an unbearable experience for those outside of our circle.

ANSWER: mentioned that he had been mulling over this recently, as he had spent four hours getting ready the other day, going through twelve outfit changes.

QUESTION: Was this a try-out or just a regular day?

ANSWER: answered in the negative, affirming that the item in question was inside the residence.

QUESTION: Alright, that sounds good.

At 7 a.m. the day began, and then around half-past twelve I had to go to a place, and I looked like Lemmy from Motorhead when I arrived. This didn’t mirror how I felt internally in any way. But I understood that my usual style of dressing is about forming some sort of persona for myself.


ANSWER: My style of dress often has a retro theme to it, not something that you would find someone wearing in the current year. I usually opt for clothes that evoke the style of a 1950s housewife.

QUESTION: Not in your past experiences, but moments in history, right?

ANSWER: I was contemplating how if someone is always dressing in a way that resembles the style of a bygone era, then they are essentially wearing a costume, and if they are in costume, they are engaging in a dream world rather than in reality.

I’m not sure if this is a better or a worse thing, but I’m curious–the reason I bring this up is that I feel like oftentimes in our lives we have to act as a version of ourselves that is a character.

QUESTION: It’s strange that we’re both on television; we’re both doing work that we’re proud of. Though I’m sure we’re both a bit crazy, never fully content with what we do, when we look at it from afar it’s like, “I’m doing what I always wanted to do.”

Since I’ve managed to reach this point, I don’t have to worry about my career being a complete failure. However, there are other areas where I have to concentrate my anxieties. The primary one that’s been taken away is the fear of not being able to make ends meet.

LK expressed his concern of becoming a “has-been”, not knowing what the future will bring.

I have oddly reached an acceptance of that notion, and I’m not expressing this as if I’m simply giving in to it.

ANSWER: Having the benefit of being brought up with great wealth is something that not many are fortunate enough to experience.

We both took part in the action.

ANSWER: We both put in effort. I can tell you believe your artwork is of value, that it is significant in some way.

QUESTION: Correct. And that you have the means to come up with solutions.

ANSWER: I was pondering today–I was listening to Democracy Now! and it was talking about an activist for immigrants’ rights who has been deported. His family’s main concern is simply the need to have him back in the country.

His return is a great accomplishment for civil rights, however it also implies that they need to begin from the start. It puts into perspective the difficulty of wanting to make better pieces of art, while having to fight for something that is essential, yet seemingly superfluous.

I’ve been reflecting on the public discourse around the diversity of Saturday Night Live in recent years. As someone who is involved in sketch comedy in New York City, even though I’m not SNL adjacent, I’ve seen people I know become part of the show.

The issue is that the system is not set up to make it easy for them to find talent. It’s difficult for those who don’t have the luxury and financial means to take classes and perform at the big, cool theatres without pay, in the hopes of eventually getting on a show or writing staff.

This discourages many from attempting to pursue this career path.

Yes, indeed.

We were granted the outstanding opportunity to attempt something.


LK recalled the directors who had been favourites of theirs when they were twelve, noting that the person they were speaking to had been quite mature for their age. Specifically, John Cassavetes and Robert Altman had been the object of their admiration.

I had an affinity for the peculiar, dishevelled individuals of the 1970s.

ANSWER: I agree. I find the ’70s rockers with a unique and sloppy style to be quite appealing.

QUESTION: When I worked on Vinyl, I relied on the talent of the actors and followed strange paths. They had a plan and it wasn’t just a free-for-all. I had a minor role and had to wear a moustache for an entire year.

It was different from how I normally looked and it was necessary for job security. I had to present a face that was at odds with how I felt inside.

LK asked how the issue had been resolved.

The other day I was on the train and noticed a guy with thick eyeglasses and large sideburns with a moustache, and I thought to myself, “That person is trying too hard to be noticed.” Then I realised I had the same look.

I was determined to pull off the David Crosby style moustache. It was red, despite my having brown hair, plus the thin sideburns. My locks were very long, and it was hot outside. My facial hair had an effect on every interaction I had.

I had a very minor role in Vinyl that Scorsese directed. I had one line, but in most of it I was just a featured extra. He likes to have the same people in the background of each shot, so it would appear like a complete world rather than having a bunch of different faces.

He also wants the same actors to stay at their desks in the office scenes in case he decides to adjust the camera angle.

I thoroughly recognize that.

GN was impressed by the fact that he was part of a greater purpose, and didn’t feel like his time was being wasted. It was a learning experience for him to spend three weeks on a Scorsese set, and he didn’t have to stress about remembering his few lines.

LK  inquired as to what they were.

I had a particular moment of pride when I came up with something spontaneously during a rehearsal and the director decided to incorporate it into the script.

LK inquired as to what the thing was.

Back in the ’70s, when I was employed as an A&R person at a fictitious record company, we used to listen to ABBA.

LK asked what the name of the record label was.

At American Century Records, I was puffing away on my marshmallow and rose-petal cigarettes with my moustache, and the phrase that came to mind was, “The tunes may be trash, but I’d tap that blonde.”

LK commented that the action was perfect for the individual.

GN mentioned that he was unable to recall two elements of a story, and then stated that whenever he made a mistake, Bobby Cannavale, who was his supervisor, would reprimand him and he would reply timidly, “Oh no, I didn’t mean it that way.”

He explained that he felt insecure about his age and how he looked too young to be convincing as a person of such stature in the office.

ANSWER: However, individuals in the ’70s were in a more mature stage of life; whereas today, many people are still living with their parents when they turn thirty.

I had a lot of thoughts about this, and in the end, I determined that my character was going to be a very cynical 25-year-old. He appears to abhor everything, yet he persists in his job despite his consistently negative outlook.

In any case, my aim was to learn what Scorsese was doing on set. It was evident that he was one of the few directors from the ’70s who still get to make movies on a grand scale. His cinematic sense and story instincts were impressive.

Everyone in the team who worked with him found him to be the most intelligent and kind person in the industry.

The most captivating thing about him was the way he directed us. Especially in group scenes, he would allow us to make our own decisions. He would tell us to act tired if we had been to a concert the night before.

This sense of empowerment made us work harder. His trust in us gave us the freedom to try out new things and make difficult decisions.

It was precisely due to his direction that his movies are known for their unique moments, something that Cassavetes, Altman, and other directors have also been able to achieve.

Though people tend to overstate the amount of improvisation in these movies, the reality is that it is more about taking on scenes or rewording of dialogues.

ANSWER: I believe that it is truly enjoyable to be able to spend time with people in the same atmosphere.

QUESTION: Possessing material possessions.

I have taken note of the fact that there is no time to practise, so we don’t. This is not anyone’s error, it is simply capitalism’s fault.


LK observed that the industry they had admired and wished to be a part of is no longer around. They noted that independent films have become productions with budgets of twenty-five million dollars and feature famous actors such as Tom Cruise.

GN has noted that even if a movie is independently produced by a self-made billionaire, it will still go through the same level of studio notes as any other. On the other hand, a movie can be produced for a much lower budget, such as sixty thousand dollars.

LK is of the opinion that nobody ever catches a glimpse of it.

GN claims that the likelihood of a movie making it from pre-production to completion is slim, due to the limited budget often assigned to the project. The expense of hiring well-known actors for the roles makes it difficult for the productions to be successful.

GN continues to explain that if a script is written to fit a budget of sixty-thousand-dollars, it can still be made into a good movie. However, on set they may be confronted with issues such as a broken camera or a boom pole duct-taped to the wall, which makes it hard to even get the shot they need.

LK reflected on the plight of less experienced directors who have been dreaming of directing films for a long time but are now unable to exercise control over the output of their work due to the presence of a big star.

On such sets, questions are often asked of LK, such as “What would you say?” to which he has no answer as it is the director who wrote the character. He points out how language has become a strange and almost non-existent entity in film.

This is in contrast to his experience in theatre, where he utilised language to shape the character he was playing and bring it to life.

GN believes that the “Apatow explosion” of a decade ago has led to the widespread notion that improv is a cool quality and has been incorporated into many different mediums. However, they feel that many movies simply put together gag reels and lack intentionality.

GN enjoys being directed and recognizes that different directors can bring out different performances in actors. They view new directors as a chance to have a strong relationship and bring out a great performance.

ANSWER: Being told what to do is something I really appreciate, and this may be why I became an actor. Though, it could be the other way around. I observe that direction is becoming less and less common on film and television sets, specifically television, and I’m not certain what the art of directing television actually is.

I note that I’m less likely to receive direction as an actor than I assumed, simply because the crew is more concerned with the shot itself than my performance. They assume that the reason I was hired as an actor is because I will naturally do what I feel is right. That’s not how I operate.

QUESTION: People commented on my performance, expressing that I had the right instinct for each take. They said, “I noticed you in that (project); your acting was really great; you must have the perfect feeling for each scene, every time.”

LK has noticed that they are often quite bad at taking action and making choices on behalf of themselves. It is like getting dressed every day; they constantly ask themselves whether they are deciding what they want or what someone else would like them to be.

It is easier for them to fulfil someone else’s expectations of them than to trust their own instincts.

When someone can explain precisely what they desire, it makes it easier to understand.

LK declared that it was a bit sad, yet they were determined to become better at expressing their desires and then die someday. They stated that they simply didn’t know.


ANSWER: I consulted my psychic vocal instructor, who is a soccer mom in the Valley, with a query today. When I asked if I could ask her a psychic inquiry, she replied with a yes.

So, I asked her, “What the heck is going on?” To which she answered, “You have to quit relying on your frustration.”

I consider that uncomfortable emotions, such as annoyance and fury, can assist us in a beneficial manner since they can be a source of motivation, but I often ponder when they become too much of a stimulus and become a burdensome load.

GN expressed that, although he has previously discussed feeling limited by the industry, the part he has in The Tick is a dream role and his dream project.

LK commented that they were aware of the fact that the other person was a superhero.

I’m a superhero, which is so unbelievable that I’m still wondering how I managed to do it.

LK exclaimed that they had no clue.

QUESTION: I have no clue. But, from an actor’s perspective, this role offers a perfect mix of comedy and drama, and I’m getting to do some physical stuff. It’s also an incredible chance for me to demonstrate a different, more unconventional type of masculinity.

I’m not trying to make myself the centre of attention, but I think it’s an important thing to do with the show, as he breaks away from the standard male archetypes we’re all so used to.

LK stated that there is no discussion about broadening the idea of women in literature and on the big and small screens.

Growing up, it is easy to be heavily influenced by the movies and TV shows that one watches and to want to be like a certain type of character. GN believes that having more varied male role models in the media would help boys to know that there is no “accepted standard” for being a man.

Han Solo may be a great example, but if a boy does not feel like he is Han Solo, he may not know where he fits in. GN takes this idea very seriously.

ANSWER: The main idea here, apart from us two neurotics from downtown Manhattan discussing how we accomplished our goals, is …

QUESTION: Not enjoying being successful, yes.

ANSWER: It is not that. The dream is quite illusory and the question is how much we are willing to engage in it. It almost feels like a drug that gives us a certain high and then we need to go back for more.

I am trying to figure out how to counter the dissatisfaction or frustration, and I don’t think it can come from an apathetic point of view.

Maybe, we have to rely on the spiritual side and just trust that the people who experience us are doing it because it was meant to be. Movies were always a source of comfort to me when I was growing up.

I was able to relate to Julie Christie and it felt like she was showing me the real me, the one no one else knew.

It is essential to have representation in movies and television. Seeing yourself reflected on the screen can be a tremendous gift as it can make you feel less isolated.

I have an inclination that I’m feeling love.

Yes, and comprehending.

LK commented that it is incredible to have a bond, and to be able to provide that bond to others. They suggested that if we viewed art through a more spiritual lens, there wouldn’t be such a high quantity of subpar art.

  1. “I express my disapproval of President Trump on Twitter daily,”

This year I have dedicated a lot of effort to improving myself and being the best version of me that I can be. It isn’t so much an internal journey as it is an external one – How do I want to be seen by the people around me?

LK noted that this past election made them realise that they could take action to make a difference; they refrained from citing the overused quote but saying it was like “if I want that to be different then I can go do it.”

They then decided to take part in the democratic process and found it to be a positive experience.

QUESTION: Your convictions have always been unwavering, and you have never been bashful in regards to expressing your views on matters.

ANSWER: When I started, I was doing it for attention, however, now I’m doing it because of the possibility of nuclear war.

QUESTION: All appearances indicated that the transition was happening without a hitch. Although the hidden intent was changing, the process seemed to be happening without issue.

I could not be any happier.

QUESTION: Since you have achieved a larger platform and people are paying attention to you, you have not held back on expressing yourself.

You have highlighted the importance of people in influential positions to communicate their ideas and have called out those that don’t.

Even if we don’t all agree, in this tense climate it is essential to be forthright and share what is right. And then, it’s up to the audience to decide whether they accept it or not.

LK commented that the internet is a dangerous area. They suggested that it is possibly due to the increased population of the world that we are exposed to more opinions, movies, music, and other items.

To be mindful of our presence in this world, they advised, is important, particularly when we yearn to make a greater impact. Finally, they concluded that they have far too many selfies in their folder.

GN suggested that instead of trying to comment on every issue, people should take a step back and only chime in when they feel strongly about it, have a stake in it, or simply care about it.

ANSWER: I cannot think of a way to improve the state of the world, and my volunteer work tends to only demonstrate how grim conditions really are. No matter how hard I work to help others now, I do not believe that it will be enough to put an end to homelessness.

QUESTION: In current times, a sense of dissatisfaction is shared by all. It does not matter what walk of life you come from, many people feel as though they are being denied their rights and that they are not being heard. It would be great if this sense of discontent could bring people together.

LK suggested that if people were content with what they have, then there would be no need to purchase additional items.

QUESTION: Yes. So I’m a lot busier on Twitter–

I perceived that you are quite proficient on Twitter, LK.

QUESTION: Appreciated. You have an Instagram account that I envy. Despite my attempts, I’m still unable to create an Instagram account that is captivating.

LK shared that they had composed a few successful tweets the prior month.

QUESTION: As far as political matters go, I usually amplify the voices of people I deem smarter than myself. Rather than trying to put my own spin on things, I’ll simply spread the word if they have a valid point or supporting evidence.

That said, I do make sure to express my discontent with Donald Trump on a daily basis by tweeting “fuck you” at him.

ANSWER: Is that so?

GN attests that they have done it nearly every day for the past year, missing only a handful of days. The estimate is that they have done it for about 347 days.

ANSWER: That’s great work. Truly admirable activism.

QUESTION: There was a noticeable shift. My fan base prior to The Tick consisted of people who had to do some digging to discover me. They likely experienced me through underground comedy clubs or heard my podcast.

But when I was on television, I received comments from people who claimed to be fans of my work, yet expressed their disapproval of the political content I introduced. They told me I should just stick to acting.

When I first encountered that kind of situation, it was in response to a video I had posted on Instagram of me dancing to “You’re So Vain” without any clothes on; but I was actually wearing something. It was one of my earlier posts.

The Criterion Collection’s Kirke: The Early Years compilation will include this item.

ANSWER recounts: When the video was first posted, it got her thirty thousand followers in under an hour and was viewed over three million times. However, the comments were mostly negative: “Fuck you, you ugly cnt, I hope you choke on a big dck”.

She had worn a “Fuck Paul Ryan” pin earlier that day and people seemed to take issue with both her body hair and her political beliefs.

A year later, she reposted the video and the response was drastically different – every comment was complimentary – “You’re so beautiful”. This showed her how much had changed in the past year.

The way in which one expresses themselves can have a significant effect on how they are perceived. Making a conscious effort to be articulate and precise can help to create a positive impression and leave an enduring mark.

Crafting language with care can be a beneficial strategy when it comes to forming relationships and maintaining a good reputation.

Our writing staff is varied and passionate about arts, literature, film, travel, music, and entertainment.

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