Jeremy Levick and Rajat Suresh, New York-based comedy writers and actors who regularly lampoon pop culture and news in videos they share on Twitter, recently took up a topic that hits hard for us here at the hollywood reporter – he THR Round table of actors.
In early March, before the Oscars, Levick and Suresh released The Hollywood Recorder Actors Roundtablea 54-minute parody of the full-length THR franchise. For your fictional news outlet, the hollywood recorderLevick and Suresh recreated the THR Roundtable experience in painstaking detail, from our stellar, inclusive casts to the hard-hitting questions from our moderators (“Finish this sentence: I act because…”) to our use of a very, very, very large table. He Tape recorder’s Roundtable features Justin Theroux as a no-nonsense actor promoting an Oscars hook (for the record, we’ve never met anyone like that before) and includes performances by actors Colin Stokes as Moderator, Vince Edgehill, Stephen Cofield Jr. and Stu Li. .
THR recently caught up with Levick and Suresh via email to find out more about their inspiration, creative process, and what’s next for two fun guys who have really made us feel seen.
What sparked your idea of The Hollywood Recorder Actors Roundtable?
RAJAT SURESH Our performances in Breaking off and fairview they were really amazing, but no media outlet asked us to be a part of their panel discussions. So, we decided to take matters into our own hands and spend a ton of money to make the video and the media ourselves.
jeremy levick The format is also very dramatic and serious, which makes us laugh. And all the entertainment magazines seem to be ramping up their celebrity video content on YouTube, so this seemed like a good time to get together. Mainly though, we’ve always been big fans of round shapes. This was a great way for us to finally incorporate one into a video. I’ve been a fan of circles since I came out of the womb, which is a type of circle. Rajat plays basketball, a sport that basically involves throwing a circle within a circle. Justin Theroux has a circle in his name (the letter “o”).
Your attention to detail is impressive, right down to the setting, the way it was shot and edited, and the fact that there’s always at least one guy in a leather jacket. How was your research process?
SURE Basically, our research process was just watching a bunch of Roundtable videos. Our production designer, Guy Kozak, and director, Johnny Frohman, did an amazing job helping us put together the look. Justin brought the leather jacket on him.
LEVICK We considered all the different choices you guys have made for the set. We liked the black background with streaks of light. But eventually, with Johnny and Guy, we decided that the black background with string lights was the most fun and fit the mood we wanted the best. Our only regret is that we didn’t do a couple of those wide shots with a blurry light bulb in the foreground. That shot is so much fun.
SURE Honestly, most of the work before the shoot went into figuring out where to buy a big table and how to fit it in a small room. How the hell do they do that?
LEVICK Who’s your boy at the table?
SURE We also watched the videos paying attention to how the actors move. I based my body language on Dev Patel.
LEVICK I based my body language on the chairs.
How did you launch this? Was Justin Theroux immediately below?
LEVICK We wanted a recognizable celebrity to be in it. We knew someone who had developed a weird comedy project with Justin, so we thought he might be interested. We called him and he was downstairs right away. The other three actors are also amazing: Vince Edgehill, Stu Li, and Stephen Cofield Jr.
SURE Justin is a big fan of fairview and he’s been constantly harassing Jeremy to work with him, so yeah, he got depressed right away.
How long did your shoot last? Is everything written or is there some improvisation?
SURE The shoot was basically a full day with a general mix of script and improv. The cut scenes were shot on different days and had more script.
What kind of feedback have you received about the roundtable? (For what it’s worth, some people sent it to me asking if it’s real.)
SURE For what it’s worth, it’s is real. Please tell everyone who sent it to you that it’s real.
LEVICK Stephen Galloway showed up at my house with a baseball bat. Other than that, people have said that they liked him.
What’s next for you as comedians and writers?
SURE Lots of big things on the horizon. I was in a Pepsi ad recently, but Pepsi got mad at me because I tweeted that I got circumcised on a Pepsi can.
LEVICK I, on the other hand, was circumcised at birth. Anyway, we write for the next season of What we do in the shadows. It would be great if you could write one of those headlines for us. We haven’t told anyone, so it would be a hollywood reporter exclusive: “LAST MINUTE: Darkness Select Jeremy and Rajat as scribes.” And it should also be breaking news.
Any suggestions for our next Round Table in THR?
LEVICK You should use our table in your next video. You would have to buy it first. It’s $1,000. We said this in another interview, but in my Facebook Marketplace post, it’s an 8 foot diameter round table in maple/MDF plywood, 1.5 inch thick with maple edge. The table separates into two parts, it is assembled on site with screws from below.
SURE It’s $1,000 and it’s just the top. No legs, only above. You would have to place it on top of the table you already have. Please buy it.
Check out Levick and Suresh’s full The Hollywood Recorder actor roundtable below.
Interview edited for length and clarity.