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Full transcript: Actor-director Matt Ross of HBO’s ‘Silicon Valley’ on Recode Decode

He’s more than just Hooli CEO Gavin Belson.

HBO's Official Golden Globe Awards After Party - Red Carpet Joshua Blanchard / Getty

On this episode of Recode Decode, actor and director Matt Ross chats with host Kara Swisher about his classical acting training and his path from Juilliard and the New York stage to playing Gavin Belson on HBO’s hit comedy “Silicon Valley.” Ross also talks about his film “Captain Fantastic” and the creative possibilities he sees in TV, film or even VR.

You can read some of the highlights from the interview at that link, or listen to it in the audio player below. We’ve also provided a lightly edited complete transcript of their conversation.

If you like this, be sure to subscribe to Recode Decode on Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, TuneIn or Stitcher.


Hi, I’m Kara Swisher, Executive Editor of Recode. This week we have two great interviews with the cast and creators of HBO’s “Silicon Valley,” which just started its fourth season and, I think, its best. On Wednesday we’ll be posting a live interview I did with the executive producers and most of the actors, including Mike Judge, Thomas Middleditch and Kumail Nanjiani.

But today I’m thrilled to have Matt Ross in the red chair. He’s an actor and director best known for playing Hooli CEO Gavin Belson on “Silicon Valley.” Last year, he also directed a movie called “Captain Fantastic,” starring Viggo Mortensen. And that movie was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Oscar. Matt, welcome to Recode Decode.

Matt Ross: Thanks for having me.

Well, you know we have really struck up a nice friendship, I’ve acted with you.

Yeah.

I didn’t win the Emmy, as I should have.

You should, obviously. Yes.

It was denied me, clearly. But I want to talk about you because one of the things I think ... we’re going to talk about the show and all kind of things that’re coming up for its fourth season. And you’ve created a memorable role as a person I really dislike and I have covered people like you and I find it fascinating that you really nail it so well.

I want to talk about you first because you have had a very varied career. People think of you obviously as an actor and you’ve been in lots of stuff and you were also on all kinds of great series. “Big Love” ...

“Big Love,” yeah.

You were fantastic in that.

Thanks.

But you also, I want to talk about your background, how you got to where you got and I want to talk about your acting and directing too, and writing because you’re sort of the whole package, when you think about that. So tell me, let’s hear about your background.

Well, I was raised by a single mother. I grew up in Oregon and I lived in England for a while, as well. My mother wanted to start a Waldorf school.

Oh wow.

People don’t know, they may know, but Rudolph Steiner was an Austrian theologian and educator. You find Waldorf schools or Steiner schools, in this country the tend to be ...

They’re here.

Yeah, they tend to be in wealthy progressive neighborhoods.

Yep.

Like in Cambridge, Massachusetts, or places like that, although there’s one in the East Bay ...

There’s one in the Mission.

And yeah, I’m sure they’re in Los Angeles, New York, they’re all over. I went to one in England and it certainly wasn’t that demographic. It was rural. My mom wanted to start a university in this country.

Wow.

I’m sorry, not a university, a school, but the only university was at the time, I believe, there was one in either Sweden or Germany and the other one was in England. And I think that her marriage had just dissolved and she was raising two kids and I think she thought, I’d have to ask her, but I believe she thought is was just too overwhelming, it would be too overwhelming for us to have to learn another language. And so she took us to ...

Not Sweden.

Yeah. Yeah. It’s unfortunate.

I would have liked to have seen Swedish you.

It’s unfortunate because obviously at that age you learn really quickly. But anyway, we lived in rural England in Sussex for a couple years and I went to Waldorf Steiner school, and then she came back to the U.S. and started a Rudolph Steiner school in Oregon and that’s where I was raised.

Right.

And I got into theater. That was the beginning of this journey. Well, this is true for everyone globally, but I think the first probably religious experiences I had were in the movie theater. Even when I was a kid.

What movie? “Star Wars” for me.

Yeah it may have been “Star Wars.” I lived in England, actually, when “Star Wars” came out, but I think it was earlier than that. I think the first time I saw something that ... you know what it was? I think it was called, with Sean Connery, and I think it was called “The Wind and the Lion.”

Yep.

And there was a little blonde boy — and I had really blonde hair when I was a kid — and I remember it was in the desert and they were sword fighting and it was an adventure. I remember having kind of a fantasy experience where I thought I’d love to be there and do that.

Sure.

Then when I saw theater, I grew up in Oregon, and there was a Shakespeare festival near where we lived.

Sure. It’s famous.

Yeah, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. And we ended up living really far into the woods outside of a place called Eagle Point, which is a tiny town, but I saw “Richard III.” And I remember having kind of a transformative experience. I don’t know what I understood, but there was this character who was a murderer and yet you wanted him to succeed.

Right.

It kind of blew my little mind. And I probably was around 12 maybe, maybe 11, 12, 13, somewhere in there. And there was also sword fighting and I thought that was the coolest thing.

Sword fighting is key.

It is key. For every young boy, sword fighting is key.

Oh, I know that.

And yes, I’m sure, as the mother of two boys?

Two boys, yep.

Then I got involved with the Shakespeare plays; Shakespeare was my introduction to storytelling and dramatic poetry. And I think looking back on it, and especially seeing and reflecting with my own children and seeing when they read Shakespeare or something like that, how they are afraid of it.

They are. My son is too.

I was not taught to be afraid of it and no one was telling me this was complex. I first related to it on an emotional basis, I would say, because I did Shakespeare plays when I was really young. I did “Hamlet” when I was 13, I didn’t play Hamlet but I was in the play.

What were you playing?

I was in an all-kids production.

Oh wow, that’s a bummer. That’s a fucking bummer.

People tell me it was good. I have no idea.

“Hamlet” by toddler.

Yeah, exactly. It was. It really was. But the guy who played Hamlet couldn’t have been more than 13 and, in my memory of him, was he was really good.

Wow.

And I think he actually was. So what happened was, I loved theater storytelling. I also at the time was making short films.

Oh wow, early on.

Yeah. So I wanted to do something. I didn’t know what.

Right, but expression through acting or storytelling was the way.

Yeah, and I was a shy, quiet kid. People say — or, it is said — all artists come from broken families or homes in some way. And certainly mine was a decidedly middle-class one, there was no abuse or anything, but I think we moved a lot. My parent’s separation and divorce was probably traumatic.

You know what it’s called? It’s called ACEs. I don’t know if you know that. Adverse Childhood Experiences.

Yeah, yeah.

It forms people.

I’m sure there was some, I was trying to channel some of this chaos and minor trauma, because it really is pretty minor, all things considered. Maybe, partly, it was just fantasy and role-playing and wanting to ...

So you were doing Shakespeare at a young age.

Yeah, and I wasn’t writing it.

In the school, in the school.

No, I was doing it in a Shakespeare festival. So what happened was there was a man named Paul Barnes who was in the education department. And he wanted to be a director, so the year before, they had some sons and daughters of some actors and directors at the festival, they had got together and put on a Shakespeare play. And on a Monday night it’s dark so they use the actual stage. And I think they wanted to do it again. And he said, “Well, I’m interested in directing, so would you guys like me to direct it?” I think that’s what happened. I joined the second year and they did Hamlet and I played Bernardo, he’s one of the soldiers in the beginning. I played the player King, and one of the grave diggers. We made both grave diggers into one so I was Nose Picker No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3.

That was my beginning introduction to Shakespeare, and he continued to direct kids and it evolved into a program where, because he was working through the education department at the festival, he would do kind of workshops for students. And he would bring some actors that wanted to be involved and we would do scenes and ...

Wow, so you were trained early, super early.

And we were also doing sword fighting, we were doing sword fighting demonstrations, because we were really into that, as I became in high school. Then I got into the actual festival with a couple of my friends and we were all, there was like four or five of us, and every year they needed townie kids, like in “Midsummer Night’s Dream” you have little kids running around as fairies or in “Richard III” you need 10 soldiers, 15 soldiers for the battle scenes, or any of the history plays. When we became young men, we were in high school, we were just cannon fodder. They simply needed people to sword fight in the background, which was great. And sometimes we’d play pages in “Romeo and Juliet” or “Henry V.”

You’d deliver a message.

Yeah exactly. Exactly.

“Forsooth, here is the message.”

I’m trying to remember, we had some ... my friend Rex and I were priests at one point, I think he was stoned most of the time and we would crack each other up and hide in our priest cloaks and I think my line was “Yes, my lord, but you must wait until ye be called for.” That was my one line.

Wow, well done.

Yeah, thank you.

It’s still riveting, it’s killing right now.

While I was doing that I was, you know, like many American teenagers that were in awe and loving “Star Wars” and all these other films, I was making my own versions of those, and I think I was very pulled between ... I used to fantasize about being … my brother, my cousin and I wanted to work in special effects. We just loved the mechanics of it. And the artistry of it. We fantasized about that. And that was at the beginning of computer animation. And so we would make our own films.

What would you do with special effects then, because I’m trying to think, this is … what year is this?

You actually make them in camera a lot of the time. I also remember, we’d build models, and then the lasers, I would actually take a needle and draw on the film.

Oh my god.

We were actually shooting on Super 8 film. And then we started working in video because that was the transition when video was coming in. At the time, I think my grandfather gave me a Super 8 camera, he had one and he gave me one. And I taught myself to edit and I was really into Claymation. I would do stop-motion animation.

Oh my god.

I think if I had lived in a city where kids ...

You would have had editing and computers.

Yes, and I think I would have also had access to film classes and a trajectory to be a filmmaker. I was very insecure about that because I didn’t know how to create a trajectory for that. Whereas in theater — and one of the reasons I started getting into acting early on — was because I saw the path. I was around adult actors.

Sure, yeah, and you could see how they ...

They said, “Well, you need training, you go to drama school,” or whatever. Exactly, I had a path. I ended up going to Juilliard and studying theater. And then afterwards ...

It’s a small school that I’ve heard of.

Yes. And then I went to NYU for a second. I took some film classes at NYU.

So you went to sort of the Harvard and Yale of the ... Yale is actually a very good School of Drama, too.

Yeah, at the time. And these things change as the teachers go in and out.

No, Juilliard, yeah.

But Juilliard, NYU and Yale were considered the top drama schools, there may be others that are as good or better.

And what was your hope, to get bigger and bigger roles?

I wanted to take the art seriously. For me, many of the actors I admired were theater trained. And I always think of someone like Meryl Streep. Really, she was like the, arguably our greatest actress, actor, and I just thought if you’re going to do something you really should study it and take it seriously. And I also, I think, probably at that age, I was fearful of moving. I didn’t know what it would mean to just move to New York or LA and how would you get in ... I just didn’t see a path.

Sure. But television and movies were not part of ...

No, they were, absolutely they were. They were absolutely part of my desire and hope, but I didn’t know, I think the truth is not that I was just fearful of moving there, I didn’t know what I would do, but I also thought, “I need to study this if I’m going to really do this.” I think when I was there I realized that I had a lot of experience already. And I had a pretty formed idea of what it was to be an actor. And you know, in any environment, whether it’s academic or more conservatory training, you’re reflecting on the teachers and your classmates anyway. And you’re going to have to learn your own process and your own path. And either you’re given an opportunity to say, “This is a tool that I can use,” or, “I’m going to reject that tool.” And I was realizing pretty early on that I already had a pretty developed sense of my own process.

Because you had done it for so long.

But you’re pushed. I think one of the greatest things about any drama school is that at a very young age you’re dealing with very complicated texts. So we’re doing Shaw and Shakespeare and Chekhov and Restoration Comedy, which is rough.

Oh yeah, it is.

Rough stuff. And Shaw is difficult too. And all these things are very difficult and you’re at a very young age playing roles that you would never play in the real world. You’re 18 or 22 or whatever and you’re playing Richard the Third. You would never be cast as that, and so you’re pushed and pulled. And I think that’s good and it’s an environment where you fail. You know?

Later we’ll get into how it’s changed, the web and stuff, because people are going through training in very different ways now. In terms of how people ...

You mean online courses?

Yeah, not just that, not just online courses, but actually going online and doing their own things. We’ll talk about that later. So you were in New York.

Yep.

What was your first big break?

Theater or film?

Either one.

I think the first thing that happened that was a good job for me was I was cast in a play in Lincoln Center. That was good. And then early on, it didn’t change my life, but I was very happy to be cast in “12 Monkeys,” this Terry Gilliam film, just because I admired him. And I think I wanted to be him when I was young. And I loved being in that environment and watching him work. Breaks have been incremental, you know? I never ...

Well, you’re a character actor. I know him.

Yes, but there are people who are part of my peer group, people who maybe started before me who I saw break through — everyone has their own path, but sometimes people do break through. Obviously someone like Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Phil was a character actor and you know the combination, I think it was “Boogie Nights” and “Happiness,” those films were shot at different times, they came out at the same time, and I think people were like, “Oh my god, who is this guy?”

Right.

And he was a journeyman actor until that point. And then that changed. And I never had that kind of break. I’ve had consistent work and been happy for it, so.

When you think about that, the journey of the actor, where you go, you also were creating along the way.

Yeah.

Which I think, not everybody does that.

Juilliard was tumultuous for me because on one hand I was treated very well. I didn’t want to drop out because, and everyone has their own journey there, but mine was lead role, tiny part, lead role, tiny part, lead role for four years. So every time I was playing the lead role I was obviously very happy and very challenged. And then when I was playing a tiny role I thought, it’s my turn to step back and let someone else. I was very well treated. While I was there I was also, I think, having some real questions about what I wanted to do with my life and whether I wanted to be an actor.

Right.

I enjoyed it. I found it very challenging emotionally and intellectually. The problem-solving part of it I loved. I’m not a performer, though. I’m just not. I’m not a performer.

That’s so funny. People would think you are.

I think there are many kinds of actors, just like there are many kinds of everything and some people are inherently performers and some people are not. I don’t need to be recognized, I don’t need to be flattered in that way, I don’t need that attention. I don’t need to be the center of attention. When I was very young — and I’ve thought about this, certainly. I think one of the reasons why I fell into acting was because I was insecure and an unhappy child and I think that it was one of the first things I did where there was some positive reinforcement. People actually, adults came up to me and said, you know, “I don’t know if you want to do this but you could do this.”

But you should. Yeah.

And that was happening to me when I was 13 and I didn’t play sports — I mean, I played football but I wasn’t good at it. There was no other direction that was coming. I got a little bit of that academically. I was decent in school but I didn’t want to go into academia necessarily.

Well, you saw a path.

I saw a path, right. And I enjoyed it. I actually enjoyed it and it felt like we ... I think when you’re young you’re looking for ways to define yourself.

Sure.

And people do that through music or clothes or whatever. But I was looking like, what am I? Who am I?

It’s interesting, because a lot of your roles are very noticeable. I’m thinking of “Big Love.” Talk about how you — I’m going to fast forward a little bit — how you got to both “Big Love” and then “Silicon Valley.”

Before I answer that, let me go back and kind of correct it.

Yeah absolutely.

What I was going to say is that I think though I was treated very well at Juilliard, that was the beginning, and I wrote, I started writing in high school, fiction. And then I started writing screenplays and stories while I was at Juilliard. And then that’s when I really thought, “What do I want to do?” The first money I made when I graduated — not from theater, because you make an insignificant amount of money. But when I made, I did some TV things, I took all that money and I started making short films. So I was doing them at the same time. And now ask me your question again?

So you wanted to create at the same time, because a lot of actors don’t. Because I think that’s the only way you get power to do what you want to do, is if you also create at the same time.

I think that’s true. That or you become very successful and then you are part of the core filmmaking team.

Sure, absolutely.

These things are funded because of you.

Like Clooney.

Sure.

Like I’m Clooney.

Yeah, absolutely, any of those people.

So a lot of your roles, though, have been showy roles, they really are. “Big Love,” that was quite a role. Talk about how you got to each of those, because those, if you want to talk about breakthroughs, I think that’s where you got most noticed.

I worked in, I lived in New York from the time I graduated until 2001. In fact, my wife and I, we had just got married, and 9/11 happened. And we had planned on leaving in September, going to LA — we’re both from the West Coast. And I don’t know that we thought it was going to be permanent, but we lived in New York for a long time and we just thought let’s ... you know, when we look back, when we are in our 90s, we want to say we lived here for a little bit. We lived here for a little bit, we wanted to have a varied experience, so we moved to LA. And it was the worst year or so of my life. I had been in New York long enough that, in terms of acting work ...

You got work.

I got work. I did, I don’t know, a play a year. Sometimes, one year I did seven movies, that’s a lot. Usually it was more like a couple films, enough to make a living, some TV stuff. And I moved to Los Angeles and no one knew me. And it was traumatic. The thing that got me out of that was, I got the job playing Glenn Odekirk in “The Aviator,” the Martin Scorsese film.

And that was a huge, a seismic shift for me, not just emotionally but also in terms of the business, because it opened up certain opportunities. The main opportunity it opened up for me ended up being “Big Love.” I think they saw that film and said hey this guy’s good and you know in the pilot, the part of Alby is tiny. I think I have one line. I’m essentially following around Harry Dean Stanton. I think I have three lines or something like that. That doesn’t matter, because the pilot is essentially the hour pilot of what’s going to be a 72-hour movie; it’s really the first three minutes of a movie, right? So it doesn’t matter what size role you have.

Sure.

You talk to the show runners. The guys told me about how they envisioned the role and what they thought his trajectory might be. And I was happy for it. It’s something that’s happened that we all watch, we all observe this with television. The long-form narrative has in some ways fulfilled the promise of the ’70s of filmmaking.

Absolutely.

I was really excited about it. I’d seen that happen already with other shows like “Six Feet Under,” which was great.

Sure.

Around that time. And I was excited for that possibility. If “Big Love” had been a film, Alby would have been played by Daniel Craig or something, whomever. I never would have got that part.

Right, right.

It wouldn’t have been me.

It’s given opportunities for all kind of actors, unusual and interesting actors.

Yeah. I didn’t know what the part was going to be. I mean, it’s time, actually. It was not clear, one of the great things about Alby was how complicated a character he is. I didn’t know he was homosexual, at all. I didn’t know that until the second year. That’s something that’s fascinating about television, is that it’s an evolving narrative. It really is. When you read a screenplay of a film ...

Yeah, you don’t know what’s going to happen.

You know the whole thing, if it’s a film, right? You see the whole trajectory. But this is, you know, they might tell you ... I don’t know that they even knew that, or maybe they did but they didn’t tell me. I think that made him a great, really complicated character.

Yeah, a surprise, he was a surprise character.

So we’re going to talk when we get back about how you got to Silicon Valley and how you feel about that role, because I felt “Big Love,” I remember actually, just like you said with Hoffman, I was like, “Who is that guy?” of all the people on the screen. You know everyone, Harry Dean Stanton is well known and stuff like that, but I was like, “Who is that guy?”

I like that.

You had a lot of menace, actually. You know what I mean? Menace is what I was thinking.

Pain.

Pain, pain and menace. All right, when we get back we are talking to Matt Ross, who is one of the stars of this hit HBO series “Silicon Valley,” but a whole lot more, he’s also a writer and director.

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We’re here with Matt Ross, one of the stars of HBO’s hit comedy “Silicon Valley.” He plays Gavin Belson. We’re talking a little bit about his early career. He was on a lot of shows, he learned Shakespeare very early and then sort of broke out on the show “Big Love.” I think most people got to know him best through that where he played Alby, who was a disturbing character. One of the more disturbing characters in that, of many disturbing characters on that show.

Disturbed. Yeah.

How did you get to “Silicon Valley” then? Because you know, people thought of you as a dramatic actor, really.

Acting is reinventing the wheel every time.

Sure. I hadn’t thought of you as a comedy actor.

Literally ... I hadn’t either, though doing theater, it’s assumed that you can do everything, especially if you’re a trained theater actor. I had done comedy. I played Touchstone in “As You Like It.” A very difficult part. I didn’t think of myself as a comedian and certainly when I was introduced to this world, you know all the guys, they’re either improvisational comedians, stand-up comedians, that’s a whole subculture that I wasn’t, frankly, aware of. And am not part of.

Yeah.

When I say I was reinventing the wheel every time, it really is because Mike, to my knowledge, didn’t know me at all.

How did you get ...

It was just an audition. I mean, I just auditioned.

It was just, “Go to this audition.” So he didn’t go, “I’ll take him. That’s who I want.”

No, no. That happens a lot, but I think both myself and I believe Christopher Evan Welch, who played sort of, we played foils originally ... He also, he may have gone in and actually seen Mike in person. I sent in a tape. And I think they asked me to do it a variety of ways.

And that was the role you were going for. You weren’t going for ...

I think I read for his part, for the part that Christopher originally played, and then they said read for Gavin. And I did. And yeah, and then I got it.

And that was it. Just like that. What were you going for when you read for it? How did you prepare? This is a guy who — he’s an odd combination of Larry Ellison, Eric Schmidt, all kinds of ...

I am aware of that. But I was not trying to imitate them. So I wasn’t watching YouTube videos of their speeches and trying to capture their mannerisms. Apparently, Christopher Evan Welch said he was doing Carl Sagan. I think I was trying to understand the character from more an emotional point of view and I think I was trying to portray him with humanity. And not make a caricature out of him.

Evil villain.

Yeah. I was trying to play the opposite, play the sincerity of it. Only later when I got the part, sometime in the first year, did Mike actually even talk to me about what kind of character he thought he was or who he was an amalgamation of.

Wow.

He never sat me down and said he’s a little bit of Larry Ellison or he’s trying to do this or we’re thinking of this. They may have done that in terms of design elements of what I wear or how my hair is or whatever.

How they wrote, yeah.

But not once did we have a conversation about a certain tone or mannerisms ...

So where did you get your inspiration then, because it nails it, rather.

I just made it up.

I know that, but what were you thinking?

I don’t know. I think it’s less external and more internal.

Okay.

So I think that I wasn’t thinking of, “Well, I’m going to use the way Larry Ellison gives speeches and his mannerisms or the certain way he’s gesticulates.” I wasn’t thinking that, or how they walk. I did think a little bit about how he walked but I was thinking more just the — you can only respond based on what’s written, right?

Right.

So, you give, you are sort of giving me an undue amount of credit because really I think the credit goes to the writers.

Sure, I get that.

They create the template and I just flesh it out, and so I just try and do justice to what I’m given. And I contend that anyone can play the part, so I think anyone would bring something different. I was trying to make him not a caricature. If nothing else, I was aware of trying to play his humanity and his sincerity. And I thought there was humor in that.

Talk about the character. What motivates him? When you think about that, that he really believes he’s saving the world?

Yes. Yes.

How so?

I think it’s power, probably, as well. The people who are like him in the real world, I’m sure they are as ... A great deal of their satisfaction probably comes from winning, right? Conquering. And being thought of as important in some way. And I think that Gavin, I’m sure, enjoys being the center of attention. I also think that he genuinely believes that he’s making, as Alec Berg and Mike Judge say, making the world a better place. And I think there’s great comedy in the juxtaposition of that kind of capitalism that obviously his company is involved in and at the same time this so-called altruism, which probably is marginal at best.

But you didn’t want to make him a fatuous asshole?

No.

And he isn’t but he is, he is.

He is, yeah, sure. I think it’s not dissimilar to ... any great villain should be, any great antagonist should be a great protagonist as well.

Right, right. So you’re thinking Jane Lynch on “Glee.”

Yeah, you want to care for them. I thought of Alby, frankly, the same way. Which is that if he’s a mustache-twirling bad guy then he’s a cardboard cut-out and you just hate him. But if you actually hate him but at the same time feel sad for him and feel sorry for him and understand why he’s broken and how he was abused, particularly Alby with his father, you know? And how he suffers, he’s homosexual in a world where that is simply not allowed, in any way.

Right.

So he’s got a secret self. I don’t think that’s the case with Gavin but I still think the same ... you still have to draw him with an equal amount of nuance and complexity and really I’m only allowed to do that given the writing.

Sure.

Because the template is set. So if you’re playing essentially the same scene over and over again, then you’re only going to be able to sing those notes.

That’s right exactly.

So they have to expand what’s possible. And actually this season is the first season, without giving anything away, that I think that he breaks out a little bit of the template.

Well, he started to, really, with the firing.

Yeah, yes, exactly. And that happens ... you see that happen. I mean, he’s a secondary character. He’s not part of the central five of the show.

The group.

Yeah, the group. And that’s the way that any of these television shows have longevity, right? If they’re a movie, Gavin might have two scenes in the movie. But if you have to generate 72 hours and you start with the central characters, after a while, starting in the third and fourth year, you start expanding and expanding. And you do that from the beginning anyway. “Big Love” had a huge cast and you had the first characters and the secondary characters, the tertiary characters, and you constantly would go to them for antagonism or humor and so on.

What role do you think you’d play? Because you have the guys like the ...

I think I’m the force of antagonism, and also it’s a comedy so there’s also humor. I think they use Hooli and Gavin as an opportunity to examine tech innovations and the way we ... you and I are in that scene, which was ...

Riveting.

You were riveting. They’re taking real-life events and certain things that they think are worthy of parody or even not parody, just re-enactment.

Do you think “Silicon Valley” ... it’s been welcomed and embraced by Silicon Valley even though all the time I’m like, “You know they’re making fun of you.”

I think they know and I think they just ...

I don’t think so, sometimes.

Really?

No, they think it’s great love. It’s with great love. What kind of reaction do you get from ... What’s the most unusual reaction? Then I want to talk about where Gavin’s going.

I just get love, unadorned love.

From tech people.

I was at ...

You live here.

Yes.

Unusually. You don’t live in Los Angeles. You live in Berkeley.

I live in Berkeley. Yeah. I have an apartment in Venice, I’m in LA almost every week. But I live here because my wife’s from here and she wanted to raise our kids here. I was at Peet’s Coffee across the street and I was recognized three times.

Oh sure, you’re dead center. I get recognized in San Francisco, my friend.

I’m sure you’re a rock star.

No.

With your sunglasses.

Yeah.

The attention is always positive. I don’t mind it. Really, I translate it immediately. The attention I get is simply love for the show. And that’s great. It’s very different. My experience is very specific to this show. It’s not ... you know, you mentioned George Clooney. George Clooney goes everywhere, he gets attention for being George Clooney, I get attention for being ...

Gavin Belson.

For Gavin Belson on a show that they love. And I know what that’s about.

What do they do? What happened today? They just I love you or ...

No, you get, “Are you Matt Ross?” “Yes.” “You’re Gavin Belson on ‘Silicon Valley’?” “Yes.” “Oh my god, I love that show!” And you know, I feel the same way, I think it’s a great show, I love it. I’m proud to be associated with it. I’m happy to be on it. Frequently they just want to talk about the show. They want to talk about what they love about it. Or they want to tell me how much they love the character and I don’t mind. I mean it’s not, it’s really not any kind of ...

Have you met any of the people that think you’re based on them?

No.

No. None of them.

None of them. Not a one.

Not a one.

I mean, I’ve watched them. I’ve read some books.

Right.

No, I haven’t.

It’s interesting, because with “Billions” right now, I know a lot of hedge fund guys, and they all think they are Axe.

Yeah.

And I’m like, “No, you’re the short guy. The shortest.” They’re all like, “I’m Axe.” No, the other guy, remember there’s a short hedge fund guy this season.

Oh yeah, yeah.

There’s a short awful man.

Right, right.

I’m like, “No, you’re the short guy. He’s an asshole.”

Everyone wants to be Damian Lewis. The handsome tall English guy.

“I’m Axe! I’m Axe!”

So what do you think it’s doing? What’s evolving with Gavin this season?

I don’t know that I’m allowed to talk about it.

Well, don’t talk too much. What are you hoping to get to? That he has humanity, he does? There’s been some very poignant, I think the sessions between him and ...

Dempak?

Are great. Those are obviously, those are easy, but the ones where you’re in the restaurant.

Yeah. Yeah.

I love those. I don’t know why I love those. Very “Godfather” or something.

I think he has played a similar role in season after season, which is really just, he is, as I said, this kind of antagonistic force towards Thomas Middleditch’s character so that he can, Richard, so that it’s creating tension so that they have to pivot around him. One of the things I love about the show — and this is not what you asked me but — I think it’s actually an incredibly great workplace drama.

Like “The Office” or ...

Yeah. It actually shows, you know, we read in our popular culture about tech all the time and here we’re at sort of the epicenter of that in that analysis, but you can open USA Today, when you’re at the airport, and there’s stuff about tech, right? And yet they show, it seems to me they show it pretty accurately, how incredibly difficult it is to navigate that sea.

Right, absolutely.

Which I love, aside from the comedy and the dick jokes, which are fantastic.

Dick jokes are always good.

It’s actually really complex. The ups and downs of it are complex. I think Gavin is part of that trajectory. I don’t know if they know, they may know, they haven’t told me where they’re going because when you’re doing a show in success you get five years, maybe six or seven ...

It shouldn’t go beyond that, actually.

I think one of the reasons, you mentioned “The Office,” one of the reasons why the English “Office” is, I think, seminal, is there’s only 12 episodes. It’s two seasons of six episodes. I think.

Or “Sherlock” or ...

They don’t run out of story.

They stop.

Yeah, they’re contained. So I don’t know where they’re going. I’m glad that this season, they’ve certainly changed the dynamic a little bit and I hope that continues because it gives me more ...

Yeah, because it’s not the same old ...

I’m just not repeating the same scenes over and over again.

You can always make fun of Silicon Valley and its arrogant fatuousness and stuff like that.

I think they want to do more than that.

Did you learn more about tech since you’ve been doing it? Because I don’t think it is about tech although they do nail, it’s really quite amazing ...

The culture.

The culture.

Certainly the culture.

They do nail the culture really well and certain characters are ... The woman who plays the venture capitalist ... I know she’s playing Marissa Mayer, she nails all kinds of things. And I know you’re not supposed to link people to people but it does. It does actually, like the guy who played Jack the CEO, the other CEO.

Steven Jewelski.

Yeah. And the conjoined triangles of success, I’ve heard that. I was like whoa, but that’s not why it’s funny. I think it’s because of the humanity of the people struggling and failing almost continually.

In fact, I can’t remember her name, she’s emailed me, I’ve known her for two years. Kids, don’t smoke pot in eighth grade, seriously.

Seriously.

Don’t do it.

I’m going to tell that to my son. So what do you hope to do with it? So a couple seasons more and then ...

My attitude is, as long as they invite me to the party I will go to the party. I’m really happy I don’t really audition as an actor, I’m not really pursuing it actively, it would be a case-by-case basis. I’m not against it if I’m ...

In the next section I’m going to talk about where Hollywood’s going, but talk about your “Captain Fantastic,” Oscar, fantastic movie, and I know I’m not supposed to say that about a movie called fantastic but ...

You can.

It was fantastic.

You’re setting yourself up for the review.

Yes, I get it.

“‘Captain Fantastic’ is not fantastic” or “‘Captain Fantastic is fantastic.” Yes, yes, I was aware of that.

That’s why you named it that way and you had to make it that way.

Fifty-fifty. Either way.

Fifty-fifty. Either way. What were you trying to go for there, because you did great at Cannes, you did great with the Oscars, it got a lot of attention.

Yeah, it was a great journey. We started at Sundance and then we went to Cannes and I actually won a directing award at Cannes.

Yes you did. It was a big one. Don’t be humble.

In front of my kids, blew my mind. It was actually beautiful.

You won the director’s award.

There’s two competitions at Cannes. There’s the main competition and there’s Un Certain Regard, which I guess means another look in French. And that’s like the junior varsity of Cannes, and we were in that competition and I did get a director award there. And that was in front of my kids and that was really great. It was, on a personal level, it just meant, that kind of approbation was just beautiful to me. Very meaningful. I know awards are meaningless.

No, you know what, I got one, I got an award once and I thought, I of course had to report it to find out if I won before the award. And someone said I didn’t get it and then I was pissed off that I didn’t get it but then I got it and then I was thrilled.

Well, there’s so many awards, there’s so many award shows in Hollywood. You were mentioning that before but like starting around October, November there’s the Golden Globes, there’s SAG, there’s WGA has awards, the Digi has awards, the PG has awards.

And then the Oscars.

There’s Bafta, there’s Oscars, you know ...

So you showed up in a lot of tuxedos.

Yes, there’s a lot of award shows. And I think a healthy ... I don’t want to say that. You don’t want to be disrespectful but I think that we ... it’s nice to be invited to that party but that’s not the reason you do it.

Sure.

It’s really, it’s among these candidates, among this pool, people are deciding what gets what based on ... I myself vote for some and some I’m like, “That person’s won too many awards, what about that? Oh, okay.” We all do that, that’s part of human nature. Or, “I like this person, I really think it’s their time.”

Is it an honor just to be nominated?

For me it was. Honestly, for me it was.

I’d like someone to say, “You know what? I wanted to fucking win.”

I can say truthfully, honestly, at this point in my life, I don’t feel that way.

Yeah.

I don’t understand people who want to win. I really don’t, because I feel like if you’re part of the conversation, you’ve won.

But don’t you want Warren Beatty to have read your name by accident?

That would have been surprising because I wasn’t nominated for anything.

Faye Dunaway, oh it’s fantastic.

I’d be like okay, I’ll got up there. No, I don’t feel that way. Now again, Viggo was nominated. I wasn’t. Maybe I’d feel differently, I don’t know. I’d have to be nominated.

So what are you going for when you’re making the movies? In the next act I do want to talk about where movies are going.

What am I going for?

Yes, what are you trying to do?

Philosophically or ...

Writing ... from a writing perspective. You clearly want to own the whole process.

Yeah, I would say that the drug that I’m always looking for, the hit I want when I go to a movie, is I want to have an experience that’s emotional. I want to be connected to these characters. I want to care. Ideally I’d love to be so moved that I cry or laugh in some way. I want to engage, right? And then I want to have an intellectual experience. I want to have that film cause me to reflect on my own life or life in general. I showed “Interstellar,” the Chris Nolan film, to my 9-year-old. And we turned it off and he said, “You know, that’s the kind of movie that you need to sit for a moment and think about life and think about ...” And I thought, that’s fantastic. That’s exactly what I want. People say they want distraction, and I get that. Certainly, you have a hard day at work, you work all day, you finally get the kids down ...

You want to see “Office Christmas Party.”

I get that.

You want to see a Christmas tree falling on Jennifer Aniston’s head.

There’s a place for that.

Yeah.

I don’t aspire to that myself. I think that you can have both in a film. I’m not saying it has to be homework where you feel like this is good for me. These are my vegetables. I think it can also be entertaining. And my favorite films do both. So I think ideally, communion, really. We’re thinking very philosophically, but I think that’s ... otherwise, why watch a movie? Really, we live in a time where there’s so many other ways to distract yourself if all you want is distraction.

Right. To me, that’s coming more from television these days.

Distraction?

Not distraction. Real, being moved by things.

I think you’re right.

Which is ...

But that’s because, I mean, there are very clear reasons why, as Hollywood studio film has become a global marketplace and they’re trying to create properties that fill the theaters in China and Russia. That’s created a certain kind of cultural export. Right?

Sure.

If you’re making something that’s too nuanced or too specific, culturally or even intellectually, it doesn’t export well. Right?

Right.

So television doesn’t have that same market constraints, I don’t think.

Right.

So.

That’s what you’re getting at.

You know I’ve been, as a writer-director, I’ve been meeting a lot of studios both in television and film and what I see largely is that in film, that there’s a contraction about what’s acceptable in terms of investment. And I see the opposite in television. That really they’re looking for the most bold, not just in content but also in form.

I think of places like Netflix that don’t have to deal with ... they don’t have to be constrained by the half-hour or one-hour form, and so they say to you, “It’s okay if one episode comes in at 22 minutes and one episode comes in at an hour and ten, we’ll make room for that.” Doesn’t matter.

All right. We’re going to talk about that when we get back with Matt Ross who is one of the stars of “Silicon Valley.”

No, I’m the star of “Silicon Valley.”

One of the many stars of “Silicon Valley.” He is the star, he is my star of “Silicon Valley,” and we’re going to talk about more where Hollywood’s going and we’re talking about Netflix and becoming a creator these days, from an entertainment perspective.

[ad]

We’re here with Matt Ross, the star of HBO’s hit series “Silicon Valley.”

Yes.

That was for Richard Plepler. Oh, Plepler. We’ll get into him later offline.

So, we were talking about being an actor and stuff like that, but one of the things you’re doing is creation. You created another hit film. “Captain Fantastic,” got a lot of awards. You started talking about the idea of creating now, as a creator, because I think that’s where a lot of the power is. Where do you think Hollywood is in that juncture? You were talking about Netflix having more freedom. What has the internet and technology done to that?

Created all sorts of new distribution models. My children, my daughter is 14, my son is 9. I can get my son to go to the movies. My daughter is not so interested.

Same. My 14-year-old will not go to movies.

I mean ...

“Logan,” I got him to go to “Logan.”

Yeah. Okay, so she wants to see “Beauty and the Beast,” she would be like ... there was an opportunity the other day and she’s like, “No, I don’t care.” Whereas, my son still likes that experience. He’s also into video games. She just doesn’t turn to storytelling. I don’t think she’s attracted to the visual medium. Or she’s perfectly happy to watch it on her computer, iPad in her bed.

Phone.

Yeah, phone, yeah. So I think there’s the distribution model, which is obviously changing radically. It’s essentially an opportunity, I think, for storytellers. Sometimes I think I’m like a novelist in the ’20s. I’m holding on to this antiquated medium. I’m somewhat attached to the two-hour movie. I’m young enough that I don’t fetishize the theatrical experience. I like having a great big screen, obviously, that’s better. But so many people have home theaters, that you can get a decent experience if you have a big screen and good speakers.

And that technology is changing rapidly too, and 4K, all this stuff that is coming into our homes. But I think for storytellers, it’s just opportunity. If you let go of that antiquated theatrical model, if that’s what you’re attached to. For a storyteller, you just have to be okay that you may not have the same model. Meaning that, let’s look at something like “Stranger Things,” right? That was a phenomenon. I didn’t read any critical analysis. The discussions that I was having about it were with people, whereas if that had been a film, there would be, you’d see advertisements, a lot of advertising, you’d certainly, there’d be reviews that would come out, beforehand.

You just kind of watched it.

You just watched it. And it, sometimes, I mean it works for those very few. But also, I can turn on Netflix and there’s some films that just were at Sundance and if I didn’t know to put in the search the title I wouldn’t necessarily find it. Now if it happens to be on the splash page you might see it. So I think ...

So here’s Matt the creator going around Hollywood. You are working on more films, correct?

I am.

How many and where?

I’m developing something with a studio. I’m writing three films of my own. In the background I’m also working on a couple TV ideas. Meaning I’m not getting paid to do that. I just have ... I’m trying to ... I’m interested in television as long as I can try and keep it kind of a cinematic experience. And there are many shows that do that. But television, I’ve said this before, I think it has sort of a voracious appetite for plot. It’s very dialogue based so it’s not ... cinema can traffic in tone or mood. Some of my favorite films, if you actually analyze what happens narratively, very little happens narratively.

Okay.

I mean, take “Alien.” That’s basically a monster movie, but really what happens is they find this alien and they have to survive. That’s the whole plot.

Yeah, that is the whole plot. There’s a new one, you know.

Yes, there’s many new ones. But there’s a new one coming out. But my point is that you couldn’t do that and translate that directly to television because you need people to come in week after week and be compelled in some way. And that tends to happen with a lot of plot.

Except there isn’t week after week anymore.

No there isn’t.

I mean, there is with HBO, but would you like “Silicon Valley” to be binge-watched?

That’s an excellent question. I just went through this watching “Big Little Lies,” which I really liked.

The Reese Witherspoon thing, yeah.

Yeah, I think it’s fantastic. But I was somewhat irritated that I had to wait. I realized that it’s the only place that I watch TV — meaning HBO — where I have to wait. I have to wait week after week. Everywhere else ... On the one hand, it extends that consuming process and allows for maybe more conversation.

I think that the danger of being able to binge watch is that you binge it over a weekend, which I really, I’ve only done once maybe. And then you forget about it and you move on. And then it doesn’t gestate with you. More like when you’re reading a novel, you, many of us read before you go to bed, so you read a chapter or two, and that stays with you for weeks on end. There’s something really lovely about how long that lasts. So ...

Although, I think we’re shifting in the way we think of things. I just saw “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which Hulu ...

I can’t wait to see that, yep.

Fantastic. I saw the first three episodes that they sent. I’m mad that I have to wait. Now I’m like, “I want it now. I want all of it now.” I don’t know what’s happened to my watching habits.

But that’s, yeah, your watching habit is like everything else in our lives. We’re used to getting things immediately now. You call your loved one. You text them and God forbid they don’t answer immediately. Right?

Right? “Where are you?”

We’re all so impatient. “What’s wrong? Oh my God.” Death. Immediately. It’s insanity.

But would you like “Silicon Valley” to be ... do you like the week-to-week thing?

Partially I do like it because it gives you something to look forward to. And as I said before it keeps it in your life for a little bit longer. I think I like that. I have no probably with that ultimately. I really don’t.

Kids, don’t they watch them all at once? They do watch them all at once.

They do. They do.

So here’s Matt Ross going around as a creator, do you go to Amazon? Do you go ... We’re having Jill Soloway out at our Code Conference coming up and she has a new show. She really did do the breakthrough with them.

Yeah. “Transparent.”

“Transparent” and “House of Cards.” “My Name Is Dick” is her latest one.

No she’s doing “I Love Dick.” Based on a novel.

That’s right, yeah, which she likes to say over and over again.

Yes.

So she was a pioneer in doing that and was a success. Same thing with the “House of Cards” people. What is it like for you? Do you go to Amazon? Do you go to Netflix? Or do you stick in the studio system?

I have been to Netflix. I haven’t been to Amazon. No, you go everywhere.

But what’s it like as a creator in this system now?

Every place has their own prerogative.

Okay. Explain the differences.

Well, some of them are owned by other corporations that have other ... Amazon, it seems to me, obviously it’s a huge corporation. They have a lot of money. It seems to be that their math is simply, they’re creating content so that you might buy other things on their site.

Yeah, no, I was talking to Jill and she was like, “I’m selling paper towels,” right? “Should I get a section of that paper towel sales?” I’m like, “You’re never getting it, but sure.”

Yeah. So that’s unique, I think. I’m pretty sure there’s no other company, Netflix included, that has that same business model.

Right, something else to sell.

What does it mean? I don’t know. Thank God that it exists because ...

What do you think of their ... they’re different than the studios? Or are they the same? They’ve been hiring studio-type people lately.

Yes, they have. Like Ted Hope.

Yeah.

I think Roy Price is ... yeah.

Roy Price is at Amazon.

I have not met either of them, I met Ted Hope once, but I think they are all really wise men and there may be some women there.

There are at Netflix.

Netflix there are, yeah. And I don’t think anyone has the answer. I don’t think anyone knows where it’s going. What worries me is that it’s the Wild West and if that ... you could make the argument that some of these companies are overpaying to attract certain talent. If that disappears then where do those people go and what do they make? That’s the scary part. I don’t know what kind of money they’re making. I don’t know if it’s actually a business model that’s supported within itself and its own ecosystem or if it’s supported by the larger model, right? They’re not now trying to compete with the studios but they probably will.

They are. Amazon is absolutely trying to. So is Netflix.

But they are just starting to. No, I’m saying in terms of film.

Oh film, no. Not film. Not yet.

But they may, they will.

Right, it’s all television. It’s all to be consumed online.

Yes.

In an online or an internet-enabled television kind of thing. So does that change you as a creator? When you’re thinking about that? As much as you like the movies and people are trying to make the movies more interesting, like the Alamo Drafthouse here, it’s everywhere or ...

I think it’s going to become ... no one knows. But I think it’s going to simply be form follows function. So it used to be that you would make a film and there was one model, right?

Out to the theater or not.

Out to the theaters or it used to be direct to DVD, right? And then there was a business model created by the foreign presales of the DVDs themselves. Or they knew with certain elements, certain actors attached, they could sell those DVDs and make their money back. Now you really have to think, is this a theatrical film? That’s the question. You know is this, because there are so many films that really deserve or should be, not deserve, should be a direct-to-streaming film, right? Or this is a film that ... this is a model that makes sense at a place like HBO.

So I think what the challenge is, whether you’re working in television or film, now I’m speaking specifically of film though, is what is the model? And that will determine where you go. I think that’s great because, take someone like Cassavetes. There are probably some people who we can reference who are sort of modern Cassavetes or aspire to a similar type film that’s largely not popular in any way. So where would that person ...

Well, except he can now find his audience. You can make the argument that he can better ...

But you can’t monetize that.

Right.

I mean, yes you could ... The only way you could monetize it, the best way you could monetize that is if Cassavetes does a long-form television show.

Right.

And in fact, I think that’s what’s happening, referencing what you said before. When you were saying you were finding the promise of ’70s cinema on television. It is because television’s also making things for adults — for grown ups, I don’t mean adult films. I’m not talking about pornography. But I’m talking about complicated narratives with nuanced characters that aren’t one dimensional. Jill Soloway’s “Transparent” is a perfect example. “Transparent” as a two-hour film may have a very limited audience in today’s theatrical environment when you go to the mall. I think that film coming out in 1976 would have a completely different audience than it does today. So I think she was fortunate — or she created that opportunity, I don’t know — to have that show, be on Amazon, and it found a huge audience.

No one else wanted it.

It’s just crazy.

Amazon was willing to do it kind of thing, and then it ends up putting them on the map and then they attract more attention.

So they have the problem — all these companies, these TV companies — have the problem of having people on the couch, but how do you get them to watch your show? And I don’t know that anyone really has an answer for that. You know, scope pre-existing properties, something like “Game of Thrones,” that is blockbuster television. Right?

Right. So when you think about creating, do you think about the medium? Can you imagine creating for the phone?

I don’t.

You don’t. You just don’t want to make ...

I wouldn’t really, it depends on the film. It really depends on the film. Sometimes these things can be faddish or a fad. Like there’s a new thing. I know that a lot of telecom companies were making short stuff for their phones.

Yeah. Sure.

There’s nothing wrong with that. I don’t want to watch “Blade Runner” or “Lawrence of Arabia” on my phone, just because I think the filmmaker conceived of a much larger ...

Tableau.

Yes, exactly. And so why reduce it? But certainly a lot of television, which is talking heads. Many TV shows are just talking heads, you can watch that on your phone, why not? There’s nothing in the background. There nothing they’re doing with the language of cinema that can’t be seen on a phone.

Because again, my 14-year-old watches everything on his phone. He does. He plays games on the big screen, which is interesting, which is also storytelling in a way.

I don’t know that theatrical experience will ever disappear. I don’t know that it’s really in the danger of going in the direction of like the opera or the ballet. If you go to the opera or the ballet, you look around, everyone is white, largely. And they’re wealthy.

Older.

And they’re 60-plus, right? I don’t know the theatrical experience will go that way entirely. I don’t think we’re going to be watching VR necessarily in a movie theater.

Are you going to do any VR?

Maybe.

I just interviewed Jon Favreau. He loves it. What would you do in VR?

I don’t know that it’s storytelling the way I think it’s storytelling. I think the most obvious application — and I’m sure they’re all going this direction — is gaming, because the game world is not narrative in the same way.

It’s action.

Yes, it’s action and it’s immersive and there are certain guideposts, like you get to here, and then they show you a little clip, which just changes the narrative and then you have to ... but essentially there are many video games you’re simply accomplishing something, right? You’re getting to one place or another. Storytelling is the way I think of cinema, or film or TV, narrative storytelling is a little more complex. Essentially, I mean fundamentally, film or TV, it’s not “choose your own adventure.” Right?

It’s “we’re going to tell you.”

I’m making decisions, hopefully I’ve thought them out well. So that you are having, it’s an emotional and intellectual manipulation. And there can be a degree of ambiguity, I’m hoping to elicit certain responses. I think the same thing can apply to VR but it’s going to be utterly different.

I see your point. You are making the choices rather than the audience making the choices.

Exactly. And really, in VR, I can go over there and interact with this monster or I can go away from it or whatever it is.

Or could it immerse you? I was, oddly enough, somewhere where Viola Davis was with her husband.

I went to school with her.

Amazing actress.

She is.

She can go from like total purple prose to like great stuff.

She’s extraordinary.

Of course I went up to her. I said, “I loved ...” And she goes, “I know.” I’m like, “No, no, no, how you delivered that line, that horrible line on ‘How to Get Away with Murder.’ You just committed yourself to the worst line in history and killed it.” But she and her husband are working on a VR version of “Othello” for students to feel immersed in it.

Oh wow.

They felt that that’s how people can access Shakespeare — getting back to Shakespeare. That if you had an immersion version, kids would understand it better. So they are working on that.

I think that’s a great tool.

You know what I mean, like you could think of that, like that you do feel part of it and part of the action in real life rather than just words on a page, kind of thing. I’m going to finish up by ... so you’re not making YouTube videos then. Right?

I’m not. No. I do make short films for fun.

And where do they go?

Nowhere.

Nowhere.

I mean, sometimes I show them to people, but I’m not on social media. I don’t have a website or anything like that.

You don’t tweet, that’s what I wanted to ask.

I don’t.

Are you technical? Here you are running a big company like Hooli ...

Yes, I am, relatively speaking, for a lay person who doesn’t work in tech. I can use editing software. I’ve been playing around with After Effects. I can certainly play, I’m no expert, I like it a lot. I wish I’d spent more time. But social media, I just haven’t engaged in mainly because I fundamentally ... I think it’s just because I didn’t grow up with it so I would have embraced it older than obviously someone who’s older than 10 or 15 or whatever. I think that I really struggle to be present. And my phone and my computer and the internet in general is enough distraction. And I even don’t take pictures of my kids a lot of the times when they’re doing things. I try and just live in the experience and be in the experience and I think that so much of social media that’s effective is about communication.

It’s performance.

And so much of that that I don’t like is about performance. And I’m really not judging it, it’s fine ...

You just don’t do it.

I just don’t do it at this point. I may.

Would you call yourself a tech ... What else do you use? Do you use an Amazon device at home, an Echo or anything like that?

We have an Alexa. And yeah we have a Nest. I’m connected in some ways.

So they’re watching you, Matt.

I know they are. I turn them off all the time. I’m paranoid.

So you say.

I unplug them.

That doesn’t work either.

I, yeah, I use it to a degree, but just on a consumer level. I guess I would ask you, how would you define that?

Well, I’m pretty immersed in technology, I would say.

But what does that mean?

It’s everywhere all the time. I’m always connected.

But you mentioned some consumer products.

Oh, I have them all. I use them all. Apple. I got ’em all. Every one of them.

Like an Apple watch?

Yeah. I’m not wearing one.

I would say that I watch keynote speeches, I used to all the time, I used to listen to Steve Jobs, I care about that. My friends and I text each other or email each other back and forth about all the stuff that’s coming out and I’m into from a consumer point of view.

But you’re not Gavin Belson?

No, I’m not a doctor, I play one on TV. The great tragedy of my life, actually, is that I’m not a tech billionaire but I only play one.

My last question, what would you do if you were a tech billionaire right now?

I’m interested in, I guess is it bio-med? Yeah, I think that I would invest a lot in that.

In health care.

Yeah.

There’s some cool stuff that’s coming out. They’re going to replace your liver with something they print out. They’re going to 3-D print your liver someday.

Yeah, that would be extraordinary.

Life extension is a big thing.

That’s something that Gavin should get into.

I think so too. Life extension. I can’t believe you guys haven’t done more life extension.

And I just wouldn’t stress about money ever. Can I have that please? When does that happen?

Never. Not for you. You did Shakespeare. Big mistake. You should have done software, not Shakespeare. Anyway, thank you so much, Matt, this has been a delight, you are one of my favorite people. The show is premiering when?

I don’t know the exact date. I should.

Soon. Super soon.

It’s in April.

And I’ll be appearing with some of the cast members in an event in San Francisco to see the first episodes. I’m excited to see where you’re going. Tell us where you left off so everybody knows, what happened at the end of last season?

Luke was just given a light saber ...

No, no, no.

And his hand was cut off. And he was holding something from the Death Star.

No.

You’re asking me to remember what happened last season? I can’t do that.

Where is Gavin at the beginning of the season?

I have no idea.

Trouble as usual.

I told you, I smoked a great deal of marijuana in eighth grade.

All right, okay. On that note. On that druggy note.

I’m not joking when I say I don’t remember.

Don’t tell me that, I have a 14-year-old boy.

This is the problem, we consume way too much narrative.

All right, okay.

Far too many.

All right. Matt, it was great talking to you.

Something awesome is about to happen on “Silicon Valley.”

This light saber, the hand cut off. “Luke, I am your father.”


This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

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