The things entertainers, from Quincy Jones to Alex Trebek and Maggie Gyllenhaal, have told David Marchese have gone viral before. Marchese’s ability to get such personalities, who have already been interviewed countless times, to open up, let their guard down and show their vulnerability has made his “In Conversation” columns at Vulture and New York Magazine an example of what it looks like to have a raw conversation and to get a good interview.
His first column under The New York Times Magazine’s Talk series, debuting today online and in the magazine this weekend, is no exception.
The expanded column will have a new feel online and in the magazine. In print, the column will now run over several pages alongside portraits from Mamadi Doumbouya of the interview subjects.
“I really just want to have authentic conversations about what somebody thinks, about how they feel about a given subject,” Marchese told Adweek. “I want them to feel comfortable enough and engaged enough with the conversation that maybe we can get into areas that the subject is not normally used to getting into or not normally eager to articulate. If I can achieve that in an interview, it has been a success.”
For his first Talk column, Marchese chatted with Meg Ryan about everything from her place in romantic comedies and her happiness with Hollywood to where she went when she seemingly disappeared from the industry.
“I was interested in talking to her about her decision to pull pack, which, for someone who was in a position like she was, is a relatively rare decision to make,” Marchesee said.
Marchese’s preparation for the interviews is extensive. He’ll read every profile he can get his hands on before walking going in. He’ll type up pages of questions, narrow them down and try to commit them to memory so he won’t have to reference his notes and break the rhythm of the interview. He’ll ask questions for 90 minutes in person and then follow up with a 30-minute phone call.
He’s aiming to write 36 long-form Q&As per year and have conversations with folks both in and outside of the entertainment industry.
“It may take some figuring out for a little while to figure out what kinds of subjects work, what kinds of conversations work best,” Marchese said. “[I] hope readers are at least a little bit interested in doing that, figuring out with me and some are willing to stick with the column as maybe it changes and evolves. It is a new thing for them too and I hope they’re interested in seeing where it goes.”