Togetherness Co-Creator Jay Duplass on How His Transparent Character Helped His Style

And why he isn't into sports anymore


Age 42

Claim to fame Co-creator and co-executive producer of HBO's Togetherness (returns Feb. 21); co-star on Amazon Prime's Transparent

Base Los Angeles

Twitter @jayduplass

Adweek: What's the first information you consume in the morning?

Jay Duplass: I read theSkimm in the morning, which is, I think, targeted toward millennials because they explain things that are really obvious sometimes. Like the Berlin Wall coming down. But it's a very tidy, sort of four-minute rendition of the news. I read that so I know what's going on in the world because once I enter the Duplass Brothers cave, I usually don't come up for air until the next morning.

What are your go-to social media platforms?

I only do Twitter, and I joined because people told me it was important for business purposes. But it's pretty fun, and people are really funny on there. And so I've actually gotten to enjoy it. I do get a little bit addicted at times.

Who do you follow?

My No. 1 favorite is Andy Richter. I think he's just the funniest person on Twitter, and he's also not afraid to be political or shitty or tear someone a new asshole in his tweets. And what I also enjoy about it is the differential from his persona on the Conan show because he's clearly kind of a dark dude, which you don't get when you watch Conan.

Do you listen to any podcasts?

Yeah. I listen to podcasts while I'm exercising. I have to double up on everything because of time constraints and the fact that I have two kids. I'm listening to the Bowe Bergdahl Serial right now, and I definitely listen to [WTF With Marc Maron] every once in a while. And I listen to this thing called HowStuffWorks.

What TV shows do you watch?

I watch a lot of TV now. My … I was going to say my guilty pleasure, but it's only a guilty pleasure because it's a phenomenal show, is The Americans. I love it because it's so very different from anything that we would create. It's just one of those shows that I don't understand why more people aren't talking about it because it's got history and thriller and intrigue and romance, and it's like a family show at the same time.

And there are so many wigs.

So many wigs. And it's kind of funny, too. The acting is great and the cast is just incredible.

What about sports?

I used to be a sports guy, and I was annoyed by all my artist friends who didn't like sports. And then something happened to me two years ago, and I realized, "This is a bunch of grown men wearing silly costumes banging into each other and talking about how important it is all the time." And I kind of lost my fervor for professional sports.

What's on your reading list?

I just subscribed to The Believer. I gave it to myself as a Christmas gift. And right now I'm reading a book called The Naked Now by this Franciscan monk called Richard Rohr. I'm not a stranger to the self-help genre, but this is not really self-help. This is more in the sort of "enlightenment seeker" genre. 

Your character Josh on Transparent is pretty stylish. Is that from you?

No, that's something that I adopted from him. I never really thought about [my clothes] that much until I was on the show and met [creator] Jill Soloway. Obviously Josh's outfits are extreme in a lot of ways. But I got these funny reactions where people started out saying, like, "That's fucking ridiculous. What are you wearing?" And then within a month everybody's like, "Goddamn, that looks really good." It was probably just lip service to the actors, but it rubbed off on me.

You and your brother, Mark, are known for how you work as much as your work. Is that weird? Do people come up and pitch you microbudget films?

Yes, we get pitched and emailed all the time by people who want to pick our brains and talk to us about not just what they're doing but how they're doing it. It's something that we used to be able to oblige and enjoy obliging, because we struggled a lot as young filmmakers and had a natural desire to help other people not suffer as much. But now that we have children we literally have to like say out loud, "I would love to hang out with you and talk about your movie, but if I do, that that's like one less hour I get to spend with my kids." It's hard to let down hopeful filmmakers, but we're middle aged men now with children who need us, you know?

What are your feelings about "mumblecore"?

Honestly, at this point I just don't really care [about] mumblecore. At first it was fun because our little movies were getting written up in the New York Times because we were "godfathers" of the movement. But it wasn't a movement that we decided on like perhaps Dogme was. [It was] just a term that the press used. So it did get us attention, and that was cool, but then we got just exhausted by it and annoyed by it. And now, it's a little bit annoying still just because it sounds exclusive, but Mark's and my goal was for everybody be able to enjoy what we do. [Mumblecore] sounds like a weird movement of difficult films.

This story first appeared in the Feb. 15 issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.