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May 9, 2024 73 mins

Ben McKenzie not only survived the 00s but also the glare of the spotlight. The actor shot to fame as a troubled teenager in the mega-hit series The O.C., which debuted the same year as another teen drama, One Tree Hill.

Ben and Sophia share stories about what it was like being young and dealing with fame on their respective hit shows. Ben also opens up about being terrified of being put in the 'teen actor' box, being confused with his character, and meeting his wife, Morena Baccarin, on The O.C. set but not remembering!

Plus, Ben dishes about showing his 7-year-old daughter The O.C. and her reaction to the show, his childhood dream of being a football player and how he ended up acting instead, and what inspired him to write the book, "Easy Money: Cryptocurrency, Casino Capitalism, and the Golden Age of Fraud."

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:00):
Hi, everyone, it's Sophia. Welcome to work in progress. Hello Lipsmarties.
I am so excited about today's guest because we're really

(00:22):
taking a stroll down memory lane together, and that memory
lane first begins at our intersection of hot teen TV
shows in the early odts. Ben Mackenzie is here today.
I am absolutely going to pick his brain about the
era that both the oc and Montree Hill launched him.
I have so many questions for him about how that

(00:43):
time period felt in his life. And I'm also really
excited to talk to him about Southland and Gotham, two
shows that I think were just so incredible. He also
has had such a beautiful film career. Junebug was one
of my favorite movies ever and happened to be his
film debut. He has worked on Broadway, and he's also

(01:04):
managed to become a New York Times best selling author.
And not for you know, a novel or a narrative
story about a character, but for a research project that
he found himself in the midst of during the pandemic.
He realized he was kind of the perfect mark for cryptocurrency.
A dad stuck at home with some cash in his pocket,

(01:26):
worried about his family and becoming aware of this vague
notion that all these people were supposedly making heaps of
money on something that he, despite having an economics degree,
didn't really understand. So realizing that these sort of grandiose
promises of a crypto utopia sounded like the plot of

(01:46):
a film rather than anything based in reality, Ben decided
to dive in and he had to ask, am I crazy?
Or is this a total scam? This led to him
writing the New York Times best selling book Easy Money, Cryptocurrency,
Casino Capitalism, and the Golden Age of Fraud. It is,
honestly such a fascinating conversation, and his earned expertise in

(02:11):
this realm not only fascinates me, but lemn testifying in
front of the Senate. So I can't wait to talk
to him about his journey from shooting a hot TV
show on the beach playing a team to testifying in
front of the Senate on the darker sides of the
deep web and our economy. Ben mackenzie is genuinely someone

(02:31):
who fascinates me, who I feel so lucky to call
a friend. And I think you guys are going to
love this interview. Enjoy. My goodness, what an amazing trip

(03:03):
it is in the very best way to have you
on the show today. We were giggling kind of before
we started recording about the fact that, you know, we
grew up essentially together on TV in a really wild time,
and it's so fun to see you now in your role,

(03:23):
you know, as this wonderful man and husband and father
and author. And I'm just like, we made it out,
didn't we.

Speaker 2 (03:32):
We made it out, man, We did it. We did it.
It was man, the early ods for wild it.

Speaker 1 (03:39):
Was such a weird time.

Speaker 2 (03:41):
Yeah, I forget how old were you when when you
Scott started on Wantreho, I.

Speaker 1 (03:46):
Had been twenty one for I want to say ten
days or something.

Speaker 2 (03:52):
Oh my gosh. Yeah, yeah, you were even younger than me.

Speaker 1 (03:57):
How old were you when the OC started?

Speaker 2 (04:00):
Twenties?

Speaker 3 (04:00):
Early early to mid twenties major okay, yeah, yeah, the
way the way that you do on network TV or
did about that totally. Yeah, I'd graduated from college and
I was like all tracking and.

Speaker 2 (04:16):
I ended up in LA And I mean, I'm sure
you can relate. Like One Tree Hill it was. It
was One Tree Hill in the OC, and it was
like being shot out of a cannon.

Speaker 1 (04:26):
Its strange, totally. And I remember thinking about you guys
a lot, because you know, I grew up in LA
and I went to college here and then I had
to leave to shoot the show, and you guys were here,
like in the thick of it, and we we had
our own set of mess from being so isolated in

(04:46):
this tiny little bubble together. But then you guys, you know,
you sort of had the whole big city at your fingertips.
But I imagine that was also super weird.

Speaker 2 (04:57):
Yeah, exactly. It's like good and bad, right. Yeah, you're
in the middle of it, which is fun, but also
a little a little dangerous or a little you know,
you're just you're on display, right, like you're doing this
thing that you're still learning how to do. I mean,
we're always learning how to do stuff. I feel like

(05:17):
you learn every day, but particularly at that moment, I
had no experience. I didn't really know what it was
all about. And so doing that in a public way,
you know, in Los Angeles, it's quite the trip. Yeah. Yeah,
it must have been a whild to be in North
Carolina and be on TV and sort of I'm sure

(05:39):
in that town you were.

Speaker 1 (05:41):
Like, yeah, rock stars. Well, and the thing I think
that was the weirdest about it. You know, Wilmington's really
a college town, so everybody around was just a little
younger than us. And then it's also a very popular
place to retire because it's so beautifull. So it was

(06:01):
sort of like, I remember this moment where the girls
and I were like, are we supposed to dake like
a college kid or are we supposed to like actually
not run away creeped out by like these retired golf
dads that are like our grandfather's age that are looking
for their round two or three trophy wives, Like, what
are we going to do here?

Speaker 4 (06:22):
Man?

Speaker 1 (06:23):
It was so it was everything was just a little
bit weird, But I did really love it, and I
have so much nostalgia for Wilmington ever since, like it's
one of my favorite places to go back and visit.
So I will say that was sort of a cool
thing for us about a location. It it does feel

(06:43):
like this place that's very precious to us. Well, I
love that we have that very weird era of teen
television in common. But I actually I really like to
ask people questions that go like a little further back,
not just necessarily beginning of career, but I think when
you become a public figure, whether it's like we did

(07:03):
in our twenties or you're doing the incredibly cool work
you're doing now, people meet you as a public person,
a successful adult. And I'm always really curious if, because
they say hindsight's twenty twenty, right, Like, if you look
back at your childhood, if you could rewind and see

(07:23):
Ben as an eight year old kid or a nine
year old kid, did you want to tell stories? Did
you want to write books? Like do you see the
through line of the person you are today in who
you were as a child, or were you a completely
different kid and everything sort of happened by accident.

Speaker 2 (07:43):
Right now, I can see the through line from my family.
But at the time, I wanted to play football. Really
I was Texas football fanatic. I played through high school.
I think in sixth grade I did a play and

(08:07):
I had a great time. But then I went and
I was at a private school, and then I went
to a public high school. And you know, it felt
at the time in the nineteen nineties in Texas that
I had to like pick you know, it was and
it was no competition for me at the time, I
really wanted to play football and I didn't have the

(08:27):
bravery to like also try to act at the same time.
It really wasn't on my on my radar, so I
only got back into it in college. But growing up,
my my mother is a former English teacher and now
a poet, and my father's a lawyer, and I have
an uncle who's a screenwriter, so I didn't have any

(08:48):
direct connection to Hollywood, but I knew the value of
words and of stories, and I saw my uncle wrote
a play that was on Broadway when I was like twelve, okay,
and we made the big trek from from Texas, and
I have two younger brothers. My mother bought us matching

(09:11):
sports jackets, so we would like look all nice for that.
For theatrical experience, yeah, my uncle's play is a seven
hour long play. It's a notoriously called the Kentucky Cycle.
You watch first chunk like three or four hours, you
have dinner, and you come back. It's the whole experience.
And I was riveted. I was captivated, and so I

(09:34):
think that was a was a clear, you know, signal,
But really only looking back on it, it really didn't
really get get get into it until until college, until
I was about eighteen and and but that was also
kind of random. Just like sawf a play was holding auditions, auditioned.

(09:54):
I had an amazing time. A guy who would become
a friend had decided to do Romeo and Juliet with
the capulets being played by black actors and the moncuse
played by white actors and CHRISTI Virginia, where I went
to school, is a very racially self segregated school. It's

(10:15):
like a sort of a really awful racial past and
it's present. I mean, I guess I haven't been there
in a while, so I don't know what it is now.
But even in the nineties or early two thousands, it
was pretty pretty self segregated. And so we did this
production of Bromo and Juliette I played the friar that
was not Romeo andifacation there. Yeah, it became a thing,

(10:35):
though it became We got this huge hall, like it
wasn't in the drama department, but we got this huge
This was normally a lecture hall, and hundreds of people
showed up every night, and we made like the CBS
National News and I was like, Wow, this is really amazing.
You can you can tell a story and people will

(10:55):
will listen. I think that's when I got hooked.

Speaker 1 (10:58):
Yeah, that's so cool. And what an interesting thing too,
that a you know, a classic shakespeareance story could be
so relevant and also shine a light on, you know,
an issue in your community that everyone was aware of
and perhaps didn't know how to talk about, but could
talk about through art.

Speaker 2 (11:21):
Yeah. Yeah, And I met people doing the show that
I during the play that I that I never would
have met, which is strange, right, because you're literally passing
them every day, but because of the sort of the
nature of the school, it just didn't happen. But that
I was like, the guy that played to its father

(11:46):
was the safety of the football team. This is like
a D one school, so it's like absolutely jacked huge,
And I remember doing a drinking contest with him at
one point, which was a really bad.

Speaker 1 (11:58):
Idea, ill fated choice.

Speaker 2 (12:00):
Huh, but lots of bonding, go, Yeah, lots of bond
that's cool. Yeah, it was cool. And so then I
just kept kind of doing it in college, and I
still got my degrees and other things, but I was
just in the drama department a lot doing and doing
plays and stuff.

Speaker 1 (12:16):
Yeah, well the economics degree, will you see the through
line now with the book, which we'll get to. But
from college and and really leaning into theater, is that
what motivated you to move to LA to really give
it a try?

Speaker 2 (12:33):
Although I actually moved to New York first. I Yeah,
I graduated in one. I did summerstock theater at Williamstown
Theater Festival.

Speaker 1 (12:43):
Which I've always wanted to do.

Speaker 2 (12:45):
That It's great, you got to do it, Like now
now you can like do it right. They'll like give
you level house and I mean they don't pay you,
but you know, it's it's a great experience. Yeah. Williamstown
is this revered theater festival in miss Chuse. It's western.
It was absolutely beautiful to where you know, Williams College
is a little college town. And I got the equivalent

(13:09):
of an internship there. And you know, so you're like
sort of you're building the sets, you're startriking the sets,
you're doing the kind of all of the groundwork, and
like you might get a couple of lines or something.
All these amazing actors from New York theater were up
there performing. I remember seeing Sam Rockwell and Joco Ivanik Joco,

(13:32):
I forget, I forget how with Joko's last names. Anyway,
they did the dumb Waiter and Zoos story as a
duo where they would like flip parts every other night,
two handed plays for those listing that are sort of
iconic amongst like actors and people always do them in
auditions and stuff, and they were performing them and there

(13:52):
was just I mean, it's just phenomenal, just sort of
off the off the charts. So I started. I started
there kind of just getting a sense light of the land.
And then I moved to New York in August of
two thousand and one, like two weeks later, nine eleven hapened.

Speaker 1 (14:12):
Wow.

Speaker 2 (14:13):
Yeah, it was weird, and I was waiting tables and
I was trying to get work. There wasn't a lot
of work to be had, obviously given the situation, and
particularly if you were starting out, you know. And so
early the next year I moved to LA on the
advice of a friend, a friend of my uncle who
kind of let me crash on his floor, and I

(14:35):
auditioned't a lot, got nothing, and a year later I
got the others. So and yeah, it was a circuitist
journey to get sure.

Speaker 1 (14:46):
Well, you know, it's like they say, it takes ten
years to become an overnight success. You know, people don't
know how much of a grind it really is to
become a working actor and then to remain one. We'll
be back in just a minute, but here's a word
from our sponsors. Was it jarring for you? I mean,

(15:09):
I know we touched on this a little bit earlier,
sort of laughing about what a crazy time it was,
But was it jarring to just be catapulted into that
level of you know, fame, attention. You were in La
so you guys were you were getting tailed by paparazzi.
It was the some say the Golden Age. I'd call
it like the horror age of gossip blogs. Like everything

(15:30):
was just so ugly, was it. I know it was
really hard for me as a woman because you know, misogyny,
but I can't imagine it it was less hard for
you even as a man. It's got to be pretty
shocking to be, you know, shoved into the deep end
like that.

Speaker 2 (15:49):
It does, it does. I do remember feeling like, oh,
I'm like I'm a commodity, Like I'm a thing, right,
like they've done that with us. I think it's a
far worse for women, and still is. But even then,
it was like put on the Ryan Atwood clothes and
do the hair and like, you know, then they're gonna
sell magazines or they're gonna you know, you're just you're

(16:15):
just out there in a way where before you were
totally private, no one cared, and now it's hard to
feel that they really care about you as a person
because they don't know you as a person. They care
about this thing that's been it's been created, which you
know you're proud of, but is Yeah, it was. It

(16:36):
was a very strange experience. And I was the oldest
member of the cast and it was the one who'd
gone through college, and I was like this is very strange.
You know, like this is really fun, but I was terrified.
I was like this is gonna end at some point
and then I've got to like get the next job
and like I've got to like sort of you know,

(16:56):
I was terrified of getting like sort of put in
that teen idol actor box, which a lot totally people. Yeah, yeah,
did you have this feeling? I mean, I don't know
what it was like, Oh.

Speaker 1 (17:09):
My god, yeah, it was. So it was very surreal
and honestly kind of scary for me. And you forget
that people don't know you, you know, they really project
and I realized how separate the projection was for me

(17:29):
on our show versus my life. Actually not that long ago,
my girlfriends that I did the show with during the pandemic,
we started a rewatch podcast a because we were trapped
in our homes and we wanted to be working and
be because we all were like, we sort of have
some trauma from this thing, Like we have love and
great memories, but there's also a lot of weird shit.

(17:51):
Maybe we could work through it together. And I made
this remark about how shocking it was to land in
this world where I just turned twenty one. I was
playing this you know, archetype of the popular girl in
high school, and like, I'd had three years of co
ed college, but I had come from a really small

(18:11):
all girls school. There were fifty five girls in my
graduating class. And with the fifty five of us were
together from seventh through twelfth grade. And Hillary and Joy
were like, oh my god, oh my god, of course
you were so uncomfortable. We didn't even put it together,
like you never did high school with boys, You never

(18:32):
were you never had any of these experiences. And then
you know, I was the one who was playing this
like very sexed up cheerleader, and I was just like.

Speaker 4 (18:42):
I'm really uncomfortable, you guys, but I had to learn
to kind of navigate like, oh, because I play this
girl on TV, people think I am this girl in
my life, and it was really yeah, it was just
really uncomfortable.

Speaker 2 (19:00):
All I remember having these feelings of like, it's so
hard to create your own identity when all anyone knows
of you is of course the thing that you've you know,
and you're very grateful that it's happened, but of course
they don't know you for you, what would they know
about you other than this role you're playing on TV.
It was so hard to separate your identity well.

Speaker 1 (19:21):
And when you're trying to figure out who you are
right right, and then you know everyone's telling you who
you are and what we found. I don't know if
you guys experienced this as the as the men in
that world, but particularly as the women. We were very
much assigned an archetype and then that was how we
were treated in public, how we were treated in the press,

(19:42):
and so for me as a you know, I'm the
first person who wants to organize the outing. I'm everyone
jokes that I'm like a cruise director in my friend group.
I'm a really social person. I love community, but I'm
also really nerdy and sometimes intellectual to a fault. And
it was very strange to be like, oh, I'm being

(20:04):
put in the super sexual, like hot, dumb girl space
and then that's how that's how like stories about my
life are being told in these magazines. This doesn't actually
have anything to do with me. And it was really surreal.
And you know, Hillary got cast as the like angry,

(20:27):
like tough girl, and Joy really got put into the
space of like being the girl next door who has
the voice of an angel, which, by the way, she does,
so it's like that blurred the line, right, Like her
music in her real life actually added to this assignment
of this character for her and it we all were
sort of like, wait, where do I what's mine and

(20:50):
what's not mine? And how do I claim my own
identity here? But I would imagine in ways, I feel
like we're finally starting to talk about the pressure that
was also put on the boys like you guys were
all expected to look like superheroes and be like these
suave dudes, and I don't know, I would imagine it
was weird for you too.

Speaker 2 (21:11):
Yeah, yeah, I mean I think I think it was
worse for for but because for it is still hard
for women. Yeah. I was also older, but but but yeah,
it was strange kind of I thought of as this.
It was tough for me because I was I was

(21:32):
the bad boy quote unquote right like not really who
I am, you know, more of a dork. So it
was sort of funny. I think I knew enough, like
I'd watched enough James Dean to be like, okay, I
can like do a do a take here, you know

(21:53):
version of this. But the trick was not too like
in a way, I felt like the trick was did
not buy into your own hype and to kind of
like be able to separate your own identity from yeah character.
It's so tricky, so difficult years of therapy.

Speaker 1 (22:12):
Oh absolutely, because not only do you have to not
buy into your hype, you also can't take personally what
isn't true about you. That circulates like wildfire, and that's
hard to thicken your skin. In a way, especially when
your job as an actor is to be completely emotionally open.
You're just like, who designed this system? It feels wrong?

Speaker 2 (22:35):
Yeah, it feels it's I mean, I think there's a
reason why sort of the younger you start and more
difficult can be maintained because it's so careers are so volatile,
and creating your own understanding of who you are as
a person the thing that no one can take away
from you. Yeah, right, you are the things that you

(22:58):
are versus the things that people perceive you to be
based on whatever work you've done. It's just it's just
so difficult. I think when you when you start off
really young, like as a child actor, and you're getting
that that that gratification, right, you're rewarded every time you
you know, you dance, you're a good, good little monkey

(23:20):
and you dance correctly. You know, it's a really messed
up system. Well, I think it's probably gotten better hopefully
since we were there, but I don't.

Speaker 1 (23:29):
Know, I hope. So I don't want to be like
a total down or about it either, because you know,
I know I said this for my experience certainly, and
I imagine you have this. You probably also have amazing
memories like and I I don't know if you have
relationships with you know, the folks you worked with, but
what what are the what are the good memories like

(23:51):
when when I say that to you, what are the
things that start popping in your head that were amazing
about that first work experience?

Speaker 2 (23:57):
It was amazing, It was it was it was a blast.
I mean we were We'd throw these big party scenes
and there would be you know, dozens, if not hundreds
of people there, and Adam and I got along like,
you know, like a house on fire, particularly in the
early days when it was just like there was like
this brief period when we shot the pilot Fox songs

(24:21):
like quick, get it on the air, build the set,
stud it in and down. But like at this we
had a summer where we were able to kind of
you know, it was sort of like feeling like you're
on the edge of a wave and it's gonna like
get to shore, but like for the moment you's kinna
you know, zen out. Yeah, I remember, I remember. I
don't know, I had a really really good time just

(24:44):
kind of also figuring out how to act on cameras.
You know, I had no experience really almost almost literally none.
So I remember going to the camera truck at lunch
and the DP would let me watch takes so that
I could just like see what it looked like. Wow

(25:05):
h and that was really helpful. Like at a started
pointed to not do that because then it can become
too sort of self referential or something you can like
get in your head a little bit. But like at
the time, I was like, oh, right, if I literally
just like Eyeline stuff like sort of like basic acting

(25:26):
on camera stuff that I just you know, I didn't.
I didn't know there was no acting on camera class
at the University of Virginia at the time, because why
were there undergraduate you know. So but yeah, no, we
had we had we had we had a blast. We
had a really really really good time, and it was
awesome to be in southern California, you know, on the beach.

Speaker 1 (25:49):
Yeah. Oh man, I know there'd be times where I'd
see like something from your show and we'd be in
a hurricane season and I'd be like those lucky fuggers
they don't even know.

Speaker 2 (26:03):
Yeah. The worst, the biggest complaint was driving to Manhattan
Beach Studios.

Speaker 1 (26:06):
YEA, from that is honestly quite far.

Speaker 2 (26:11):
It's it's a long time.

Speaker 1 (26:12):
So I read something recently that made me laugh. You
said that you let your seven year old see a
couple of episodes of the show and then she was
super into it, and you were like, wait a minute,
I don't know if this is like appropriate for you.
How do you navigate that as a dad?

Speaker 2 (26:30):
Well, clearly poorly, So I shouldn't have let her watch it.
I was just kind of feeling like I've made this
turn in my career where you know, I took a
break from acting for a bit and so you know,
Gotham ended in twenty nineteen, I did a play and

(26:51):
then the pandemic hit and I took this weird detour,
and so I think I was feeling like I needed
to show my kids like this is you know, this
is what I've done, and I couldn't show them Gotham
was too violent. Yeah, definitely couldnt Southland. That would not
be appropriate at all. And so I was like, oh,

(27:12):
you o cee, you know, like it's a family show.
It was on Nowere televienis sure it's fine. And then
I was like, oh, right in the pilot, there's well,
there's obviously lots of sex. There's cocaine. Oh boy, you know, deeply,
deeply inappropriate use of alcohol or unhealthy as a volcohol.

(27:34):
I mean it was it was a mass and so
Francis of course loved it. She was like, she's like,
this is awesome.

Speaker 1 (27:41):
Yeah, like whoa dad, you were like a rock star.
You're like, don't know, no, I mean.

Speaker 2 (27:48):
She wouldn't even give me that credit, but she was
definitely interested in, you know, the whole scene. Yeah, she's
seven going on, you know, thirteen, so she's like, teenagers
are well, now she's a she's teenagers are you know
the mystical beasts that she like sees, not actually experienced. Yeah,

(28:10):
it was really fun, but that I needed to turn
off and give it a few years totally.

Speaker 1 (28:16):
You're like, let's maybe go back to animated films for
a while.

Speaker 2 (28:20):
Yeah, yeah, I should him, Yeah I should them.

Speaker 1 (28:25):
Okay, that feels cool. What what was that shift like
for you though, because you know, it's obviously hilarious to
think about it through the eyes of your kids, but
you you did really turn in terms of the kind
of subject matter that your shows were about. Like to
your point, Southland and Gotham, you know, they were intense

(28:47):
and violent and dark and so amazing. Was it? Was
it like a choice for you to really want to
go in the opposite direction of a dramatized family story
like the OC, Or were they just scripts that you
happened to read like and everything worked out?

Speaker 2 (29:06):
Yeah. I mean, I don't know if you can relate
to this, but I think there's this misperception that actors
have controller for their careers choice you man, Yes, it's like,
why'd you do it? Well, they offered it to me,
or like.

Speaker 1 (29:19):
I because it's the one I booked.

Speaker 2 (29:21):
Yeah, because they let me do it, and they also
were willing to pay me for it, so I did it. Yeah,
I mean the OC, I was like, you know, obviously
thrilled beyond belief to get it, and that was just
kind of luck. After that, I did. I think the
one job I really purposely set out to get with Southland,
like that was like I needed to. I read that
script from Anne Betterment and I thought, this is fantastic.

Speaker 1 (29:44):
Such a great writer.

Speaker 2 (29:46):
She's an unbelievable also Creatorovan. Yeah, just an extraordinary writer,
incredible eye for detail. John Wells was producing it. It
was theoretically going to take over the or it did
actually for a brief moment take over the er time
slot on Thursday nights, and I told my manager at
the time, like, I really this is the thing, so

(30:10):
kind of knived to like get the meeting and then
quote unquote offered to read in the room, even though
I wasn't supposed to be auditioning, you know, the whole
like kind of game of it. And and it worked,
I guess because they hired me. So that's that's the
probably the most purposeful I've ever been in my career.

(30:32):
Was like I have to do something that's completely different,
both for like, you know, kind of more perception reasons,
but also just because I needed to do it personally,
Like I needed to feel like I was growing and
learning and out on the edge. And that's what so

(30:53):
often was. It was shot in the streets of LA
It was highly improvised. It was you could say whatever
the hell you wanted and we would just bleep it.
Training with the cops and being around real cops, real
gang members and all that, it was like it was,
you know, that was like graduate school for acting. I guess, right,

(31:14):
if like youc was undergrad that was like and it
was scary because like you would realize when you showed up,
oh I haven't prepared enough. I'm not really quite there,
you know what I mean, And you're just going to
have to kind of roll with it because they're not
going to stop for you.

Speaker 1 (31:31):
How does that present What was the first time that
you felt that?

Speaker 2 (31:35):
Well, thankfully, I was working with an actor named Michael
Kutletz who was my training partner and the show so
basically the pilot takes place in the very What was
good about it was the character was written as a
naive young rookie cop. So my naivete as a as
a as worked for me. But Michael really great. Really

(32:02):
He's a big, tough, strong dude, and he was very
he was he was aware instantly that like the show
was gonna at least our plot line on the show.
There was obviously the were amazing. Regina King was, you know,
a lead actor, Sean Hattiseee. We had amazing actors on it.
But for our plot line and the training officer and

(32:22):
the rookie cop, like our relationship was gonna, you know,
determine whether that worked or not. And so we needed
to become fast friends. And then as soon as the
camera started rolling, he would just be an absolute dick
to me because that was the character. He was like,
gonna just you know, tell me I'm an idiot. And
there was a freedom in that. I think that really

(32:43):
helped to know that I was actually supported as soon
as the camera stop rolling, but when we were rolling,
I was free to be as uncomfortable and naive and
clumsy in a way as I actually was. And then

(33:03):
over time the character evolved, and that was really we
did five seasons of that short seasons, but the five seasons,
and that was really probably the most change I've had
in a character that I've done, which it was really enjoyable.

Speaker 1 (33:19):
That's so cool. And now a word from our sponsors
who make the show possible. And then how did Gotham happen?

Speaker 2 (33:37):
Gotham happened because so both the OC and Southam were
Warner Brothers shows, and when Southland was Southland lived this
really weird life where it was on NBC and then
it was on T and T. That was actually in
the middle of the strike. I think that last big
strike was in there somewhere. Anyway, it got sort of
jumped to batted around a little bit, and so by

(33:59):
the time it was just that season. It was it
was kind of probably gonna have to wrap up. And
Peter Roff, who is the guy who ran Warner Brothers TV,
you know, was I guess I'd done right by him,
and so he wanted to get me on a deal.

(34:20):
And so I stayed with Warner Brothers and Bruno and
and I did a pilot right as that show is ending,
which never went a series, but Bruno Heller created that,
and so Bruno wrote the part of Jim Gordon with
me in mind. So I got like the most amazing
a year later, you know, we did this pilot, didn't

(34:41):
go anywhere, but we had a great time. An a
year later, I got the most amazing boice mail from Bruno,
who's this you know, charming British fella, you know, saying
I've written this part, you know, with you in mind.
You should take a read. And you know, no one's
ever written for me, and you know, yeah, I'll take

(35:02):
a look at playing the future Commissioner of Gordon in
a Batman TV show. Sure, yeah, let me just count
to three before I say yes. Right, but but yeah,
that's that's how that that's how that went. It was
just kind of I was stayed in the fold and
and then and then that brought me to New York.

(35:24):
That was kind of like how I because I'd been
in LA for over a decade at that point, and
that was actually one of the attractive things about the
show as well. It was like I was kind of
just ready to I love LA, but I was just
ready to shake it up, you know.

Speaker 1 (35:37):
Ready to do something different. And then you know, you
got to go to New York. You're in the center
of theater, which we know you love, and then you
know unexpected bonus of going to do this amazing show,
which by the way, having something written for you is
like such a feather in your cap moment. And on
top of it all, you met your wife and it's

(35:57):
like what a cool just like what a cool thing
happened to you.

Speaker 2 (36:02):
It was amazing, It was incredible. I mean I I
was in New York, a city that I love dearly,
and you know, we had all of the toys, all
of the you know, he was really going to show
off New York, right, So yeah, you wanted a two
hundred foot crane and fifty extras and you know, shut
down Fifth Avenue or whatever you would do it, or

(36:24):
at least for a few seas as you would. And yeah,
and then Marina came on the show pretty early on,
like sort of midway through the first season, and I
just remember connecting with her in a way that I'd
really never connected with anyone before. Yeah, I generally don't

(36:45):
they actors that much, and I don't think she did either.
And yeah, it was It was definitely a kind of
a process of like, are we really going to do this,
because there's obviously, as you know, like you know, actors
get together time while working. It can do really well,
but it can also go really poorly. But I think

(37:07):
we were really at a place in our lives where
we were ready for the real thing. We were ready
to kind of do it, right. I. I actually met
her on the OC probably ten years prior, and she
says I blew her off. She says that that she

(37:28):
like hit on me and I didn't pay her any mind.
I don't think that's true, but it's the story she
loves to tell.

Speaker 1 (37:36):
But really she trolls you about it a little bit.

Speaker 2 (37:39):
Oh yeah, I mean again, you should should have met
the wedding. It was like all the whole speech was
about what an idiot I am. I'm like, yeah, I
probably probably was like that. Definitely, it was like that. Uh.
I think we met when like met for the second time,
but met in a real way when it was right.
You know, I'm not a believer and fate, but this felt,

(38:04):
it felt you know, it felt incredibly fortunate to meet
her and to sort of start it for me.

Speaker 1 (38:09):
Yeah. I think though that that's something that's so cool,
you know, like what we were talking about earlier, that
through line to your artistry and what you were passionate
about as a kid. I really think that. You know,
sometimes cliches become cliches because they're just so true, and
that idea of hindsight being twenty twenty. Of course you

(38:31):
wouldn't have seen it the first time you met her,
but in hindsight you look back and you go, oh,
maybe there was a reason that at certain points me
and this person kept being put in the same rooms.
Like I've had that in my life, and when it
hits you, you just go, oh, my god, am I

(38:51):
the recipient of magic? Or am I an absolute idiot
that I didn't get it until I got it? And
maybe it's both.

Speaker 2 (38:58):
Yeah, Yeah, I think it's both Well actually said at
the wedding, like you rarely do get a second chance
to make a first impression.

Speaker 1 (39:05):
Oh I love that.

Speaker 2 (39:07):
Don't mess it up.

Speaker 1 (39:08):
That's really cool, and I love that you talk about that.
You know, you have to weigh when is it worth
a risk and what do you do with a connection?
You know, and you guys had to do that in
the context of being on this job together. And the
added layer on top of that is, oh, if this

(39:28):
is the real thing. We're both public people. How do
you figure out how to navigate what you allow in
because you want to be able to celebrate your life,
and then what you keep away from prying eyes so
that you have some privacy in your relationship, Like, how
do the two of you navigate that?

Speaker 2 (39:51):
I think being in New York is very helpful, just
kind of away from There's a lot a lot going
on here, a lot of stuff shoots and that was
a great theater scene. There's we live in a neighborhood
just shock full of actors. There's actors ever, but it's
very low key. You know, there's not there's not paparazzi,
there's not you know, the place where the actors go

(40:14):
for lunch, there's you know whatever, it's a very you know,
and there's a sort of a New York anonymity to it.
And so I think in that way it kind of
works out great because we can go we can dress
up all up and go to you know, a function.
But for the most part, we're just here with our kids,
you know, taking them to school and you know, waiting

(40:37):
for the phone to ring or trying to trying to
make it ring. And it's tricky. We now have three
children and juggling the careers with like our kids are
now getting to an age at least that the older
one and maybe even the older two to like we

(40:57):
have to balance like, Okay, if we're going to do
a job somewhere, like, how is that going to work?
Because they need to be in school. We want to
give them. We want them to have as normal a
child quote unquote normal a childhood or or have a schedule,
a have a have a consistency, but at the same
time be able to enjoy the perks of this, which
is to be able to travel and to be able

(41:18):
to see it. So it's definitely a lot. It's a
lot of work. I mean, we were just talking about
it right before it came on, Like there's always you know,
new challenges too, and and you know Marine's career is
like on fire, so it's like kind of you know,

(41:39):
you want to go for it, right, Like how often
do you have a moment like she's in Deadpool three?
Like how often you a movie that's like, you know,
going to make a bajillion dollars? You need to you
owe it to yourself, like you put in the work,
like go go for it, you know, make makes But
also you know, you got three kids at home who like,

(42:01):
you know, don't totally understand that, right, Yeah, they don't
get what's going on. So but I have to say,
were I feel like we're doing a pretty good job.

Speaker 1 (42:11):
It seems like it so cool. And then I think
one of the things that geeked me the most again
because we've known each other, you know, both from like
being literal neighbors for a time to you know, from Afar,
but being like I see you, how you doing this
is weird? This industry is crazy, you know.

Speaker 2 (42:32):
Like two blocks away from each other. I know it
was so.

Speaker 1 (42:35):
Cool, but I I love the paths of advocacy. You
know that you and I in particular have taken and
I know what a trip it was when I got
to testify in front of Congress and I've seen you
on the hill doing it, and like I just was like, yes,
I love this for for like my friend over there,

(42:58):
and to see that you dove into this world of
research when the world shut down, because you could kind
of smell that something was fishy and you followed that instinct.
I'm just like kind of obsessed with this. So can
you walk us through how that happened? I mean, I

(43:18):
know you got an economics degree, you know, in college
in Virginia, But the world of cryptocurrency and the implications
of it in society and policy and the economy, it's
so mind boggling, and I think really hard for a
lot of people to understand. Who didn't, you know, spend
lockdown doing the deep dive that you did. So like

(43:42):
talk to me about how this began.

Speaker 2 (43:45):
Sure, sure, So I was already kind of in retrospect.
I was like searching for a new thing. I had
finished Gotha. I did a play kind of trying to
shake it up and like get some of that old
mojo back. Like I think if you do a lot
of TV, you can kind of get into this rhythm
that's like a bit repetitive. So when that ended, the pandemic,

(44:10):
actually I was just about to do a pilot and
the pandemic hit, and you know, it was everything was
everything was over. We were all, you know, put on ice,
and I remember kind of looking at the newspaper or
maybe I guess it was my computer screen that had
the news on it and drifting over to like the markets,

(44:30):
which I never really paid attention to, even though I
had an economics degree, and kind of noticing that they
had gone obviously crashed down when COVID hit and then
they were roaring back and trying to make sense of it,
and noticing this thing called crypto, which a friend of
mine introduced me to and he said, you know, you've
got to invest in it. He actually used to live

(44:51):
with me at that house. I had a little guest house.

Speaker 1 (44:53):
And oh yeah.

Speaker 2 (44:55):
Yeah, And I loved Dave, but he's given me terrible
financial advice before. He had encouraged me to invest some
penny stock when I was in my twenties, and you know,
put a little money into it and lost it, as
did he, and so I just became kind of curious

(45:16):
about it from that angle, like wait a minute, this
the words don't make sense here, right, Like from a
just like a linguistic you know, I'm a bit of
an ina attentive guy when it comes to the stuff.
My mother's an English teacher and my dad's lawyer. So like,
you know, you use a word like currency and that
means money, but money and economics like it does things

(45:39):
like I can't call this glass money because I can't
use it to buy stuff. But that's one of the
things that the money is supposed to do, is we're
supposed to be able to buy and sell stuff with it.
But you couldn't really do that with crypto. I mean,
people talk about how theoretically you could, but you really
can't for a variety of reasons. And so I fell
like an investment. But if it was an investment, it

(46:01):
was unclear what it was investment in because lines of
computer code stored on these ledgers called blockchains, and it
just had all the hallmarks of kind of well of
fraud and even more serious crimes potentially like money laundering
and financing of terrorists and all sorts of things. And

(46:24):
I just became obsessed, like I was sort of fascinated
from the intellectual level of what is this desire to
have this money that isn't from the government. Like I
can understand the libertarian aspirations there, but historically speaking, it
doesn't work. Like if the money doesn't come to the government,

(46:46):
you know, logical questions where it's going to come from.
It's going to come from corporations, from private actors, private money,
which is a thing we tried in the nineteenth century
and it didn't work, in part because of fraud. Because
once you know, we all have the bone to pick
up the government. But if the if the government's not
issuing the money and instead corporations are issuing it, you

(47:07):
can see where the you know, where the pitfalls would be, right,
Like what's stopped them from gaining the system and from
sort of manipulating these quote unquote currencies.

Speaker 1 (47:18):
Yeah, I mean you even see it now with inflation.
You know, you see for example, like massive food corporations
doing two hundred and fifty million dollars buybacks of stock
and then raising their prices by twenty percent and saying
it's inflation, and it's like, it's not inflation. You're you're
doing it. You made a decision to raise prices for

(47:40):
customers while enriching yourselves. And you're blaming the economy, but
it's not the economy you chose it. The corporation made
the decision. Like it's crazy.

Speaker 2 (47:52):
There's a lot of research out there that shows that
the pricing power that these corporations have have had is
really it might even be the majority of the reason
for the inflation. It's certainly a large part of it.
You know, the supply chains are messed up because of COVID,
But like, what's the difference between a legitimate supply chain

(48:12):
issue and just being able to gouge people because you
can say, oh, it's the supply chain, you.

Speaker 1 (48:16):
Know, right, And I find that really interesting because we're
seeing the damage being done by that kind of corporate
greed and we're not even talking about the corporations being
the ones deciding what is money. So what you're saying,
it's like, if you think it's bad, now, imagine how
much worse it could be with this this being assigned

(48:38):
the value of currency, Like what are we talking about?
It's made up right.

Speaker 2 (48:42):
Right, exactly and exactly, And but of course money is
made up right like money, we also created but it
comes it's a social construct, and it's only as strong
as the social consensus that underlies it. And so you know,
these things, these currencies that we that we made up there.
You know, in terms of in the world, the average

(49:02):
currency is actually pretty volatile. It's just that we're in
the United States and we're actually blessed with a very
stable currency. So we sort of don't understand that. Ironically enough,
given like the critical kind of like took off here.
But it was this story of of well, on a
simple level, it was like a get rich quick scheme, right,

(49:23):
it was like who doesn't want yeah, yeah, But but
it had all these trappings of like emancipation and you know, independence,
decentralization that you would sort of be free with your
money to do whatever you wanted with it. But all
of the stories, as I looked into them, none of

(49:43):
them were really true. They were reactions to things that
were real, right. There were reactions to you know, corportization
or centralization of certain economic actors in the economy. They
were also i think given a lot of power because

(50:06):
the subprime crisis was such a disaster and so many
people got screwed over there that like faith in our
economic system really was undercut potentially you know, forever, but
certainly for a generation. You know, Crypto took off amongst
these young men for eighteen to twenty nine ish. Those guys,

(50:26):
like they saw their parents lose their house, They saw
the destabilizing nature of subprime And so when you put
those guys alone, you know, in the pandemic, isolated from
each other online all the time, right, and they see
this thing that their friends are supposedly making money on,

(50:49):
like why wouldn't they go for it? And then it
just as a ponzi, It just like took on a
life of its own, and so it just got bigger
and bigger and bigger, and the celebrities got involved. We
can talk about you know, the story just spread much
like a virus. Actually, the person whose work influenced me
the most is this Nobel Prizeman economist, Robert Schiller, who

(51:14):
is a behavioral economist. He's not so much looking at
the sort of mathematical models, but more the human behavior
behind economic activity. And he just points out that these
these narratives, they are a reaction to something that's real.
In this case, maybe like the distrust of government born

(51:34):
from the subprime crisis, but they just kind of take
on a life of their own and they mutate and
they change to fit, you know, whatever, whatever sort of
story resonates with the public. And es actually the first
time that I was able to articulate why I was
so interested in it, because it was like, well, I'm
not really not an economist. I have an economist degree,

(51:58):
but I'm not like you go to graduate school. My
math is actually pretty badly it's always my weak point.
And I'm not some you know, cryptographer expert on the
technic the technology. So why am I here? Why am
I so obsessed with it? And It's because I'm a storyteller.
It's because I tell stories for a living. I like

(52:21):
to say that I lie for a living too. As
an actor, I mean, I know, we're always talking about truth,
but it's also about the show, and you can tell
when people are lying. I think actors have pretty good
bullshit detector because they've been bullshitted before. Anyone who's ever
had an agent has been bullshited at least once or ago.

(52:44):
So you see people doing stuff and you're like, well,
that's not true. You know, I didn't at the time
know as much about the quote unquote technology as I
do now, but I knew that the celebrities selling it
didn't know anymore than I did.

Speaker 1 (52:59):
Well, yeah, they've just been told a story. Someone has
sat them down and said this is really cool and
you should get in on it because it's the future.
And they go wow, okay.

Speaker 2 (53:10):
Well and they pay them in real dollars.

Speaker 1 (53:12):
Sure, but it's like you believe there's a lot of money, Yeah,
you believe a story. A friend of mine explained it
to me in a really interesting way. You know, we
were talking about all of this because I understand that
there is real value assigned to some of this, and
I also understand that it's essentially completely made up, and

(53:33):
how does it become real when it was just an idea?
And a buddy of mine was saying that he had
a friend very deep in the space who was talking
about all the meme coins, and I was like, just
the idea that a meme coin has value? It's a
meme what are we talking about? You know, much like

(53:53):
doge coin was a joke that then became a currency.
And he explained to me that if you just were
paying attention, like he tracked a ten thousand dollars investment
in a meme coin that, over the span of two
weeks became worth one hundred and forty thousand dollars, but
then one week later was worth nothing. Right, And I

(54:15):
was like, so, if you were smart enough to get out,
and you could have made one hundred and thirty thousand
dollars on the made up idea, but if you had
waited seven more days, you would have lost ten grand.
Like what is this? So I guess I'm curious. I
ask questions, and I hear examples, but I certainly don't
feel like an expert. And I hear you saying that

(54:37):
you know, you may not be particularly great at math,
but you do understand the language of economics, the language
of money. So how would you explain to our listeners.

Speaker 2 (54:50):
Like.

Speaker 1 (54:52):
What cryptocurrency really is? And you've talked about the red
flags that you were seeing in terms of this story
sounds made up, but are there actual identifiers you would
tell someone who's trying to learn about this to look
for to understand it.

Speaker 2 (55:12):
Yeah, yeah, And I can make it simple. And this
is what I told the Senate. It actually starts, it
starts and ends with language. So they're not currencies. They're
they're just they aren't. That's not what they do. There
are things you put money into hoping to make money
off of them through the work of your friend who
bought the meme coin. So what that is is a security,
it's an investment contract. But they're unregulated basically, right, Like,

(55:36):
there's very little laws. There are very few laws that
really apply or that sorry, have been applied broadly speaking
to crypto. Right, you see all of the cases now,
like everybody's in court, everybody's getting sued, jail left and
right right all over the world. And it's because I
in part I think the powers that you didn't really

(55:57):
take crypto that seriously, it's awfully stupid, sort of understandable,
but the crime that can be facilitated by using it
is significant. I mean, it's it's kind of mind blowing. Actually,
there was a hearing today and the Senate Banking Committee,
which was the committee that I testified in front of
a couple of years ago, and the hearing was explicitly

(56:19):
about cryptocurrency funding terrorism and sanctions of asion and you know,
the North Korean nuclear weapons program. I mean literally, like
the worst people in the world can use it to
send this thing that has value of some kind instantaneously
all over the world and avoid the working system and

(56:40):
avoid the regulations. So what are cryptocurrencies. They are unregulated securities.
And it's sort of interesting, are securities laws come out
in my thirties because of the nineteen twenties we have
them and the Roaring twenties, you know, this big bubble
that builds up, crashed and ended up, you know, resulting

(57:03):
in the Great Depression, and the powers that be said, oh,
we should probably have some rules about this stuff. And
the main thing that the security laws are predicated primarily
on disclosure. You need to say, if you're going to
invest in something, you need to know who the hell
you're giving your money to the hell they're doing with
that money, right, And crypto has none of that effectively

(57:26):
design Right, It's like, oh, I'm betting on a mean coin. Okay,
what does it do? Well, not really anything. Actually it's
a dog and a hat or whatever. But other people
are like the numbers going up, so like there must
be value there. Well, in an unregulated market, you can
manipulate the prices of these things. I mean, you saw

(57:47):
sam Bang d free get convicted of like one of
the worst financial frauds in American history, and what was
going on inside of his empire was just it was
just straight up fraud. Was just taking people's money, filtering
it through a bank, and spending it. And in the meantime,
you know, the numbers on the screen can kind of

(58:08):
do whatever the numbers on the screen do. They're sort
of the exchanges for the most part, are kind of
like bucket shops. Bucket shops were fake exchanges that up
until the nineteen twenties when they were outlawed. Would you know,
you'd call on the telephone or send telegram or whatever
it was and make and you know, invest in something

(58:29):
and they'd say, ye, yeah, sure, sure we'll put well.
And then you know, they wouldn't make.

Speaker 1 (58:34):
The trade, right, They just take your money.

Speaker 2 (58:37):
They just take the money. And then and then and
then it really just becomes sort of a Ponzi scheme
where you just all you're really trying to do is
slow the redemption process down and control the redemption process.
You're just trying to make sure that people can't get there.
The thing that keeps a ponzi going is not just
the ability to get new money in, but to manage
how many people are able to get their.

Speaker 1 (58:56):
Money out right, you have to hold on to it, yeah.

Speaker 2 (58:59):
Because the money's not there, right, Like you're creating these
returns on the screen and saying, oh, it's up this percent.
None of that matters until you actually need to get
the money back, and that's when you know, shit gets real.
And so these are sort of, you know, in many ways,
just like sort of new iterations of the same old
Ponzi stories. They're just kind of updated for the digital age. Right,

(59:24):
they have all the words and they have all the
you know, crypt is basically the opposite of what it
says it is. It's not decentralized. It's highly centralized. It's
not new. It's scrypt has been around or blockchain's be
around for over thirty years. It's not a currency. Stable
coins aren't stable. Like it's really funny that, like, you know,
it's kind of exactly the opposite of whatever they say there,

(59:47):
which is fantactic of like you know, telling you something
that's just blatantly not true and daring you too to
disbelieve it.

Speaker 1 (59:56):
Right, and now a word from our sponsors. I mean,
it's really wild to think about, and it's so cool
to talk to you about because this thing you were
interested in essentially led you down this rabbit hole that
has resulted in the book being a New York Times bestseller.

(01:00:16):
You testifying in front of the Senate, you know what
a wild pandemic project you had. What do you think
is the biggest takeaway that you want folks to get
from the book? What do you like Why did you
decide to aggregate all this information and publish something.

Speaker 2 (01:00:35):
I think I want people to understand what actual money
is and why it's so important. And I think the
thing that is so important to understand about it is
that it is a thing with share in many ways,
I think our monetary system is what's called a public good,

(01:00:56):
meaning we all need to work for us all to
do well. Like obviously we have private ownership of particular things,
but in order for our society to work, we need
money to work for us, and we share it, and
that's a responsibility to make sure that it is working
for all of us. And so I think, you know,

(01:01:18):
the potency of the cryptocurrency stories really came from the
failures of our regulated system to do all of the
things that money should do right. And I really I
think that's why I wrote the book is to get
to the bottom of the mystery of how it was
all working. And I'm not My journey isn't quite done.

(01:01:43):
I'm working on a documentary. I filmed all of these guys,
so I had an interview with Sam Bak mcfreed, which
is quite a trip to look at. So I think
the doc will also kind of get into this territory.
But I wrote it to actually talk about how important
it is to be connected. Sort of aspires to this

(01:02:09):
like libertarian notion that like your money is just yours
and like nobody has any like you sort of live
in a fantasy land where like you don't have to
interact with anybody, you're totally preppy, no one knows anything
about you that can seem nice. But in reality we
need to share this thing called money, to share the

(01:02:31):
system and agree on its rules, or it doesn't work
for any of us. Right evolves into this what crypto is,
which is this sort of zero sum game where someone
to win, someone else has to lose. The winners and
losers aren't equally distributed. There's like a couple of winners,
the scammers and the criminals, and then a bunch of

(01:02:52):
losers the average person, and every once in a while,
you know, an average person wins a little bit. But
that's of course a good thing for the scammers and
for the people running the casinos or that, excuse me,
the exchanges. Is like, people have enough people out there
spreading the story right that, like, hey, I got rich
on it for people other people to get drawn into it.

(01:03:13):
So I think that's really what I'm kind of trying
to to talk about, is how connected we all are
and how important those connections are too. Yeah, addressing the
issues that crypto purports to address.

Speaker 1 (01:03:27):
I think that's really beautiful. It's such an interesting thing,
you know, for me connection community. The last twenty years
of political volunteering and activism have really shown me that,
in whatever way you might be dissatisfied, as you said earlier,
with our government, we can forget in this country how
lucky we are and how good we have it. And yes,

(01:03:51):
there are all sorts of historic horrors and disparities we
have to address, and the fact that we have a
relatively stable currency, the fact that we are developing ever
more access to things like healthcare. You know, I would
love if we had a more Nordic system in that regard,
but like we forget that community is really the only

(01:04:15):
thing that makes any of this work. And you know,
the roads we drive on we can only drive on
because we all agree to the rules of the road.
We agree to stop at red lights and go at
green lights. And it is a societal project to be
able to exist in a world. And it's really interesting
to hear you qualify money in that way. It only

(01:04:40):
works if it's looked at as a shared system, and
the regulations on things like you're saying securities and whatnot,
are the only way we avoid another great depression, a disaster.
And I don't think it's accidental that we saw a
pandemic cause the disruption that we did and the supply
chain issues you're referring to. And now it's really interesting

(01:05:04):
to see, you know, some of the folks who know
that it takes regulation to make any of this work
trying to rein in these companies that are gouging and
doing the things because it's like, no, no, you're saying
that it's the system and it's actually just you. And
in a way, it's another version of the crypto scam. Right,
It's like, oh, well, I'm going to get rich even
if it hurts everybody else, and there has to be

(01:05:24):
a moment where we decide to stabilize the community for
the benefit of the community. So it's really I've just
never thought about crypto in that way, and I appreciate
you illuminating it like that for me.

Speaker 2 (01:05:38):
No, that that's exactly right. And I think the notion
that you're sort of just going to be able to
go to your own little siloed area and exist free
of others is not just a fantasy, it's a dangerous fantasy.
The truth is, we do live in a democratic society,
for all of its faults, and so our government does

(01:06:00):
represent us, for better or worse, and imperfectly of course.
But like the solution is to strengthen that and to
focus on that, work on that is not to sort
of imagine some system where it's every man or woman
for himself. It's it's it's it's actually very dangerous because
in that world, nobody trusts anybody. That's what that's the

(01:06:21):
weirdest thing to me about crypto is that it says
it's this trust less money that all you have to
do is trust the code. But first of all, it's
not true because with the code doesn't fall from the sky.
People write the code, So really doing is are trusting
the people that write the code. And damp Beagm freed
he instructed one of his guys to change the code.
That's how he actually stole the money. Is he literally
just changed the code that was in the exchange. But

(01:06:44):
it's also to say you want to trustless money is
wrong because why should we aspire not to trust one another?
That's so dark it feels apocalyptic or something that like
we would we would none of us trust each other well.

Speaker 1 (01:07:01):
And in a trustless society, fascism blooms, yes, and it
is part of what we're seeing. And I think the
importance of being able to identify the tools that tip
the skills toward fascism rather than a representative democracy. It
really does feel like one of the most important acts

(01:07:23):
of awareness of our time, because there's a lot at
play that's trying to make the world more fascist and
incredibly easy for you know, a handful of people, and
incredibly dangerous for everyone else. And I should hope that
the more we can learn about all of these systems,
including the one you write about in the book, the

(01:07:45):
more we can go. No, we don't want that. We
don't want nine billion people to suffer in six dudes
to be rich like that seems probably not like the
best outcome.

Speaker 2 (01:07:55):
Yeah, exactly. And we have agency, right, I mean thing
that I want to really pross upon people is we
have We know it's hard, we know it's tough, we
know it's imperfect, but we have agency, right, and yeah,
and we don't have anything else. All we have is
each other. Yes, It's all we have, and so we.

Speaker 1 (01:08:14):
So to strengthen the US, Yes, feels like the goal.

Speaker 2 (01:08:19):
Ye.

Speaker 1 (01:08:20):
So the documentary is coming. When do we get to
see it?

Speaker 2 (01:08:23):
It's hopefully relatively soon. I think it's going to be
ready in a few months, and then I'm going to
figure out how to like get it out there. I'm
going to go to festivals. Am I going to try
to screen it for buyers. I'm really excited about it
because it's it's very unusual. You know, if you go
on Netflix and you see these cryptodocs, it's very much

(01:08:44):
like it's about a con, you know, and it's these
like really these blow hard guys, yeah, who ripped off whoever?
And there can be kind of fun, but they're sort
of true crimey this is which which is a genre
I love, but I feel like it can get repetitive
over time. This is kind kind of a comedy sort of.
It's like, it's just ridiculous what happened with the whole

(01:09:08):
bubble and the Unfortunately I think there's you know, still
more to come, but it's a it's a comedy with
with some heart and and hopefully some brains as well,
just kind of looking at like, how did we get here? Right?
I mean, pandemic. I don't think crypto would have taken
off in the way that it did if it weren't
for the pandemic, for everyone needing so isolated and feeling

(01:09:33):
like in a way, I think it was almost like
a way of connecting. You know. It's like you find
these groups and you you you you promote this or
that coin, and you you get the false sense of community.
To me, it's false me. It's not really predicated on
any real affection because it's solely for profit. And if
you know that you're being exploited, you know, it's it

(01:09:57):
may seem like you're you're in a part of a community,
but you're yeah, just a sucker.

Speaker 1 (01:10:02):
Yeah, I imagine this is how the people who invested
with Bernie Madoff felt like, oh, we found a new
thing and it's going to be great.

Speaker 2 (01:10:08):
Absolutely. I mean his genius was because he ran his
con for decades. His genius was he was a respected person.
He you know, he was chairman of the of Nasdaq.
He like created this thing called payment for order flow,
which is important thing inside the plumbing of our market.
So he was like this revered figure. But his business

(01:10:29):
investing wasn't going so well, so he's just started lying
about it. But he but he made it an exclusive club.
You had to be invited to invest with Bernie. You were,
you know, alongside all these big charities and all these
wealthy people. And I think Crypto was writing on that
for a minute, this notion, notion that it was like
the future you know, ye all you needed to invest

(01:10:52):
in the future of the future of money was a
willingness to part with the current version of it. You know,
it's like you could, you two can own the future
of money. Just give me some of your real dollars now.
I think that it's really fun. I love the true
crime stuff, but my favorite true crime is the dumb kind,

(01:11:13):
like the Coen Brothers kind of crime. We're like me too. Yeah, okay, yeah,
I like that. I think it's fun, and so this
will probably have elements of that.

Speaker 1 (01:11:22):
Oh, I can't wait to see it. That's going to
be so great. Well, I want to. I see we've
gone a little over and I know you have three
kiddos to attend to and it might be like school
pickup time it is in New York. Okay, So I
will ask you my last question. I just I love
to ask everybody when you think about you know, where
you sit, what you're working on, and your life, what

(01:11:43):
as you look ahead feels like you're work in progress.

Speaker 2 (01:11:46):
My work in progress is the balance between the work
that I do outside of the home and my connection
to my family and to my community, but particularly to
my wife and my kids. You know, I think that's
really the The pandemic was a wonderful reset. You know,

(01:12:11):
privilege to say that, but it was like, oh, right,
a lot of this stuff doesn't actually matter, right, it's up,
who's down. It can feel good, and it's not like
you shouldn't go after these things if you really want them.
But at least for me, it was a recognition that
that wasn't what really drove me. There wasn't really something

(01:12:34):
that gave me the deep satisfaction that I was seeking.
And so I think that's what that's what I'm focused on,
is that that balance. Thank you, sure, thank you, thank
you for having me.

Speaker 1 (01:12:47):
Yeah, this was so great.
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