If you’ve ever wanted to know what it was like to be on the other end of Bill Murray’s pitchfork during his Dalai Lama monologue in Caddyshack or how filmmakers created the famous pea soup scene in The Exorcist, there’s a podcast just for you. I Was There Too tells the stories of iconic movies and movie scenes through the voices of lesser known actors who had a role in those movies. Host Matt Gourley interviews the actors, digging into what happened on the set and uncovering the truth behind rumors surrounding the movie.
The idea for the podcast came about during the development of the Wolfpop podcast network. According to Gourley, Jeff Ulrich, then-CEO of Wolfpop’s sister network, Earwolf, actually had the idea for I Was There Too, including the title itself. When Ulrich suggested to Gourley that he should host it, Gourley says “It sounded like a no brainer. It was such an interesting idea and sort of simple in the way that I couldn’t believe it hadn’t been done before.” Gourley got to work preparing for the launch of his new podcast, including putting together a dream list of guests and writing and recording what may be one of the best intro songs for any podcast. The podcast launched last November as one of the original shows on the Wolfpop network.
Gourley immediately started checking off names on his dream list. His first guest was friend and fellow member of the Superego podcast, comedian Paul F. Tompkins, who played a small role in the film There Will Be Blood. Tompkins retold stories about how he got the role and his encounters with Daniel Day-Lewis, who Tompkins referred to as not just intense but “the most intense person who’s ever lived on the planet Earth.”
Once he had a couple of interviews with people he knew under his belt, Gourley went for some wildcards on his list, like Melody Rae, who played the woman with the baby carriage in the train station shootout scene from The Untouchables. Rae, who Gourley says was the first person he thought of when originally planning for the podcast, recalled how the iconic scene was made up on the spot and gushed about the movie’s star, Kevin Costner.
Gourley eventually reached the end of his small list of dream guests and began to create a much larger database of potential guests with whom he had connections either personally, through bookers at Wolfpop’s parent company Midroll Media, or even through IWTT listeners. One such listener-suggested guest was Jenette Goldstein, who played the memorable Lieutenant Vasquez in Aliens. Gourley recalls being a fan of Aliens since seeing it in the theater when he was 13 years old. Early on in the podcast he landed an interview with Ricco Ross, one of the other Colonial Marines in the movie, but he had not tried getting Goldstein on the podcast because he thought her role was too big. He admits he doubted Goldstein “would be interested in any way.” That doubt turned around when Gourley received a tweet from Goldstein’s son, who apparently listened to IWTT, suggesting Gourley interview his mom for the podcast. Gourley jumped at the chance and now calls the interview one of his favorites so far. That’s no small statement given his list of interviews now includes the actors behind characters like insurance salesman Ned Ryerson from Groundhog Day (Stephen Tobolowsky), caddie Angie D’Annunzio from Caddyshack (Peter Berkrot) and French foreign exchange student Monique Junot from Better Off Dead (Diane Franklin).
As interesting as the interviewees and their stories are, the true heart of the podcast is the host himself. Matt Gourley is funny, smart, warm and likeable in his role as host and interviewer. Podcast listeners may know Gourley from his other podcasts Superego, James Bonding, and Pistol Shrimps Radio. IWTT marks new ground for Gourley as the sole host on an interview-format show. Gourley admits the new format is a challenge for him, but it never comes across that way. He clearly takes pride in his show, judging by his depth of knowledge of each of the actors he interviews and the movies they discuss. Gourley estimates he puts in about ten hours of work on each episode, including watching the movie, an hour or so of research, the interview itself, and editing. The time invested pays off in typically free-flowing, but tightly constructed interviews that can pull in a listener regardless of whether they’ve even seen the movie.
Gourley also puts time into recording extra segments that are typically added after the interview portion of each episode. In fact, two of the most memorable moments from the podcast thus far have come from these extra segments. If you listen to most any of Gourley’s IWTT podcasts, you’ll quickly become familiar with his cat, Margaux, or as Gourley refers to her, “Margaux the Fat Guy.” Margaux often makes an appearance in the background of Gourley’s extra segments, meowing her way onto the show. Gourley describes Margaux as a “beautiful, horrible person,” and on Episode #13, he finally relented and gave Margaux her own segment entitled, “I Was There Mew.” Gourley shows off his incredible comedic skills and timing in the segment as he holds a back and forth conversation with Margaux that will have you laughing to the point of tears. The segment was so popular, Gourley brought it back recently in Episode #17. To interview his cat, Gourley says he held Margaux in his lap while he asked questions into the microphone then waited for Margaux’s response. For the final version, he edited the recording to shorten the time between question and response, but listeners can rest assured the responses are all Margaux. When asked for a quote for this article, Gourley was able to get Margaux on the phone and provide her trademark “Meow.”
The only segment that could possibly trump “I Was There Mew” is an interview that Gourley conducted with his grandmother, Eleanor Gourley, on Episode #6. The touching segment, titled “I Was There Circa 1942,” reveals the root of Gourley’s warmth and curiosity. Gourley talked with his grandmother about the time she and her husband (Gourley’s grandfather) moved to Los Angeles and the days she spent at the famed Schwab’s Pharmacy, a frequent haunt of movie stars like Ms. Gourley’s personal crush, Cesar Romero. Gourley described the interview with his grandmother as a “real treat,” saying:
She’s just this incredibly active 96-year-old woman that, like every grandma I guess, is just special. But she’s my grandma so I see her as incredibly special and I wanted to document the conversation with her. I would love to do more.
Gourley is clearly a fan of many of the movies he’s covered on his podcast, but he saves his super-fandom for two movie franchises in particular: Star Wars and James Bond. According to Gourley, “If I had it my way, I would love to [interview] someone from every James Bond movie and every Star Wars movie,” but he notes he’s waiting for just the right people to come along. His only interview thus far touching on either franchise was an interview with Greg Proops, who was the voice behind one of the podrace announcers in Star Wars: Episode I–The Phantom Menace. Gourley says he has had other opportunities to interview actors from Star Wars, but they’ve either fallen through or not been quite the Melody Rae-esque role for which Gourley is searching. For now, the search continues.
In the meantime, Gourley continues to release new episodes of IWTT every other week from an ever-widening pool of actors. If you’re a fan of movies in general, love behind-the-scenes looks at the movies, or just have an interest in cat interviews, I Was There Too and its engaging host should more than satisfy. Already a fan of the show? Share your favorite episodes, interviews and segments in the comments.