Marc Maron is moving in some new directions. Even as the “WTF” podcast host continues to crank out new interviews to his devout fans each week, Maron has been expanding his acting career in ways never anticipated by his stand-up persona. In Lynn Shelton’s “Sword of Trust,” Maron stars as a rascally pawn shop owner whose attempt to deal with some nutty conspiracy theorists goes very wrong. The improv-heavy dramedy finds Maron delivering a touching monologue about his character’s regrets in life and shows a new dramatic side to Maron’s talents that he has only started to explore in Netflix’s “GLOW.”
Before the end of the year, Maron will pop up in another non-comedic role, albeit a much smaller one — but in a much bigger release. Maron was previously announced as among the cast of director Todd Phillips’ “Joker,” a dark origin story of the iconic Batman villain (played by Joaquin Phoenix), but the specifics of his role were unclear.
“I’m present during the last part of the movie,” Maron said during an interview in New York, while promoting “Sword of Trust,” and cautioned that his role was a minor one. “My scene in that is not huge, but I do have a pivotal scene with Robert De Niro and Joaquin.” While Phoenix plays the future Joker as a failed comedian, De Niro is a talk show host. “I basically play De Niro’s producer in a quick scene,” Maron said. “My character is a guy trying to manage the whole situation with the two of them.”
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Maron said he has high hopes for the movie. “Todd’s approach was really to do a character study of a mentally ill person, going into why he’s mentally ill and what his struggles are as a person, and how that collapses his moral foundations,” Maron said. “He’s not a traditional comic book universe villain because this is kind of an origin story.”
Meanwhile, Maron just wrapped another role in a smaller production. In “Stardust,” which recently wrapped production in Toronto, he plays the publicist for David Bowie during the release of his album “The Man Who Sold the World,” and acts opposite singer-songwriter Johnny Flynn as the famed musician.
“I believe in the guy, but I have to figure out how to get him out to private gigs, radio stations, and meeting people,” Maron said. “It becomes this weird odd-couple buddy movie between this slightly cynical, down-on-his-luck but passionate publicist and this kid Bowie, who’s really talented and doesn’t know who he is.” As for Flynn’s performance as Bowie, Maron said, “I think he did alright. He has some of the mannerisms and stuff. It’s hard because it’s all going to be sold on whether the story works. Bowie is Bowie, but this is the nebulous Bowie — the long hair — and it’s really about that.”
Maron added that he was keeping his options open for future acting gigs. “Emotionally and comedically, I haven’t really taken risks around erasing my persona totally to become somebody else,” he said. “I don’t have the skill-sets for that. But if I keep working at that, I’d like to try something a little risky.”
Stay tuned for more from IndieWire’s interview with Maron. IFC Films releases “Sword of Trust” in New York this week and expands to more cities Friday, July 19.