Born in Michigan in 1962, director Paul Feig is known for films such as Bridesmaids, Ghostbusters, A Simple Favour, Spy and Last Christmas. On the small screen, he created the comedy series Freaks and Geeks and directed episodes of shows including The Office, Mad Men and Arrested Development; his most recent show is Welcome to Flatch, a US adaption of the BBC series This Country. He is also an actor and starred in the sitcom Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Feig has recently launched his own gin brand, Artingstall’s Brilliant London Dry Gin, in his quest to create the perfect martini. He lives in Chelsea with his wife.
Tick, Tick... Boom! (Dir Lin-Manuel Miranda, 2021)
Last year was an interesting one for movies, but this was the one that really got me. It’s based on Jonathan Larson, who wrote Rent – he was a struggling songwriter who wanted to write musical theatre so he put together this stage show based on his struggles. Andrew Garfield turned in a great performance. There’s a whole sequence about people who have Sunday brunch in New York that I thought was one of the most cleverly shot things I’ve ever seen. I was really affected by the film – it was emotional but very uplifting.
Get Up, Stand Up! The Bob Marley Musical
This is so much fun. Obviously I’m a big fan of Bob Marley – most people are. But you hear his music so much on the radio that you forget the live power it has. It makes you want to move: every time I’ve seen it, people are up in the audience, dancing and going crazy. It tells his life story, going from song to song, with these great performances. There’s a scene where the woman who plays Rita Marley sings No Woman, No Cry to him almost angrily. It’s really powerful for a woman to sing that song – it brings the house down.
Claridge’s, London W1
My mum’s side of the family was British, so I love traditional stuff: Anderson & Sheppard suits, Savile Row. Claridge’s is a happy place for me, because it represents everything I like about London glamour. It’s so well run, and their attention to service is great. I go there to have breakfast, and we have Christmas dinner there when we’re in town. I walk down that curving staircase that goes into the lobby, wearing my finest, and feel like “Hey, I belong here”. For an anglophile who grew up in Detroit, Michigan, it’s a fairytale dream come true.
I love this podcast by two hilarious young women, Jordan Crucchiola and Amanda Smith. Every episode is about a disaster movie – some are terrible, some are actually good – and they go really deep into it and have an interesting perspective on everything.They don’t go in cynically, they really do love disaster movies: anything from Sharknado to a giant Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson movie to Roland Emmerich. They have so much fun doing it and it really makes me laugh. It’s a delightful way to spend a walk.
Dukes London, SW1
Dukes bar is my favourite – I’ve been going there for 25 years. Alessandro Palazzi, the bartender there who’s the king of the martini, started around then too, so I’ve befriended him. I’m a cocktail enthusiast, let’s say. When I was a kid I didn’t want to be a kid, I just wanted to be grown up, and the martini always represented that to me. I love the pageantry of it: Alessandro will roll up a cart, frozen glass, frozen bottle, and make it right in front of you with a lemon peel from the Amalfi coast. It’s just this beautiful, classy place – it’s my Valhalla.
This is my favourite show anywhere. I love Gogglebox – it’s got me through so many times. When I first heard about it I thought it sounded like the worst idea for a TV show ever. And literally within five minutes I thought, this is comfort food for me. Everybody on it is so incredibly funny, and it just cheers me up. As an American it gives me the chance to catch up on current British TV – it’s a great highlight reel for the week. Giles and Mary just destroy me.
Under the Harrow by Flynn Berry
I really like thrillers – Patricia Highsmith is one of my favourite authors. This is a book that came out a few years ago, which is a very affecting story of this woman whose sister is murdered and she’s trying to figure out who did it. It hits a lot of topics about violence against women and sexism and how the legal system is stacked against victims of domestic crime and sexual assault. But then on top of that it’s a cracking good mystery, with twists and turns and a very unexpected ending. Whenever I can’t predict what the ending is, I’m really happy.