Like Brothers

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The multitalented writers, directors, producers, and actors (as seen on The League, Transparent, and The Mindy Project) share the secrets of their lifelong partnership in this unique memoir.

“A book that anyone will love . . . You can enjoy it even if you have no idea who the Duplass brothers are.”—Janet Maslin, The New York Times (17 Refreshing Books to Read This Summer)

Whether producing, writing, directing, or acting, the Duplass Brothers have made their mark in the world of independent film and television on the strength of their quirky and empathetic approach to storytelling. Now, for the first time, Mark and Jay take readers on a tour of their lifelong partnership in this unique memoir told in essays that share the secrets of their success, the joys and frustrations of intimate collaboration, and the lessons they’ve learned the hard way.
 
From a childhood spent wielding an oversized home video camera in the suburbs of New Orleans to their shared years at the University of Texas in early-nineties Austin, and from the breakthrough short they made on a three-dollar budget to the night their feature film Baghead became the center of a Sundance bidding war, Mark and Jay tell the story of a bond that’s resilient, affectionate, mutually empowering, and only mildly dysfunctional. They are brutally honest about how their closeness sabotaged their youthful romantic relationships, about the jealousy each felt when the other stole the spotlight as an actor (Mark in The League, Jay in Transparent), and about the challenges they faced on the set of their HBO series Togetherness—namely, too much togetherness.
 
But Like Brothers is also a surprisingly practical road map to a rewarding creative partnership. Rather than split all their responsibilities fifty-fifty, the brothers learned to capitalize on each other’s strengths. They’re not afraid to call each other out, because they’re also not afraid to compromise. Most relationships aren’t—and frankly shouldn’t be—as intense as Mark and Jay’s, but their brand of trust, validation, and healthy disagreement has taken them far.
 
Part coming-of-age memoir, part underdog story, and part insider account of succeeding in Hollywood on their own terms, Like Brothers is as openhearted and lovably offbeat as Mark and Jay themselves.

“Wright. Ringling. Jonas. I’m sure you could name a bunch of famous brother teams. They’re all garbage compared to Mark and Jay. I can’t wait for you to read this book.”—from the foreword by Mindy Kaling

Under the Cover

An excerpt from Like Brothers

I.

It is dark.

It is late.

It is 1984.

We are lying next to each other in one of our twin beds. But, predictably, we are not asleep. We are talking about life. And our dreams. And the great mystery of cable television.

“Jay?”

“Yes, Mark?”

(Silence. Mark has always loved the dramatic silence. I am older by four years and should find this annoying, but I love this about him.)

“When is it coming?”

“Soon.”

“How soon?”

(I take a moment to mitigate expectations and not get my seven--year--old baby brother too excited.)

“Dad said by next week it’ll be here.”

“What does it look like?”

(I actually do not know, but I have a few theories.)

“I’m not sure.”

“Is it, like ... a big cable?”

“I think so?”

“Do they just drag it down the street and plug it into the house?”

“I don’t think that’s how it works.”

“How does it work?”

“I don’t know.”

(Mark thinks on this. Wide--eyed. Young mind grappling with what it all means.)

“What is going to happen to us, Jay?”

“Nothing crazy. I don’t think. Or maybe everything.”

“I’m so excited.”

“Yeah, me too.”

(Pause.)

“Jay?”

“Yes, Mark.”

“I have something to confess.”

“What?”

(Again, the dramatic pause.)

“I don’t know what cable is.”

(I try extremely hard not to laugh. I am careful never to condescend, because he is smart and very sensitive. Still, I am an older brother and can’t help myself. ... )

“If you don’t know what it is, then why are you so excited about it?”

“I don’t know. I just ... I heard you talking about it to your friends. And ... I can tell how excited you are about it. So ... I got excited about it.”

(Not an extremely eloquent response, but quite prophetic in many ways as to the nature of our unique brotherly bond and complex relationship to come.)

“It’s going to be bringing a lot of movies, and TV shows, and a bunch of new channels into the neighborhood.”

“Do you think it’s gonna change everything?”

“I don’t know.”

(Pause.)

“Jay?”

“Yes, Mark.”

“When we grow up do you want to get houses next to each other?”

“Definitely.”

(Mark considers this.)

“Do you think ... we could share the same cable? Or do we have to get different cables for each house?”

“I could probably figure out how to share one.”

(Mark believes me. He believes that I am very good at this kind of thing. Good at everything, actually, if you asked Mark in 1984. This was a huge part of building my confidence.)

“What happens if we wanna watch different movies but we share the same cable?”

“I think we’d have to watch the same movie.”

“So what do we do if we ever want to watch a different movie at the same time?”

(We both consider this question. It’s a troublesome thought. Might there come a time when our interests, and therefore our lives, diverge? The question hangs over us like a fat black cloud for a moment. But then we smile. Because this is a ridiculous thought. We will always want to watch the same movie. We will always live right next to each other. We will always lie in bed at night and talk about our lives and our dreams.)

Two weeks later, cable arrives at our home.

And everything changes.

The Woog

Do you feel weird inside? We do. All the time. Sometimes we call it depression. Sometimes we call it anxiety. Sometimes we just call it “The Woog.” As in “I’m feelin’ woogie today.” At the core of this weird feeling is a sense that there are, at minimum, two people inside of us at war. And we don’t know how to make them get along.

“I’m gonna stay up all night and write and put on my weird hat and two different socks and smoke weed and eat cereal and maybe pizza too and try to crack a new kind of story and make something fascinating and different and I don’t care if I never make any money because I’m an artist who is trying to represent the underrepresented and create empathy for all. ...”

And.

“I probably should go back to business school. And learn how to buy and sell companies and make millions and millions and maybe billions and use that money to start charities. This is the better way to live. For others. Not for myself and for my artistic vision. That’s ... that’s kind of a load of selfish horseshit in the end. ...”

And then some other voices start to pop up. And it’s hard to tell if they are subsets of these two main people or if they are actually secondary characters that also live inside of us.

“I just want to live a quiet, simple life with my family. I want to stay home and be there at all times with my kids. Read to them. Cook for and with them. Play board games. Just be a good parent and husband and, in the end, just kinda be ...

“TEACHERS! That’s what the world needs now. Leadership for young kids who don’t have positive role models. Give myself and everything I can to them. An innocent child needs a thoughtful role model, and even though I’m not perfect, I am likely willing to give more than what I hear the average burned--out public high school teacher can give, so I should get my teacher’s license and ...

“The world is hard enough. Who am I to think I can help and save anyone? I’m just an average--intelligence person trying to get by. It’s enough just to make my own way in the world. I should just go inside myself. Stop talking and start listening. Get small and find a small sliver of happiness in the world and hang on to it for dear ...”

You get the picture.

Do you ever feel this way? Hopefully not. And if you don’t, feel free to skip to the next chapter.

But if you do ... we want to say sorry. Sorry you feel conflicted like we do. That you are uncertain as to what the right path is in life. Sorry that you want so badly to be useful but also happy. To be inspired but also at peace. To make change but also just get by.

But we also want to say ... CONGRATULATIONS! Because, in our opinion, you may just be part of a dying breed. There will be fewer and fewer of you, and because of that and so much more, you are truly special.

Here’s our theory:

When our parents got married, it was a time when people mostly married young. And in many cases, they married without fully vetting whether they would be a good matrimonial fit. Let’s face it, they often got married because their religion said “no sex before marriage” and they really just wanted to start humping and not go to hell for it. They got married because they were sexually attracted to each other. And that attraction was often a result of the “opposites attract” theory. So when we were made, we were made from very different individuals who came together mostly because they liked the way the other smelled, as opposed to any long--lasting traits that made for a sustainable partnership. Hence, the two different people inside of us.

- About the author -

Mark Duplass and Jay Duplass are the critically acclaimed filmmakers behind The Puffy Chair, Baghead, The Do-Deca-Pentathlon, Cyrus, and Jeff, Who Lives at Home. For HBO, they wrote and directed Togetherness, produced the animated seriesAnimals, and created the anthology series Room 104. Their producer credits also include the Netflix documentary series Wild Wild Country and the feature films Safety Not Guaranteed, The Skeleton Twins, and Tangerine. As an actor, Mark has appeared on the hit comedy The League and in such films as Your Sister’s Sister, The One I Love, and Blue Jay, while Jay has a leading role on the Golden Globe–winning series Transparent and has appeared in such films as Landline, Beatriz at Dinner, andOutside In. Both brothers had recurring roles on The Mindy Project.

More from Mark Duplass

Mark Duplass and Jay Duplass are the critically acclaimed filmmakers behind The Puffy Chair, Baghead, The Do-Deca-Pentathlon, Cyrus, and Jeff, Who Lives at Home. For HBO, they wrote and directed Togetherness, produced the animated seriesAnimals, and created the anthology series Room 104. Their producer credits also include the Netflix documentary series Wild Wild Country and the feature films Safety Not Guaranteed, The Skeleton Twins, and Tangerine. As an actor, Mark has appeared on the hit comedy The League and in such films as Your Sister’s Sister, The One I Love, and Blue Jay, while Jay has a leading role on the Golden Globe–winning series Transparent and has appeared in such films as Landline, Beatriz at Dinner, andOutside In. Both brothers had recurring roles on The Mindy Project.

More from Jay Duplass

Like Brothers

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Like Brothers

— Published by Ballantine Books —