The star of Freaks and Geeks and Party Down on Quentin Tarantino, Led Zeppelin, and filet mignon.
Improve Your Taste is a new feature in which we ask celebrities about their cultural obsessions.
Had the cult series Freaks and Geeks ever reached the audience it deserved, Martin Starr would surely be America's Sweetheart. But low ratings aside, his portrayal of über-nerd Bill Haverchuck established him as a comedy natural and scored him roles in films from Knocked Up to Adventureland. He is currently stealing scenes in the hilarious Starz series Party Down, which follows a catering company staffed by struggling actors and writers. Starr's portrayal of an embittered sci-fi screenwriter is wonderfully precise; he's a perfect fit for the series' delicate balance of comedy and desperation. Here are six things that he likes.
Reservoir Dogs is my favorite. I feel like in Quentin Tarantino's heart of hearts, that's really kind of who he is. When I watched Inglorious Basterds, I felt like he started coming back a little bit to that. Oh my God, if Christoph Waltz doesn't make you insanely uncomfortable in that first scene that you don't even realize is thirty minutes… Christoph Waltz blows you away. There's something that I'm writing, potentially a TV show, and in my wildest dreams I would love to see this idea come to life with Quentin Tarantino and Greg Mottola, who I also think is just an incredible, compassionate director.
Led Zeppelin's BBC Sessions
I feel like it's a cop-out to say it, but BBC Sessions is probably my favorite album. There's just something undeniable about their talent. They always find this beautiful harmony — they really do all work as kind of one organism. They're the quintessential rock band of… Mother Earth.
The Man Who Knew Too Little
I have to watch it every time it's on. Bill Murray is so genius. Throughout the entire movie, spoiler alert, he thinks he's part of a movie that's happening, and it's just so genius to have a character go through these heightened situations, with people with guns shooting at him and kidnappers and this array of seedy underworld people that he runs into constantly, and he just doesn't believe it, so the comic sensibility is allowed to be realistic.
I'm really excited for Ken Marino's show that's coming up on Adult Swim. It's been a web series for a while. Most of it doesn't make any sense whatsoever — there's no real throughline in the episodes, there's no real purpose or plot, generally speaking. They just break reality constantly in a very funny way. Ken is genius on Party Down. In the first or second episode, when he's rubbing his pants and it looks like he's masturbating in the bathroom — his face and his reaction were just so perfect.
The Six Shooter
When I was a kid, we had a television that died, and my dad would yell, "It kills your brain!" every time I'd say we should get the TV fixed. But one of the valuable things it gave me was the ability to use my imagination, cause as I went to sleep every night, I used to listen to old-timey radio shows, and they were just fantastic. You got to see for yourself whatever you wanted to imagine. The Six Shooter was probably my favorite. It wasn't action-packed usually — the Six Shooter was the fastest gun in the West, but he was such a calm fellow that in situations where normally people would get into a gunfight, he was so rational and levelheaded that he would avoid it. But every now and then he couldn't avoid getting into a little shoot-'em-up action. More than anything, I just found Jimmy Stewart's voice so soothing, and the stories were told so well. I started writing, with a friend of mine, a really strange sci-fi story that I want to make into a radio show, doing maybe one a month. I think from month to month it would be a completely different show, but it would be rehearsed enough to feel professional and warm and inviting. I'd like to share that feeling those radio shows gave me as a kid.
Filet Mignon With Honey Barbecue Sauce
This is kind of the first recipe that I think I created. I could be wrong — someone could be like, "You asshole, you stole my fuckin' recipe!" But when I was a kid, we ordered these steaks from Omaha Steaks, and I'd slice the filet mignon into these little chunks, and I'd put it in the bottom of a plastic yogurt container. No yogurt's in it, just to clarify. Then I'd put honey barbecue sauce on top, and on top of that, I'd put green beans, and sliced-up zucchini. And then I'd put salsa on top of that, and a bunch of hot sauce, and I'd put that into the fridge, so all the spices would settle into the zucchini and the green beans, and all the sweetness would settle into the steak. Then I would start cooking these potatoes, which I'd slice really thinly, and just fry them up so they were crispy like potato chips, but in the middle they would always stick together so they'd be nice and juicy. As that was happening I'd take out the plastic yogurt container and sort of pour it out so that there were two sides, and keep the steak on one side and the green beans on the other, and just kind of cook them independently until they were ready. And then I would eat it.
The second season of Party Down premieres tonight on Starz.