Actress Melissa Leo discusses her newest role in Showtime series

She received an Academy Award®, a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award®, and a Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for her tour de force performance in THE FIGHTER. Now, Actress Melissa Leo discusses her newest role in “I’m Dying Up Here,” airing Sundays at 10 p.m. on SHOWTIME.


The new one-hour SHOWTIME series I’M DYING UP HERE explores L.A.’s famed ’70s stand-up comedy scene where the careers of legends such as David Letterman, Jay Leno and Richard Pryor were launched. The series delves into the inspired, damaged and complicated psyches of those who stand alone in front of an audience “dying” for fame, fortune and, with any luck, a shot on Johnny Carson. I’M DYING UP HERE stars Academy Award winner Melissa Leo (Wayward Pines, Treme), Ari Graynor (Bad Teacher), Michael Angarano (The Knick), Clark Duke (Hot Tub Time Machine), Andrew Santino (Mixology), Erik Griffin (Workaholics), RJ Cyler (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl), Al Madrigal (The Daily Show), and Jake Lacy (Obvious Child) as part of a large ensemble cast. This fictional group of competitive but close-knit comedians is mentored by “Goldie” (Leo), a brassy comedy club owner who rules over her business with an iron fist, but nurtures her comedians with tough love. For Goldie and her crew, there’s truly no such thing as an easy laugh. Recurring guest stars include Stephen Guarino (Happy Endings), Brianne Howey (Horrible Bosses 2), Jon Daly (Kroll Show), and Ginger Gonzaga (Togetherness). Guest stars include  Emmy nominee Dylan Baker (The Good Wife), Oscar nominee Robert Forster (Jackie Brown), Oscar nominee Cathy Moriarty (Raging Bull), Sebastian Stan (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Martian) and Emmy Award nominee  Alfred Molina (Chocolat). Produced by SHOWTIME, I’M DYING UP HERE is created and executive produced by Dave Flebotte, and executive produced by Michael Aguilar and Golden Globe winner Jim Carrey, along with Christina Wayne for Endemol Shine Studios and Assembly Entertainment. The series is based on the non-fiction book of the same name by William Knoedelseder. The pilot is written by Flebotte and directed by Jonathan Levine.

Melissa Leo plays living legend Goldie, the founder and proprietress of Goldie’s comedy club. Goldie’s is the place to be for every up-and-coming comic in LA — the next stop for the lucky ones is Johnny Carson’s stage.  She knows it and they know it, and that’s why she can be tough as nails and run things the way she pleases. However, she also has a true soft spot for her inner circle of comics. More like a den mother than a boss, she’s their confidante, coach, banker, landlady and even seamstress when necessary. A product of the Borscht Belt and Catskills comedy scene, Goldie has finely-tuned instincts when it comes to comedy. But it’s lonely at the top, and all that power she has amassed makes it hard for her to have real connections, especially with her estranged teenaged daughter.


Melissa Leo received an Academy Award®, a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award®, and a Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for her tour de force performance in THE FIGHTER. She also received Oscar® and SAG Award® nominations for her starring role in Frozen River, for which she won an Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead and a Spotlight Award from the National Board of Review, among countless other accolades. Leo also shared a Best Ensemble acting award from the Phoenix Film Critics Society for her outstanding work in 21 GRAMS, opposite Benicio del Toro and Sean Penn. Leo is featured in Oliver Stone’s SNOWDEN portraying Oscar-winning documentarian, Laura Poitras.

Other recent films include PRISONERS opposite Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal; OBLIVION, opposite Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman; the blockbuster OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN, directed by Antoine Fuqua and starring Freeman and Aaron Eckhart; Robert Zemeckis’s critically acclaimed drama FLIGHT, with Denzel Washington; THE EQUALIZER which reunited her with both Fuqua and Washington. Other notable film work includes CONVICTION, with Hilary Swank; THE THREE BURIALS OF MELQUIADES ESTRADA, in which she starred opposite Dwight Yoakam; and HIDE AND SEEK, starring Robert De Niro.

On the small screen, she received an Emmy nomination and a Critic’s Choice Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Made for Television Miniseries or Movie for her performance as Lady Bird Johnson in Jay Roach’s HBO movie ALL THE WAY. Leo earned a Primetime Emmy Award for Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for her hilarious and outrageous performance on FX’s LOUIE, which People magazine called the best in television all year. Leo earned a Best Supporting Actress Emmy nomination for her work in the HBO miniseries MILDRED PIERCE. Leo is also known for her groundbreaking portrayal of Detective Kay Howard on HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREETS. Her other television credits include the HBO series TREME for David Simon and the FOX event series, WAYWARD PINES.

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