Journalist, film critic and radio host Elvis Mitchell got to travel the world and interview renowned filmmakers about their hometowns and inspirations in his new docuseries “Elvis Goes There” on EPIX.
“Each place was very specific and came to mean much more than I could’ve imagined,” Mitchell told Variety.
Mitchell sits down with “Black Panther” director Ryan Coogler in Oakland, Calif., in the second episode, which airs Feb. 11. Heavily impacted by his hometown, Coogler set the entire story of his debut feature film “Fruitvale Station” and the prologue of Marvel blockbuster “Black Panther” in the city. The two discussed the history, culture and deeply political roots of Oakland, where the Black Panther party formed in 1966.
“Ryan Coogler is the hottest director on the planet,” Mitchell said. “I cannot imagine the number of emails and phone calls that he put aside to shoot for three days of his astonishingly busy schedule. He was so generous and open with his time and with himself.”
One of the most touching moments of the episode comes in a boxing gym where Mitchell and Coogler talk with Oakland boxer Andre Ward, who appeared in both of Coogler’s “Creed” films. In the middle of an interview taking place on Halloween, Coogler sees a little girl dressed in a homemade Shuri costume from “Black Panther” and stops to talk to her. Her parents tell the director that the film is her favorite and she watches it every day.
“That was such a magic moment,” Mitchell said. “That to me is part of the luck I had. I got to see people be as moved by the process as I was.”
Mitchell also brings in Oakland natives Daveed Diggs, Boots Riley and Cheryl Dunye to share their stories and relationships with the East Bay area. Mitchell and Diggs ate at one of Diggs’ favorite childhood restaurants, which brought back memories for the actor.
“He takes a bite of this peach cobbler and you see all the years come back into his face, just that rush hitting him,” Mitchell said. “A meal can really remind somebody why they love a place, and there was clearly nothing like that peach cobbler because he starts talking on and on.”
The first episode, which premiered Monday, saw Mitchell visit London to sit down with Paul Feig to learn how the city continues to fuel the comedy director’s career. Best known for creating “Freaks and Geeks” and directing “Bridesmaids,” Feig has visited London for nearly 30 years, and he and Mitchell checked out some of his favorite spots. Matt Lucas, Bridget Christie, Indra Ove and Sue Perkins also joined the two to share how the European city has impacted their careers.
Later episodes of “Elvis Goes There” will bring Mitchell together with Sofia Coppola in Paris and Guillermo del Toro in Los Angeles. The series airs on EPIX on Mondays at 10 p.m.