Louis Theroux on the myth of the abolition of culture and the making of documentaries that confuse viewers (2023)

luis therouxhe doesn't like the nickname disruptor. He almost flinches at the idea, leans back in his chair, chewing on the word and its literal, historical, and symbolic connotations. “It has become a cliché; It's definitely a cliché," he finally says.

But then comes one of the pensive expressions Theroux is known for. His eyes swore behind black-rimmed glasses. A man who quietly argues with himself strives for clarity of thought. Suddenly, a revelation. Maybe he is a disruptor after all, or at least he used to be.

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"In a sense, I showed up at my presentation job and I was a bit of a nuisance," Theroux decides. "I took elements of conventional presentation and elements of classic vérité cinema and combined them."

Her talent for the camera was discovered by Michael Moore, who gave her a lead role on NBC.tv nation, questioning evangelical Christians about the end of the world and firing mortars at a shooting range in Arkansas. By 1998 he had graduated to his own BBC show,Louis Theroux: Strange Weekends, and has been a permanent presence on the screen ever since.

Louis Theroux on the myth of the abolition of culture and the making of documentaries that confuse viewers (1)

Theroux enjoys an almost unique status in the UK. He is a respected journalist, author and interviewer whose brand of comprehensive reporting is doing well for the BBC and Netflix, which licenses his films. He's also adored by legions of internet fans, who emblazoned his face on T-shirts, flooded social media with Theroux memes and turned his viral rap "Jiggle Jiggle" into a Jason Derulo hit. Some even describe it as a national treasure.

“Once you become recognizable and your shows do well, audiences will respond and come to your shows in the future,” he says of longevity.

So it might surprise you to learn that Theroux intentionally does less than what made him successful. For the second act of his career, the filmmaker hands over the keys to the presentation to others through his production company,Mindhouse. He still has a hand on the screen, but right now Theroux is intent on building something bigger than himself.

He agreed to this interview because he wants to raise awareness of his first reincarnation as a producer, claiming that Mindhouse is now a serious player in the documentary and podcast space. The company, co-founded by Theroux's wife Nancy Strang and former BBC producer Aaron Fellows, has 16 employees and the same number of advertised commissions.

This includes Prime Video moviesKSI: in real life, highlighting the outrageously successful YouTube star JJ Olatunji, andReal sex with Alice Levine, now in its second season for Channel 4. Theroux also talks vividly about itgods of billiards, a three-part BBC show that takes a deep dive into the rising stars of British boardsport. Theroux does not appear in theSnookerseries, but recently I saw him again drunk and beaming with pride at what Mindhouse is trying to achieve. "That's very smug of me," he says with a telling smile.

Four years ago Theroux was still employed by the BBC, producing and showing only his own films in a small enclave at the BBC studio. He remains umbilically linked to his former employer through a development deal, which Mindhouse recently renewed for 12 months. He also continues to host shows for the British broadcaster, although he feels the success of his back catalog on Netflix means the public no longer sees him as a BBC star.

How would he fare if he ran past Gary Lineker's challenge? Or, to put it another way: if, like the Premier League presenter, Theroux were to criticize the government's asylum policy on Twitter, would that send the BBC spiraling into an impartiality crisis because he is perceived as a Premier League presenter? BBC? Not his answer, but that's mostly because he wouldn't tweet in such an overtly political way in the first place.

"It's always been more useful for my work if my real opinions remain somewhat ambiguous," he says. "My job as a presenter and journalist is to have a nonchalant critical attitude; to have a polyvalent and polyvalent sense of subversion to upset any political orthodoxy”.

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Theroux adds that this goes to the heart of his documentary making: “I try not to make the audience feel too comfortable and I try to challenge the viewer in whatever particular way of seeing they have. If you have an attitude that's capable of surprising, that's unpredictable, then I think it's a much more interesting place."

Much of Theroux's work is marked by his desire to find nuance, to spend time with people to understand their point of view, no matter how extreme their viewpoints. He recently recorded with Nick Fuentes, a leading figure in the American far-right white nationalist movement. Previous documentaries have seen him research Scientology and delve into the Westboro Baptist Church, an organized group that carries incendiary homophobic banners at funerals.

Does Theroux think people are less tolerant of those they disagree with? Your answer is carefully worded. Theroux believes that social media has "collapsed" the public and private spheres, meaning that we all know what others are thinking and are "constantly shocked and outraged" by others. However, he does not agree with the idea of ​​abolishing culture, which he considers simple and useless.

"There are people who are censorious, quick to judge and oversensitive. There are also people who are trolls and trolls who get clicks and views based on being outrageous,” he says. "Can cancellation culture be a real thing in a world where Andrew Tate can get hundreds of millions of views and build a media empire by promoting misogynistic messages?"

Theroux believes that troublemakers can be undone in a very literal sense, such as blocking social media or being banned from college campuses, but is skeptical of the idea of ​​stifling free speech. "The idea that we are in a suffocating and censorious atmosphere, pushed and reinforced by people like Piers Morgan, is obviously not that simple and straightforward," he adds.

However, Theroux admits that certain issues have become increasingly difficult to discuss. He agrees that his 2015 documentary would have been "harder" to make.transgender children, in a climate where gender identity has become one of the fashionable topics of the so-called culture wars.

Ironically, he praises the one-shot for charting a successful path through the debate, saying he enjoyed itThe witch trials of J.K. RowlingPodcast by Megan Phelps-Roper, Reformed member of Westboro Baptist Church. Phelps-Roper took her own journey from extreme to enlightenment and applied that experience to hours of interviews with Rowling, who became equal parts outcast and hero for her stance on transgender ideology.

Podcasting is a medium that comes naturally to Theroux after launching his own BBC talk show during the 2020 quarantine.Punished with Louis Therouxbecame a Spotify exclusivePodcast Louisa Therouxa, a full-length interview format produced by Mindhouse. “Podcasting at its best is all about authenticity, and that's very much in the DNA of all the shows I've done. I've always appreciated parts of my shows that are real and unexpected,” he says.

Mindhouse is building its podcast business with another series starring Rylan Clark, the British host known for his work onThe oldest brotherithe Eurovision Song Contest. The interview podcast is titledRylan: How to be a manand guest-star comedian Phil Wang Theroux interviewed Clark and says he's an exceptional broadcaster. "It's like spraying warm maple syrup in your ear," he laughs.

Theroux closes a piece of paper with what appear to be instructions for our interview. There are many presenters with whom she develops projects, she says, including Amelia Dimoldenberg, whose YouTubechicken shop datumThe series spawned Theroux's "Jiggle Jiggle" rap. He is also developing projects with Netflix and A24, although he is reluctant to reveal further details. Theroux also refuses to comment on the newly announced documentary Mindhouse is making for CNN and the BBC about the 2003 space shuttle Columbia disaster.

Scripting is another area of ​​interest for the company. "There's something beautiful about telling stories where you don't have that restraining influence of caring about the real-life people behind it, whether it's the platform or their vulnerability," Theroux says. Coming into the drama would be a full-circle moment for Theroux, who wrote television scripts as a child.

His love for the medium is obvious, but are we getting to the point where the public has too much of a good thing? Is there too much television?

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"There seems to be a reduction in the herd," he says. “It seemed to me that the tipping point was when CNN+ broke their data. They pitched in with tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars, and then discovered that only 10,000 people a day were watching in America. A mid-level TikToker or YouTuber was getting bigger numbers than CNN's streaming service, which tells you everything you need to know about television in 2023.”

What was the last thing you saw that left you speechless? "Probablyvigils, Damon Lindelof's HBO series,” he says. It is mentioned there forwhite lotusalso. "I like very good television. I mean, I'll watch trashy TV too. But I prefer to watch television that is extremely creative and interesting.”

The conversation brings us back to the BBC, which it says is "at odds" with the big streaming services. Theroux would like the license fee to survive beyond 2027, when the British government says it plans to remove the funding mechanism, raising questions about the corporation's future. "If you look at the television landscape in the United States, it's far from ideal," he says. “I know it does some of the best shows in the world, but when you go there you miss the BBC. You miss that feeling of a calm, focused voice.”

You can take Theroux out of the BBC and into the world of independent production, but you'll never take the BBC out of Theroux.


What is Louis Theroux most known for? ›

Louis Theroux is a BBC television presenter best known for making documentaries that investigate fascinating worlds and lifestyles.

Where can I watch Louis Theroux documentaries in the US? ›

  • Apple TV+
  • MLS Season Pass.

Is Louis Theroux on Netflix? ›

There are also a lot of Louis Theroux documentaries streaming on Netflix. If you're at all gasping to watch one, and simply can't decide which to go for, don't fear, we got you.

Is Louis Theroux the best documentary maker? ›

Having gifted audiences over 40 separate documentaries and one feature-length film, Theroux is known as one of the most famous factual filmmakers of contemporary entertainment.

Where did Jiggle Jiggle come from? ›

The song was created based on a rap trend that Theroux had been involved in, featuring a snippet of him rapping on the "Gangsta Rap" episode of the show Weird Weekends.

What type of documentary is Louis Theroux? ›

British television presenter Louis Theroux has presented a number of documentaries since 1998. His work includes studies of unusual and taboo subcultures, crime and the justice system, and celebrities.

Has Louis Theroux been removed from Netflix? ›

All three Louis Theroux BBC docuseries will be leaving Netflix UK on January 1st, 2020.

How much money is Louis Theroux worth? ›

According to CelebrityNetWorth, Louis Theroux has a fortune of $4million, which is around £3.5million. But how did he make so much money? Born in Singapore, Louis later attended the prestigious Westminster School in London.

Is Louis Theroux on prime? ›

Watch Louis Theroux | Prime Video.

How many episodes is Louis Theroux forbidden America? ›

Watch Louis Theroux: Forbidden America

Louis Theroux Forbidden America is a new 3-part documentary series exploring three controversial corners of American entertainment and culture, and meets those accused of dangerous, toxic, and criminal behaviour.

Is Louis Theroux half American? ›

Early life. Louis Sebastian Theroux was born in Singapore on 20 May 1970, the son of English mother Anne (née Castle) and American father Paul Theroux, a noted travel writer and novelist.

How can I watch BBC documentaries in the US? ›

I'm with The Roku Channel
  1. Access The Roku Channel through the website or on the home screen of your Roku TV™ or Roku streaming device.
  2. Search for 'BBC Select' or click here.
  3. Select 'Start your 7-day free trial' and begin your free trial. After that, you'll pay just $4.99 per month and you can cancel any time.

What documentary has made the most money? ›

All Time Worldwide Box Office for Documentary Movies
12009Michael Jackson's This Is It
21984Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets
32004Fahrenheit 9/11
42010Jackass 3D
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Who is the most famous documentary narrator? ›

There are few voices as instantly recognizable as that of Morgan Freeman. His deep, resonant tones have lent authority to countless documentaries, making him one of the best narrators in the business.

What company makes the best documentaries? ›

List of the Top Documentary Video Agencies
  • King Toledo. REAL PEOPLE. ...
  • Gardner Productions. Toronto Video Production Company. ...
  • Signature Video Group. Make Your Mark. ...
  • Need help selecting a company? Let our team create a custom shortlist for you. ...
  • Dorst MediaWorks. ...
  • Zero One Digital Media. ...
  • Bottle Rocket Media. ...
  • Skalawag Productions.

Who started the Jiggle Jiggle reel? ›

“Jiggle Jiggle” gestated for years before it became all the rage. It started in 2000, when Theroux was hosting “Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends,” a BBC Two series in which he delved into various subcultures.

How much is the Jiggle Jiggle guy worth? ›

Achievements & net worth

He's also published a book called The Call Of The Weird: Travels in American Subcultures and featured as a guest writer for several publications like Hip-Hop Connection and The Idler. With several notable credits to his name, Theroux is rumoured to have a net worth of around $4 million.

Who did the Jiggle Jiggle choreography? ›

Jiggle Jiggle grew even bigger when musical theatre performers Jess Qualter and Brooke Blewitt choreographed a dance to the song, which has now been watched 67m times.

What condition does Louis Theroux have? ›

Louis Theroux says he “probably” has alopecia after suffering from hair loss on his face. The 52-year-old journalist and documentary-maker told fans that the loss of hair around the sides of his mouth is the reason he has not grown his beard as much recently.

What is the saddest Louis Theroux documentaries? ›

Extreme Love: Dementia (2012)

This is one of Theroux's most heart-rending documentaries, in which he interviews dementia sufferers and their loved ones.

Why is Louis Theroux trending? ›

The TikTok craze featuring Theroux is actually a riff on an episode of Weird Weekends from 2000, when he travelled to America's South to examine the local rap scene. There, Theroux awkwardly tries his hand at rapping, performing a piece written with the help of rappers Reece and Bigelow, for a rap radio show.

Why is Netflix removing movies? ›

Every month, Netflix adds lots of new content to its library of films and TV shows. But to make room for the fresh stuff, some of the shows and movies you'd always wanted to watch—and have had in your My List for months or years—suddenly disappear. That's because Netflix doesn't own all the content it streams.

Why are movies leaving Netflix? ›

Though we strive to keep the titles you want to watch, some titles do leave Netflix because of licensing agreements. Whenever a TV show or movie license is expiring, we consider things such as: If the rights to the title are still available. How popular it is in a region, and how much it costs to license.

Why did Netflix remove so much? ›

Netflix pays movie and TV studios to license their content around the world, and those deals aren't good forever. Netflix would presumably want to keep as much content available for as long as possible, but this isn't always possible due licensing arrangements. As such, some titles have to leave the Netflix library.

How old is Jennifer Lawrence and what is her net worth? ›

Jennifer Lawrence's Net Worth: From Hunger Games to X-Men, How Rich Is The Oscar-Winning Actress?
Jennifer Lawrence Net Worth:$160 million
Real Name:Jennifer Shrader Lawrence
Date of Birth:August 15, 1990
Birthplace:Louisville, Kentucky, USA
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Feb 25, 2023

Did Louis Theroux meet Jennifer Aniston? ›

“My immediate next thought was like: 'That's kind of cool, that he is going out with someone famous'.” Louis also recalled the moment he finally met Jennifer, whose more recent work has included film credits such as 'Murder Mystery'.

Who did Louis Theroux marry? ›

Can you watch free on Amazon Prime? ›

Can I try Prime Video for free? Yes! Amazon offers a free trial for eligible non-Prime members which includes access to the service for a limited time before you start paying. Learn more about Amazon Prime and sign up or start a free trial for Prime Video.

Can you watch HBO Max on prime? ›

You can watch live HBO channels and on-demand HBO Max shows and movies using the Prime Video app. If you're having trouble signing in to HBO Max: Make sure you have an active subscription to HBO Max on Prime Video Channels.

Is Amazon Prime HBO Max? ›

Watch the latest from HBO Max on Prime Video Channels — no apps or cable required.

Who is the most famous Theroux? ›

Paul Theroux is the most famous person with last name Theroux. Their Zodiac sign is ♈ Aries. Their most notable profession was Novelist, travel writer, short story writer, literary critic. They are considered the most important person in history born with the last name of Theroux.

What is the best Louis Theroux Doc? ›

7 Louis Theroux Documentaries You Cannot Miss, From 'My Scientology Movie' to 'Choosing Death'
  • Weird Weekends: Self-Fulfillment (2000) ...
  • The Most Hated Family in America (2007) ...
  • Louis and the Nazis (2003) ...
  • Mothers On the Edge (2019) ...
  • My Scientology Movie (2015) ...
  • Louis Theroux's Altered States: Love Without Limits (2018)
Mar 4, 2022

Has Louis Theroux lost his temper? ›

Louis and the Nazis (2003)

It's one of the rare films that shows Theroux almost lose his temper. When he comes face to face with the people who are perpetuating so much hatred, he doesn't look shy or confused as he often does, instead he is genuinely raging.

Does Louis Theroux have anxiety? ›

In his autobiography, Theroux continues to talk about the “anxiety, self-doubt and emotional detachment” that he has experienced since childhood. His words will be relatable and quite comforting to anyone who has ever felt like their relationship with their career has a impact on their personal relationships.

Why is Louis Theroux off Netflix? ›

All of these departures have been related to the launch of the streaming service BritBox, the joint venture between BBC and ITV.

Why is Louis Theroux a meme? ›

Documentary maker Louis Theroux gave us his theory on why he has become a viral internet meme. He said it's because his onscreen persona is funnier and more awkward than the real Louis Theroux. Even if he doesn't fully understand the phenomenon, Theroux said he likes being a meme.

Who made jiggle jiggle? ›

Who is the guy who looks like Louis Theroux? ›

It's been a long time coming but local documentary maker David Farrier has finally met his doppelganger, the international documentary maker Louis Theroux.

Is Louis Theroux a psychologist? ›

Theroux may be sympathetic, but he is a film-maker, not a mental health professional. When Catherine, recently diagnosed with an emotionally unstable personality disorder, consults with a developmental psychologist, Theroux bewilderingly chooses to “chip in”.

Did Louis Theroux get liposuction? ›

Filmed mostly in the US, in the programme, Louis himself ends up getting liposuction.

Does Louis Theroux ever cry? ›

He cried during the filming of The Most Hated Family in America, but edited it out.

Which Louis known for his TV documentary series when Louis met? ›

When Louis Met... is a series of documentary films by Louis Theroux. The series was originally broadcast on BBC Two from 2000 to 2002.


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