Will Arnett and Sean Hayes Talk Turning Decades-Long Friendship Into Podcast 'Smartless'

Smartless - Publicity - H 2020
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The actors are teaming up with Jason Bateman on the interview series, which premieres July 20.

Jason Bateman, Will Arnett and Sean Hayes have been friends for nearly three decades but have never all worked together on the same project. They finally found the right vehicle with new interview podcast Smartless.

"We just thought it’d be a really fun way for us to take what we do all the time, which is just goof around, and bring other people into it who were more interesting than us," Arnett says.  

Smartless isn’t a standard interview show. On each episode, one of the hosts will surprise the others with that week’s guest. Hayes and Arnett say they can’t recall whose idea that was, though they suspect it was Arnett’s. Regardless, all three of them liked the conceit as a way to keep the conversation spontaneous. "You, the listener, get to experience what the other two are experiencing at the same time," says Hayes, explaining that whoever brought the guest onto the show acts as the host and drives the conversation, while the others can formulate more off-the-cuff responses.

When Hayes and Arnett got on the phone with THR ahead of SmartlessJune 20 premiere, they had already recorded more than a dozen episodes and were preparing for another interview later that day. Guests who will appear include fellow actors — among them Will Ferrell, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Awkwafina — and people who excel in other professions — like astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and Toronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan.

Though Hayes says he’s "a fan of having friends on that we know in the business and learning something from them that we didn't already know," both he and Arnett also enjoyed talking to people whose jobs are very different. One such guest was L.A. Philharmonic conductor Gustavo Dudamel. "We got to ask him a lot of questions about how classical music is made, how it’s interpreted, how it’s performed differently now than it was a hundred or two hundred years ago, just really interesting stuff and in a fun way," says Arnett.

The trio also like bringing on guests that they know their fellow co-hosts will get excited about. Their friendship was born years ago, after Arnett met Hayes while appearing as a guest star on Will and Grace in 2004. Arnett and Bateman were already working together on Arrested Development and soon they began getting together for poker parties.

Smartless will take listeners behind the scenes of their dynamic together. Says Hayes, "We’ve been talking about it forever, what is the thing where we can all kind of hang out and have a good time and work together."

New episodes of Smartless will drop every Monday on all major podcast platforms.