Brian Koppelman on Making Art, Francis Ford Coppola, Building Momentum, and More (#424)

Brian Koppelman

“A lot of growing up is learning to shift the responsibility from the other to the self.”

Brian Koppelman

Brian Koppelman (@briankoppelman) is a screenwriter, novelist, director, producer, and host of The Moment podcast. Prior to his hit show Billions, which he co-created and executive produced (and co-wrote on spec), he was best known as the co-writer of Rounders and Ocean’s Thirteen, as well as a producer of The Illusionist and The Lucky Ones. He has also directed films, such as Solitary Man, starring Michael Douglas.

Please enjoy! 

You can find the transcript of this episode here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform. 

This podcast is brought to you by Helix Sleep and 5-Bullet Friday. More on both below. 

#424: Brian Koppelman on Making Art, Francis Ford Coppola, Building Momentum, and More

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What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.


Want to hear Brian Koppelman’s first time on the show? Listen to our conversation in which we explore how he got started, how he handles rejection, his big breaks, creative process, and much more:

#10: Brian Koppelman, co-writer/producer of Rounders, Ocean's Thirteen, The Illusionist, etc.


  • Connect with Brian Koppelman:

Website | Podcast | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram


  • As lifelong learners, Brian and I have tried to help each other maintain momentum, not inertia, in our individual voyages of personal growth. A lot of it has to do with learning to take feedback with a professional — not personal — mindset. [04:32]
  • Brian admits he doesn’t always take feedback constructively in the moment. Here’s the question you should really ask someone when they solicit your feedback. [11:53]
  • When given honest feedback that prompts an emotional response, how does Brian keep from saying something he might later regret? [17:16]
  • We all get stuck at some point. Here’s how Brian got unstuck from one of his own struggles that may be familiar to many of us. [24:02]
  • Why it’s never a mistake to tell people to be careful with opioids — even if they have no history of addiction. [33:15]
  • To maintain the positive momentum of his own behavioral change, Brian checks in weekly with a supportive professional. What does this look like? [37:01]
  • Why Brian is glad he started his weight loss regimen 10 weeks ago rather than in the middle of self-quarantining. [41:40]
  • What led to Brian making an effort to close the gap between his public and private life, and how does he put this in practice? [43:48]
  • What is The Royale, and how can visiting help feed hungry people in New York? [48:24]
  • Is having a blue verification checkmark on Twitter really all it’s cracked up to be? [53:38]
  • Brian has always been proactive in using his craft as a vehicle for expanding his circle of friends and his circle of influences. Here’s how we became friends and the free-range serendipity that happened as a result. [54:38]
  • Brian’s favorite books and movies that showcase the messiness of the artistic process. [1:03:46]
  • Brian talks about the monologue he wrote for Vincent D’Onofrio, how it came about, the process surrounding it, and what it supports. [1:10:08]
  • When writing, how does Brian compose his first drafts? What does he tend to notice and refine on further drafts? [1:20:18]
  • COVID talk and final thoughts. [1:22:33]


The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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14 Replies to “Brian Koppelman on Making Art, Francis Ford Coppola, Building Momentum, and More (#424)”

  1. I was happy to hear John Crowley’s *Little, Big* get some love in this interview. What a great novel.

  2. Tim, thanks for the habanero recommendation! I also heartily recommend Secret Aardvark from Portland! [Moderator: link removed.]

  3. You most likely already know about this but / hotmail accounts have bizarrely started sending all sorts of trusted email to the junk folder. I have to monitor mine daily for email. My beloved 5 bullet Friday was there today. After going to my normal inbox for the last number of years. I’ll assume it’s happening to a lot of people. Being in the industry you might be able to reach out to someone who can fix the bug!

  4. @ Tim,

    I love you man — but you have gone from a site that didn’t collect any email addresses for years — to now we cant even visit without pop ups everywhere each time we visit whether we are on your list or not.

    How about a happy medium?

  5. Hi Tim

    I genuinely hope you are well amidst all this uncertainty.

    I’m sure you get this a lot, but I am 21 year old still finding my way and looking to improve myself everyday. I have recently decided to begin my own podcast, I would love it if you could come on the premiere episode for an interview. I know you must be extremely busy and thus I will keep it very brief, under 30 minutes.

    I have listened to your podcast for a while now and I would love for the opportunity to learn from you directly as well as receive some podcasting advice. Regardless of whether you are available for this interview, I would love to thank you for your work Tim, you are an inspiration.

    If you ever find 30 minutes where you might be able to squeeze me in, even at a moments notice, please let me know. I will be there within seconds. Please feel free to contact me at my above email should you require any further information.

    Kind Regards,
    Sean Erb

  6. @Tim

    Hi Tim,

    I have followed you for quite sometimes now and I just want to say thank you for everything that you have done and will be doing. I just have one question that’s been on my mind for a while now.

    How do you articulate your thoughts so well? This includes your choice of words, etc.

    Thank you!

  7. Hi Tim. We’ve just read for the first time the four hour week. Excellent and has turned our beliefs completely on there head, we are now going to look at running a camp site in the alps next summer. My question is, do any of your followers have contacts in this area to help us on our way?? Many thanks. Chris

  8. Dear Sir-Am enjoying your recent podcast. Mr. Kopelman is speaking about being more transparent, and I wanted to throw in a different reasoning for transparency.
    Adam Smith showed that given certain aspects of reality, markets lead to efficient outcomes. One of those aspects is free/inexpensive, transparent information. The most basic example of how being transparent would lead to efficiency, and even “Goodness,” is that if people were open about their earnings there would be no way to maintain pay inequity. For instance, if corporations lifted penalties for sharing compensation information, and BLS had a simple form on their website for people to fill in, we could have evidence of where the average is, and those under or at average when they should be higher would have evidence to get raises. 
    (Please excuse the runon- little hypomanic. If none of this makes sense please just respond rewrite and I will attack it again when more chill.)
    Information is fundamental in wealth inequality shrinkage. As long as the rich can buy information to provide a higher RoR, a better mortgage, where/when to bring a lawyer into a situation, etc, they will be ahead of the not wealthy. Can be equal under the law, but when there is an information disparity there is a power/wealth disparity.
    (Incidentally, this is why corporations are inherently anti market capitalism. Every corporation tries to keep it’s inner workings from being seen.)
    Please note I am not talking about patents, copyrights, trade-marks, etc. I am talking about information that tells one party information about what is being traded and that information being denied to the other party. There doesn’t have to be large conspiracies. You just need one party to have more resources than the other, and you have markets that do not distribute efficiently, and the growth of inequality. 
    And just for provocation’s sake, let’s call these who use high amounts of resources to gain traction in information in the market, oligarchs, or perhaps just Anti- Capitalists or Anti-Market. And every time they talk about market based solutions make them hand over payroll information and other information they keep private.
    As I said, please reach out if you would like.
    Scott McMillin
    PS- I know you weren’t talking about transparency in the market sense on the show. I just saw it as a chance to remind you of the necessity of transparency in markets. SM

  9. Hi Tim , I am a big fan , drinking my 30 g protein first thing in the morning and doing your kettlebell reps . Listened to you on Maron and thought you sounded thoughtful and smart. This being said the Koppelman podcast was tedious. Billions is one of the few shows that I watch, it is very entertaining but Koppelman came across as an aloof, uninteresting , insecure New Yorker praising Twitter of all things … I am sure you can go deeper than this.

  10. I’ve been listening to your podcast for awhile and this was one of my favorite episodes so far! Brian’s authenticity and transparency is refreshing and is a light of hope for anyone aspiring to fulfill more of their intrinsic potential. Thank you for the gift of this interview, for letting us enjoy your friendly dialogue, and for validating and reminding us of the non-linearity aspect of the creative process.

  11. Dear Tim, thanks a million for your hard work. I really appreciate listening all the interview you did untitl now. Where can I find interview #422 please. Merci for the inspiration, stay safe my friend.

  12. Though I was familiar with some of his work, I was not familiar with Brian before this interview. Thanks Tim, for introducing me to another inspirational personality to help feed my own journey. I am feeling especially empowered and validated by Brian’s take on personal transparency. This is something that I have found to some degree in you (Tim) and many of your guests but it sounds like Brian lives it in a way that most people don’t. We dishonor ourselves and our comrades when we try to cover up our imperfections. Especially when we try to mask our thoughts and feelings in order to avoid discomfort.

    I am sure this gets a lot more complicated when you are regularly in the public eye, but it seems like if more people would be honest about how they think and feel the world would be a better place. If I can see your rough edges, I know on some level that it is okay for me to also have rough edges. If my colleague can share their honest opinion about a policy change, others can as well and it opens up a conversation. How excruciating is it to sit through a meeting or family dinner where everyone is trying to act like everything is great when you know things are far from great? So few people are willing to just be real that when someone is, it’s seen as unconventional or abrasive.

    I wonder if you, or other listeners have thoughts or ideas on how to encourage more transparent discourse in the world. How can we learn and teach embracing discomfort with all its opportunities? How can we model and teach acceptance of different ideologies and emotion states and free up all that wasted energy spent on masking? I know we aren’t going to solve this complex social issue in this thread, but I would love some company chipping away at it.

  13. What a great interview. Soulful and so thoughtful. I appreciate the meta-resources about thinking and writing (and being). One check in: Tried the Royale links and it wanted me to buy the domain. Are there any cups still available? You both rock. Thanks.