Theroux, Louis 1970–
Theroux, Louis 1970–
(Louis Sebastian Theroux)
Born May 20, 1970, in Singapore; son of Paul (a writer) and Ann Theroux; married Susanna Kleeman (divorced). Education: Attended Oxford University, England.
Home—London, England; New York, NY. Agent—Capel & Land Ltd., 29 Wardour St., London W1D 6PS, England.
Writer, journalist, television host, television producer, and screenwriter. Host of television series Weird Weekends, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) network and Bravo. Has appeared on numerous other television shows, including TV Nation. Also worked as a journalist in California and as a writer for Spy magazine.
BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) award for best factual presenter, 2001 and 2002.
The Call of the Weird: Travels in American Subcultures, Da Capo Press (Cambridge, MA), 2007.
Writer for television and documentaries, including TV Nation, 1994; Weird Christmas, 1998; Weird Weekends, 1999; Louis and the Brothel, 2003; Louis, Martin & Michael, 2003; and Louis and the Nazis, 2003.
Louis Theroux became famous in England with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) television series Weird Weekends. The show featured Theroux as he chronicled America's subcultures, from the porn industry and "gangsta" rappers to religious zealots and White Power activists. In his first book, titled The Call of the Weird: Travels in American Subcultures, the author revisits ten of the characters he met while filming for his television series. "His prose is conversational yet concise," wrote Michael Upchurch in the Seattle Times, adding: "His psychological reading of his interviewees is probing, even if he does run into some brick walls of mutual incomprehension." Lucy Hughes-Hallett, writing in the Spectator, noted: "One of the saving graces of his relationship with his interviewees, and therefore of this book, is that he tends to become rather fond of them."
Among the people Theroux revisits for The Call of the Weird are a retired porn star who is bored in his computer job, a man named Thor Templar who claims to have killed space aliens, and a former member of the Aryan Nations named Jerry Gruidl. As for his own feelings about the strange people he profiles, the author told Sathnam Sanghera on Sanghera's Web site: "There is something deeply romantic about these strange bearded renegades who carry guns and are willing to lay down their lives for their vision of correct living, even if it comes to nothing. There is something about their ambition that fulfills my slightly pessimistic view of human perfectibility."
Reviewers generally praised Theroux's first book. "The book is a charming travelogue of unusual people encountering a more bland world," noted a contributor to the Weirdwriter Web site. "It doesn't offer profound insights, but it does offer a good time." A Kirkus Reviews contributor referred to the book as "a mixed bag of peculiar encounters with bizarre citizens, alternately fascinating and sad."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
AdWeek, September 27, 1999, Kathleen Sampey, "Fringe Benefits," p. 5.
Bookseller, October 12, 2001, "Weidenfeld Signs Louis Theroux," p. 35; March 12, 2004, "Louis Theroux Is About to Research His First Book, Which Pan Macmillan Will Publish Next Autumn. May Contain Traces of Nuts. Sees Him Return to the US, without Camera Crew, to Meet Again Some of His Offbeat Subjects," p. 33; July 15, 2005, review of The Call of the Weird: Travels in American Subcultures, p. 36.
Financial Times, June 13, 2005, Karl French, "Television—Karl French Critics' Choice," p. 16; October 8, 2005, Sathnam Sanghera, "Much Smarter Than He Looks an Act? Well Not Entirely, but There's Nothing Naive or Befuddled about TV's Master of Weird in Person or Prose, writes Sathnam Sanghera," p. 3; November 19, 2005, Claudia Webb, "In Brief—The Call of the Weird: Travels in American Subcultures," p. 39; November 29, 2005, "One Life Critics Choice—Television," p. 16.
Guardian Unlimited (London, England), March 4, 2002, Simon Hattenstone, "This Is a Setup," interview with author; January 27, 2007, "Is This It?," interview with author; March 31, 2007, Louis Theroux, "God's Squad."
Independent (London, England), October 4, 2005, Deborah Ross, "Louis Theroux: ‘Even if You Find What Someone Does Hideous, You Can Still Enjoy Their Company and Find Them Interesting,’" interview with author; August 21, 2006, Sophie Morris, "Louis Theroux: My Week in Media," interview with author.
Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 2006, review of The Call of the Weird, p. 1168.
Library Journal, January 1, 2007, Melissa Stearns, review of The Call of the Weird, p. 132.
Marketing, February 27, 2003, "Marketing Mix: Hush Descends on Hamiltons," p. 52.
Miami Herald, March 14, 2007, Lisa Arthur, review of The Call of the Weird.
Multichannel News, September 20, 1999, Linda Haugsted, "Theroux Makes the Most of His Bravo ‘Weekends,’" p. 40.
New Statesman, March 25, 2002, Ann Widdecombe, "When Ann Met Louis: Critics Felt That the Ingenu Theroux Had Gone Too Far, nut, Says His Recent Victim Ann Widdecombe, All's Fair in Fly-on-the-Wall," p. 38; February 12, 2007, Andrew Billen, "Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained: Two Documentaries Show It's Important to Choose Your Subject Carefully," p. 46.
New York Times, February 7, 2007, William Grimes, "Back on the Road, Tracking the Red, White and Odd," p. E8.
PR Week, April 5, 2002, "Diary: The Clifford Mic Incident: We Shall Never Know," p. 24.
Publishers Weekly, November 20, 2006, review of The Call of the Weird, p. 50.
Seattle Times, March 7, 2007, Michael Upchurch, review of The Call of the Weird.
Spectator, October 22, 2005, Lucy Hughes-Hallett, "A Bemused and Amused Bystander," p. 46.
Sun (London, England), June 27, 2007, Melissa Kent, "Louis Theroux Gets the Chop."
BBC,http://www.bbc.co.uk/ (August 13, 2001), "The Weird World of Louis Theroux"; (June 26, 2007), "Louis Theroux: Under the Knife"; (January 26, 2007), "Weird, or Just Wanting?," profile of author.
Call of the Weird Official Website, http://www.thecalloftheweird.com (October 15, 2007).
Capel & Land Agency Web site,http://www.capelland.com/ (October 15, 2007), profile of author.
Guardian Unlimited—The Blog TV & Radio,http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/tv/ (February 2, 2007), Sarah Phillips, "Louis Theroux, I Love You."
International Movie Database,http://www.imdb.com/ (October 15, 2007), information on author's film work.
Internet Trash,http://internettrash.com/ (October 15, 2007), profile of author.
Irish KC,http://irishkc.com/ (March 30, 2007), "Kansas' Phelps in BBC Documentary."
My Manifesto,http://www.aphrodigitaliac.com/ (November 29, 1999), "Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends."
Quick Stop Entertainment,http://www.quickstopentertainment.com/ (October 15, 2007), Ken Plume, "Interview with Louis Theroux."
Rupert's Blog,http://rupertward.wordpress.com/ (October 15, 2007), "The Most Hated Family in America."
Salon.com,http://www.salon.com/ (October 22, 1999), Cynthia Joyce, "Beyond the Fringe," profile of author.
Sathnam Sanghera Web site,http://www.sathnam.com/ (October 15, 2007), Sathnam Sanghera, "Louis Theroux Interview."
Slush Pile.net,http://www.slushpile.net/ (June 20, 2007), interview with author.
Time.com,http://www.time.com/ (October 29, 1999), "Thank God It's Friday: Weird Weekend's Louis Theroux," interview with author.
TV.com,http://www.tv.com/ (October 15, 2007), information on author's television work.
UKTV,http://uktv.co.uk/ (October 15, 2007), profile of author.
Weirdwriter: Exploring the Fields of the Weird,http://browriter.blogspot.com/ (March 27, 2007), review of The Call of the Weird.