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Morgan Spurlock Takes a Bite Out of the Big Issues

A guy with a mouthful of fries.

Morgan Spurlock was that guy, and he used that memorable image to promote his Academy Award nominated documentary 'Super Size Me.' The film followed the gross misadventures of Spurlock as he ate nothing but McDonald's fast food for 30 days.

The film was a hit, and it enabled Spurlock to create '30 Days' on FX, about people spending a month with others who have different views. In the six episodes from season one, we had stories ranging from a Christian living with a Muslim-American couple and a straight guy living with a gay man in San Francisco. The season one DVD is out now, and season two kicks off on FX with six more episodes around issues such as outsourcing, new age medicine and abortion.

In an interview with AOL Television editor Sean Doorly, Spurlock chatted about the challenges of filming '30 Days,' the legacy of 'Super Size Me' and how he now avoids fast food.



For people not familiar with '30 Days,' how would you describe it, and why should people tune in?
'30 Days' is a social experiment where we explore issues of our society in a way that is fun and entertaining by taking someone from one walk of life and one set of beliefs and immersing them in an environment that is completely antithetical to their own. Giving them a chance to walk a mile in someone else's shoes and to see the world through someone else's eyes. People should tune in because the show doesn't go down like medicine. You would think a show like this is going to be so heavy and boring, but the show is really entertaining. Just like how we made fast food and obesity epidemic in America engaging in 'Supersize Me,' we do the same in '30 Days.'

Where did you get the idea for '30 Days?'
I got the idea when I finished 'Super Size Me.' We had a test screening for the film that was so well received and people started arguing and debating the issue right after the screening. This was fantastic, so I thought it would be great to do a television show where we could explore more issues on a more timely basis and hopefully get the same results of people having a civil dialogue at the end.

What can we expect to see in season two of the show?
I didn't think it was going to be possible to make season two better than season one. I thought we hit it out of the park in season one. Season two has exceeded every expectation I had. The issues were even more timely, more pertinent and larger hot button issues. The season two premiere deals with the immigration issue in America. We took a border-patrolling Minuteman and moved him in with a family of illegal Mexican immigrants in Los Angeles. For 30 days here are two sides of this argument and the Minuteman is saying, "If I had the opportunity to call INS right now and have you guys deported tomorrow ..." and to hear from the family why it is so important to be here and provide for their families. It is a fantastic tit for tat to hear the back and forth.

What do you think the legacy of the 'Supersize Me' documentary is?
I get stopped by parents, kids, health teachers, gym teachers and politicians who use it to pass legislature. To me that this little film has become a lighting rod for bigger issues is inspiring. I'm in awe every day by the film. I get stopped by parents every day who since seeing the film have stopped eating fast food and get home early to cook and sit down and eat with their family.

How has your life changed personally and professionally?
Professionally it is amazing to be in position to pick up the phone and get the call returned. I have been really fortunate that I'm in a place where I can pick and choose what I want to make. It really is a blessing. Personally, one of the greatest things that came out of the whole experience for me I was really lucky to have a partner like Alice go through the whole journey with me. She was there when I had the idea for 'Super Size Me.' She was in the film. She traveled around the world when I promoted the movie. I have grown so much more as a person in the post 'Super Size Me' world and a lot of that I can credit to her.

The season one DVD is out now. What can we expect to see?
It is a chance for people to share episodes that they love with other people that didn't get to see them. It is a chance for them to hear a little bit more from the participants. We have great diary cams that we couldn't put in the show. It's great to hear from people going through the journey in their own words what they were dealing with and what they were thinking. There is great commentary on a bunch of the episodes from the participants and myself. To hear them reflect on it now a year later is great.

What has surprised you the most after doing a season?
We were really concerned at the beginning because we first pitched the idea to the network that I was going to do every episode. I was going to immerse myself in these environments and explore these issues every week. Logistically, it is an impossibility. It would take 10 months to make six episodes. Basically, I was told in no uncertain terms by my girlfriend that I wouldn't have a girlfriend for very long if I did that. So I made a conscious decision to say, "OK, we are going to let other people do the show."

Not an easy decision?
There was a concern how would this translate if you let other people go on this journey. To me, it even translates better to have these people who are so passionate and so invested in the things they believe and let their guard down and be challenged by someone else.

What were some of the craziest moments that shocked you in season one or season two?
I'm always amazed how people respond in these situations. Not so much shock, but for me it is wonderment to see how people react who have such staunch beliefs. To see how our border-patrolling Minuteman who has a soft spot for the people that he wants to deport. In the outsourcing episode, the guy whose job was outsourced goes to India and to see this guy start to build friendships and relationships who are basically doing his job now is pretty emotional.

What is your favorite and least favorite part of doing the show?
My favorite part of doing the show is to explore all these different issues over the course of a season. To be able to have six different topics that are so relevant in our country today is the most important thing for me. My least favorite thing is it is such a long arduous process. It is at least six months to make six episodes. It is massive. It is like making six short films.

If you could go back in time and give yourself advice -- how far would you go back and what would the advice be?
My best advice that I would have given myself is to be true to be my voice from the beginning. Anytime I talk to college kids and high school kids I tell them you need to find your voice and stand by it. It is easy to try and please everyone. It is harder to please yourself. If you find your voice and stand up, you will find success and more rewards than you can imagine.

When you are on the road, what do you eat? Are you ever tempted by fast food?
Of course, we are all tempted by fast food. Every time you see the sign, and walk by the door and get that smell. I just make the decision to go somewhere else. When I travel, I really try to make a rule and sometimes it gets broken, but I really try not to eat in airport because you can never find anything good to eat in an airport.

Because it would ruin your whole thing if you were seen eating at McDonald's?
(Laughs) Yeah, suddenly click, click, I'm in the Star and the Enquirer, "Spurlock guy is off the wagon."