One of the big surprises of David Fincher’s Mank is that it turns out to be just as much about Upton Sinclair as it is about Herman Mankiewicz. In this version of Hollywood history, Mankiewicz was spurred to write Citizen Kane due to his guilt over the Hollywood dirty-tricks campaign that sank Sinclair’s 1934 campaign for governor of California. The Jungle author makes a brief appearance at a rally in Mank, at which point we get another of the film’s big surprises: Sinclair is played by none other than Bill Nye. Yes, the Science Guy. It’s unconventional casting, but it works. Stripped of his lab coat and bow tie, Nye is a little hard to place. He comes off as an avuncular, trustworthy orator; it’s only afterward when you realize, Wait, was that Bill Nye?
We naturally had some questions about how the whole thing came out. Luckily, Nye was happy to jump on a Zoom call and discuss the story behind his cameo.