Terry Gross

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Actor Danny Trejo came of age in the California prison system, doing time in a juvenile detention center as well as in San Quentin, Folsom and Soledad, on charges relating to drugs. He says that background prepared him well for acting.

"Standing on the yard in San Quentin, knowing that there's a riot coming, you're absolutely scared to death with every fiber of your body," Trejo says. "[But] you have to pretend you're not. You have to stand there and make everybody think you like it."

For more than a year now, journalists Michael Isikoff and David Corn have been devoted to covering the Trump campaign's ties to Russia.

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Growing up with a Mexican father and an American mother, author Luis Alberto Urrea often felt like there was a border wall running through his family's San Diego apartment.

"The kitchen was the United States; the living room was Mexico," Urrea says. "One side was struggling with all her might to make me an American boy, and the other side, with all of his might, was trying to keep me a Mexican boy."

Thirty-something comic actors Nick Kroll and John Mulaney are well beyond adolescence, but they still remember the indignities, hormone rushes and confusion of puberty — and they channel it all in their animated comedy Netflix series, Big Mouth.

The show centers on a group of junior high kids whose bodies are in flux. Mulaney describes his character, Andrew, as a boy in "rapid puberty mode. ... There's a lot of body hair appearing. There's a lot of compulsions appearing."

Antidepressants and medications for bipolar disorder can be life-changing and even lifesaving, but journalist Lauren Slater warns that the long-term side effects of these drugs are "cloaked in mystery."

"As a nation, we're consuming them; we're gobbling them down," she says. "And we don't really know what we're taking into our bodies."

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Though six months have passed since Steve Bannon left his position as White House chief strategist, he continues to follow the drama inside the Trump administration.

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Former Daily Show correspondent Jordan Klepper remembers a time, not so long ago, when he was barely aware of far-right media outlets like Alex Jones' Infowars and Breitbart News. That changed during the 2016 presidential race.

"I was going out into the field and covering a lot of Trump rallies and talking to people," Klepper says, "and they were getting a lot of their ideas and their news from these far-right sources. So what first felt fringe, suddenly felt mainstream."

America's war in Afghanistan is the longest war the U.S. has ever fought. Beginning a month after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the initial mission was to remove the Taliban from power and destroy the al-Qaida terror network. Now, nearly 17 years later, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Steve Coll points out that the war's goals have changed.

Writer Maggie O'Farrell has survived some terrifying episodes. She's had a machete pressed to her throat during a robbery, once contracted amoebic dysentery while traveling and nearly bled out while giving birth to her first child.

All told, O'Farrell says she has experienced 17 different brushes with death — each of which she details in her new memoir, I Am, I Am, I Am.

As the investigation into the Trump campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 election forges on, Robert Mueller, the Justice Department special counsel leading the investigation, has managed to stay largely out of public view.

Journalist Garrett Graff says that is in keeping with Mueller's personality: "This is not someone who in any way has tried to grab the spotlight, but instead has kept his head down and worked hard throughout his career."

Ursula K. Le Guin, who wrote popular science fiction and fantasy books from a feminist perspective, died on Monday at the age of 88.

Speaking to Fresh Air's Terry Gross in 1989, Le Guin said she initially began writing science fiction because it was the one genre she knew she could sell. "It's how I broke into publishing," she said.

The nominees for the 90th Academy Awards were announced Tuesday, and Paul Thomas Anderson's film Phantom Thread landed six nominations, including best director and best picture.

In 2017, Lena Waithe made history as the first black woman to win an Emmy for outstanding comedy writing. The award specifically recognized Master of None's "Thanksgiving" episode, which Waithe co-wrote with Aziz Ansari and based on her experience coming out to her mother.

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This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "COCO")

RENEE VICTOR: (As Abuelita) No music.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS: (As characters, singing in Spanish).

Patrice Banks is now a mechanic, and the owner of a successful auto clinic, but there was a time when she avoided taking her own car in for routine maintenance.

"I was afraid I was going to be taken advantage of," she says. "I was tired of feeling helpless and having to go talk to a guy."

Banks, who was working as an engineer at DuPont at the time, thought she'd feel more comfortable with a female technician. There was only one problem: "I couldn't find a female mechanic," she says, "so I had to learn it [myself]."

British neuroscientist Joseph Jebelli first set out to study Alzheimer's because of his grandfather, who developed the disease when Jebelli was 12.

In the years that followed, Jebelli watched as his grandfather's memory started to disappear. But Jebelli points out that although a certain amount of memory loss is a natural part of aging, what happened to his grandfather and to other Alzheimer's patients is different.

Director Spike Lee was just 29 years old in 1986 when he released his first feature film, She's Gotta Have It. The movie told the story of a young black artist named Nola Darling who loves sex but isn't interested in a committed relationship with any of the three men she is dating.

Lee, now 60, says he made She's Gotta Have It because he wanted to show a woman "living her life, and not really caring about what people feel."

Couples therapist Esther Perel is an expert in cheating. She's spent the past six years of her career focusing on couples who are dealing with infidelity — and she's heard a lot of stories.

"It's never been easier to cheat — and it's never been more difficult to keep a secret," she says. "The majority of affairs would normally have died a natural death. Today they are discovered primarily through the phone or through social media or though the computer."

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