Brow Beat

Marc Maron Remembers Director Lynn Shelton, His Partner, Who Died Saturday at 54

“I don’t even know if I should be out in public talking,” Maron said on his podcast, “but this is what I do.”

The two look healthy and happy on the red carpet for Vanity Fair's Oscar party.
Marc Maron and Lynn Shelton in February.
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

This week on his podcast WTF, Marc Maron delivered a wrenching eulogy for his partner and creative collaborator, writer-director Lynn Shelton, who died unexpectedly on Saturday. Shelton was an acclaimed independent filmmaker known for Humpday, Your Sister’s Sister, and, most recently, the 2020 series Little Fires Everywhere. Last year, she also released Sword of Trust, starring Maron. According to Shelton’s spokesperson, Adam Kersh, her death was the result of a previously unidentified blood disorder. She was 54.

Maron’s podcast has long been known for working out raw, difficult, and often deeply personal emotions on air, and the latest episode provides an almost unimaginably extreme example. Choking back tears, Maron grieves in real time, describing intimate details about the last days of Shelton’s life, which ended less than two or three days earlier. He then, according to the podcast’s tradition, rebroadcast his August 2015 interview with Shelton, which he says was the first time the two ever met. Here’s a full transcription of his introduction to the episode, which you can also listen to below.

OK, hey. It’s Marc. I haven’t been too available lately, but I imagine most of you know that Lynn Shelton died at about 12:45 a.m. on Saturday morning. She was my partner. She was my girlfriend. She was my friend. And I loved her. I loved her a lot. And she loved me, and I knew that. I don’t know that I’d ever felt what I felt with her before. I do know, actually. I did not. I have not.

And I was getting used to love in the way of being able to accept it and show it properly in an intimate relationship. I was so comfortable with this person, and I’m not really that comfortable emotionally otherwise but I was able to exist in a state of self-acceptance because of her love for me. I made her laugh all the time, and she made me laugh. We were happy. We laughed a lot. We played Crazy Eights. We cooked food together. We traveled. We wrote.

I’ll talk more about things we did together, but I just wanted you guys to know because the last time I talked to you, I thought she had strep throat. She thought she had strep throat. And we went immediately and got a COVID-19 test, and it was negative. She met with her doctor online, and we treated it as strep throat. On Thursday, you know, I said we’ve got to go in because I don’t know why this fever isn’t going down. She made an appointment to go in the next day. She was going to go to the doctor for blood tests on Friday.

And then in the middle of the night, I heard her collapse in the hallway on her way to the bathroom. I got up, and she was on the floor, and she couldn’t move. She was conscious but delirious a bit. I called 911, and they got her, and that was the last time I saw her alive, was on the floor, being taken away.

And over the course of the day, there was never any good news. She got there. She was anemic. She had low blood pressure. She had internal bleeding. And I don’t want to go into details about that day, but they tried very hard at two hospitals. They were amazing. They eventually had to let her go. They tried everything they could. They took her off life support, and she passed away. I called the ambulance at 5 a.m. Friday, and by 12:45 a.m. Saturday, she was gone.

And I went over there. They let me into the hospital after she died to spend some time with her, and I did that. I told her I loved her, touched her forehead, and I left.

And now this process is happening. She was an amazing woman. She was an inspiration to so many people. So many people loved her. She was a very determined artist. Who just needed to put her expression out into the world in any way. She had tremendous love for people, for her friends, for her son Milo.

My relationship with her is—I can’t even explain it. But I gotta tell you, no one’s got anything bad to say about Lynn Shelton, that’s for fucking sure. She was amazing. Her movies were amazing. They are amazing. I’ve worked with her. Everyone who has worked with her loved her. And everybody’s reaching out to me now, and it’s really helping. I’m so glad that Lynn was so well-loved because now everybody’s saying “I hope that guy’s OK. How’s the cranky guy doing?” 

So, this is what we do here at WTF the podcast. When somebody who’s been on the show passes away, we repost the episode. We take it out from behind the paywall and repost it. Not just out of respect or in memorial but as a portrait of the person, a reminder, a reconnection with an artist. A reminder of who they were when they were vital and alive and connected and expressing themselves and talking about who they were and how they expressed themselves. An audio portrait of that time.

And I talked to Lynn—this was the first time I met her, Aug. 10, 2015. I didn’t know her, and she had been offered to be on the show before, and I was nervous because I knew she had some affiliation with my ex-wife and I didn’t know if she was friends with my ex-wife or what that would mean. I didn’t know anything, but I needed to talk to her. I saw some of her movies. I wanted to talk to her. I was curious about her, so I said, “OK, let’s talk to this Lynn Shelton. I want to meet this Lynn Shelton.”

But I didn’t know what to expect. At the time, she was married, and I was with somebody, but at this point, when we had this conversation, it was undeniable that we connected. My connection with her is almost seamless. I have no self-consciousness when I’m with her. I’m totally comfortable, even in my infantile ridiculousness. The whole arc of me—infantile ridiculousness to cranky shittiness—I was always a better person when I was engaged with her, as a guitar player, as a lover, as a human, as an actor. I was better in Lynn Shelton’s gaze. As an actor. She was so great.

And you can bear witness to this. This is me meeting Lynn Shelton, really for the first time, in 2015. August. Enjoy it. You should enjoy it.

At the end of the episode, after the interview, Maron reflected further on Shelton’s death and on his feelings. “I don’t even know if I should be out in public talking,” he said, “but this is what I do.”