He gorged on McDonald's for the 2004 documentary Super Size Me, then went to TV with his nonfiction series 30 Days on FX. Season 2 of Morgan Spurlock's critically acclaimed show--which explores what happens when you spend a month with someone on the opposite side of a controversial issue--premieres this week. TIME's Hillary Batchelder and Jeff Chu spoke with Spurlock, 35, about hamburgers, going to jail and growing up as a dancer in West Virginia.
30 Days dealt with flash-point issues like homophobia last season. What will you tackle this season?
In the first episode, a border-patrolling Minuteman moves in with a family of illegal immigrants and experiences what it's like to be in an undocumented family in the U.S. for a month. We examine outsourcing--a guy whose job was outsourced to India goes there to look for his job. We deal with atheism and Christianity--an atheist moves in with a Christian family for 30 days.
In last season's debut episode, you tested your girlfriend Alex, who's now your wife, by making her live with you on the minimum wage for a month. How will you push her buttons this year?
She made it very clear when I was getting ready to do Season 2 that she was not going anywhere with me. She said, "You're on your own this time, pal." In this season's finale, I get locked up in jail for 30 days. She sees me off before I go, visits me and greets me when I get out. So she makes cameos.
Has 30 Days changed your mind on any issue?
Going to jail really changed my mind about a lot of the people who end up doing time in America. The way we were all brought up, you drive by a jail with your family and your mom says, "That's where all the bad people are." So you have this very specific idea of who's in there. After being locked up, I realized we make it very difficult for a lot of these people to live a life of productivity after they make one mistake. There are definitely people who should be locked up, but we stack the deck against some of them in a way that makes it very simple for them to return to jail later.
Super Size Me was your breakthrough. Do you ever go to McDonald's now?
I don't. I'd rather have a burger from a place that uses fresh ground beef, where the guy makes the patty for himself before he puts it on the grill. You know, like In-N-Out Burger or mom-and-pop joints.
You're making a film version of Chris Mooney's best-selling book The Republican War on Science. Why?
We've started to make science and empirical evidence not nearly as important as punditry--people using p.r.-speak to push a corporate or political agenda. I think we need to turn scientists back into the rock stars they are.
Some of your critics say you are basically an anticorporate pundit.
In the U.S., we've given corporations all the powers and freedoms of an individual but with none of the responsibility. Corporations need to be giving back to their communities just as much as they're taking away.
What about the corporation that airs your show? It owns Fox News too, right?
I know! Rupert Murdoch! Maybe we're their conscience. Or maybe they say, "Well, we're gonna put these shows on the air. What do you mean I'm biased?"