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The Five Worst Celebrity Interviews

Interviewing movie stars is an Olympic-caliber game whereby you gently toss questions at them and they volley back by delivering succinct, crisp sayings that are informative, funny, and make great copy too.

Alas, that doesn’t always happen and you sometimes feel like you’re engaged in a battle of wits with a half-armed opponent. Not me, mind you. My interviews have always been sheer perfection, cough cough. But a friend of mine who’s a longtime reporter has had some awkward star encounters that left his tape recorder metaphorically burning, and he anonymously agreed to share them with me.

His five worst have been:

1—Russell Crowe

Says my pal: “Some people look at interviews as an arm wrestling contest and the immediate idea is always to establish dominance over your opponent. I think that’s the way Crowe looks at it. And ages ago, interviewers were telling me he was a big ass. It’s not like he became a big star and then changed. But at least he keeps you guessing. With him, you never know, ‘Will it be the arrogant, bullying Russell Crowe who seems ready to throw you into a wall or will it be the strangely sweet genial artiste?’ It’s maddening.”

2) Steve Martin

“Writers invariably are the worst people to interview because they’re so aware of how things can be changed by putting them on a page. Steve Martin, who will never be anything less than charming and funny when a camera’s on for an interview, turns into a morose, withdrawn, uncommunicative interviewee for print and tries to shanghai somebody from the film he’s doing press for and make them answer all the questions. He’s been this way for at least 25 years.”

3) Tilda Swinton

“Tilda is a tough interview, but not for the usual reasons. It’s not because she’s arrogant or not forthcoming. It’s just that you feel nervous asking about her personal life because she has this aristocratic bearing and formidable intelligence. You have a feeling she would not suffer fools lightly. So you sit there and cower.”

4) Dustin Hoffman

“Dustin is exhausting because he’s just like that actor he played in Tootsie. He’s so bright and forthcoming that you ask him something and he’ll just wear you out with the answer. He doesn’t give sound bites, he gives paragraphs. If you’re trying to take notes, it’s impossible. So much of it is interesting, but it’s not stuff you can necessarily use!”

5) Sam Worthington

“When he did press for Terminator Salvation, I innocently asked Sam who was he dating and he snarled back at me, ‘Who would care about that?’ I said, ‘Well, I would.’ I really felt put down. Later in the interview, he said something about ‘me and my girlfriend.’ He smiled at me and said, ‘See? There–I have one.’ Months later, he explained, ‘When I’m doing a role, I can’t turn it off. When I was doing press for Terminator, I was filming Clash of the Titans and I was angry all the time and biting people’s heads off’.”

Ah, the old “It was my character speaking” excuse. Maybe Russell should try that.