It’s one thing for reporters to ask celebrities about a few sensational tidbits—breakups, pregnancies, maybe some harmless gossip—to drum up interest for a simple promotional story; it’s another when they start asking questions that put the hapless star in a “bad light.”
Many famous personalities from actor Robert De Niro to pop singer Justin Bieber have had their share of cringe-worthy interviews that they’ve claimed to have made them feel upset. While it’s sometimes unclear why celebrities go on an outburst or walk out of an interview, there have been instances when questions got way too personal or were just plain provocative.
Bad celebrity interviews offer a valuable lesson in prudence: the best questions are perceptive, not intrusive. Let’s take a look at a few awkward moments that stars had to endure due to an interview gone astray:
Hip-hop diva Nicki Minaj shut down an interviewer after the latter suggested that the singer “thrived on drama.” The remark followed the “ghostwriting feud” between co-label Drake and now ex-boyfriend Meek Mill, as well as the growing tension between rappers Lil Wayne and Young Thug.
Minaj was not having it: “What do the four men you just named have to do with me thriving off drama?” The furious songstress lashed out calling the interviewer “disrespectful” for “put(ting) down a woman for something that men do” before cutting the session short. The interviewer herself acknowledged her mistake: “Even though I had no intention of putting her down as a small-minded or a silly woman, she was right to call me out.”
Robert Downey Jr.
A promotional interview for the movie Avengers: Age of Ultron went awry for Robert Downey Jr. when questions started plumbing into the superstar’s supposed “dark periods.”
The reporter cited Downey’s past interviews where the actor had opened up about his relationship with his father as well as his former bout with substance abuse. By then Downey looked quite distressed in his seat, but the interviewer went on: “I just wondered whether you think you’re free of all that, or whether that’s still something…”
Downey didn’t let him finish: “I’m sorry, what are we doing?” He ended the interview abruptly then walked out saying, “It’s getting a little Diane Sawyer in here,” much to the reporter’s regret.
A morning show began an interview on a shaky note with British fashion model and rising star Cara Delevingne after introducing her as “Carla”—twice—during a promotional segment for the movie Paper Towns.
The awkward start got worse after one of the anchors asked her if she had been “too busy” to read the book before taking on the role. Delevingne initially responded with a bite of sarcasm: “Uh, no I never read the book, or the script. I kind of winged it,” before saying she did read the book and thought it was amazing.
A second host then asked if she would have found it easier to focus if her schedule wasn’t so hectic. Visibly confused, the actress replied: “No, I don’t know where that comes from,” then saying “I love what I do . . . I’ve wanted to do this since I was young, so it’s not too hard.”
Things soon fell south when the anchors blasted Delevingne’s attitude by saying she looked “more excited” in other interviews and seemed a little “irritated,” eventually suggesting she “go take a little nap, maybe get a Red Bull.” In the actress words, that just went “too far.”
Balancing curiosity with tact
Interviews need not be provocative to spark excitement. Celebrity news like Entertainment Tonight show how this is done by delivering the hottest scoop while maintaining a fun vibe to keep the atmosphere light and the story flowing.
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