No names, sadly...
February 13, 2021 2:51 AM   Subscribe

Worst people you've interviewed and why. Just a massive Twitter thread of journalists sharing their worst experiences interviewing someone famous.

The list includes actors, directors, popstars, indie rock bands, writers, prominent intellectuals, politicians, etc. Some are actually named. Some are easy to guess. And for contrast some people are also sharing good experiences with the nicest interviewees. (Tom Hiddleston gets a mention, but no worry, we can all rest easy, he’s one of the nice ones).

Some highlights:
...the famous songwriter who summoned me to his house, and when I arrived 15 minutes early, told me he was having a swim and made me stand outside in the rain for half an hour.

...The visiting Hollywood actor who demanded i find his girlfriend some modelling work in London (god knows why), who I then saw 2 hours later being thrown out of a Soho strip club by bouncers

...A hugely popular and influential late 90s Scottish group who spent the entire interview trading in-jokes and never answered a single question.

...Was told about the time someone went to iv a huge pop star, whose 10-yr-old daughter was hanging around on set. He offered to get the child a drink. When he handed her the can she said, ‘I said DIET Coke asshole.’

...Can I just say, for people who are getting depressed and wondering if all famous people are awful, I did film junkets for a while and, among others, Anne-Marie Duff, Brendan Gleeson, Saoirse Ronan, John Waters and (surprisingly) Colin Farrell were absolutely lovely to me

...Magician who claimed to be genuinely magic and who said that his “powers” might have come from “little tiny extra-terrestrial children playing with my mind.”

...Jeffrey Archer called me "a pathetic worm". But then gave me a lift to the Tube station, and said "We must work together again."

...The religious sect leader whose members were each donating a kidney to a stranger. When I suggested that one boy had a cooling off period before donating, the leader told me that to punish me he was going to let a potential recipient die and her death would be on my conscience.

...The American actor and pop star (big in Germany) who spent half the very short time allowed for the interview watching himself on TV with his back to me

...I can name him because it became an issue later: the American chef Mario Batali. He was a monster, leering at the waitresses, throwing himself around. I decided to try and hang him with his own words. I don't think it did the job because it was yrs before he was forced to quit

...The member of a huge girl band who told me I "sounded fat" on our phone interview.
...and many more. Worth scrolling through!
posted by bitteschoen (62 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
 
Ladies and gentlemen, TISM:
TISM also treated dalliances with the press as an exercise in outsider art. They refused to talk about themselves, wouldn't answer even simple questions, and often refused to conduct normal interviews. They used to conduct early interviews only by fax, and their stunts with the media are legendary. They've made journalists interview them across a footy field using megaphones, or in a floatation tank. One critic from Rolling Stone had to meet them a crowded restaurant wearing a wetsuit before they answered questions with pre-prepared songs. Another was blindfolded and taken to a meat locker to question three TISM impersonators.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 3:14 AM on February 13 [22 favorites]


I'm enjoying this. I like that there are a few nice ones sprinkled in to alleviate some of the assholery on display. I don't know who Frank Bruno is but this story was lovely

"Frank lives nearby and an old boy in the rd was 90 - big boxing fan, so son puts card thru Franks door “would he sign it for Dad?”Frank calls up “When and where - can you get a cake?”
Frank turns up at the house with cake and spends the afternoon having tea and chatting to us."
posted by NotTheRedBaron at 3:30 AM on February 13 [19 favorites]


That asshole from KISS being interviewed by Terry Gross comes to mind.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:36 AM on February 13 [24 favorites]


A friend of mine has a tape of some MuchMusic (Canada's MTV) interview segments that for whatever reason never aired, and the worst two interviewees, both of who went out of their way to be misogynistic and offensive, are John Cougar Mellencamp and Iggy Pop.
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:53 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]


I find it interesting that people tend to draw conclusions like "never meet your heroes" from stories like these, rather than "be judicious about applying concepts like heroism to individuals whom society has chosen to reward without a more complete perspective on their character".
posted by terretu at 4:30 AM on February 13 [60 favorites]


In memory of Tim Smith I think this deserves a mention.

'According to one legendary story, an unfortunate journalist was sent to meet the band on their Surrey home turf in the middle of summer. They dressed up in full stage gear, crammed into a Mini, kept the windows closed, turned the heating up and chain-smoked cigarettes. Tim instructed them to spray their clothes with water to create a hideous fug. The radio was tuned to static. The journalist was collected from the station and had to cram in the back for the duration of the interview. The car never went above 15mph. Cardiacs were undoubtedly awkward bastards. And yet in person, Tim was the opposite.' (...)
posted by Cardinal Fang at 5:27 AM on February 13 [5 favorites]



"I find it interesting that people tend to draw conclusions like "never meet your heroes" from stories like these, rather than "be judicious about applying concepts like heroism to individuals whom society has chosen to reward without a more complete perspective on their character" posted by terretu at 7:30 AM on February 13

I always assumed the latter was the implicit meaning of the former.
posted by juniper at 5:45 AM on February 13 [18 favorites]


It's interesting how some of these are about people being real assholes and some are really just people who don't understand the role they're meant to be playing in the interview. I mean, maybe I'm going to patronize the world Scrabble champion here, but I don't imagine they have much media training (I do think that journalist may have thought the question was worst interview in the sense of "person who didn't give you what you needed at all"). Likewise, is it fair to expect younger athletes to know how to give a good interview?

I spent a summer in college in proximity to the Notre Dame football team and probably the most surreal moment was when they were squabbling with each other about who had the best character in the new edition of whatever the EA college football game is. The juxtaposition of the ridiculousness of teenagers/young adults left to their own devices vs the way they were infantilised vs the fact they were making the university millions of dollars was deeply weird.
posted by hoyland at 5:49 AM on February 13 [21 favorites]




That reminds of a quote from "Popeye," one of Pablo Escobar's assassins. (not exact quote) "I've killed about 300 people, more or less. I didn't count. Counting is for crazy people."
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:24 AM on February 13 [10 favorites]


Cam here to mention the Gene Simmons interview on Fresh Air too. Somewhere I heard the complete audio of all of it and it was truly one of the most obnoxious things I’ve ever heard.
posted by jquinby at 7:31 AM on February 13 [4 favorites]


I posted my worst interview as a RT (it's an Oscar-winning director who answered all my questions in monosyllables), but another one of my top-five bad interviews (a now-Emmy-winning actress, who was clearly just having a bad day and didn't want to be there) now follows me on Twitter. She has no idea I ever interviewed her, and I haven't gone out of my way to bring it up to her.

Having worked as a journalist before I became someone journalist would interview was very useful, I have to say, in pretty much the same way having worked as wait staff is useful in teaching one how to be a decent human to wait staff when one goes to a restaurant. I don't think I'm anyone's worst interview, although I suppose if I was I might be the last to know.
posted by jscalzi at 7:41 AM on February 13 [40 favorites]


I don't know who Frank Bruno is but this story was lovely

British boxer, really big in the 1980s, well-liked here in the UK. Has spoken honestly and movingly about his struggles with serious mental health issues. I’ll have to tell my dad (who was a keen boxing fan back in the day) that Twitter story - he’ll love it.
posted by Morfil Ffyrnig at 7:56 AM on February 13 [10 favorites]


Fun!

My vote for worst interview (maybe not the worst interview experience) is Terry Gross interviewing Hugh Hefner. It's been a while, but I spent the whole time feeling bad for Gross, who was desperately attempting to remain civil in the face of absolute batshit nonsense and unable or unwilling to just say, "fuck you, this is never going to air, please walk into the sea." Somehow hearing a disaster happen to one of the best interviewers in the world makes it worse; like watching an Olympic athlete shatter their leg at the end of a record-setting routine. (I'm now going to look up the Gene Simmons interview, which I've not heard.)
posted by eotvos at 8:27 AM on February 13 [2 favorites]


...A hugely popular and influential late 90s Scottish group who spent the entire interview trading in-jokes and never answered a single question.

nah, this sounds groovy!
posted by ovvl at 8:34 AM on February 13 [4 favorites]


I’ve heard Terry Gross say her worst interview was with Lou Reed. She’d wanted to interview him forever - he objected to her first few questions, then walked out.
posted by anshuman at 8:39 AM on February 13 [3 favorites]


It's interesting how some of these are about people being real assholes and some are really just people who don't understand the role they're meant to be playing in the interview

Nicely put. To advocate for the devils a bit- fundamentally, interviews are a business transaction with the interviewee not having benefit of final cut. Interviewers (and their editors) are not necessarily on their side, which I've no doubt many of the cited subjects learned by hard experience. "But- but - they seemed so nice! How could they have written this stuff?"

So I expect some of these recollections stem from bad experiences to previous hatchet jobs. At a guess. Ideally we are all of us advised to live up to the Dolly Parton Gold Standard in dealing with strangers, but given human nature, that ain't gonna happen any time soon.

(I've read that David Bowie had a strict thirty minute cut off, presumably in part so he would not be tempted to ramble into a gotcha moment.)
posted by BWA at 8:40 AM on February 13 [18 favorites]


terry gross/gene simmons. he was discourteous, snobby, and in the end, a lewd disgusting pig. she killed his mic, booted him and changed topics.
posted by j_curiouser at 8:56 AM on February 13


Interesting that comedians come in for special criticism for their behavior in interviews; for some reason, I'd expect them to be among the best. Saving their best bits for the stage, maybe? I will say that Patton Oswalt gave a great Random Roles interview for the old AV Club.

I'd also wonder how some interview subjects would flip that around if they were so inclined, although I doubt that they'd go public with it. Terry Gross was obviously the victim in the Gene Simmons interview--Simmons has basically made the gross creep his go-to public persona--but I've also heard a lot of people criticize Gross as well.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:56 AM on February 13


^^^that small bit was actually broadcast - no storytelling.
posted by j_curiouser at 8:56 AM on February 13


My brother was a celebrity interviewer in the Bad Times (ie the mid-90s to the mid-2000s), and he's oddly protective of the people he interviewed. I'm sure some of them were horrible, and he's made it clear that a lot of them were boring. But they were also dealing with a pretty toxic media landscape, and they had plenty of reason to view the press as the enemy. His wife briefly had a job providing entertainment content for an online service, and every week she received a hit report that had to show that her stories had received a certain amount of clicks, or else she would be fired. And she quickly realized that the best way to get that number of clicks was to post a picture of some 16-year-old pop star photographed at an unflattering angle, accompanied by text that implied that she was getting fat, had an eating disorder, or was pregnant. She stayed in that job for approximately two months and told me that it ruined her faith in humanity. Given what the media was up to, why would famous people think that they owed journalists anything?

Anyway, the one thing that I can remember my brother telling me was that the guys from Hanson were unexpectedly delightful. He basically never talked about the people he interviewed, so they must have made an impression. He said that they were unabashed music geeks and that they were a ton of fun to talk to, because they just wanted to geek out about the music they loved.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 9:04 AM on February 13 [29 favorites]




Quite a few of these micro-stories end with "my editor wouldn't publish the details / simple facts that show what a jerk my interview subject was," and I think that's the saddest and most useful takeaway of all.

One reason the infamous Gross / Simmons interview is so notable is that she offered him zero of that sort of cover. On a gigantic platform, too.
posted by Western Infidels at 9:07 AM on February 13 [3 favorites]


Yeeeeah, I'm always surprised when people act up for long interviews or profiles (see Taffy Akner's Bradley Cooper profile). I would hate being the subject of a Taffy Akner profile, and I would solve this problem by refusing to do one.
posted by grandiloquiet at 9:16 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]


Jeffrey Archer called me "a pathetic worm".

Did he do a stint in the Imperial Legion, by any chance?
posted by J.K. Seazer at 9:22 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]


Anyone else remember an As It Happens story where Barbara Frum trying to get Wendy O. Williams to explain what the fuss was about her band the Plasmatics? It was a long time ago, and the internet is failing me, but I think she was arrested during a show in Cleveland, most likely for some nudity. She refused to cooperate, and it was a rare instance where Ms. Frum abruptly ended the interview.
posted by morspin at 9:48 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]


So I expect some of these recollections stem from bad experiences to previous hatchet jobs. At a guess. Ideally we are all of us advised to live up to the Dolly Parton Gold Standard in dealing with strangers...

Something I think worth noting is how *polished* Dolly Parton is in interviews, while being friendly and generous. There's a few different aspects to this: of course, she's been doing this for decades (including as the target of so much untoward attention), so she's accustomed to the spotlight. But beyond that being a matter of practice, it also seems to be a stylistic difference that belongs to an older era. Her banter isn't just off the top of her head; she's told the story about using her acrylic nails as percussion many times, in many contexts. She's found ways to tell human and personal stories without mining her private life--and that's a skill in itself.

There's also the matter of her manner that I associate with many Southern women--the cheerful, effusive patter that acts as a friendly buffer of small talk. It can engage people and create a bond without risking vulnerability. It's one of the ways that small talk is valuable--it's a vestibule during in which you can decide the extent you can trust the other person with your privacy and vulnerability. For a celebrity who is famous for their talent, that can allow them to engage to varying depths on their work, without discussing their marriage, for instance.

As some have noted in the thread and here, "bad interview" definitely doesn't mean "bad person." There's hilariously bad interviews that happen due to circumstance, and also, different interviewers are looking for different things, and sometimes the subject doesn't get what that is, or the interviewer doesn't communicate that well--or the objectives of the two people are at clear odds.
posted by pykrete jungle at 10:14 AM on February 13 [44 favorites]


Horace Freeland Judson interviewing Bob Dylan...

There's a phrase I never expected to see. I know Judson as the author of two phenomenal books of science philosophy and history: The Search for Solutions and The Eighth Day of Creation. The latter is a history of molecular biology in the 1940s and 50s and how it was mostly done by physicists--a topic worthy of a post on the blue.
posted by neuron at 10:39 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]


The famous singer songwriter who’d had a past controversy over a religious law pronouncement, they spent 20 minutes telling me they’d been maliciously misquoted. When I asked ‘So what did you actually say?’ they stormed off to their room.
It's a wild world.
posted by box at 10:41 AM on February 13 [11 favorites]


I thought the motorcycle one was telling too. I know at least with the NFL it's contractual that they have to do some interviews, but I don't imagine that the motorcycle racer got into racing because they love doing interviews. For a certain type of person I can imagine it really is the worst part, but because of the facts around how the money is made they either have to or feel like they have to do these interviews.
posted by Carillon at 10:47 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]


If you imagine the article written after these interviews, 99% will have churned out perfectly respectable, forgettable pieces about the star. In fact, the skill to turn a lousy interview into a standard piece is what you are paid for*. If you are a junior writer for the Podunkville Gazette, writing a piece about how Bob Dylan or Beyonce was mean to you is pretty pointless for both the paper and you. It's not going to be treated as if you broke a big story of import; you'll just have made some readers angry.

Likewise, is it fair to expect younger athletes to know how to give a good interview?

Live TV interviews, no. Print interviews, it's actually the journalist's job to interview people whether they are awkward or not. I didn't see that many that were just journalists complaining about their job. A few. Most were people being pretty bad.


* James Thurber had a story about getting sent to upstate New York in his reporting days for some fluff man-bites-dog story. He got halfway there, stopped at a bar for a sandwich and stayed for a couple rounds. Realizing he wouldn't make it to his destination before his deadline, he reached the town's sheriff on the phone and asked about the story. The sheriff said he didn't know anything about it and hung up. Thurber concludes: "It wasn't much of an interview to hang a story on, but I managed."
posted by mark k at 11:00 AM on February 13 [11 favorites]


This is not an excuse for the behavior both in and out of interviews of people mentioned above, but if I ever had to be interviewed by Terry Gross I would give serious consideration to smashing my tongue with a ball peen hammer so I could get out of it, it would probably be less painful
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:06 AM on February 13 [12 favorites]


I love going to book readings and meeting authors, and I have met quite a few. And out of all the authors I’ve met only one stands out as being basically rude and full of himself. This was after I mentioned how much I loved their first novel. Everybody else was really great to meet and talk with. Even the ones who I was sort of afraid to meet given the nature of their works, like S. Clay Wilson and Joel Peter Witkin. From my experience at least with authors, being famous ain’t that big of a deal.
posted by njohnson23 at 11:07 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]


I dunno, I took some of these as inspiration -- so now if I'm ever interviewed I will require it be done on live camera, by phone, with myself being represented by an actor pretending to be some kind of biker. The actor will never speak, and will just sit there glaring while doing shot after shot of whiskey. There will be a chyron stating the correct soundtrack for the interview (which will be "Cocaine Blues"), and I will only speak using a vocoder.

...but otherwise I'll be pleasant, forthright, and accommodating.
posted by aramaic at 11:14 AM on February 13 [6 favorites]


I was a business journalist rather than doing a lot with celebrities, so my dull ones were all Web 1.0 bros explaining how their new website was going to change the world. The worst was Nokia launching a new phone and steadfastly refusing to say anything enthusiastic about it at a press conference to promote it. All the quotes were a variation on "you should buy this phone but we won't say why."

Of the celebrity interviews I did, the best three were James Burke, Lenny Henry and Fiona Shaw.
posted by YoungStencil at 11:16 AM on February 13 [5 favorites]


This is not an excuse for the behavior both in and out of interviews of people mentioned above, but if I ever had to be interviewed by Terry Gross I would give serious consideration to smashing my tongue with a ball peen hammer so I could get out of it, it would probably be less painful

Terry does appear to have a macabre interest in the suffering and pain of her subjects, even at the expense of more interesting and fruitful questions.
posted by leotrotsky at 11:24 AM on February 13 [6 favorites]


I have a Gene Simmons story - I was at a charity event where I had interviewed lined up with several of the celebs...Shannon Tweed wasn't one of the people I was interviewing but she and Simmons were there. They had a huge fight and there were other snafus so I ended up waiting a while hanging with some of the PR staff.

I made the mistake, during the argument, of mentioning to one of them that KISS and Simmons in particular always scared me as a kid...I was scared that Simmons would just like, walk up and kiss people. (I think probably the band name influenced this perception more than anything else.) Well, sure enough, I was backstage watching the event when the PR rep brought him up and he just - kissed me. They thought it was hilarious. It was so, so gross.

However I think the worst interview I had was with a business person, and I was interviewing her about women and careers and networking, at a hotel. When I showed up at 10:30 she was both drunk and mostly naked, and when I tried to defer and leave she wouldn't have it and kept offering me strawberries, some of them half eaten. It was - very weird. And yes I did turn it into an okay piece, with the help of PR who got her on the phone later for some "clarifications."

But in the vast majority of interviews I did people were at least pleasant and mostly very generous...early in my career there were a few people that really helped me get better at interviewing (I learned on the job) with incredible tact, like answering a dumb question and then saying "you might also ask..." and then handing me the right question and the right answer. Tilda Swinton was one of those.

I also think a thread of gaffes on the interviewer's part might be funny. When WIGS was launching Lauren on YouTube (about rape in the military), I asked Jennifer Beals a question about roles for women over 40 in a telephone press pool and she said she wasn't likely to be offered sexy roles any more (which I think was a conceit anyway, but I digress) and I very unprofessionally blurted out. "But...you were... SO HOT in the L-Word." I am cringing right now thinking about it. Both the whole thing and that it was in front of other writers.
posted by warriorqueen at 11:29 AM on February 13 [28 favorites]


Here is Terry Gross' interview with Gene Simmons. At ~27 min., I wouldn’t classify it as a fragment.
posted by jamjam at 11:38 AM on February 13 [2 favorites]


TV comedian and writer who audibly farted during interview and then raised their eyebrows to suggest it was me, despite us being the only two in the room. I really wish I'd known what the phrase 'gaslighting' meant back then.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:38 AM on February 13


Interesting that comedians come in for special criticism for their behavior in interviews; for some reason, I'd expect them to be among the best. Saving their best bits for the stage, maybe?

I was struck by this as well. I suppose it's the dark side of the normally-sound-advice "if you're good at something, never do it for free".
posted by mstokes650 at 11:57 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]


I did film junkets for a while and, among others, Anne-Marie Duff, Brendan Gleeson, Saoirse Ronan, John Waters and (surprisingly) Colin Farrell were absolutely lovely to me

I always have a moment of fear when I hear about John Waters and then I'm always delighted because he really just seems to be a fabulous person. Nice to this reporter, hated Roy Cohn with a passion... I just love him so much.
posted by bile and syntax at 12:06 PM on February 13 [9 favorites]


I don't think many musician interviews can match this one: Molly Meldrum interviewing Iggy Pop for the Australian show Countdown.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:18 PM on February 13 [3 favorites]


Perhaps not relevant, but I find Terry Gross to be one of the worst interviewers I've ever heard (that's no excuse for behavior like Gene Simmons of course). She talks SO much about herself, sometimes her guests barely have a chance to speak. She's also uncomfortably "of her generation " and says some surprisingly sexist things I would have thought would have been edited out by the producers, but alas no. I usually skip her pieces on Fresh Air and pray that any interviewee I'm really interested in will get the guy that often substitutes for her.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 1:55 PM on February 13 [11 favorites]


I'm not surprised to hear comedians are usually assholes, that seems about right.
posted by Emily's Fist at 2:02 PM on February 13 [6 favorites]


I can confirm that John Waters is terrific. George Romero was just the sweetest, kindest man. Johnny Rotten and Bruce Campbell are at least as cranky as you'd expect, but entertainingly so. Harlan Ellison was a pain in the ass. Malcolm McLaren wasn't just a great talker, he was super nice and generous with his time when he didn't have to be. People talk about him as this great manipulator, but that sure wasn't the impression I got.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:47 PM on February 13 [4 favorites]


This makes me think of John Mulaney’s standup bit about being an SNL writer and dealing with the famous guests. He worked with Mick Jagger and people “Asked me ... what was he like? ... (obvious face) ... was he NICE? Noooooo!” Like are you kidding me? No one that famous is nice.
posted by freecellwizard at 3:15 PM on February 13 [4 favorites]


Horace Freeland Judson interviewing Bob Dylan is a classic.

Bob's being confrontational but also kinda honest here. Soon after this time, he went through a phase of replying to generic stock interview questions with hilarious non-sequiturs and stream-of-consciousness comedy riffs (some of his best work in my view, actually). And after that time he just did less interviews.
posted by ovvl at 3:18 PM on February 13 [1 favorite]


Here's a fun one that played on VHS between sets at punk concerts: Snyder verses PiL...

There's also Meeting People is Easy, a classic look from the other side of the mic, with some dry-dry English irony.
posted by ovvl at 3:47 PM on February 13 [2 favorites]


> Interviewed the Pope for the local parish magazine. He spent the whole interview wolf whistling at passing nuns then rolled up an enormous spliff and walked off.

Typical.
posted by Freelance Demiurge at 4:05 PM on February 13 [4 favorites]


He worked with Mick Jagger and people “Asked me ... what was he like? ... (obvious face) ... was he NICE? Noooooo!” Like are you kidding me? No one that famous is nice.

I met a recording technician once who told me some stories, including one about the time he worked with Keith Richards, who was recording a solo album in Toronto. He said the first time he met Richards, Richards walked right up to him, stuck out his hand, and said matter-of-factly, "Hi, I'm Keith Richards." He said Richards was amazingly down to earth and not full of himself at all, acted like a total professional in the studio who got right down to work and would take direction... all this despite the fact that, for the entire time they worked on the album, Richards always had a drink in one hand, a cigarette in the other, and a toke in his mouth.
posted by orange swan at 5:46 PM on February 13 [15 favorites]


... it's an Oscar-winning director who answered all my questions in monosyllables.

I wonder if it's the same director that once broke my fan-girl's heart. I was in high school, having just won the opportunity to meet a few different famous people as part of an academic award program. They flew us out to Chicago, where we got to hang out at the White Sox stadium. I sat down, so nervously, at a picnic table with George Lucas, and asked him, "I heard the Star Wars movies were based on samurai films by Kurosawa...is that true?"

All he said was, "No." I was devastated at this monosyllabic answer after all the effort I'd put into building up my courage enough to ask.

Contrast that with LeVar Burton...when I got to meet him many years later (yes, as a rocket scientist), he was sweet and kind, even when I couldn't do much but fawn.
posted by Flight Hardware, do not touch at 5:54 PM on February 13 [18 favorites]


hey, if there's a list of stars who are not dicks, Donny Osmond is cool. (I've never met him, but I know 3 people who said he was pretty nice.)
posted by ovvl at 6:46 PM on February 13 [2 favorites]


“I once interviewed the keyboardist of a very famous ‘60s group who was one the grumpiest, most patronising gits I’ve ever met. Went on a long rant about how everyone in my generation was a moron. Guitarist was lovely and only wanted to talk about his weed.”

“If it’s who I think it is he used to do a monthly residency at a pub in Barnes. My friends and I started going to every gig just to hear him out-miserable himself with each between-song rant!”

“Ah no. I think it must be someone else. This guy lived in another country.”


Sadly, I know who the responder means and I was upset that I hadn’t heard about this standing gig until I returned from a trip but now it looks like I dodged a bullet.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 7:22 PM on February 13


"I find it interesting that people tend to draw conclusions like "never meet your heroes" from stories like these, rather than "be judicious about applying concepts like heroism to individuals whom society has chosen to reward without a more complete perspective on their character"
posted by terretu at 7:30 AM on February 13


Seems easier just to not have heroes in the first place.

––––––

I don't think many musician interviews can match this one: Molly Meldrum interviewing Iggy Pop for the Australian show Countdown.
posted by Joe in Australia


Then there's that certain incident when Molly was the problem.
posted by Pouteria at 10:46 PM on February 13 [1 favorite]


"I wonder if it's the same director that once broke my fan-girl's heart."

George Lucas is 0 - 4 with Oscar nominations (two for director, two for writing), so, no.

(Nor should he have won for any of those, he's not a very good writer, in terms of actual words to give actual humans to actually speak, and as a director, well, there's a reason the film editor won an Oscar for Star Wars and not him. Awkward fun fact: The editor was his then-wife.)

(He has, however, won the Irving Thalberg Memorial Award, given to significant film producers, and that was absolutely deserved, as he almost certainly the most important single person in creating the modern film industry sound/effects/presentation backend. He's massively important to film. Just not a great writer or director.)
posted by jscalzi at 6:46 AM on February 14 [11 favorites]


TWinbrook8, had been a bit of an animal had he?
posted by epo at 9:23 AM on February 14


I don't think many musician interviews can match this one: Molly Meldrum interviewing Iggy Pop

how to interview Iggy Pop. Rule #1. Don't Try To Be Cool.

exhibit A: Peter Gzowski (1978)

exhibit B: Nardwuar (1990s sometime)
posted by philip-random at 9:34 AM on February 14 [1 favorite]


Speaking of problem interviewers, there were at least two jaw droppingly WTF moments from a Diane Sawyers interview with Brittany Spears in the new documentary about Spears airing on Hulu. One where Sawyers agressively badgers Spears about what Spears "did to" Justin Timberlake to make him be so publicly mean and bitter to her. And then, even worse, Sawyer's reads a quote from a govenor's wife who says she wants to shoot Spears. Far from being sympathetic as Spears tears up in shock and horror, Sawyer's implies this is Spears fault because she sets a bad example for young girls.

Yeah, it was all kinds of horrible.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 2:29 PM on February 14 [5 favorites]


This makes me so glad that I've only ever had good experiences interviewing people.
posted by Fish Sauce at 11:07 PM on February 14 [1 favorite]


I wonder where Michael Parkinson vs Emu rates on the scale.
posted by Pentickle at 12:46 PM on February 17 [1 favorite]


Contrast that with LeVar Burton...when I got to meet him many years later (yes, as a rocket scientist), he was sweet and kind, even when I couldn't do much but fawn.
I've only seen him on stage a few times, heard a few radio interviews, and hugged him once, but he's always unfailingly smart, kind, and graceful. Even with people who became engineers and scientists in part because they loved his character on Trek ask really weird questions that don't make any sense when talking to an actor. (I'm definitely in that group, but I've learned enough not to confuse actors with characters to the degree that some do.) Also, what an amazing career! Sometimes Hollywood gets it right. He sure seems like one of the good ones.

On the Trek theme, George Takei also stands out as unfailingly smart and kind. They're the father and grandfather I wish I had, as far as I can tell. (I sure hope nobody tells me anything bad about either of them. Though, I guess I'd rather know about it than not.)
posted by eotvos at 2:41 PM on February 18


To be clear, regarding the comment above, I'm not at all saying the commenter I quoted confuses actors and characters. That seems very unlikely. But, I've been to some panel discussions at conventions that make me a bit embarrassed on behalf of people who are much like me in many other ways.

(I also have real admiration for Marina Sirtis' "fuck you, idiot" approach. Sometimes, there are stupid questions.)
posted by eotvos at 2:56 PM on February 18


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