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Actor interviews that went terribly wrong

Interviews are a majorly important part of marketing a film. These meetings usually take place in a private area or on a popular late night talk show, and can generate hype for a movie while showcasing its actors in a casual and relaxed environment. The best interviews make the actor in question more relatable to the average Joe: Childhood memories are discussed, shout-outs are given, and private insecurities are examined and sympathized with. Sometimes, if everything goes perfectly, an interview can even change a celebrity's legacy for good.

Of course, interviews can also fail spectacularly. Whether an interviewer asks the wrong questions or an actor is exhausted from hours of taking questions from other interviewers, these fumbled attempts at movie promotion often yield hilariously awful results and are memorable for all the wrong reasons. And if the interviews in question are filmed and published online, then millions of people around the world can see what went wrong for themselves. Like the best interviews, these trainwrecks can permanently alter the public's perception of the actor in question ... but in this case, they make it worse.

Just how bad can interviews get? We're here to answer that very question with this list of sit-downs that went totally off the rails. These interviews feature instances of mispronouncing names, public drunkenness, and even discussions of the wrong movie. They might be excruciating, but they're still fun to watch ... and make us ponder why some movie pundits and journalists still have jobs.

Robert Downey Jr.

One of the most recognizable examples of an actor interview gone wrong occurred in April 2015, when Robert Downey Jr. was promoting Avengers: Age of Ultron. Channel 4's Krishnan Guru-Murthy, who was already known for making his interviewees uncomfortable, initially asked Downey easy questions about the movie and his character. Alarms started to go off, however, when Guru-Murthy brought up a Downey quote from a preceding New York Times interview: "You can't go from a $2,000-a-night suite at La Mirage to a penitentiary and really understand it and come out a liberal." Downey then responded, "Are we promoting a movie?" This interview ended on a dour note when Downey walked out after Guru-Murthy prodded him about his complicated relationship with his father, Robert Downey Sr., and his past history with addiction.

Shortly after the interview was published, Guru-Murphy wrote about the incident for The Guardian, clarifying that question areas were discussed ahead of time with Downey's publicist, and that "we don't do promotional interviews on Channel 4 News." Downey, on the other hand, vented to radio talk show host Howard Stern about his less-than-ideal experience. "What I have to do in the future is I just have to give myself permission to say, 'That is more than likely a syphilitic parasite, and I need to distance myself from this clown,'" Downey mused. "Otherwise, I'm probably going to put hands on somebody, and then there's a real story.'"

Jerry Seinfeld

For over 60 years, Larry King has made a name for himself as one of most prolific talk show hosts of all time. He's a fixture of American television at this point, about as familiar to small screen viewers as Friends reruns.  But his rocky 2007 interview with all-star comedian Jerry Seinfeld was certainly not a highlight in his career. The Seinfeld co-creator and star appeared on CNN's Larry King Live to promote the DreamWorks Animation film Bee Movie, which he co-wrote, produced, and starred in. King, who cameoed in Bee Movie, asked Seinfeld if his flagship sitcom was cancelled, and the following response was anything but enthusiastic: "I was the number one show in television, Larry. Do you know who I am?!"

In 2014, Cenk Uygur asked King about that interview on The Young Turks. "I've learned to appreciate Seinfeld later. I've watched its reruns now and I think it's maybe the best show ever on television," King said. But, he went on to argue, his ignorance of the show's history doomed the interview. "I never watched Seinfeld much, so I knew it went off at the end of nine years. So I asked, to me, 'why'd you leave?' I didn't know that ... I thought he was dropped." Despite this setback, King has continued to interview other high-profile celebrities on Larry King Live and Larry King Now, the latter of which began airing on King's Ora TV starting in 2012.

Robert Pattinson

Ryan Seacrest has been involved in many awkward moments throughout his career as a celebrity host. One of his most cringeworthy moments involved none other than Robert Pattinson. While the British actor has since starred in several high-profile indie films such as 2017's Good Time and 2019's The Lighthouse, Pattinson first gained worldwide stardom for portraying soulful vampire Edward Cullen in the big screen adaptations of Stephenie Meyer's massively popular Twilight novels. Seacrest interviewed Pattison in 2009, at the premiere of the Twilight sequel New Moon for his radio talk show, On Air with Ryan Seacrest. This two-minute interview started off smoothly enough, but things turned swiftly sour when Seacrest asked, "What do you say to your fans who are desperate to know about you and your co-star Kristen?" Pattinson's publicist subsequently came in and ended the interview before the teen heartthrob could answer the question. Pattinson, amidst laughter, told Seacrest to "watch New Moon" and promptly left the studio.

Seacrest's question arrived during a moment of particularly intense scrutiny for the Twilight stars. Around this time, rumors were circulating heavily about the potential real-life romance between Pattison and his co-star, Kristen Stewart. Despite this speculation, neither Pattinson nor his publicity team wanted to give any official details to the press. Thankfully, no bad blood existed between Pattinson and Seacrest after this interview took place, as they would reunite in 2011 to discuss the actor's latest movie, Water for Elephants.

Samuel L. Jackson

Samuel L. Jackson has starred in a vast variety of terrific movies throughout his career. The sheer number of stone-cold hits in his filmography is stunning: The man has been iconic in Pulp Fiction, The Incredibles, Snakes on a Plane, the MCU, and Star Wars, making him one of the most famous people on the planet. Yet an entertainment reporter still confused him with another famous actor during a 2014 interview. The first question that KTLA's Sam Rubin asked Jackson, who was promoting the 2014 Robocop remake he starred in, was about the reaction to a then-recent Super Bowl commercial, which featured Laurence Fishburne. Once Jackson realized what was going on, he did not hold back: "I'm not Laurence Fishburne. We don't all look alike!" Rubin admitted his mistake and tried to steer the conversation to Robocop.

Rubin quickly issued an apology: "I'm really embarrassed about it, and I very much apologize to Samuel L. Jackson and anyone else who was offended for what was a very amateur mistake." The reporter revealed that he'd interviewed Jackson several times before, and that he saw him in a Super Bowl ad for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which is what confused him — though he still described his "shellacking" as "well deserved." Fortunately, Jackson and Rubin met again during The Winter Soldier press junket, and Jackson didn't even recognize Rubin until he brought up the incident.

Jane Fonda

Jane Fonda has gained fame as both an actress and an outspoken activist, but she looked visibly irritated when someone brought up a taboo subject. That someone was Megyn Kelly, who interviewed Fonda and Robert Redford about their latest film Our Souls at Night back in 2017. This conversation, which aired on the NBC talk show Megyn Kelly Today, was going well, until Kelly told Fonda, "You admit you've had work done, which I think is to your credit, but you look amazing. Why did you say — I read that you said you felt you're not proud to admit that you've had work done. Why not?" The veteran actress glared at the talk show host while she asked the question and responded, "We really want to talk about that now?" The glare itself became a widespread meme

After Fonda called out Kelly in several future interviews, Kelly finally addressed this moment on January 22nd, 2018: "For years, she has spoken openly about her joy in giving a cultural face to older women. Well, the truth is most older women look nothing like Fonda." Kelly then spoke about the actress' controversial Vietnam War history. Is that relevant to the conflict at hand? Not really — which is why so many found the moment petty.

Cara Delevingne

London-born Cara Delevingne has established a successful career in acting and modeling, but a catastrophic interview on Good Day Sacramento is likely not a moment she wants to look back on. Co-host Marianne McClary started things off badly when she introduced the actress as "Carla Delevingne," who appeared via satellite to promote her new movie, Paper Towns. The same host asked Delevingne if she'd read the book the film is based on, to which she sarcastically responded, "No, I've never read the book or the script, actually, I kind of winged it." Delevingne looked visibly uncomfortable throughout the interview but still tried to make the most out of a sticky situation. Unfortunately, all three hosts had already noticed that the actress-model looked irritated, and McClary told Delevingne near the end of the interview, "We'll let you go then, how about that? We'll let you go take a little nap, maybe get a Red Bull, how about that?" Delevingne subsequently offered the hosts one more perplexed look before her satellite feed cut off. McClary wasn't done, even then: "She was in a mood," the host commented, immediately following Delevingne's departure.

Later that day, Delevingne tweeted, "Some people just don't understand sarcasm or the British sense of humour." Several celebrities, including Maisie Williams and Zach Braff, came to Delevingne's defense on social media, with Braff noting how "condescending [it is] to ask an actress if she's read the book."

Daniel Kaluuya

Jordan Peele's 2017 thriller Get Out offers audiences a haunting and subversive critique of race relations in America, and went on to receive multiple Academy Award nominations and a win for Best Original Screenplay. Yet some people still fail to see the deeper meaning of the film. Take this red carpet interview with Daniel Kaluuya, the film's Oscar-nominated lead actor, for example. This interview, conducted by a reporter from the UK's Sky News, started out easily enough, but then the reporter asked, "What does telling this story mean to you?" This exchange was cut out of Sky News' social media posts, but it still made its way online for thousands to see for themselves. Kaluuya responded, "In what sense?" The reporter explained, "It's got so much attention, it's a very different story, it ticks a lot of boxes in some ways, it raises very important things." In the face of this vague and off-putting query, Kaluuya maturely replied, "We're not boxes, though. Articulating Black experiences aren't boxes — it's our truth. We're human beings."

The reporter saying that Get Out is "a very different story" and "ticks a lot of boxes" implied to many that she didn't do much research beforehand, and evidenced a disregard of the film's actual message. Social media users were immediate in their support of Kaluuya, and their appreciation of his refusal to accept such a shallow and reductive question. As one Twitter user put it, his response was "priceless."

Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader

A truly excruciating example of reporters being ill-prepared for an interview occurred in 2014, when KWGN-TV's Chris Parente interviewed Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader about their film The Skeleton Twins. The conversation was going fairly well, until the high-spirited Parente (who joked he was "jacked up on Starbucks") made a disastrous and odd attempt at a joke. He asked Wiig, "I am thinking on this program of doing the news completely full frontal, completely nude. Do you recommend that? And do you have advice for going nude?" Wiig looked confused, as anyone would, offering a few awkward chuckles, while Hader wore an openly incredulous look on his face. Parente attempted to salvage his joke, pointing out that Wiig had a nude scene in this film. Wiig immediately clarified that she was actually nude in a different movie, Welcome to Me, and definitely not in The Skeleton Twins. Hader joked, "I'm nude in this movie," and, leaning into the absurdity of the moment, claimed that the film "takes place on Mars." Hader then openly asked Parente if he'd seen The Skeleton Twins, and the reporter, knowing he was beyond saving, claimed that Hader's character wins the lottery and that movie has Muppets. Neither claim is true, of course.

This viral moment was very embarrassing for Parente, but he interviewed Hader again in 2015 to talk about a movie appropriately titled Trainwreck. The pair joked around the whole time.

Anne Hathaway

A 2012 interview between Jerry Penacoli of Extra and Anne Hathaway proves just how creepy interviewers can be towards actors. Penacoli had already asked Scarlett Johansson earlier that year if she wore underwear while in her skintight Avengers costume, and asked similar questions of Hathaway about her appearance as Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises. In fact, Penacoli started the interview with a comment about how Hathaway had to be in "perfect shape" for this role. 

"Ehhhh," Hathaway responded. "It wasn't about being in perfect shape. It was about being able to do the stunts and the fighting perfectly." Penacoli then asked, "What was that suit like? It had to be comfortable to wear, but it looked like it was so form-fitting. Was it?" Hathaway replied, "It was form-fitting. I mean, it's not a pair of sweatpants. I wouldn't describe it as that kind of comfortable, but, you know, it was fine." The next question from Penacoli was about Hathaway's "feline fitness regime." She awkwardly laughed while he asked the question and said, "It's all the boring stuff that no one ever wants to do. It's just watch what you eat and get yourself to the gym." Penacoli followed up with, "Any particular workout?" At this point, Hathaway finally shot back: "Are you trying to fit into a catsuit?" Hathaway joked around towards the end, but Penacoli was still in the wrong for swamping the actress with inappropriate questions about her weight and not asking about the movie.

Mark Walhberg

Mark Wahlberg's appearance on The Graham Norton Show is a rare example of an actor being at fault for a bad interview. Norton is known to give his guests alcohol, but when Wahlberg appeared on the show in February 2013 alongside Sarah Silverman and Michael Fassbender, audiences could tell he'd had a bit too much to drink. The interview started off smoothly as Wahlberg discussed his latest film, Broken City, and even told stories about his children. As the episode went on, however, Wahlberg participated in several crazy antics, such as flirting with Silverman, challenging Fassbender to a "big d**k contest," and outright groping Norton. Ironically, Wahlberg offered some big, flashing warning signs early on when he said, "Why would you have people to drink alcohol and come on a show? ... It's a recipe for disaster." He would go on to argue that his strange behavior was "pre-planned."

When speaking to Digital Spy about this uncomfortable episode the following July, Norton called Wahlberg "a lovely guy" and said "I don't judge him harshly at all." The Irish talk show changed his tune in 2019, however, saying, "If they're disruptive then that is a bore and annoying. Like Mark Wahlberg, I think Mark got a bit confused about the jet lag and wine." Wahlberg has continued to appear on The Graham Norton Show, so there is apparently no major animosity between the two figures — or at least, any they'll admit to on the record.