Oct 24, 2010

Why I don't like interviewing movie stars

I don't like interviewing movie stars much. It feels just a few notches above hostage-taking and a rung or two below a visit to the dentist. For one thing, they absolutely hate it, too. They don't want to be sat there, being asked personal questions by a complete stranger who creepily assumes to know them already, despite having only been introduced just ten minutes ago — no 27 in a long line of jerks to troop in front of them clutching their set of coy, calculating questions designed to get them to open up. And I hate being that 27th jerk, visiting that misery on them, asking them questions to which I genuinely don't want to know the answers. I'm not being high-minded. I really don't. That's why I watch movies, to loosen that mixture of furtive awe and long-range longing which only movie stars can inspire, in the darkness of the movie theatre, and, by extension, the privacy of our own heads. Why undo all that? Why submit that secret love to the pitiless fluorescent glare of a press junket? And for what — the singular opportunity to traduce yourself with a series of softball questions that leave you queasy with your own ass-kissery, or else risk their publicist's wrath by blundering into some invisible area of sensitivity, whose exact size and dimensions are impossible to determine until it is too late? Those are your two options: ass-kissery or rebuff. And this isn't with someone you dislike either, but someone you like, maybe even respect and revere. That's all you get from an interview, at best: the possibility that you won't completely humiliate yourself in front of someone you'd rank just below an ancient Greek deity. It's like a first date with someone you're already in love with, like that date between Bill Murray and Andie McDowell in Groundhog Day that goes spectacularly awry because Murray is hitting his marks just that little bit too neatly — Baudelaire! Ice sculpture! A snowball fight! Kids! How he loves kids! Why bother? It seems to me that if they've gone to all the bother of becoming famous — which is to say, transmuting the dross of their personal aquiantance into the gold of long-range adoration — the least you can do,the only way to respect that achievement, is get on with the job of adoring them long-distance. Meeting a movie star defeats the whole point of movie stardom. You are literally undoing their life's work. No wonder they hate it so. So that makes two us, sat there, hating it. And then you have to go away and write it up like the two of you had a ball together. What bliss.


  1. As a film journalist I have to totally agree with you. Another reason I avoid interviewing actors is, generally, they have nothing to say beyond what they had to do to become someone else, and yet, if you ask them anything about the film's underlying themes or something that requires them to give an opinion of their own they are lost. I like interviewing filmmakers (writers, directors, DoPs, editors), but actors - no thanks.

  2. Gracious, what brought this on? All those excellent interviews and I never suspected. Of course this is coming from someone who writes almost exclusively about either the Safely Dead or the Too Old to Fight Back. So what do I know, really.

  3. What brougbt it on was cramming for a Matt Damon interview, and liking Matt Damon, and wishing the most boring part of his day didn't have to coincide with the lowest part of mine. I should point out that it's no reflection on the stars themselves, most of whom are perfectly decent human beings, trying to make the best of a bad situation. Just a reflection of me, and my preference for the things that single them out from their fellows (the movies) rather than the things that render them exactly the same (the fact that you can engage them in conversation for an hour). Pissiness over. Normal service will resume.