And while all of the aforementioned names were positively delightful experiences, not all interviews are.
Why? Well, like us, sometimes stars have bad days. They’re often talking to journalists in accordance with a brand partnership and feel compelled to only talk about the brand they’re working with, lest a rep be lurking nearby. I have an angle that I need, they have theirs, and sometimes they don’t match up. Sometimes these interviews are conducted at loud evening events with a billion distractions and the celeb is already exhausted from a long day on set. On occasion, a PR rep will end an interview three minutes in because they’re behind schedule. Suffice it to say, a lot can go wrong.
Take, for instance, a certain celebrity I interviewed twice last year. The first time we spoke on the phone, she was warm and open as we discussed her upcoming movie. In person several months later, she was openly bored and spent most of the interview with her eyebrows raised, which meant that I spent the rest of the day second-guessing every question I’d asked.
Another actress whom I met early on in my career laughed at my question and said she didn’t understand why I’d asked it. (For the record, the question was “What’s the best advice you’ve ever received.”)
One (you can probably guess who) told me she no longer felt comfortable answering questions about Meghan Markle and politely asked if we could move on.
Hell, one person even stopped our interview because the way I’d mispronounced their co-star’s name (hey, I was nervous) had thrown them so much and they just had to tell me.
The fear of an awkward or—even worse—unquestionably bad interview is omnipresent, but thankfully it’s not the norm. Most times when a rep reaches out with an interview offer, it’s easy(ish) to schedule and within a couple days I connect with the person on the phone or in person. I prep questions before (with the most important ones first since I could get the boot at any time), and add some in on the fly depending on the answers I’m given. As a naturally curious person, hearing a celeb’s answers is my favorite part. It’s a way of figuring out what makes a person tick. Celebrities are coached to a certain level of polish, but in their answers a part of their real self shines through.
This authentic self was definitely present when I asked Garner what a pelvic floor is, when Dern spoke about her grandmother’s sacrifices and Brown shared his reason for wanting a big wedding. It was also most definitely present when I recently met with Kristen Bell, who is without a doubt the kindest celebrity I have ever interviewed. Why? She had thoughtful answers, ate pizza in my presence and suggested we take a pic in front of a fireplace so it looked like we were on vacation together. Her words, not mine.