We all want to know everything there is to know about our favorite celebrities — there’s a reason gossip magazines, official fan pages, and Wikipedia exist. But as much as we love them, we also know that famous people are people first, and that they’re entitled to privacy as much as the rest of us are. For some celebrity reporters, that reality hasn’t quite computed, and they have no qualms taking their chances on an intrusive question during an interview.
This makes for some pretty uncomfortable moments. Some celebs take the question in stride and answer it as best and as politely as they can, while others gracefully sidestep it. Sometimes, though, things go really south, and the interviewee starts crying or refuses to answer and walks out of the interview — promptly going viral on YouTube. Here are some of the most common questions celebrities wish interviewers would just stop asking.
What kind of underwear they do or don't wear
Asking a stranger about their underwear is pretty strange behavior — even (especially?) if that stranger is a TV or movie star. It’s no wonder Christina Hendricks felt so uncomfortable when, in her “Mad Men” days, interviewers were completely obsessed with her bra and not her excellent acting. “There certainly was a time when we were very critically acclaimed, and getting a lot of attention for our very good work and our very hard work, and everyone just wanted to ask me about my bra again,” Hendricks told The Guardian. “There are only two sentences to say about a bra,” she added. SO frustrating.
But alas, Hendricks isn’t the only female celebrity that interviewers felt brash enough around to ask about their undergarments. Scarlett Johansson once called out an Extra interviewer as “the fifth person that’s asked me that today” after he tried to figure out whether or not the actress wore underwear under her superhero costume in “The Avengers.”
“What is going on?” Johansson said, visibly annoyed. “Since when did people start asking each other in interviews about their underwear?” When the interviewer got flustered, defending himself and asking if it really was inappropriate to ask about that, Johansson gave him a look that seemed to say, “um, duh.” She then went on to quip, “Overalls. You wear dungarees. No, you can’t wear clothes under it, it’s like a… it’s like a wetsuit.”
'Who' they're wearing
Celebrities are typically famous for, you know, doing things. They act in blockbuster movies or sing chart-topping songs. In their spare time, many of them also support causes close to their hearts and have thriving personal lives. Despite all of this, sometimes all reporters want to know about a famous person (usually a woman, let’s be real) is *who* they’re wearing — even in the most inappropriate of contexts. That’s how Blake Lively ended up getting asked, “What’s your power outfit?” at an event where she was being recognized for her work with the non-profit Child Rescue Coalition, according to Vanity Fair. This didn’t sit well with Lively. “Come on, you want to talk about an outfit here, today?” she said. “No way. Come on. Come on, we’re about building women up. Come on, outfits? Would you ask a man that?”
In 2010, Hillary Clinton was speaking at an event in Kyrgyzstan about how women are judged differently in a professional context, including being scrutinized for their outfits, according to Intelligencer. Then, irony of ironies, the moderator butted in with, “Which designers do you prefer?” to which a baffled Clinton answered, “What designers of clothes?” When the moderator said, “yes,” Clinton fired back, “Would you ever ask a man that question?”
Frustratingly, this supercut from Upworthy shows just how common the outfit question is, overshadowing famous women’s accomplishments. Perhaps Amy Schumer had the right idea, quipping at E! once, “Vivienne Westwood, Tom Ford shoes, and an o.b. tampon.”
How they balance their careers and family lives
Interviewers are often extremely concerned with how it’s possible for female celebrities to have a job AND a family — which is a bit of a weird concern if you think about it. Keira Knightley pointed out the absurdity of this question when she was asked a version of it at a red carpet event. “Um, are you going to ask all the men that tonight?” she clapped back. Our thoughts exactly.
At Elle magazine’s “Women in Hollywood” event in 2014, Jennifer Garner spoke eloquently about the problem behind this question. One time after she and then-husband Ben Affleck had attended a press junket together, she said, they talked about the differences between how interviewers approached them, per E! “I told him every single person who interviewed me, I mean every single one, and this is true of the red carpet here tonight Elle, asked me, ‘How do you balance work and family?’ and he said the only thing that people asked him repeatedly was about the tits on the ‘Blurred Lines’ girl.” But work-life balance? Nobody was concerned with that when it came to Affleck. “As a matter of fact, no one had ever asked him about it,” Garner added. “And we do share the same family. Isn’t it time to kinda change that conversation?”
What it's like to be in a 'bigger' body
Women are used to their appearance being scrutinized — and for famous women, this happens on a much larger scale: during TV interviews and on the covers of gossip magazines, for instance. However, although they may seem used to it, it doesn’t make it any less creepy or rude. According to People, during an interview in Australia in 2012, “Mad Men” star Christina Hendricks was asked, “You have been an inspiration as a full-figured woman. What has been the most inspiring story that you can remember, where you’ve inspired someone?” Hendricks pretty much dodged the question, then said, “I think calling me full-figured is just rude” off-camera, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
Though women are often the ones to bear the brunt of rude appearance-based questions, men are certainly not immune. In a mind-boggling interview moment in 2014, a journalist asked Jonah Hill, “Are you still considered the fat guy, when you go to a party or anything? ‘Cause I run into that a whole lot. I’m the fat one.” Hill was having none of it, and looked completely bewildered the whole time the interviewer was speaking. He then said, “Do you have any other questions, that are smart?” Oh, ouch. The lesson for journalists? Um, don’t be rude and creepy, if at all possible. Simple enough, right?
What diet they're on
Uncalled-for questions about women’s bodies come in all shapes and sizes, including prying inquiries into actresses’ pre-movie diets. During a press conference for “The Avengers” in 2012, a reporter asked Robert Downey Jr. a thoughtful question about his character’s evolution, and in the same breath asked Scarlett Johansson whether she had to go on a strict eating plan to play Black Widow. Speaking to Downey, Johansson observed, “how come you get, like, the really interesting, like, existential question and I get the, like, rabbit food question?” Yep, how come, huh?
Elsewhere in the superhero universe, this time at DC, Anne Hathaway had to sit through a whole bunch of intrusive questions from Extra about her diet for fitting into the Catwoman catsuit she wore in “The Dark Knight Rises.” She started by answering politely, but the journalist kept insisting that it must have been extremely “form-fitting” and therefore she must have had to go on a really strict diet and workout plan. That’s when Hathaway decided she’d better mess with the journalist a little. “Are you trying to lose weight?” she asked. “What’s the deal, man, you look great! No, no seriously, we have to talk about this. What do you want, are you trying to fit into a catsuit?” Well played, Catwoman, well played.
Whether they've had work done
It’s bad enough when accomplished people like Jane Fonda get asked whether they’ve had surgery, but it becomes downright unacceptable when trans people are asked whether they have undergone surgery as part of their transition. As you might have guessed, the whole morality thing doesn’t always factor into reporters’ line of questioning. In one interview that was meant to focus on Fonda’s new movie, Megyn Kelly asked the actress, “I read that you said you felt you’re not proud to admit that you’ve had work done. Why not?” Fonda answered, “We really wanna talk about that?” She made it clear that she’d much rather discuss her artistic pursuits than whether or not she’d been under the knife.
Whether or not they’re famous, trans people are often asked rude and insulting questions about their private parts — which most people wouldn’t even dream to ask cis people about. That was certainly the case during Carmen Carrera’s interview with Katie Couric, when the latter asked about the “painful” surgery process. It was also the case when, among other horribly misjudged questions about being trans, Wendy Williams once asked Laverne Cox, “You’ve got breast implants?” Cox, ever the eloquent speaker, calmly explained, “I’ve chosen not to talk about any of this stuff I’ve gotten done because I think so often when trans people’s experiences are talked about, we always, far too often focus on surgery and transition, so I don’t talk about that, but I’m very happy with the situation.”
Who they're dating or going home with
One ET red carpet reporter once made a comment to Taylor Swift about “lots of men” she would supposedly be going home with that night. The singer hardly skipped a beat, answering, “I’m not going to walk home with any men tonight. I’m gonna go hang out with my friends and then I go home to the cats. Men get me in trouble.” Show a little respect to Meredith and Olivia, please.
Tay-Tay isn’t the only one bearing the brunt of nosy journalists prying into her dating life. When Rihanna doesn’t want to talk about dating, she will let the interviewer know in no uncertain terms. The singer and entrepreneur was once asked, “what are you looking for in a man now?” RiRi had her answer at the ready: “I’m not looking for a man,” she said. “Let’s start there.”
Another time, Rihanna got visibly irritated when Australian journalist Natalie Barr tried to slyly ask her about rumors she was dating Ashton Kutcher. “How frustrating is it when you’re linked to another Hollywood star, even if you’ve barely met them?” The celeb clapped back, “Very frustrating. Almost as frustrating as being asked about it.” She added, “I mean, what’s the point?” Hoo boy, we wouldn’t want to be in Barr’s shoes.
Why they're not smiling
Celebrities, they’re just like us — famous women also get asked why they’re not smiling all the time. But whereas the mere mortals among us might struggle to find a suitable comeback, celebs come prepared to deal with the casual sexism they might encounter, and we all benefit. After her performance on “Dancing With the Stars,” host Tom Bergeron told Simone Biles, “I was waiting for you to smile at some of the compliments. You didn’t.” With a twinkle in her eye, the Olympic gymnast fired back (via Inside Edition), “smiling doesn’t win you gold medals.” Ooooh, burn!
Once upon a time, another world-class athlete had to sit nicely while a man asked her why she wasn’t smiling: tennis champion Serena Williams. Ask and you shall receive — Williams told a press conference reporter exactly what was on her mind. “It’s 11:30,” she said. “To be perfectly honest with you, I don’t wanna be here.” Laughs were hard across the audience, after which Williams continued, “I just wanna be in bed right now and I have to wake up early to practice, and I don’t wanna answer any of these questions, and you guys keep asking me the same questions, so it’s… it’s not really… You’re not making it super enjoyable.” At this point, people were pretty much laughing their heads off and Williams concluded, “just being honest.” And honesty, as we all know, is the best policy.
Just anything about their sexuality
Sure, we all want to know the juicy details of our fave celebs’ lives, but some questions just cross the line — and asking about the ins and outs of people’s sexuality is just uncalled for, TBH. Unfortunately, famous people are routinely asked bananas questions about their sex lives, their sexual orientation, or how their sexuality influences their work. Take Hayley Williams of Paramore fame, who was asked on French radio station NRJ, “When was your last orgasm?” Williams couldn’t have been clearer: “We don’t talk about that on the radio,” she said. Her bandmate backed her up, saying the question was “not cool.”
Elsewhere beyond the line of acceptable sexuality questions, there’s the very brash journalist who decided to see if he could get Tom Hardy to come out as LGBTQ+ during a press conference — which was obviously none of his business. According to Time, Hardy brushed the whole thing off with a very clear, “thank you.” And then there’s Lady Gaga, who was asked if she thought her “sexual references [could] undermine the music.” She perfectly responded that men who did what she did would be labeled “rock stars.” As for her? “But when I do it in my music and in my videos, because I’m a female, because I make pop music, you’re judgmental and you say that it is… distracting,” she said. “I’m just a rock star.” We’ll let that one speak for itself.
Questions about fellow celebs
If you’re going to interview a celeb, talk about THEM, not their famous friends! Seems obvious enough, but some interviewers just haven’t learned yet. A few years ago, Glamour magazine set out to find out the questions that most annoyed famous people, and one pet peeve that popped up more than once was being asked about other famous people. “It’s ‘How was Sofia [Vergara]’s wedding?'” Sarah Hyland said. “‘How is it like with them being a married couple?’ It’s her business. It’s her wedding. It’s not my business to talk about.”
Carrie Underwood couldn’t agree more and gets super frustrated when she’s asked about people who aren’t Carrie Underwood. “Like, if somebody gets a divorce or somebody else is dealing with something in the public eye that they’d rather not be dealing with in the public eye — when I get asked those questions [about them], I’m like, ‘I don’t know. I wasn’t there!'” she said. “Those are hard to answer.” If you’re looking for a good story, may we suggest listening to one of the country artist’s excellent songs, instead? She literally has an album called “Storyteller,” which should tell you everything you need to know.
Prying into fresh breakups
Nobody wants to talk about their recent breakup with a stranger, and celebrities are no exception. Selena Gomez was asked a strange question about Justin Bieber in July 2013, really soon after the pair had reportedly broken up. “Is there something about him that we don’t get or that we don’t understand?” asked the interviewer. “I mean, there’s one story after another of, you know, pretty outrageous behavior that we’re reading about. What don’t we get about him?” There was then a technical glitch, so Gomez didn’t have a chance to answer, but in the seconds before that, she looked completely lost for words.
Then there was that Britney Spears interview with Diane Sawyer in 2003. “He’s left the impression that you weren’t faithful, that you betrayed the relationship,” Sawyer asked an already tearful Spears, referring to the breakdown of her love story with Justin Timberlake. The interviewer then went on to ask who Spears’ lyrics on “Everytime” were meant for (the lyrics in question: “my weakness caused you pain / and this song’s my sorry”), to which Spears answered, “who’s that for? Oh goodness. Goodness, goodness.” It’s hard not to draw parallels with another pop star, Taylor Swift, who is constantly being told “she just writes songs about her ex-boyfriends,” as she pointed out on Australian radio in 2014 (via Elle). “And I think, frankly, that’s a sexist angle to take,” Swift added. “No one says that about Ed Sheeran.” Haters gonna hate, eh?
Why are you here?
It’s hard to imagine that as a celebrity reporter the first thing you would ask a famous person is “why are you here?” But that hasn’t stopped some particularly audacious journalists from implying exactly this in a pretty rude manner. First up is Justin Timberlake, who was asked at a Russian press conference where he and Mila Kunis were promoting “Friends With Benefits,” the mind-blowingly insensitive question, “Why are you in movies?” When Kunis thought she’d misheard, the reporter expanded, saying, “many showbiz people move to movies, and sometimes it’s for the better, but why is Justin in movies?” Kunis put the journalist back in their place with a short tirade in Russian, followed by a mic-dropping, “What kind of question is that? Why are YOU here?” What an absolute queen.
Goldie Hawn has some interview horror stories of her own to share. “Normally, when you come to an event, people say, ‘Why is it so important for you to be here?'” Hawn told Glamour. This is a pretty insulting question when it’s thrown around at a charity event — like, obviously, it’s important because the actress cares about the cause being championed. “I want to look and say, ‘Why are you here?! Obviously there is something good [here] or we wouldn’t be here,'” Hawn added. “I don’t go to events just because, ‘Oh, I felt like getting dressed up!'”
Unwarranted questions about drug use
If you haven’t discussed it beforehand, some topics are just off-limits for an interview — and drug use is definitely up there. Interviewers can try it at their own peril, but it’s pretty ill-advised. Though Robert Downey Jr. has been pretty open about drug use in the past, there’s a time and a place for these sensitive discussions — and “The Avengers” interview circuit just isn’t it. While the actor was promoting the movie, journalist Krishnan Guru-Murthy of Channel 4 News asked him about “the dark periods” of his life, including his use of drugs. “I’m sorry,” Downey answered, shaking his head. “What are we doing?” He then walked out of the interview after a cue from his publicist.
In 2013, while on “The Late Show with David Letterman,” the host put Lindsay Lohan on the spot in all sorts of ways, starting with the one-liner, “you look remarkably well.” He then went on to ask Lohan if it was true that she had a habit of stealing things, joking that she might steal one of the “Late Show” cameras. The actress played along, as Letterman made further jokes about prison and violence, before switching gears to rehab. At this point, the previously smiling Lohan’s face fell, as she answered Letterman’s prodding questions. “We didn’t discuss this in the pre-interview,” she said eventually. “Just saying.” [at 4:05] Letterman kept pushing, asking specific questions about addiction, until Lohan’s voice began to break. It’s honestly painful to watch.
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