16 of the most controversial celebrity interviews of all time (2022)

  • Celebrities often give interviews to promote projects and provide a look into their lives.
  • Some of the interviews, however, have gone terribly wrong.
  • Insider rounded up 16 of the most problematic celebrity interviews of all time.
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Interviews are a rare opportunity for the public to see celebrities step outside of their roles on television, in movies, or on stage.

At best, the conversations humanize celebrities and inspire audiences. At worst, they spark public outrage.

People were shocked after Vin Diesel interrupted a reporter to tell her she was "f---ing sexy" in 2016. They also called out Katie Couric for asking a transgender model about her "private parts" on national television in 2014.

Some older interviews that have since been deemed unacceptable didn't gain negative attention when they first aired, though.

Now that movements like Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, and Times Up have raised awareness about racial and gender inequality and discrimination, some interviews are only now resurfacing and being called out as problematic.

Here are 16 of the most controversial celebrity interviews of all time.

Jimmy Kimmel laughed after Megan Fox said she danced under a waterfall as a 15-year-old movie extra

During a 2009 appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live," the "Transformers" actress rehashed her time as a "Bad Boys II" extra, a role she landed when she was 15 years old.

Because Fox wasn't old enough to legally hold a drink or sit at the bar, she said director Michael Bay came up with an alternative plan.

He had her dress up in a stars-and-stripes bikini, a red cowboy hat, and six-inch heels to dance underneath a waterfall and get "soaking wet."

"That's sort of a microcosm of how Bay's mind works," she said.

In response, Kimmel told her, "Well, that's really a microcosm of how all our minds work. Some of us have the decency to repress those thoughts and pretend that they don't exist."

When the interview resurfaced on Twitter 11 years later, people were appalled by Kimmel's reaction to Fox's story, which involved a minor, and demanded an apology from the late-night host.

Ben Affleck's 'wild and crazy' interview with a Canadian-French journalist in 2004 didn't age well

While promoting the film "Jersey Girl" on "Box Office," Affleck spoke with a French-Canadian journalist named Anne-Marie Losique, who sat in his lap for the duration of the interview.

With his arms wrapped around the reporter's waist, the "Batman" actor suggested Losique take off her shirt, mocked French accents, and commented on her "firm breasts."

After Hilarie Burton claimed Affleck groped her breast during a 2003 appearance on MTV's "TRL" in the midst of the #MeToo movement in 2017, the "Box Office" interview with Losique began circulating on the internet. The video led many people to question Affleck's behavior toward women.

Losique told Entertainment Tonightthat the video was taken out of context and said she did "many interviews like that" with Affleck.

"The day I did that particular interview, it was a bit usual, I would say, in the sense that we would have this game going on and it was strictly for the cameras, while the cameras were on," she said, adding that their interviews always "got very high ratings."

"I aired everything that we did in the full interview without editing anything out because I thought it was kind of fun," she said.

Losique explained that the clips with Affleck were "a big thing in Quebec" and added that people enjoyed them. Given Burton's claims against the actor, however, Losique admitted that the situation has changed.

"Now, of course with this whole story, I guess it changes the dynamic a little bit, but up to yesterday night, it was still very positive," she said.

David Letterman repeatedly asked Madonna to kiss an audience member in 1994

Shortly after the pop star joined Letterman on the "Late Show" stage, he asked her to kiss a man in the audience, a request that was met with cheers from the crowd.

"Why are you so obsessed with my sex life?" Madonna asked him.

"As we all know, I have none of my own," he replied, continuing to prod her to kiss a man in the audience.

Again, his request was met with encouragement from the crowd.

After Madonna refused once again, she told him, "Incidentally, you are a sick f---. I don't know why I get so much s---. It's twisted."

Anne Hathaway fielded a long string of questions about her physique in 2012

While speaking to "Extra" reporter Jerry Penacoli about her role as Catwoman in the 2012 film "The Dark Knight Rises," Hathaway navigated a series of questions about her body.

Penacoli broached the topic of her "feline fitness regime" by noting that Hathaway had to be in "perfect shape" for the film.

"It wasn't about being in perfect shape. It was about being able to do the stunts and the fighting perfectly," Hathaway said.

When he asked about the "form-fitting" costume she wore, Hathaway patiently told him that the suit didn't feel like "sweatpants" and shifted the attention to her male costar Christian Bale, saying he "had it worse" since his costume covered his ears.

The questions about her body continued, with Penacoli asking her about her diet and exercise routine leading up to the film.

She brushed off her regimen as "boring," but the reporter seemed adamant that she provide specifics.

"Are you trying to lose weight? What's the deal, man? You look great," she said, catching him off guard.

She added, "No, no seriously. We have to talk about this. What do you want? Are you trying to fit into a catsuit?"

A reporter asked Scarlett Johansson if she wore underwear beneath her 'Avengers' costume

When "Avengers" costars Jeremy Renner and Johansson sat down for an interview with "Extra" reporter Penacoli in 2012, he asked the actress if she wore underwear beneath her Black Widow costume.

"You're like the fifth person that's asked me that today," Johansson said.

The actress continued, "What is going on? Since when do people start asking each other in interviews about their underwear?"

As Penacoli explained that he asked because she wears a "skin-tight" costume in the film Johansson cut him off.

"I'll leave it up to your imagination. Whatever you feel like I should be wearing or not wearing under that costume," she said.

A news anchor confused Samuel L. Jackson for Laurence Fishburne in 2014

As KTLA news anchor Sam Rubin rattled off Jackson's recent projects while welcoming him on the show, he mentioned the recent buzz surrounding his Super Bowl commercial.

"What Super Bowl commercial?" the actor asked.

Jackson looked confused before realizing that Rubin had mistaken him for Fishburne, who was featured in a commercial for Kia in the 2014 Super Bowl several weeks prior.

"You're as crazy as the people on Twitter. I'm not Laurence Fishburne," Jackson said as the anchor apologized.

"We don't all look alike. We may be all Black and famous, but we don't all look alike," he said, adding, "You're the entertainment reporter for this station, and you don't know the difference between me and Laurence Fishburne?"

As Rubin scrambled to move past the mix-up and continue the interview, Jackson said, "There must be a very short line for your job outside there."

In 1987, Sean Connery said slapping women isn't 'that bad' if the situation 'merits it'

Barbara Walters asked the James Bond actor about his previous comment saying that it's better to slap women with an open hand rather than a closed fist.

"I haven't changed my opinion," Connery told her.

Walters asked if he thought it was "good" to slap a woman, and the actor responded, "No, I dont think it's good. I don't think it's that bad. It depends entirely on the circumstances and if it merits it."

She then asked him what type of situation would merit hitting a woman, and Connery said it should only come after a man has "tried everything else."

"Women are pretty good at this — but they can't leave it alone. They want to have the last word. Then you give them the last word, but they're not happy with the last word. They want to say it again and get into a really provocative situation," he said. "Then, I think it's absolutely right."

Walters warned him that he'd likely receive mail from people after the interview aired.

"Might get some female," the actor responded.

A reporter told Taylor Swift that she was going to 'walk home with many men' after the 2015 Grammy Awards

While walking the 2015 Grammy Awards red carpet, the pop star gave reporters a closer look at her dress and shoes as the camera panned over her.

"I just wanted to show the legs," said the Entertainment Tonight reporter. "As I was telling you ahead of time, you're going to walk home with maybe more than just a trophy tonight. I think lots of men."

Swift responded, "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."

Letterman sucked on a piece of Jennifer Aniston's hair in 1998

After Aniston discussed her dislike for flying in airplanes during a 1998 appearance on the "Late Show," Letterman scooted closer to her.

"Forgive me if this is rude. I just want to try one thing," he said.

A drumroll picked up in the background, and the late-night host put his hand on Aniston's neck while trying to capture a piece of her hair with his mouth.

In shock, Aniston squealed and jerked away, asking, "What are you doing?"

He then used his other hand to put a strand of her hair directly into his mouth, sucking it until it fell out. Seemingly shocked, Aniston used a napkin to dry her hair off.

Letterman continued with the interview, noticing that Aniston seemed frazzled and asking, "You're still traumatized by that hair deal, aren't you?"

The actress confirmed that she was, in fact, traumatized before jokingly calling for someone to carry her off stage.

Letterman also asked Uma Thurman if she'd ever dated a man his age

When she was 25 years old, the "Pulp Fiction" actress paid a visit to the "Late Show" to chat with Letterman.

After discussing her work, the host asked her to share the age of the oldest man she'd ever dated. He proceeded to ask if she'd been with a 30-year-old, increasing the number until he reached 48, his age at the time.

"No," she replied.

He then asked her about her marriage, which she confirmed lasted around a year. Once she finished speaking, Letterman abruptly told her, "God, your ears are just perfect."

Thurman then giggled and talked about the premiere of a film she worked on.

"Well, it's a lovely, lovely piece of work," Letterman told her, adding, "As are you."

Vin Diesel interrupted an interviewer to tell her she was 'f---ing sexy' in 2016

Brazilian YouTuber Carol Moreira sat down with the actor to discuss his career, but Diesel continuously stopped her to comment on her appearance.

While talking about "Saving Private Ryan" (1998) about halfway through the interview, he broke off on a tangent.

"God, she's so beautiful," he said to the crew offscreen. "Am I right or wrong? Look at her. How am I supposed to do this interview? Look at this woman."

After he proposed that they leave and have lunch together, Moreira tried to refocus the interview on his work by bringing up the fact that he was a Dungeons and Dragons "nerd" like her.

"I'm anything like you because I love you. Guys, really? Look how beautiful she is. You guys think this is a joke. How am I supposed to sit over here when I'm looking at such beauty?" he asked.

At the end of the segment, he told Moreira that she was "too f---ing sexy" to do an interview with and got down on his knees to approach her.

Following the interview, Moreira released a statement saying that she was "completely uncomfortable" and "not sure what to do" while speaking to Diesel.

"He began to hit on me in the middle of the interview, say that I was pretty, and he interrupted the interview three times to talk about it. I was laughing, completely uncomfortable. I was not sure what to do," said Moreira, according to Variety.

She continued. "I just laughed because it was a very delicate situation. I did not like it. At the time I did not know how to react, but you will see that I was uncomfortable, it was not nice that he interrupted my work."

In 2015, a reporter commented on Rashida Jones' tan and laughed when the actress said she was ethnic

As the camera panned over the actress' gown at the 2015 Screen Actors Guild Awards, a reporter remarked that Jones looked like she had "just come off like an island or something."

"You're very tan, very tropical," the reporter added, seemingly unaware that Jones is biracial and has a Black father and a white mother.

Jones replied, "I mean, you know. I'm ethnic."

Making matters worse, a white male reporter responded, "Me too," and the female reporter laughed and added, "It's just being ethnic. That's what it is."

Katie Couric asked transgender model Carmen Carrera about her 'private parts'

In 2014, the television personality invited Carrera to appear on her talk show "Katie."

After Carrera discussed her modeling career, Couric began asking about her transition. She asked, "Was the whole process painful, physically, for you?" and, "Your private parts are different now, aren't they?"

The second question caused Carrera to shush Couric.

"I don't want to talk about it because it's really personal," she said.

Carrera continued, "I don't know. I'd rather talk about my modeling stuff. I'd rather talk about being in W and maybe being in Italian Vogue and doing fun stuff and showing people that after the transition, there's still life to live. I still have my career goals. I still have my family goals."

Couric received backlash for her questions, and Laverne Cox, who appeared on the show after Carrera, told the host that focusing on transgender people's transitions rather than their daily lives "objectifies" them.

In 2017, Couric revealed that she had the opportunity to cut the segment out of the interview but decided to keep it in as an educational moment for her audience.

"I discussed it with Laverne [Cox] and I wanted, maybe foolishly, to use myself as an example to really have a teachable moment on the show," she told The Daily Beast. "That was my intent and I guess I did it at the expense of making myself seem like an insensitive buffoon — which I guess I was."

A journalist asked Rihanna what she was looking for in 'the next man'

The musician discussed her cologne, Rogue Man, with journalists at a fragrance launch in 2014. "What are you looking for in the next man?" one of the reporters asked.

Leaning toward her, Rihanna asked her to repeat her question to make sure she heard the woman correctly.

After listening again, the singer stepped back and told her, "I'm not looking for a man. Let's start there."

Lindsay Lohan cried after Letterman asked about her plans to check into rehab in 2013

Even though Lohan visited "Late Show" in 2013 with the intention of promoting "Scary Movie 5," Letterman spent the majority of the interview talking about the star's forthcoming return to rehab.

As soon as she sat down, Letterman said the "Parent Trap" actress looked "remarkably well." He then began asking invasive questions about whether or not she steals things and manages her money responsibly.

The main topic of the interview, however, was her plans to check into rehab.

Lohan fielded his questions about when she was going to rehab, why she was going, and how long she planned to stay there.

Eventually, she said they "didn't discuss this in the pre-interview" and asked the host to "stay on the positive."

Despite her obvious discomfort and statement that her healing process is "not a joking matter," Letterman later returned to the topic.

By the end of the conversation, Lohan was in tears.

The interview resurfaced online in 2021 and sparked a wave of backlash against Letterman, who now hosts a Netflix talk show called "My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman."

Diane Sawyer seemingly defended a woman that threatened to shoot Britney Spears

The New York Times documentary "Framing Britney Spears," released in February 2021 on Hulu and FX, included a montage of several misogynistic interviews the young pop star endured at the height of her fame.

One of the most startling is Spears' 2003 conversation with Sawyer on ABC's "Primetime Thursday."

The journalist asked combative questions, like whether or not Spears "liked" her voice. She also commented on how little clothes Spears wore and brought up her "world-famous bottom."

Sawyer also told Spears that she"upset a lot of mothers in this country" and seemingly defended Kendel Ehrlich, the then-governor of Maryland's wife, who said she would shoot Spears if she had the opportunity due to the example she set for young women.

Spears sat through the interview, even as Sawyer prodded for information about her breakup with Justin Timberlake.

"He pretty much said you broke his heart. You did something that caused him so much pain, so much suffering. What did you do?" Sawyer asked Spears, seemingly suggesting that she was responsible for the split.

It wasn't until Sawyer said that the singer had a "year that would test a lot of people" that Spears teared up and asked if they could take a break.

After the 2003 special went viral in 2021 following the "Framing Britney Spears" premiere, many fans said that Sawyer owed the pop star an apology.

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