Cringe-Worthy Questions Reporters Asked During Interviews

Sitting down for interviews with the press has always come with the territory for celebrities, but there's never been more emphasis on promotion than there is today. The rise of streaming services created a huge drive towards quality small screen content, and with every big new show comes the push — the stars are expected to discuss the project in interview after interview after interview. 

The same goes in the film world, where superhero movies continue to dominate and Marvel actors try (but sometimes fail) to remain tight-lipped about plot details while still promoting a picture. It's not always easy, and when a reporter comes at an actor with a ridiculous and/or offensive question, they sometimes snap. And it's not just actors, either: Whether you're a reality TV star or an Oscar-winning director, you're going to get an uncomfortable question every now and again.

There's nothing more cringe than a cordial conversation turning confrontational on camera, but when you see the things that the following famous people were asked in interviews, you'll understand why they couldn't help but react. From creepy queries about underwear and favorite positions, to unwelcome questions about sexuality and violence, these are the most cringe-worthy things reporters have asked during interviews.

'Do you have advice for going nude?'

If you're going to ask an actor for advice on going nude in a movie, you'd better be certain that said movie actually has a nude scene in it. When Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader dropped by a local Denver morning show to promote 2014's "The Skeleton Twins," host Chris Parente confused the comedy-drama with Wiig's film, "Welcome to Me," in which she walked naked through a casino full of strangers for a scene. The reporter created a super awkward atmosphere when he came out with: "Kristen, 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?"

An understandably confused Wiig slowly repeated the question, which appeared to rile Parente. "You do it in the film," he insisted (twice), to which Wiig replied: "Not this film!" Hader cracked a joke about him being the one with the nude scene and the awkwardness appeared to be over, though Wiig couldn't help but take a cheeky shot at Parente a few minutes later, pointing out that he clearly "has not seen" the movie. 

Believe it or not, "Do you have advice for going nude?" wasn't even the most bizarre question that Wiig and Hader faced while promoting their Sundance hit. That would have to be: "Would you rather have permanent Dorito dust fingers or permanent Kool-Aid mustache?"

'Do you have the word "skanky" in America?'

From the comedy clubs of Atlanta to the stages of Stockholm, Amy Schumer has history when it comes to dealing with hecklers in savage fashion, and she's been known to bite back when rubbed up the wrong way during interviews, too. When she sat down with an Australian radio show to promote her 2015 movie, "Trainwreck," the comedian and actor got into an awkward mud-slinging match with the co-host, Matt Tilley. It all started when Tilley asked, "Do you have the word 'skanky' in America?"

Schumer wrote "Trainwreck" and the character she plays in the movie (Amy) is "pretty autobiographical," she told ABC News, so it's hardly surprising that she took the question to heart. "We do have that word — what made you think about your mom?" Schumer fired back after the "skanky" comment. Tilley attempted to laugh the whole thing off, suggesting that the actor was being a little too sensitive. "C'mon, that's the character in the movie," he said. "I'm not trying to offend you!"

He had offended her, however. Tilley's co-host clearly wasn't comfortable with his line of questioning and tried to move the interview on, but Schumer was determined to put the rude reporter in his place. "Whatever you're trying to do, you are," the Emmy winner said. "That's a rude question." In a strange way, the cringe-worthy interview was the perfect advert for the movie — it was an absolute trainwreck.

'How many people think you can solve calculus at the drop of a hat?'

Star of "The Big Bang Theory" Mayim Bialik left a couple of red carpet reporters with red faces at the Screen Actors Guild Awards in 2014. Fans of the show know that Bialik is just as smart as her character (she received offers from both Harvard and Yale as a teen and went on to earn a PhD in neuroscience from the University of California), but the pair interviewing her had no idea, which made the following question pretty awkward: "How many people think that you can solve calculus at the drop of a hat?" 

Bialik's answer was somehow graceful and brutal at the same time. "I actually was trained in calculus for several years," she explained. "I'm a neuroscientist. So, you may not have known that." Flustered, the reporter who asked the question came back with, "I knew you were some kind of scientist, not a neuroscientist," which prompted a number of Pinocchio-face emojis in the comments section of the YouTube video

That wasn't the end of the cringe-fest, either. The second reporter attempted to step in and save the day, but she only succeeded in making matters worse. "A little tidbit for all the audience here tonight, she is actually a neuroscientist," she chimed in. "She's been planning for this role her whole life." But that's not exactly true, and Bialik couldn't help but point this out, adding: "Well, just for 12 years."

'Do you ever worry about your moment having passed?'

Reality stars often get a good grilling when they sit down for interviews with journalists (who can forget the time Barbara Walters told the Kardashians that they "don't have any talent"), but Paris Hilton clearly wasn't prepared to face a hard line of questioning when ABC's "Good Morning America" stopped by her home in 2011. In fact, it was the mention of the Kardashians that kickstarted the cringe-fest. Kim Kardashian was once seen as an underling of Hilton, who clearly wasn't happy when correspondent Dan Harris asked, "Do you worry at times that the people who have followed in your footsteps, like Kim Kardashian, are overshadowing you?"

Of course, Hilton had her team present at the interview, and the hotel heiress shot a glance in her publicist's direction as soon as she realized where this was going. Harris continued, however, adding, "Do you ever worry about your moment having passed?" At this point, she'd had enough. A visibly ruffled Hilton brought the interview to a swift halt, walking off camera to consult with her panicked publicist. 

A few moments later, Hilton returned to Harris and said: "I've been in this business for 15 years now, so it's been a very long time, and just like any other businessperson or someone in the industry, it's always important to reinvent yourself and come up with new projects." Hilton's career as an actor never took off, but she can clearly memorize lines pretty quickly.

'What's your favorite position?'

Unlike fellow reality star Paris Hilton, Lauren Conrad didn't need the help of her publicist when she found herself facing a cringe-worthy question during an interview. When the former star of MTV's "The Hills" appeared on "Sway's Morning Show" to promote her book, "Celebrate," in 2012, she was asked to play a game called "Mystery Sack," in which guests pull questions out of a hat. There was a record-scratch moment in the studio when Conrad read her question ("What's your favorite position?") out loud, but she flipped the script with a totally boss answer. She said: "CEO."

Conrad received an enthusiastic high-five from Sway, who was clearly blown away by her wit and sense of humor. "I like that!" the host said. "Yes, yes, yes! ... CEO, that was dope!" The bit quickly went viral, with Conrad getting major props for her off-the-cuff comeback ("Ask a smart woman a dumb question and you're likely to get an amazing answer," said PopCrush). 

Sway, on the other hand, came in for some major criticism, which Conrad wasn't at all happy about. "I felt really bad because people thought that he asked me, and he didn't, I like drew it out of a hat," she later told SiriusXM. "So I felt bad for him, but he's very nice, very respectful of women."

'Were you able to wear undergarments?'

Getting asked the same question multiple times is never fun for a celebrity, especially when that question is as intrusive as the one reporter Jerry Penacoli posed to Scarlett Johansson during a promotional interview for 2012's "The Avengers." When Johansson and co-star Jeremy Renner (Clint Barton, a.k.a. Hawkeye) sat down with Extra to discuss the much-hyped Marvel movie, she found herself once again answering questions about her underwear. "Were you able to wear undergarments?" asked Penacoli, alluding to the fact that Johansson wears a "skin-tight" outfit in the film. The look on Renner's face as Penacoli stretched out the word "undergarments" was priceless — he clearly knew that the reporter was in for a tongue-lashing from his co-star.

"You're like the fifth person that's asked me that today," Johansson said. "What is going on? Since when did people start asking each other in interviews about their underwear?" The unimpressed actor proceeded to cut Penacoli off as he launched into an awkward explanation, saying, "I'll leave it up to your imagination. Whatever you feel like I should be wearing or not wearing under that costume." 

The cringe-fest continued when Johansson suggested that Penacoli take his question to director Joss Whedon. "I did," the reporter said, to which the Black Widow actor replied: "You asked Joss what kind of underwear he wears? What kind of an interview is this?" It wasn't the last time Scarlett Johansson shut down a sexist comment.

'Did you get a lot of reaction to that Super Bowl commercial?'

According to Laurence Fishburne, reporters have been mixing him up with Samuel L. Jackson for decades. In 2014, the actor told The Guardian that it's been going on "for 25 years even though we don't look anything alike." He went on to thank Jackson for calling one TV news anchor out over this in what's become known as one of the most cringe-inducing celebrity interviews of all time. While chatting to Jackson for KTLA in February 2014, reporter Sam Rubin asked the actor whether he'd got "a lot of reaction to that Super Bowl commercial" he did, to the sheer horror of everyone watching at home. Of course, it was Fishburne who starred in said Super Bowl commercial, not Jackson.

Fishburne reprised his famous role from "The Matrix" for the ad, so there's really no excuse for this embarrassing mix-up. "We may be all Black and famous, but we all don't look alike," Jackson said. "You're busted! You're the entertainment reporter for this station, and you don't know the difference between me and Laurence Fishburne? There must be a very short line for your job." Rubin scrambled, apologized, and later admitted his mistake in a statement

Jackson later discussed the incident with Jimmy Fallon, who got a real kick out of the fact that the actor once wore a t-shirt with the words "I'm not Laurence Fishburne" printed on the front after the car crash interview.

'Do you find it hard for celebrities to talk to media about their sexuality?'

Tom Hardy has played several tougher-than-nails characters on screen, including the real-life London gangsters, Ronnie and Reggie Kray. Hardy portrayed both twins in the 2015 film, "Legend," which he discussed at length during a panel at the Toronto International Film Festival. The actor was more than happy to talk about the making of the movie and everything that went into playing the dual role, but when one reporter decided to broach the topic of his sexuality, things got cringe-worthy very quickly. "In the film, your character Ronnie is very open about his sexuality, but given interviews you've done in the past, your own sexuality seems a bit more ambiguous," the reporter said. "Do you find it hard for celebrities to talk to media about their sexuality?"

With an expression that lay somewhere between anger and astonishment, Hardy replied with a question of his own: "What on Earth are you on about?" When the reporter repeated their question, the Oscar nominee came back with, "I don't find it difficult for celebrities to talk about their sexuality. ... Are you asking me about my sexuality?" The reporter, who was clearly already regretting ever having asked the intrusive question, could only say, "Yeah, sure." 

Hardy's one-word response drew sniggers from those in the audience unable to keep a straight face. He simply asked, "Why?" The "Mad Max: Fury Road" star then shut the reporter down with a sarcastic, "Thank you."

'Are you just exhausted?'

From the look on her face, Cara Delevingne couldn't quite believe the question that came her way when she appeared on a local Sacramento morning show in 2015 to promote her movie, "Paper Towns." The writing was on the wall when the presenters opened the interview by asking Delevingne whether she'd bothered to read the book the film was based on, and it went downhill fast from there. They appeared to take a disliking to the Brit when she didn't mimic their high levels of enthusiasm, taking jab after jab at the star. Delevingne was taken aback when one compared the interview with a previous appearance in London where she seemed "a lot more excited" and then asked her, "Are you just exhausted?" Wow.

To her credit, the former model refused to bite. She simply said, "No, I'm still very excited. The premiere was last night, it was an emotional night." It could have ended there, but another host decided to have a shot at the actor, taking the cringe factor to a new level. "You do seem a bit irritated," the presenter said. "Perhaps it's just us." Delevingne, her patience wearing thin, came back with: "Yeah, I think it's just you." 

The second the interview ended, the hosts tore into their guest. "Oh wow, she was in a mood," one said, while another added, "You make $5 million for six weeks worth of work, you can pretend to talk to 'Good Day Sacramento' with some oomph."

'How were you able to get that cat to do what you wanted it to do on a leash?'

Cate Blanchett has never been afraid to call out the Hollywood press when she feels like they're acting inappropriately, and the results are often hilarious. The Aussie A-lister famously put E!'s "Glam Cam" on blast at the Screen Actors Guild Awards in 2014, asking the cameraman, "Do you do that to the guys?" after he zoomed in on her dress and slow-panned to her face. "Yes," came the off-camera answer, but it didn't make the interview any less uncomfortable. This incident pales in comparison to the unbearably awkward interview she gave the following year, however.

While promoting Disney's live-action remake of "Cinderella," Blanchett was almost lost for words when journalist Jonathan Hyla asked, "How were you able to get that cat to do what you wanted it to do on a leash?" Blanchett was quite clearly unamused, but Hyla failed to take a hint from the Oscar winner's expression and plowed on. "I tried putting my girlfriend's cat on a leash, and it just never works for me, so I thought maybe you could give me some tips."

An incredulous Blanchett shot a glance off-camera and then responded with: "That's your question? That's your f**king question?" Yikes. The actor proceeded to fake high-five the reporter and ended the interview. Hyla later tweeted, "Thanks to my new favorite person Cate Blanchett for what might have been the best worst interview."

'Why do you like making violent movies?'

If you've ever wondered where that "I'm shutting your butt down" meme came from, wonder no longer. This iconic line comes by way of Quentin Tarantino, who used it on Krishnan Guru-Murthy during one of the most uncomfortable interviews you'll ever see. Tarantino was only interested in promoting his revisionist Western flick, "Django Unchained" ("This is a commercial for the movie, make no mistake," he said once things got heated), but the Channel 4 reporter insisted on grilling his guest about his use of violence in his films.

It all started when Guru-Murthy asked, "Why do you like making violent movies?" It's a question Tarantino has faced on multiple occasions, and, as he pointed out in this interview, his views on movie violence are well-documented. Guru-Murthy persisted, however, asking the famous filmmaker, "Why are you so sure that there's no link between enjoying movie violence and enjoying real violence?" It was at this point that Tarantino lost it.

"I refuse your question," the visibly rattled Oscar winner said. "I'm not your slave and you're not my master. You can't make me dance to your tune. I'm not a monkey." When Guru-Murthy came back with a quote from Jamie Foxx about movie violence, Tarantino cut him off, saying, "You should talk to Jamie Foxx about that. And I think he's actually here, so you can." The back-and-forth continued for several minutes, even after Tarantino's famous "I'm shutting your butt down" line.

'You don't just go into work ... on your day off?'

Some reporters go down the serious and respectful route when it comes to interviewing a big star, while others opt to lighten the mood with some frivolities (see Alison Hammond's chat with Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling). When presenter Poppy Jamie sat down with Ben Kingsley to talk about the film, "Night at the Museum 3," in 2014, she proved a little too frivolous for the knighted actor. After arriving in a whirlwind and introducing herself by telling him that she'd just "demolished about four croissants," an obviously less-than-impressed Kingsley asked, "What was in the croissants?" The gag went straight over Jamie's head, forcing Kingsley to explain it. "I thought there might be drugs in the muffins," he added.

The interview went from crazy to cringey as the bewildered Kingsley answered questions, becoming more exasperated with each one. When he was asked who he enjoyed improvising with, a car crash exchange began. "I didn't improvise in the film," he said, to which Jamie responded, "But you watched the other cast members improvise?" At this point, Kingsley's patience is visibly wearing thin. "No, I didn't, I was in the studio within the scene — when I'm not in a scene in the film, I'm not on the film set. ... It's called a day off." 

Jamie then told Kingsley that if Rebel Wilson was on her team, she'd go to her office on her day off, to which Kingsley said: "He's not though, is he?" Awkward overload.

'Are you proud of all of this?'

Former "The Hills" co-stars Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt probably expected a little bit of blowback when they commenced a round of media interviews following their stint on "I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!" The couple raised a lot of eyebrows when they quit the show only to return, claiming that the devil made them do it. "We want to win everyone back," Montag said (via MTV News), but they only succeeded in making things worse at the camp. A few days later, they quit the show for a second time when Montag developed a mystery stomach issue. They quit three times in total.

The much-derided reality stars attempted to explain themselves to "Today" show host Al Roker, who was having none of it. Roker pressed the couple about their obnoxious behavior in the jungle, asking Montag multiple times, "Are you proud of all of this?" Montag later told MTV News, "I felt like he was attacking me personally, demanding an answer from me and being so strong with his voice. I'm a woman and I don't appreciate that. I had just woke up." 

Roker defended his harsh line of questioning to co-host Meredith Vieira, telling her, "They are so unused to people actually asking them a real question that they didn't know how to handle it." The couple also appeared on "The View," where Pratt claimed that he didn't even read the contract before signing up for the show.

'What kind of tree are you?'

They say you should never meet your idols, but Barbara Walters wasn't going to turn down the chance to interview a Hollywood legend when it came along in 1981. "I was on the set of the Broadway play, 'The West Side Waltz,' it starred the great Katharine Hepburn," Walters said of the interview, which would continue to haunt her for years to come. "We were having what I thought was a fascinating conversation, but for some reason, things took an odd turn." Why? Because of one bizarre question that took the interview from deep and insightful to awkward cringe-fest in an instant. 

"What kind of tree are you?" Walters blurted out, cutting Hepburn off mid-sentence. After thinking it over for a second, Hepburn replied: "I hope I'm not an elm with Dutch elm disease. I don't know. Because then I'm withering. ... Everybody would like to be an oak tree, that's very strong and very pretty." 

Walters has always defended herself over the incident (she pointed out that Hepburn compared herself to a steady tree just moments earlier, which is apparently what prompted her to ask the odd question), but she was never able to live it down. Johnny Carson famously brought it up during a sit-down with Walters, calling her out in hilarious fashion. "What kind of a question is that," the veteran late-night host joked, adding: "I'd like to be a tumbleweed."

'Are you a morning person?'

Retired soccer star Jermaine Jenas has worked his way from punditry to the green sofas of BBC's "The One Show," though he sometimes proves that he's still a little green himself when it comes to being a presenter. He put his foot in his mouth when he told co-host Alex Jones that he'd never heard of Carol Kirkwood (a veteran weather forecaster at the BBC, where Jenas is employed). "I haven't got a clue who that is," he admitted on air in 2021 (via The Sun). A few months after the Kirkwood gaffe, Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon appeared on "The One Show" via separate video links to promote their series, "The Morning Show."

Aniston discussed how she spent time at a real morning show during her prep, telling Jenas and co-host Zoe Ball that it was "a very vampire state of life." The cringing began when Jenas cut Aniston off with a question for Witherspoon, saying, "Jennifer pretty much sold it to me that she is not a morning person, so I am going to ask you, are you a morning person?" Unwilling to let the comment slide, Aniston did some interrupting of her own. "Did I sell that to you?" she asked Jenas, who replied, "A little bit." This prompted Aniston to ask, "Did I get a good deal?" 

Luckily, Witherspoon came to the rescue with a diplomatic answer: "I'm the morning person, and she's more of a night person, so it actually works out."