Stars who fired back at their interviewer on live TV

Interviewing celebrities isn't always easy, neither for the interviewer nor for the stars themselves. It can be tricky to come up with questions that an actor or musician hasn't already answered 40 million times previously, and sometimes out-of-the-box inquiries about movies, television, and music can get everyone involved into trouble, too.

Female celebrities often fall into traps of being asked about their outfits and their bodies, which many interpret (and sometimes rightfully so) as being misogynist and insensitive. Stars of both sexes often fall victim to personal questions about their private lives or dark pasts that they've tried to bury or move beyond. Others take technical difficulties to new heights, either exploding into tantrums or talking smack into a microphone they don't realize is on.

Whether it's rude questions about a celebrity's body, bringing up personal (and sometimes criminal) subjects a star would rather avoid, trite questions riddled with sexism, or just poor manners, these stars all made it quite clear when they'd had enough — and they let their interviewers know it in a big way.

Jerry Seinfeld

Larry King interviewed Jerry Seinfeld in 2007 and asked a pretty dopey question about Seinfeld — but the comedian's reaction was a bit over the top and rude, all things considered.

"They didn't cancel you, you canceled them?" King asked.

An incredulous Seinfeld replied, "You're not aware of this?"

"No, I'm asking you," King said.

"You think I got canceled?" Seinfeld said. "Are you under the impression that I got canceled? I thought that was pretty well-documented. Is this real CNN? I was the No. 1 show on television, Larry! Do you know who I am? Seventy-five million viewers last episode!"

King did the best that he could to keep the interview going, but Seinfeld was pretty peeved.

"Don't take it so bad," King urged.

"Well there's a big difference between being canceled and being No. 1," Seinfeld griped. "Geez! Can we get a resume in here for me that Larry can go over?"

Tom Hardy

While promoting Legend (2015), a movie in which Tom Hardy stars as bisexual gangster twins Ronnie and Reggie Kray, at the Toronto International Film Festival, Hardy wasn't happy with a reporter who asked about his real-life sexuality.

"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 interviewer said. "Do you find it hard for celebrities to talk to the media about their sexuality?"

"What on Earth are you on about?" Hardy asked.

The interviewer clarified that he was referring to a previous magazine interview Hardy had done years prior.

"I don't find it difficult for celebrities to talk about their sexuality," Hardy said. "Are you asking me about my sexuality?"

"When the interviewer said, "Sure," Hardy asked, "Why? And then puts an end to that reporter's question with a mic drop of a "Thank you."

Hardy later reflected on that viral moment in an interview with the Daily Beast. "That was a public forum, and for someone to inelegantly ask a question that seemed designed entirely to provoke a reaction ... It's important destigmatizing sexuality and gender inequality in the workplace, but to put a man on the spot in a room full of people designed purely for a salacious reaction? To be quite frank, it's rude ... There's also nothing ambiguous about my sexuality, anyway. I know who I am."

Anne Hathaway

When promoting The Dark Knight Rises (2012), Anne Hathaway wasn't impressed with one particular interviewer's line of questioning about her preparation for the role of Selina Kyle (Catwoman). 

Extra interviewer Jerry Penacoli asked Hathaway, "You're in phenomenal shape. You're always in great shape, but you had to make sure you were in perfect shape for this one, didn't you?"

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

"What was that suit like?" Penacoli asked. "It had to be comfortable to wear, but it looked like it was so form-fitting. Was it?"

"It was form-fitting. I mean, it's not a pair of sweatpants, I wouldn't describe it as that kind of comfortable," she replied.

He continued to ask about her body.

"When you found out you were going to play Catwoman, is there a certain regimen you put yourself through in terms of the diet, the workout — what is the feline fitness regime?"

"It's all the boring stuff that no one ever wants to do," Hathaway said flatly. "It's just watch what you eat and get yourself to the gym. Are you trying to lose weight? What's the deal man, you look great! No, seriously. We have to talk about this. What do you want? Are you trying to fit into a catsuit?"

Well played, Hathaway.

Scarlett Johansson

Jerry Penacoli struck again on Extra in a May 2012 interview with Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner to promote The Avengers (2012). He opened the segment by asking Johansson, "Were you able to wear undergarments?"

"You're like, the fifth person who's asked me that today," she said. "What is going on? Since when do people just start asking each other in interviews about their underwear?"

A laughing Penacoli replied, "Because it is such a skintight..." Johansson cut him off at the pass, telling him, "I'll leave it up to your imagination. Whatever you feel like I should be or should not be wearing under that costume."

Penacoli asked her, "Is it inappropriate?"

"To ask someone what kind of underpants they wear?" an incredulous Johansson said.

"I didn't ask you what kind," Penacoli snapped.

"You asked me if I was wearing any," Johansson said.

Soon Renner and Penacoli began mansplaining that he simply asked what she wore underneath, to which an exasperated Johansson replied, "Overalls. Dungarees. You can't wear clothes under it! It's like a wetsuit, practically ... Okay, maybe it's a little more than a wetsuit. Was I wearing underwear? I mean, gosh. Ask Joss [Whedon]."

"I did," laughed Penacoli.

"You asked Joss what kind of underwear he wears?" ScarJo scoffed. "What kind of interview is this?"

We're guessing Penacoli didn't really ask Whedon about his underpinnings, but the jury is still out. Underwear seems to be this guy's thing.

Mike Tyson

In September 2014, CPTV24 anchor Nathan Downer asked Mike Tyson about a meeting the boxing legend had with then-Toronto mayor Rob Ford. Downer asked Tyson lightheartedly, "So how did that happen, this meeting with the mayor?"

Tyson said, "I have no idea ... He's the biggest celebrity [out of] everybody in the city. Everybody wants to see the mayor. He's a really dynamic character."

"Some of your critics would say there is a race for mayor. We know you're a convicted rapist. This could hurt [Ford's] campaign," Downer said. "How would you respond to that?"

Tyson replied, "You're the only one I heard say that ... I don't have [a] comment to that because it's negative and you're being negative." Tyson added, "It's interesting, because you come off as a nice guy, but you're actually a piece of s**t. F**k you, that was a piece of s**t."

Downer noted, "You know, we're doing live TV." 

Tyson replied, "I don't care. What are you going to do about it?"

Downer changed the subject, asking if it's more nerve-wracking to perform in a show or to box. Tyson grumbled, "It's more nerve-wracking for me to be here talking to a rat piece of s**t like you."

The National Post reported that the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council later ruled that the network violated ethics standards by continuing the broadcast after Tyson's first use of profanity during a daytime program. Downer said in a since-deleted tweet that he didn't take Tyson's outburst personally.

Solange Knowles

In 2008, Solange Knowles embarrassed herself on TV because she believed someone asked her about Jay-Z selling his 40/40 Club in Las Vegas ... except, well, no one did.

Host Monica Jackson introduced Knowles with, "Ashlee Simpson stepped out of her big sister's shadow to become a star, and now Solange Knowles, who has a very famous sister as well, is launching her own unique music career."

"Good morning. I have to say, that was not a very professional introduction before," Knowles said. "Please don't tie me into family and my brother-in-law's establishment."

"Ok, well, we do apologize, but I don't know if we talked about your brother-in-law's establishment," Jackson said.

"No no no, I'm talking about just a few minutes ago," she said, to which a man offscreen quipped, "That wasn't live, Solange. That wasn't on TV."

The rest of the interview went smoothly, but the network's anchors ripped into Knowles afterward.

"No wonder Solange Knowles isn't the famous sister," anchor Dave Hall said later. "Apparently [her] publicist told Monica she was only allowed to talk about Beyonce's little sister's new album and not the drama with the 40/40 Club. Monica didn't bring it up during the interview, but things still got a little awkward ... She was promoting her new album, whatever it's called, nobody cares. It's gonna be in stores, not that any of you care. What a little brat ... Quit gravy training off your sister and get your own career."

Tony Danza

Tony Danza didn't realize he was on the air via satellite when he began talking smack about a news show ... while on that news show.

"You know what I hate about being on these things? You end up on those news shows," Danza said during the 1998 interview. "And those news shows are terrible."

His interviewer tried calling his name to get his attention to no avail.

"I'm telling you, I just realized it because I'm hearing the news show in background," he said. "You always think you're doing one of those 'Good Morning' shows, but this is one of those news shows. I'm telling you, this is crazy. I don't want to do this. I'm gonna be part of the local news, how exciting."

The interviewer tried again, but Danza just sipped his coffee and grumbled, "I'm having second thoughts about this. Right after murder and mayhem and the rescue in California, Tony Danza. I'm so excited."

His interviewer then went from being amused to visibly irritated. "Tony, can you hear me now? We're going to start the interview now. No more murder and mayhem, just an interview about your movie."

Danza, not looking the least bit remorseful or embarrassed, replied, "Oh, you heard me, huh? Don't you feel a little bit like that's what you do? You know, not for nothing. It's not just me who thinks that, is it? "

The interviewer gave a tight-lipped smile and replied, "That's just how I make my living."

Rashida Jones

At the 2015 Screen Actors Guild Awards, TNT's red carpet reporter, Danielle Demski, stopped Angie Tribeca star Rashida Jones for a chat ahead of the show. It began innocuously enough, with everyone complimenting Jones on her beauty and Jones discussing her Emmanuelle Ungaro gown. It got cringe-worthy, however, when Demski commented on Jones' skintone.

"You look amazing — gorgeous! You look like you've just come off an island or something," Demski said. That's not so bad, but then she added, "You're very tan, very tropical."

Jones, the biracial daughter of African-American music legend Quincy Jones and caucasian actress and former model Peggy Lipton, was understandably a little baffled at the clueless comment. She told Demski, "I mean, you know, I'm ethnic."

Demski, laughing to perhaps keep from crying, said through a toothy grin, "It's just being ethnic. That's all it is!"

Uh, awkward.

Mel Gibson

Mel Gibson gave an early morning interview with WGN TV's Dean Richards in 2010 that went off the rails. The interview began pleasantly enough, but when Richards asked the Australian actor about his controversial hiatus from the spotlight.

"Do you feel like you're a different person, maybe a better person, than you were five years ago, four years ago, given everything we've read about you? You've gone through a lot of ups and downs the last five years," Richards said.

"Oh yeah, four, five years? It's been a real rollercoaster," Gibson said, barely concealing an eyeroll. "I think I'm the same person I always was ... People as they go, time teaches ... You learn as you go."

Richards asked, "Do you think that the public will perceive you any differently after all that's been in the news about you?"

Gibson said with a faux chuckle, "What are you referring to?"

"The drinking problem, referring to what's been called the anti-Semitic rant, all those things — you know what I'm talking about," Richards said.

"That's almost four years ago, dude," Gibson said. "I've moved on. I guess you haven't."

"I'm just wondering if you think that the public has moved on and will perceive you in the same light," Richards reiterated.

"I certainly hope so," Gibson said. "It is a while back and I've done all the necessary mea culpas, so let's move on, dude."

The pair then ended the interview politely ... until Gibson snuck in a profanity after his farewell.

Laverne Cox

In a January 2014 interview on her short-lived daytime talk show, Katie Couric asked transgender model Carmen Carrera, "Was the whole process painful, physically, for you?" and "Your private parts are different now, aren't they?"

Laverne Cox, who accompanied Carrera on the interview, gently told Couric, "I think that the preoccupation with transition with surgery objectifies trans people, and then we don't really get to deal with the real, lived experiences. The reality of trans people's lives is that so often we're targets of violence. We experience discrimination disproportionately to the rest of the community. Our unemployment rate is twice the national average, if you're a trans person of color it's four times the national average. The homicide rate in the LGBT community is highest among trans women. If we focus on transition, we don't actually get to talk about those things."

Couric later addressed that episode in an interview with the Daily Beast: "When some people were very critical, of course it hurt me I felt terrible ... 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. 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 ... I think that I made a mistake, and I wanted to make sure that people knew that I recognized I made a mistake."

Kanye West

In 2010, Kanye West appeared on Today to discuss his infamous remark about George W. Bush's response to Hurricane Katrina, in which Yeezy infamously said, "George Bush doesn't care about black people." Bush later went on to call it "one of the most disgusting moments of my presidency."

Matt Lauer interviewed West to get his response to Bush's remarks. The rapper began by expressing kindness and empathy towards the former president in a calm demeanor. However, when Lauer had producers show West a video of Bush's segment, West grew miffed.

"You know, I didn't need you guys to show me the tape to prompt my emotions or whatever," he said. "Pre-looking at his face, I came here because I wanted to say something to him right after the fact. I only get to do TV stuff. This is reality ... I don't need all the jazz." He then asked someone out of frame to "please be quiet for a second."

Lauer and West then discussed his infamous 2009 MTV Video Music Awards stage-crashing that led to his ongoing feud with Taylor Swift. While he didn't seem upset that Lauer brought up the incident, he was annoyed that they played a clip of it while he was speaking. "How am I supposed to talk if you're gonna run this thing in the middle while I'm talking? I'm hearing it while I'm trying to talk," he said. "Please don't let that happen again. It's ridiculous."

Jennifer Lawrence

At the 2016 Golden Globes, Jennifer Lawrence, typically a press favorite, left a bad taste in journalists' mouths when she called out a reporter for looking at his phone while speaking to her.

"You can't live your whole life behind your phone, bro," she cracked. "You can't do that, you've got to live in the now." The reporter apologized, then continued his question, asking, "How do you see yourself for Oscar night?"

Instead of answering the question, she snapped, "We're at the Golden Globes. If you put your phone down, you'd know that."

Lawrence was criticized as being insensitive and rude when the moment went viral because the reporter spoke with a thick accent, leading many to believe he may have been looking at translations on his phone if English was his second language. She eventually did answer the reporter's questions, and the reporter, who hasn't been identified, could be heard laughing during the exchange. Some reports claimed the reporter was actually trying to take cell phone photos of Lawrence at the time of the exchange.

Anne Hathaway later came to Lawrence's defense, writing on Facebook: "It's become pretty clear that the Jennifer Lawrence 'scolding' was taken out of context and that she was dryly joking with a journalist who was indeed using his phone to take photos of her. Let's not continue the sad but common practice of building people — especially women — up just to viciously tear them down when we perceive them to have misstepped."

Matt Damon

At a Save Our Schools rally in Washington, D.C. in August 2011, a reporter from Libertarian outlet Reason.tv asked Matt Damon — whose mother is a teacher and was standing right next to him — if he thinks he works harder as an actor than teachers do because he isn't guaranteed job security. And the movie star made it very clear what his feelings were.

"You think job insecurity is what makes me work hard? I want to be an actor, it's not an incentive, that's the thing," he said. "It's the problem with [education] policy right now, this intrinsically paternalistic view of problems that are much more complex than that. It's like saying a teacher is going to get lazy when they have tenure. A teacher wants to teach. I mean, why else would you take a s***ty salary and really long hours and do that job unless you really love to do it?"

Just then, the cameraman quipped, "Aren't 10 percent of teachers bad? Ten percent of people in any profession should think of doing something else."

But Damon wasn't having it, telling him, "Then maybe you're a s***ty cameraman, I don't know."

Mila Kunis

Mila Kunis, who came to the United States from Ukraine as a child, is fluent in Russian. That skill came in handy when she was promoting Friends With Benefits (2011) with co-star Justin Timberlake in August 2011 and she decided to blast a reporter for asking a relatively innocuous question.

The reporter asked Timberlake in Russian at a press conference, "What brought you into movies? Why are you in movies?" Pretty harmless, right? Kunis asked for clarification, to which the reporter replied, "Many showbiz people move to movies and sometimes it's for the better, but why is Justin in movies?"

It didn't sound like the reporter meant to be shady, but perhaps her intent got lost in translation, and Kunis took offense to the question on Timberlake's behalf. She snapped back in Russian, "Wait, you're asking why he wants to be in movies? Well, what you rather have him do?" Timberlake began to speak, but Kunis cut him off, telling him, "Hold on." She then spoke to the reporter again, telling her, "Well, if he wants to make movies, and he can, why shouldn't he? What kind of question is that? Why are you here?"

A flustered Timberlake chuckled and pointed to Kunis following the exchange, telling the crowd, "This is my bodyguard."

Mariah Carey

In June 2017, Mariah Carey's former fiancée, billionaire James Packer, was being sought by Israeli police for questioning about illegal gift-giving, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. Packer himself wasn't being accused of any wrongdoing, but authorities reportedly were looking into vacation accommodations Packer may have provided to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

That same month, Carey was in Tel Aviv, Israel to promote a skincare line when a reporter decided to interrogate her about her ex's whereabouts and asked her about a dinner she and Packer had attended with Netanyahu.

She replied, "I was eating the food. They had some food there that was pretty good, I don't know ... I was just there because I was invited to a dinner ... There was conversation, food, dinner." When he pried and asked again where Packer was, she snapped ever-so-politely, "Please, darling, please! I don't [know] where the motherf**ker is. How am I supposed to know? I don't know, for real ... I don't know, he's somewhere doing something, whatever. I have no idea. I really have no idea about the political stuff that goes on. I don't pay attention to it."

Emma Thompson

Emma Thompson was all of us when she snapped on a Sky TV interviewer who asked her about the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in spring 2018.

"[There's] not a single thought about it in my head to share with you, I'm so sorry," Thompson said (via the Daily Mail). "I haven't even ... it doesn't occur to me actually, my son is getting married next year so I am much more sort of dealing with that but really I have nothing to say about it."

Fair enough ... except her interviewer wouldn't drop the darn subject and subsequently asked Thompson if she had any well-wishes for Harry and his Suits star bride on their big day.

"Obviously, yes, but I don't know them," the Love Actually star said, audibly and visibly irritated. "Of course I do ... Stop it, just stop it, OK? Stop doing the 'Let's talk about the royal wedding.' ... Just give the poor kids a break."

Mayim Bialik

The Big Bang Theory star Mayim Bialik walked the red carpet at the Screen Actors Guild Awards in 2014 and didn't hesitate to school an interviewer about her educational pedigrees — she's not just a smartypants on TV, she's also brilliant in real life, too, with her other gig as a neuroscientist. (Seriously, the woman is smart.)

When a reporter asked Bialik if she, like her onscreen persona Amy Farrah Fowler, could do calculus at the drop of a hat, she was almost baffled by what she perceived to be the stupidity of the question. "Um, I actually was trained in calculus for several years," she stammered. 

"Yeah, I'm a neuroscientist, so ... you may not have known that. I can do calculus," she assured. "I can do that. But yeah, I think people assume that of all of us. You don't have to have a PhD in neuroscience to be on our show. I promise."

Helen Mirren

In 1975, movie star Helen Mirren was subjected to what may have been one of the most sexist interviews ever with Michael Parkinson, who referred to her as a "sex queen." Parkinson told her, "You are, in quotes, a 'serious actress,'" to which she gently replied, "In quotes? How dare you?"

Then he asked if her "equipment" and "physical attributes" hindered her acting.

"I'd like you to explain what you mean by my 'equipment' in great detail," Mirren replied. "A successful and serious actress ... can't have big bosoms, is that what you mean?"

He then asked if her chest got in the way of audiences appreciating her craft.

"What a crummy performance if people are obsessed with the size of your bosom over anything else," she said. "I would hope that the performance and the play and the living relationship between all the people on the stage and all the people in the audience would overcome such boring questions."

Parkinson later asked her why she previously said she liked men with greasy hair and leather jackets, and she slayed him. "It's not so much that I like men who look like that — but I strongly dislike men who look in another way," she said, glancing at Parkinson's outfit. "Like men who wear very nicely cut suits."