The Most Awkward Live Interviews Ever

It's not often that we get a glimpse into celebrities' personal lives — although it doesn't stop us from trying. Whether it's who they're really dating or their favorite cereal, being in the spotlight somehow makes every aspect of an A-lister's life a topic of public interest. While some stars are an open book, others are more guarded regarding what they disclose to the rest of the world. Putting the rich and famous on a pedestal may make us think we have the right to know their personal life, but sometimes celebrities are quick to remind us that they are entitled to their privacy as well. 

As much as inquiring minds would like to know all the salacious details of some of our favorite celebrities' secrets, everyone has their limit. Many of those limits have been crossed, however, when talk show hosts and journalists have asked the questions many of us would be afraid to (or would never think twice about asking). 

While the "Me Too" movement shifted the tides in pop culture and made many people think twice about what is appropriate in today's society, there's a vault of celebrity interviews where hosts were not as well-informed. And it isn't just women subjected to the prying minds of television hosts and journalists — many male celebrities have stormed out of interviews over uncomfortable questions, too. In no particular order, we're breaking down the most awkward live interviews ever.

When Justin Bieber's nude photograph was brought up

Ellen DeGeneres has interviewed hundreds of celebrities, but how she gets the dirt on Hollywood's biggest stars is often questioned. Such was the case when she brought up Justin Bieber's nude paparazzi photograph taken in 2015. In a clip from "The Ellen Show," she grilled the popstar about a photo featuring him baring it all outside his Bora Bora bungalow.

The talk show host seemed to make fun of him and asked Bieber how he didn't notice the photographers, to which he replied, "I just didn't see them, I don't think I was really looking out for them either." DeGeneres went even further, asking, "When you think back on it now do you see where [the paparazzi] might have been?" 

Bieber shared that his manager Scooter Braun broke the uncomfortable news. "It was like a couple days later, Scooter hit me up and was like, 'Yo, I hate to tell you this but your penis is on the internet.'" Bieber took the awkward line of questioning in stride, joking that seeing the uncensored version of the photo "wasn't as bad as I thought it was gonna be." 

DeGeneres proceeded to ask about a woman in the background of the photograph seen in the bungalow, but Bieber admitted she was not his girlfriend. "You just brought a friend to Bora Bora and you're just naked with your friend?" Degeneres pressed. While the "Believe" singer made it through the interview, it's not every day a pop star has to reference their own privates in the process. 

Ellen DeGeneres grilled Taylor Swift on her exes

There's no question that many women in Hollywood are held to a different standard than men. Take pop icon Taylor Swift for example, who has often been called a serial dater and grilled on her ex-boyfriends and love interests. The "Red" artist has made a point to write about her breakups — but does that give the public the right to judge her for doing so? Swift certainly doesn't think so. "No one says that about Ed Sheeran. No one says that about Bruno Mars. They're all writing about their exes, their current girlfriends, their love life, and no one raises a red flag there," she said on 2dayFM's "Jules, Merrick and Sophie" show.

DeGeneres contributed to the chatter about the pop star's love life in 2013, much to Swift's dismay. When the Grammy award-winning artist sat down for an interview on "The Ellen Show," the conversation quickly shifted to the men in the singer's life. In the interview, DeGeneres asks Swift, "You were here with your boyfriend Zac Efron last time, how's he doing?" to which Swift replied, "We actually never dated." The talk show host immediately quipped back, "Yes, you did," continuing to try and pin her down for dating the "High School Musical" star. 

When Ellen then played a slideshow of photos featuring Swift with various male celebrities in the background, asking Swift to ring a bell whenever the picture showed a man she'd dated, Swift — visibly uncomfortable — said: "Do you know how bad this makes me feel?" and refused to ring the bell.

Mariah Carey had a miscarriage shortly after her appearance on 'The Ellen Show'

Mariah Carey was left with no choice but to confess a secret to millions when sitting down with Ellen DeGeneres in 2008. In a clip from "The Ellen Show," the "Always Be My Baby" singer's pregnancy was outed prematurely. The talk show host brought up rumors about Carey being pregnant, to which she laughingly replied, "I don't discuss that." DeGeneres then brought out the champagne, saying, "Let's toast to you not being pregnant!" Carey pretended to sip the bubbly while the host quipped: "You're pregnant!"

What was perceived to be a joke was a far harsher reality for the artist. Carey later revealed in a Vulture interview that she had a miscarriage shortly after the announcement on "The Ellen Show." "I was extremely uncomfortable with that moment is all I can say. And I really have had a hard time grappling with the aftermath," she revealed. Carey eventually went on to welcome twins with her ex-husband Nick Cannon three years after the interview. "I wasn't ready to tell anyone because I had had a miscarriage," Carey said of the interview. "I don't want to throw anyone that's already being thrown under any proverbial bus, but I didn't enjoy that moment." 

Looking back on the uncomfortable exchange, Carey admitted she wasn't granted the grace to come out with the news herself. "[There's] an empathy that can be applied to those moments that I would have liked to have been implemented. But what am I supposed to do?"

Ellen DeGeneres questioned Sofia Vergara's English skills

Ellen DeGeneres caught criticism from fans when she poked fun at actor Sofia Vergara's accent. The Colombian star sat down with DeGeneres on "The Ellen Show" in 2018 and the talk show host revealed to Vergara that she was attempting to learn Spanish. "I've been doing a Spanish word of the day, so I thought I would teach you an English word," Degeneres said, to which the "Modern Family" actor, seemingly confused, replied with a shrug: "Okay, I know English very well." The talk show host proceeded to present the actor with words to repeat, including the word "discombobulated." Vergara, unable to pronounce the word, was prodded to keep trying until her final attempt was met with DeGeneres joking, "That's not right!"

It wasn't the only time DeGeneres brought up Vergara's accent. In another clip from "The Ellen Show" that aired in 2017, DeGeneres mentioned a CoverGirl commercial she did with the actor, revealing that the producers gave the star harder lines to recite in the shoot. "She has such a hard time pronouncing any of the ingredients," the talk show host said. "They make her look pretty and me say the important information," Vergara joked during the show. 

After DeGeneres received backlash, Vergara tweeted she didn't see any harm in the interaction, and that she "was always in on the joke." Some fans didn't have a sense of humor about the topic, however, with one user tweeting, "Ur words are making it ok for people to make fun of people [with] accents #notajoke #shameful."

Howard Stern's comments about Anna Nicole Smith's weight

Most everyone (unless you live under a rock) knows it's rude to ask a woman about her weight. Howard Stern broke that cardinal rule, however, when he interviewed the late Anna Nicole Smith in 2002. In a clip from the "Howard Stern Show," Stern and his male coworkers joked about Smith and even made bets on her weight. At one point Stern said, "The way you dress I don't think you're aware that you're a heavy-set woman," to which Smith replied: "I know I'm a big woman, so what?" The talk show host repeatedly urged the model to prove him wrong by stepping on the scale, which she refused. "I'll show you my penis," Stern said, trying to convince Smith.

The interview was problematic, to say the least. While it was shot decades before the "Me Too" movement, viewers have since come out to bash Stern for his crude line of questioning. One user tweeted: "Stern should be fired for what he's done to women," with another writing: "These awful conversations were Howard's bread and butter."

The interview is by no means the only problematic skeleton in Stern's closet. Stern has also come under fire for a racist clip from 1993 where he's seen wearing blackface and using the n-word. The "SiriusXM" host has some regrets, however, admitting on his show (as shared by Deadline): "The sh*t I did was f*cking crazy ... I'll be the first to admit. I won't go back and watch those old shows; it's like, who is that guy."

When David Letterman sucked Jennifer Aniston's hair

David Letterman got up close and personal with Jennifer Aniston — and not just by interviewing her on his talk show. The host invaded the "Murder Mystery" actor's personal space and left viewers in shock. In a clip from a 1998 episode of "The David Letterman Show," Aniston was joking about running into her fans in a steam room. Letterman then lewdly asked her if she was naked at the time. 

He took things even further when he leaned in closely to Aniston and said, "Forgive me if this is rude, I just want to try one thing." After Letterman leaned in close to Aniston, while she is seen recoiling and squealing, he then grabbed a piece of the actor's hair and sucked on it, giving us a live television moment that was cringeworthy, to say the least.

When Letterman joked that the producers would edit out the clip, Aniston replied, "That was something I'll never forget," and admitted she was traumatized. While it seemed like tongue-in-cheek (or hair in saliva) humor at the time, Twitter users have had another look at the resurfaced clip and aren't laughing decades later. "This Jennifer Aniston interview on David Letterman in 1998 is still disgusting to watch," one user tweeted. "Can't get over how creepy and disturbing this clip of Jennifer Aniston on Letterman is," another wrote. While shock value may drive ratings — hair-sucking is not the traditional route.

David Letterman left Lindsay Lohan in tears

Lindsay Lohan has long been mocked for her stints in rehab and her past run-ins with the law. An interview with the star on "The David Letterman Show" in 2013 didn't exactly age well for that exact reason, with Letterman facing backlash after he seemed to have left the "Mean Girls" star in tears. Lohan was there to promote her film "Scary Movie 5" at the time, but the talk show host showed more interest in her personal life. 

In the clip, Letterman asks Lohan, "Aren't you supposed to be in rehab now?" with the star confirming she would be going in May of that year. "How many times have you been in rehab?" the host quipped back. After continuing to press Lohan about why she was going to seek treatment, Lohan responded: "We didn't discuss this in the pre-interview." The "Parent Trap" star continued to shut down questioning, even telling Letterman: "We've discussed this in the past," when he asked her if she had an alcohol problem. 

Lohan attempted to steer the interview away from her rehab stint by saying: "We're here for a movie, let's stay on the positive." Letterman then gave Lohan praise (despite having continued to bring up her faults) saying: "You have enough spine, enough sense of yourself, enough poise to come out here and talk to me." The "Falling for Christmas" star accepted the compliment while she seemed to wipe away a tear, jokingly grabbing her coffee cup and telling the host: "Oh, I thought this was going to be vodka."

Janet Jackson refused to talk about her wardrobe malfunction

It was the wardrobe malfunction seen around the world. Janet Jackson had an infamous nip-slip during the 2004 Super Bowl Halftime show while she performed alongside Justin Timberlake — and it's long been debated whether or not it was indeed an accident. Some viewers suggested that what looked to be an accidental exposure of Jackson's breast was actually a made-for-television set-up; either way, Jackson has paid the price for the accident ever since.

At the time, Jackson admitted she made a final change to the performance with Timberlake where he would rip her top to reveal a red bra at the song's end. Unfortunately, a garment malfunction meant he revealed a lot more. Though CBS made the singer release a public apology, she has long since maintained it was an accident.

Jackson was questioned about the incident shortly after it occurred during an appearance on "The David Letterman Show." When the host brought up the performance, the singer shut it down quickly. Letterman claimed she knew it was going to happen, which the "Scream" singer denied. When he continued to ask the singer how it all went down, she said: "Dave you're going to make me relive this? I want to put all that behind me." When he refused to take the hint, Jackson put her foot down by telling Letterman: "Can we talk about something else, please? I've had a day of interviews and I'm sure you guys are sick of hearing about it, I know I am. Ask me about something else." Ouch.

Dakota Johnson called out Ellen Degeneres for lying

Ellen DeGeneres is no stranger to being called out. After all, there was a public campaign to cancel the talk show host after reports surfaced that she had allegedly mistreated her employees. While "The Ellen Show" eventually ended shortly after the controversy in 2022, there were celebrities who were calling out DeGeneres long before her final season aired. 

Dakota Johnson called the talk show host out in 2019 when DeGeneres claimed she wasn't invited to the actor's birthday party. While appearing on "The Ellen Show," the host asked Johnson, "You turned 30. How was the party? I wasn't invited." The "Fifty Shades of Gray" star denied that, telling her, "Actually no that's not the truth Ellen you were invited." Johnson shared that she invited DeGeneres to the party after getting flak from the host for not inviting her to parties in the past. DeGeneres, however, decided not to show up. 

"This time you invited me?" DeGeneres asked, adding, "Are you sure? I don't think so." The actor doubled down on her claims, adding that the host could ask her producers if she wanted. When one piped up telling the host, "You were out of town," DeGeneres gave up the back-and-forth, saying, "Oh yeah, I had that thing," adding that the party's location in Malibu was too far for her to make the trip. One thing was clear from the awkward exchange — the host takes her party invites a little too seriously.

When Tom Cruise lost his cool over Nicole Kidman

Don't mention Tom Cruise's exes in an interview — because things could take a turn for the worse. The "Top Gun" actor lost it on Australian journalist Peter Overton during a "60 Minutes" interview in 2005 when Overton inquired about Cruise's ex-wife Nicole Kidman. The two actors met while filming "Days of Thunder" in 1990 and tied the knot later that year, but they later split up in 2001. 

Whether Cruise is harboring old feelings, or simply doesn't like to bring up the past, he wasn't thrilled when Overton asked: "Was Nicole the love of your life?" The actor was baffled by the question, responding, "How do you answer that question?" He went on to wish his ex-wife well but snapped at Overton when asked about his co-parenting and relationship with Kidman. "Listen here's the thing Peter," Cruise told the Australian native. "You're stepping over the line now. You're stepping over the line and you know you are." When the "60 Minutes" reporter admitted the public may want to know, Cruise quipped back: "You want to know. Take responsibility for what you want to know, don't say what other people [want to know]."  

The terse exchange wasn't pleasant to watch, with the Golden Globe award-winner ending the discussion by telling Overton to "put [his] manners back in." The journalist admitted in 2020 on the "Kyle and Jackie O" show that he still stands by the question. "I hold no ill will towards Tom, it was one of those moments," Overton said. 

Scarlett Johansson's uncomfortable interview

Scarlett Johansson wasn't having any sexist male commentary during an Extra TV interview in 2012. Johansson, who famously dons skin-tight outfits to play Black Widow in several "Avengers" films, was put off when a male asked her what she wore underneath the get-up while filming. He began by asking, "Now were you able to wear undergarments?" but the Tony award-winner cut him off mid-sentence, responding, "You're like the fifth person that's asked me that today." Johansson seemed shocked by the question, adding, "What is going on? Since when did people start asking each other in interviews about their underwear?"

The Extra TV reporter attempted to defend his question, admitting that it was "such a skin-tight outfit," but Johansson wasn't having it. "I'll leave it up to your imagination. Okay? Whatever you feel like I should be wearing or not wearing under that costume," she responded. The actor was less than thrilled with the line of questioning and called out the interviewer for his lack of tact, and for not treating her with the same respect as her male castmates: "What kind of interview is this?"

Fans stood up for the actor in response to the clip, with many deeming the behavior of the reporter unacceptable and sexist. "What gets me is that Chris Evans' Captain America suit was perhaps even tighter than the Black Widow catsuit yet I have never found an interview yet with someone asking him what he wore underneath. Yet Scarlett got that question a bunch of times," one user commented under the video.

Samuel L. Jackson was confused for another person

A major no-no for any reporter or talk-show show is getting your own interviewee confused with another person. Just ask Samuel L. Jackson, who was mistaken for fellow Black actor Laurence Fishburne in 2014. The mix-up occurred during a KTLA interview when the entertainment anchor Sam Rubin asked Jackson, "Did you get a lot of reaction to that Super Bowl commercial?" Rubin was reportedly referring to an ad that Fishburne starred in during that year's Super Bowl, but quickly realized his mistake. "What Super Bowl commercial?" Jackson asked, quickly realizing the reporter's mistake and calling him out. 

Though Rubin attempted to shrug off the confusion, the "Snakes on a Plane" actor wasn't having it. Pointing his finger at Rubin, Jackson said: "'You see, you're as crazy as the people on Twitter. I'm not Laurence Fishburne!" He then went on to call out the KTLA anchor, saying, "We don't all look alike! We may be all black and famous, but we all don't look alike." The actor questioned Rubin for not perfecting his craft, asking, "You're the entertainment reporter for this station? And you don't know the difference between me and Laurence Fishburne?"

Rubin later admitted that he had seen Jackson in a "Captain America" ad during that year's Super Bowl, but still took the blame for the mix-up. "I didn't bring that up and he gave me the shellacking that was well-deserved," Rubin said, adding that he apologized to the actor for the exchange.