The Most Uncomfortable Celebrity Interviews Of This Past Decade

When a celebrity sits down for a one-on-one interview, it always seems harmless enough ... at first. Yet often these exchanges can go awry in a really bad way. If you're a celeb who has a sketchy past, for example, you definitely don't want to be asked about it while you're in the middle of a press junket — but that's precisely what some interviewers do. 

Regardless of how it goes down, there's a lot at stake for stars and interviewers alike. In the past 10 years, we've seen plenty of celebrity interviews take a nasty turn, ending in cursing, screaming, and blatant walkouts. While a lot of these stars "behaved badly" to protect their reputation, others — perhaps knowing the power of a good viral story — seemed to provoke their interviewers with a little taste of the unexpected.

No matter who wins this cat-and-mouse game, the atmosphere can be tense, to say the least. Here's a look back at some of the most uncomfortable, cringeworthy celebrity interviews of this past decade, just in time to ring in the New Year.

Bill O'Reilly stirs things up on The View

When conservative talk show host Bill O'Reilly came to sit on The View's couch in 2010, he didn't waste any time sharing his opinions on 9/11, as part of a promotional appearance for his book, Pinheads and Patriots. The appearance resulted in one of the show's most intense episodes. When O'Reilly took the position that it was "inappropriate" for a Muslim community center to be built near Ground Zero in New York City, Whoopi Goldberg asked him why, especially considering that "70 families who are Muslim" also lost loved ones in the tragedy. O'Reilly responded, "Muslims killed us on 9/11, that's why!" After the ladies uproared (with several words bleeped out), he then doubled down: "Muslims didn't kill us on 9/11? Is that what you're saying?"

"Extremists did that," Goldberg said with a pointed finger. Shortly afterward, Joy Behar stood up from her seat next to O'Reilly and said, "I don't want to sit here now." Goldberg then stood up with her and the two left the stage.

After Barbara Walters criticized them on-air for their exit, they returned. O'Reilly then apologized for the comment. All seemed well — until 2016, that is, when O'Reilly announced on his own show that he'd never appear on The View again because of Behar's claim that Donald Trump was unstable. "That's it," he said. "No more View for me."

You couldn't pay Fergie enough to stay in this interview

Australia's version of 60 Minutes knew exactly what it had on its hands when a 2011 interview with Sarah "Fergie" Ferguson, Duchess of York, took a turn for the worse. The problem arose after the show made Fergie re-watch the incriminating 2010 undercover footage that allegedly showed her offering to "open doors" to her ex-husband, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, in exchange for a £500,000 payment from a reporter posing as "an international business tycoon."

Though she didn't face legal repercussions, the fallout from the scandal included Fergie not getting an invitation to Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding or Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's nuptials and a lengthy lawsuit. It's not surprising Fergie didn't want to relive that moment it in front of the camera, so she stormed off the set. The show's producers capitalized on the moment by making it the centerpiece of its promo and billing it as "the weirdest interview you'll ever see."

In reality, Fergie eventually returned to the show and completed what her manager, John Scott, told The Telegraph was "a banal interview and her demeanour reflected that." Her handler described the showing of the undercover footage as an ambush and "entrapment," an allegation the program's executive producer, Hamish Thomson, scoffed at: "She agreed to talk about the issue, as she has already extensively done, so it certainly wasn't entrapment."

Wait a minute, Robert Downey Jr. was in prison?

Krishnan Guru-Murthy is a UK reporter who's increasingly made a name for himself as a button-pusher — and he got on Robert Downey Jr.'s bad side in 2015, causing the normally congenial star to abruptly end the interview and leave after repeated, extremely personal questions about his so-called "dark times." On his way out the door, Downey called Guru-Murthy a "schmuck." During a later Howard Stern appearance, the actor was less diplomatic when reliving the uncomfortable moment, calling Guru-Murthy a "syphilitic parasite" and a "clown."  

Yes, it is sometimes the job of a journalist to expose facts that the public needs to know, but it's basically common knowledge at this point that the Iron Man star has a checkered past that involves drug use and jail time. To add insult to injury, the tense interview with Guru-Murthy occurred during a press event for Avengers: Age of Ultron, during which the stars were reportedly allotted 5-10 minute slots with news outlets for the expressed purpose of promoting the film.

Now, obviously, we don't work for Marvel, but we're pretty sure the studio would rather have the tent-pole star of its cinematic universe talking about how cool it is to be Iron Man, instead of, say, that time he got arrested for heroin possession. Call it a hunch.

Never ever ask Quentin Tarantino about violence

Krishnan Guru-Murthy actually got off relatively light with Robert Downey Jr., because the journalist got himself pummeled with return fire back in 2013 from director Quentin Tarantino after attempting to draw a corollary between violent films — of which Tarantino has made many — and mass shootings. The interview took place during promotion for the director's Django Unchained, which has no shortage of violence. As Guru-Murthy repeatedly attempted to discuss a potential correlation, Tarantino simply declared, "And I'm shutting your butt down." 

For his part, Tarantino made it abundantly clear that he'd already spoken on the subject at length since the start of his career, and that his only intention for Guru-Murthy's interview was to sell his movie. We're pretty sure if you reached into Tarantino's back pocket at that moment, you'd see that his wallet had Bad Mo — well, you know where we're going with that.

Jesse Eisenberg takes sarcasm to new heights

While promoting Now You See Me in 2013 — the movie that tried to make fedora-wearing magicians look like social revolutionaries — Jesse Eisenberg sat down with Romina Puga for a segment of her show, Say My Name. He must have somehow thought he was back on the set of The Social Network because he was in full Zuckerberg mode, rapid-firing insulting quips and japes at his interviewer, even encouraging Romina to cry after they were done by saying, "You are like the Carrot Top of interviewers." At first, their banter seemed playful, and maybe even an attempt at wry humor, but in the course of just under three minutes, Eisenberg ended up looking like a bully. Puga even edited the segment to end with her saying, "You're such a jerk." 

Folks wondered it was a failed gag or an actual train wreck of an interview. Puga answered that question with a Tumblr post that confirmed Eisenberg was, indeed, "not very nice." She wrote, "When the five minute 'interview' (more like self-esteem butchering) were [sic] finally over I went behind a curtain to wait for the memory cards from the interview. I peeked around the curtain to ask Jesse about his neighborhood in New York (he lives a few blocks from where I used to live) and he immediately says, 'You're still here?'"

Yeesh, he was supposedly still acting like that off-camera? Not a good sign.

When Mike Tyson calls you a piece of s**t, run

Canadian news anchor Nathan Downer found himself in a tough situation in 2014 after he enraged Mike Tyson with a question about his shady past. Citing the controversy surrounding Tyson's meeting with disgraced Toronto mayor Rob Ford, Downer asked Tyson if he thought people had a problem with it because Tyson is a "convicted rapist."

Tyson treated the question like it was Evander Holyfield's ear, which is to say that he latched on and didn't let go. His promoter, seated beside him, gamely tried to diffuse the situation, but a clearly incensed former heavyweight champ interrupted with this observation about Downer: "You know, it's so interesting, because you come across like a nice guy but you're really a piece of s**t." The cursing escalated from there, despite Downer's warning that they're on live TV. "I don't care, what are you going to do about it?" Tyson responded. Downer stopped the interview a minute later amid another hail of obscenities. Downer thanked Tyson for his time, to which the boxer replied, "F**k you."

Amazingly, Downer later tweeted, then deleted (via the New York Post): "No ill will toward Mike Tyson. He lashed out at me and that's okay. Not taking it personally."

Joan Rivers gets tired of all the 'negative' questions

The late comic Joan Rivers was legendary for speaking her mind, and a testy 2014 interview with correspondent Fredricka Whitfield for CNN's News Room captured her in true form doing just that. Rivers was appearing to discuss her book Diary of a Mad Diva, but things got off to a shaky start with Whitfield calling Rivers' work on Fashion Police "mean" and noting the "shock value" of the cover of Rivers' book (in which Rivers appears wearing a fur coat).

Rivers pushed back right away, asking Whitfield whether she was wearing leather shoes and telling her to "shut up." Rivers then told Whitfield that she was "negative" and "not the one to interview a person who does humor," and stormed out of the interview. A befuddled Whitfield was left alone on screen, asking, "Are we serious?" Yep, we are.

Rivers later explained to The Wrap that she felt justified in ending the interview. "[Whitfield] did not seem to understand we were talking about a comedy book and not the transcripts from the Nuremberg Trial," she said. "Every question was an accusatory one designed to put me on the defensive."

Samuel L. Jackson: 'I'm not Laurence Fishburne!'

It seems Samuel L. Jackson stole a page right out of Joan Rivers' playbook in 2014: When an interviewer shows you disrespect, you immediately return the favor. When Jackson stopped by KTLA morning news to promote Robocop, reporter Sam Rubin couldn't wait to ask him all about his career. The problem was, he confused Jackson with another African-American actor, Laurence Fishburne. Right after asking Jackson about his "Superbowl commercial" and seeing the confused look on Jackson's face, he realized his flub and apologized for the mix-up.

Jackson, of course, didn't let this go by without totally taking him down. The whole thing was terribly awkward, with Jackson at one point saying to Rubin, "You're the entertainment reporter for this station, and you don't know the difference between me and Laurence Fishburne?" Rubin sputtered apologies and later ended the interview by saying, "I'm probably going to get spanked in the most extraordinary way, with good reason." 

A month later, however, Jackson still wouldn't let it go, tweeting a photo of himself wearing a shirt saying, "I'm not Laurence Fishburne." Fishburne himself, however, said that it was a common mistake — and just like how people used to confuse Dustin Hoffman and Al Pacino back in the day, "It's not a bad problem to have."

Chelsea Handler ferociously takes down Piers Morgan

Comedian and talk show host Chelsea Handler isn't one to hold back, and she certainly pulled no punches during a 2014 interview on Piers Morgan's now-defunct CNN show when she literally told the British host, "You're a terrible interviewer."

During the awkward but curiously amicable interview, Handler repeatedly slagged Morgan over everything from his lack of attention span, to his unfunny Twitter presence, to his decision to end the whole thing by showing her footage of controversial news figure George Zimmerman signing autographs at a gun show. "Thanks for ending on such a high note," she said, before sarcastically telling Morgan, "You're so handsome." 

As if the entire interview wasn't cringeworthy enough, the whole thing was overshadowed by the fact that it had already been announced one month prior that Morgan's show was being cancelled. Handler brought that up, too. When Morgan claimed he only stops paying attention to his guests when they're uninteresting, Handler quipped, "Well, maybe that's why your job is coming to an end."

Kanye West: 'Slavery was a choice!'

How do we not include the "slavery was a choice" interview? That's right, for those of you living in caves, Kanye West went on TMZ Live in 2018 in an attempt to explain his experiment with "free thought," a concept he was practicing on his Twitter account. During the chaotic, stream-of-consciousness interview, which you can watch here if you have 30 minutes and a handy supply of Excedrin, West mused on everything from "mental imprisonment," to his liposuction procedure and resulting opioid addiction, to the aforementioned slavery remark. 

His exact quote from the headline-making interview was: "When you hear about slavery for 400 years — for 400 years? That sound like a choice. Like, you was there for 400 years and it's all of y'all?" The statement was so objectively outrageous, a TMZ staffer named Van Lathan called West out on the spot.

Afterward, the rapper took to Twitter to clarify his remarks. In a series of since-deleted tweets, West attempted to explain that he was referring to "mental enslavement." In a tweet from that batch that remains live, he wrote, "The universe has a plan. I knew that TMZ would be awesome." It certainly was. We're just not sure it was in the way West thought it was.

R. Kelly tries to clear the air, but instead loses it completely

After 20-plus years of lawsuits against him for alleged sexual abuse, singer R. Kelly agreed to sit down with journalist Gayle King in 2019 because he was "very tired of all of the lies." Yet, what transpired seemed to hurt his image even more.

King asked Kelly, "Have you ever had sex with anyone under the age of 17?" to which Kelly responded, "No." King later challenged him by saying, "I have to tell you, it's so hard to believe that based on ... what the women have said about you." Kelly started to look more agitated as he accused said women of "lying." At one point, Kelly even appeared to break down: "Quit playin.' I didn't do this stuff," he pleaded, thumping his chest. "This is not me. I'm fighting for my f**kin' life! Y'all killin' me with this s**t!" Kelly then stood up and started punching his fists in the air as King sat calmly. "Y'all just don't want to believe the truth!"

Obviously, this wasn't a good look for Kelly. Boston Globe columnist Renee Graham later tweeted, "Now we see exactly how #RKelly behaves when challenged by a woman." However, King said she never felt threatened, telling O, The Oprah Magazine, "I never thought he was going to hit me ... I was more worried that he was going to get up and leave."

Malik Yoba vehemently defends himself

When actor Malik Yoba showed up for an interview with The Root in September 2019, everything seemed nice and friendly — until the interviewer brought up one topic. According to the publication, a transgender woman took to Facebook earlier that month, accusing Yoba of soliciting underage trans sex workers, and rumors had started to fly about Yoba's history with the trans community. When The Root interviewer decided to ask about the allegations, that's when everything hit the fan.

When asked for his thoughts on the trans sex workers who accused him of fetishizing the community, Yoba denied any knowledge. As the interviewer pressed further, Yoba became more upset, saying to the reporter, "You and I sat for four hours the other day, and we decided how we were going to approach this." At one point, the interviewer replied, "We are recording, and the more you talk, the worse it looks for you."

"What did you just say?" Yoba responded, leaning forward in his chair. Later, Yoba claimed, "It's a setup. I don't like this. We said that we were going to focus on policy. And you're staying on allegations, homey ... What the f**k is wrong with you?" Yoba ripped off his microphone during the rant and demanded the crew give him the cameras' SD cards, but they refused. He later made another video refuting the accusations in the form of a freestyle rap.