While stars and those interviewing them are expected to behave pleasantly, it doesn’t always happen, leading to some of the most controversial celebrity interviews of all times.
Most recently, supermodel Cindy Crawford, 57, spoke out about how Oprah Winfrey, 67, made her feel like ‘chattel’ or ‘a child, to be seen and not heard’ when the TV host had her on the show back in 1986, when she was just 20 years old.
During the interview, Oprah asked the young model to show off her body, which Crawford now interprets as a moment where she had to prove her worth.
Oprah is heard introducing the stunning young model before she asks: ‘Did she always have this body? Stand up just a moment, now this is what I call a BODY.’
In the snippet, featured in The Super Models docuseries, Oprah is heard introducing the young model before she asks: ‘Stand up just a moment, now this is what I call a BODY’
Cindy made her first-ever appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show alongside her Elite Modeling Agency representative, John Casablancas
Reflecting on how she felt in that moment, Cindy admitted: ‘I was like the chattel or a child, to be seen and not heard.
‘When you look at it through today’s eyes, Oprah’s like, “Stand up and show me your body. Show us why you’re worthy of being here.”‘
The mom-of-two continued: ‘In the moment I didn’t recognize it and watching it back I was like, “Oh my gosh, that was so not okay really”. Especially from Oprah!’
Elsewhere in the clip, Oprah directed several questions towards John who spoke on Cindy’s behalf.
When Oprah quizzed John about whether the agency had to put the model through a ‘training period,’ he responded: ‘With Cindy, it was much more psychologically she was not sure she really wanted to model… little by little, her ambition is growing.
‘She’s getting a sense, and I’m saying it now on this program, if she wants to she can be number one in the business.’
Other celebrities have had a very similar experience to Crawford where an interviewer made them uncomfortable. However, some stars weren’t afraid to confront interviewers who made them feel uncomfortable — making for even more awkward moments.
From the bizarre moment David Letterman sucked on Jennifer Aniston’s hair to Taylor Swift crying on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, here are some of the most controversial celebrity interviews.
David Letterman sucks on Jennifer Aniston’s hair (1998)
Jennifer Aniston was reaching all-new highs with her career in 1998 when she appeared on the David Letterman Show
Aniston was reaching all-new highs with her career in 1998 when she appeared on the David Letterman Show.
She was known as being Rachel Green on Friends and emerged as America’s sweetheart – and behaved just as sweetly when Letterman began sucking on her hair during their interview.
Letterman has toed the line with his flirty comments to his female guests, but he may have crossed that line when he began sucking on Aniston’s hair on a resurfaced clip uploaded to Twitter.
‘Forgive me if this is rude. I just want to try one thing,’ Letterman says to her in the clip.
With one hand on her neck, Letterman continues regardless of Aniston’s clear discomfort.
‘That was something that I’ll never forget,’ Aniston said in the clip after the strange moment
The Picture Perfect star even screamed and recoiled.
‘That was something that I’ll never forget,’ Aniston said in the clip after the strange moment.
When Letterman later asks if she was ‘traumatized’ by the interlude, she responds: ‘I am!’
Letterman then hands her a tissue in the clip and the unamused actress wipes his saliva off her hair.
‘What are you doing?’ she asks, to which Letterman mutters something about a steam room.
‘Don’t worry, we’ll take it out in editing!’ he adds after Aniston notes that members of the crew and audience are watching, looking aghast.
Taylor Swift cries on Ellen DeGeneres (2012)
DeGeneres was renowned for tormenting the guests on her show, but even other celebrities spoke out about how the 65-year-old host went too far when she brought Swift to tears
DeGeneres was renowned for tormenting the guests on her show but even other celebrities spoke out about how the 65-year-old talk show host went too far when she brought Swift to tears.
Swift had been a frequent guest on The Ellen Show and during a 2013 appearance, they referenced a song she made up with Zac Efron.
In the song, the now 33-year-old singer even complained about how DeGeneres always pranked her and pestered her about who she was dating – but that didn’t deter her from asking again.
‘You were here with your boyfriend Zac Efron last time. How’s he doing?’ the comedienne asked.
‘Um, we actually never dated,’ Swift replied, to which DeGeneres interjected: ‘Yes you did.’
Later on in the segment, she asked: ‘So which song is about Zac on the new CD?’
When Swift wouldn’t play along with her Efron bit, she told the superstar, who turned 23 the year of the interview, that she’d show the Fearless singer a slideshow of men she’d reportedly dated and the songstress would ring a bell for which men had a song dedicated to them in her new album.
‘I don’t know if I’m going to do this. This is the one thing that I have. It’s like the one shred of dignity that I have,’ Swift said, to which DeGeneres replied: ‘What dignity?’
DeGeneres then grabbed the bell and proceeded to ring it for the rest of the featured celebrities, prompting an outcry from Swift. ‘Stop it, stop it, stop,’ she exclaimed in tears
As the game went on, she voiced: ‘I don’t want to. They’ll send me angry emails and I don’t want to get them.’
DeGeneres then grabbed the bell and proceeded to ring it for the rest of the featured celebrities, prompting an outcry from Swift.
‘Stop it, stop it, stop,’ she exclaimed in tears.
As DeGeneres continued to laugh, she explained: ‘This makes me feel so bad about myself. Every time I come here you put like a different dude up there on the screen, and it just really makes me question what I stand for as a human being.’
However, DeGeneres didn’t seem to be too remorseful.
A-list model Emily Ratajkowski took to TikTok to share a clip of the moment and call DeGeneres out.
‘This is so f***ed up. She is literally begging her to stop,’ she said along with the clip.
The Anti-Hero singer talked about being reduced to the men she’s dated in an interview with Apple Beats’s Zane Lowe years later, directly referencing the age she was during her interview with DeGeneres.
‘When I was like 23, people were just kind of reducing me to — kind of making slideshows of my dating life and putting people in there that I’d sat next to at a party once and deciding that my songwriting was like a trick rather than a skill and a craft,’ she said.
Barbara Walters tried to force Ricky Martin to come out on TV (2000)
Martin sat down for an intimate interview with Walters while he was at the height of his career in 2000
Martin sat down for an intimate interview with Walters while he was at the height of his career in 2000.
Livin’ La Vida Loca had just come out the year before but rather than talk about that, she used the interview as an opportunity to persuade him to come out as gay before he was ready – a moment he claimed gave him PTSD years later.
Walters asked: ‘The rumors that talk about your sexual orientation, you must be aware of these?’
‘Do they hurt? How do you handle them?’ she pressed.
Martin explained: ‘The word says it, “intimacy.” Sexuality and homosexuality should not be a problem for anybody. I think that sexuality is something that each individual should deal with in their own way, and that’s all I have to say about that.’
Walters responded: ‘Well, you know you could stop these rumors. You could say, as many artists have, “yes I am gay” or you could say “no I’m not” or you could leave it, as you are, ambiguous.
‘I don’t want to put you on the spot and it’s in your power to do it and I’m bringing it up with you Ricky because you know that this is being said and you’re even being named.’
Martin – who is now married to Jwan Yosef and they share daughter Lucia, 4, and son Renn, 3 – wouldn’t come out for another 10 years
He affirmed: ‘Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to express the rumors but, for some reason, I just don’t feel like it.’
Martin – who is now married to Jwan Yosef and they share daughter Lucia, 4, and son Renn, 3 – wouldn’t come out for another 10 years.
At the time, he wrote on his website: ‘I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man. I am very blessed to be who I am.’
The She Bangs singer spoke out 21 years after the interview and admitted to People that he ‘felt violated.’
‘When she dropped the question, I felt violated because I was just not ready to come out. I was very afraid. There’s a little PTSD with that,’ he told the outlet.
However, he also considered that could have been a good time to come out as gay, adding to People: ‘A lot of people say, what would you do differently? Well, maybe I would have come out in that interview. It would’ve been great because when I came out, it just felt amazing.’
He added: ‘When it comes to my sexuality, when it comes to who I am, I want to talk about what I’m made of, about everything that I am. Because if you hide it, it’s a life-or-death situation.’
In a later episode of The View, Walters admitted she’d made a mistake by pushing Martin to talk out on the matter.
She said: ‘Was that a mistake? Looking back now, it feels like one.
‘Unless someone is openly gay and happy to talk about it, it’s nobody’s business — including mine.’
Howard Stern asked Emma Burton when started puberty (2005)
Howard Stern is notorious as a shock jock radio host but it’s hard to refute that he went too far when Spice Girl’s Emma Bunton appeared on his show
Stern is notorious as a shock jock radio host but it’s hard to refute that he went too far when Spice Girl’s Emma Bunton appeared on his show in 2005.
He not only pressed her on answering questions about when she started puberty, but also depicted fantasies of her performing intimate acts.
He said: ‘I bet when you were young and you started it with boys, right? You were very well developed.
‘What age did you develop? Fourteen? When did you get your period?’
Shocked Emma replied: ‘I’m not telling you that. Absolutely not.’
At one point, Stern told her: ‘You are asking for it and you are going to get it. Robin’s [Quivers, Howard’s co-host] not here today so I can do you.’
He not only pressed her on answering questions about when she started puberty, but also depicted fantasies of her performing intimate acts
Stern also said: ‘You’ve got a hot little body. I could see you girl-on-girl action. I could see you with two guys.
‘I could see you doing a lot of things.’
He then started talking about what Bunton is or isn’t wearing.
He said: ‘I feel like you didn’t wear a bra just for me today?’
‘And I feel that you are not wearing panties today. I get that vibe. Am I right?’
‘I’m liking it about your panties and no bra. I like it. It’s turning me on a little bit.’
Stunned Emma replied: ‘Really. Good. That’s nice for you.’
At one point, he had even called her Swallow Spice.
Samuel L. Jackson unleashes on interviewer after he mistakes him for Laurence Fishburne (2014)
Samuel L. Jackson was none too pleased when KTLA-TV entertainment reporter Sam Rubin mistook him for Laurence Fishburne
Jackson was none too pleased when KTLA-TV entertainment reporter Sam Rubin mistook him for Fishburne, especially with the racial undertones of the mishap.
The mess began right at the start of the chat, when Rubin asked: ‘Did you get a lot of reaction to that Super Bowl commercial?’
Jackson looked confused and responded: ‘What Super Bowl commercial?’
Pointing his finger angrily, he said: ‘You see, you’re as crazy as the people on Twitter. I’m not Laurence Fishburne!’
Rubin chuckled uncomfortably, repeating, ‘That’s my fault, I know that, my mistake,’ as he holds his hands up in surrender.
Jackson called out the reporter’s mishap. Fishburne himself spoke out shortly after the incident: ‘People have been confusing Samuel L Jackson and me for 25 years even though we don’t look anything alike. I’m so grateful to Sam for calling out that TV reporter for doing it’
But Jackson continued: ‘We don’t all look alike! We may all be black and famous but we don’t all look alike.’
As Rubin continued to backpedal, a baffled Jackson asks: ‘You’re the entertainment reporter?
‘You’re the entertainment reporter for this station and you don’t know the difference between me and Laurence Fishburne?’
He then quipped: ‘There must be a very short line for your job.’
Still in disbelief, he exclaimed, ‘Really? Really?’ before lightening the mood slightly by joking about the various ads he, Fishburne and even Morgan Freeman have starred in, to clarify to the entertainment reporter just which ‘black guy’ he is.
Fishburne himself spoke out shortly after the incident.
‘People have been confusing Samuel L Jackson and me for 25 years even though we don’t look anything alike. I’m so grateful to Sam for calling out that TV reporter for doing it – that was pure fun,’ he told The Guardian, but added: ‘I don’t take offense to it.’
Paris Hilton storming out after sexist question from ABC’s Dan Harris (2011)
Hilton did not appreciate Harris implying she was past her prime and her ‘moment had passed’
Hilton did not appreciate Harris implying she was past her prime and her ‘moment had passed’ – a comment which fans have deemed sexist – as it’s often a term directed at women.
He asked: ‘Do you worry at times that people who have followed in your footsteps like Kim Kardashian are over shadowing you?’
Through gritted teeth, she replied: ‘No, not at all.’
She became even more irritated when mentioned that her latest reality TV show The World According To Paris has struggled in the ratings.
The journalist continued: ‘Do you worry about your moment having passed?’
At the time, Hilton stormed off set. She could be heard saying off camera: ‘I don’t want all this being used’
Hilton glanced across at her publicist off camera before getting up from her chair and stormed out.
She could be heard saying off camera: ‘I don’t want all this being used.’
After a ‘heated’ discussion between Harris, Hilton and her publicist, she eventually returned to camera to deliver an apparently well-rehearsed answer.
‘I’ve been doing this for 15 years now, so it’s been a long time so just like any other business person or someone in the industry, it is always important to reinvent yourself and come up with new projects,’ she said.
Britney Spears cried in interview with Diane Sawyer (2003)
Spears took the brunt of the media backlash when she and Timberlake split, and that has been reflected in a 2003 interview she had with Sawyer
Spears took the brunt of the media backlash when she and Timberlake split, and that has been reflected in a 2003 interview she had with Sawyer.
In the interview, Sawyer questions Spears about her sex life and relationships in a manner that many commentators have said was harsh and accusatory.
‘You broke his heart. You did something that caused him so much pain, so much suffering. What did you do?’ Sawyer asked the singer after her public split from Timberlake.
Sawyer grilled Spears over ‘what she did’ to cause the split, and confronted her with semi-naked pictures of the singer that she had posed for.
The journalist famously pressed the Princess Of Pop about whether or not she was faithful to Timberlake, reading out quotes the singer had given where she had claimed to have slept with only one person.
In 2021, nearly 20 years later, the Toxic singer reflected on the interview, slamming Sawyer’s ‘”you’re in the wrong” approach’
Diane also asked the Sometimes singer about Maryland’s first lady in 2003, Kendel Ehrlich, who made some eyebrow-raising comments at an anti-domestic violence conference that year.
She slammed the singer as a bad influence as she said: ‘Really, if I had an opportunity to shoot Britney Spears, I think I would.’
In 2021, nearly 20 years later, the Toxic singer reflected on the interview, slamming Sawyer’s ‘”you’re in the wrong” approach.’
‘Do we dare forget the Diane Sawyer interview in my apartment almost 20 years ago???’ Spears fumed. ‘What was with the “you’re in the wrong” approach ?? Geeze… and making me cry ???’
‘I never spoke to anyone for a very long time… I was in shock… pretty lame of my dad three men to show up at my door when I could hardly speak… two days later they put Diane Sawyer in my living room.’
Spears went on: ‘They forced me to talk !!! I was a baby… I was almost 22 and didn’t understand… but I f***ing know now (sic)….’
Giuliana Rancic called out by Aziz Ansari for racist joke and by Zendaya for comments about her dreadlocks
E! News host Rancic is no stranger to controversy — after being accused of making racist comments in multiple instances — including while interviewing Aziz Ansari
E! News host Rancic is no stranger to controversy after being accused of making racist comments in multiple instances.
Back in 2013, Rancic interviewed Parks and Recreation actor Aziz Ansari at the Golden Globes.
Ansari did not take it well when she asked him to show her a dance move because she felt he had ‘good rhythm.’
‘I have good rhythm? Based on my chocolate skin tone?’ he asked.
‘No! Not based on your very beautiful tone,’ Rancic responds.
Ansari then joked about ‘the stereotype’ that ‘Indian men know how to dance.’
Despite his clear resistance, she continued to pressure him to dance. Because of that, he came up with a witty comeback all while calling her out.
He started doing a listening sound, pointing and making a ‘no’ gesture with his hand, as he said: ‘Okay, what about… this is a move that’s called “What? That’s racist… don’t say that again!”‘
Clueless still, she continued to repeat the move and told him she knew he’d come around.
She seemingly didn’t learn her lesson because two years later, she found herself in hot water again after she commented on Zendaya’s dreadlocks
While discussing Zendaya’s hair, Rancic said: ‘I feel like she smells smells like patchouli oil… or maybe weed’
She seemingly didn’t learn her lesson because two years later, she found herself in hot water again after she commented on Zendaya’s dreadlocks.
As a part of E!’s Fashion Police, she made commentary about the actress’s Academy Award look in 2015.
While discussing Zendaya’s hair, she said: ‘I feel like she smells smells like patchouli oil… or maybe weed.’
The 18-year-old reacted furiously on Twitter, accusing the E! anchor of being ‘ignorant, disrespectful and outrageously offensive.’
‘There is a fine line between what is funny and disrespectful,’ she wrote.
‘Someone said something about my hair at the Oscars that left me in awe. Not because I was relishing in rave outfit reviews, but because I was hit with ignorant slurs and pure disrespect.
‘To say that an 18-year-old young woman with locs must smell of patchouli oil or “weed” is not only a large stereotype but outrageously offensive. I don’t usually feel the need to respond to negative things but certain remarks cannot go unchecked.’
Later Giuliana made a statement on air about her comments.
‘I’d really like to address something that’s weighing really heavy on my heart,’ the TV host began. ‘I want to apologize for a comment that I made on last night’s Fashion Police about Zendaya’s hair.
‘As you know, Fashion Police is a show that pokes fun at celebrities in good spirit, but I do realize that something I said last night did cross the line.’
‘I just want everyone to know that I didn’t intend to hurt anybody, but I learned it’s not my intent that matters,’ Rancic continued. ‘It’s the result. And the result is people are offended, including Zendaya. And that is not okay.’
Anne Hathaway dodges questions from interviewer Jerry Penacoli about her body (2012)
During a 2012 promo interview for The Dark Night Rises, Penacoli spoke with Hathaway. He broached the topic of her ‘feline fitness regime’ by noting that Hathaway had to be in ‘perfect shape’ for the film
Extra correspondent Penacoli has been called out by multiple A-List actresses about his questions regarding their appearances.
During a 2012 promo interview for The Dark Night Rises, he spoke with Hathaway.
He 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 claimed her male costar, Christian Bale, ‘had it worse’ with his costume.
The questions about her body continued, with Penacoli asking her about her diet and exercise routine leading up to the film.
In a separate interview from that year with Avengers stars Jeremy Renner and Scarlett Johansson, he asked the Black Widow actress if she wore underwear with her costume
She tried to jokingly call his questions ‘boring,’ brushing them off, but he could not take the hint and kept demanding answers.
‘Are you trying to lose weight? What’s the deal, man? You look great,’ she said, catching him off guard.
In a separate interview from that year with Avengers stars Jeremy Renner and Scarlett Johansson, he asked the Black Widow actress if she wore underwear with her 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?’