How to Interview Celebrities: Part 3 – Asking the Right Questions

Welcome to our series on interviewing celebrities. Earlier this year we gave you the 3 Keys to Landing a Celebrity Interview, which has since become our most viewed page. We promised to expand on the topic, and we’re finally doing it! In this 8-part series, we will walk you through everything from figuring out who to contact to request an interview and formulating your request to what questions to ask and which format is best for your interview. 

We’ve talked before about getting the most out of your first interview with a celebrity for a few interesting articles you can post on your fansite. Since then we’ve had numerous people ask us what kind of questions we ask, and how do we ask them so that we get more than just a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. In other words, specifics!

In the third installment of our How to Interview Celebrities series, we are going to suggest a list of stock interview questions, help you plan a course of action and give you ideas on sources for good questions.

Over the years I’ve probably interviewed more than one hundred celebrities, from television, film, music and books. You never stop learning which questions are the perfect ones to ask, and each interview is unique. Some are more sedate, others are outrageously fun and completely off topic. All have oodles of material for multiple posts on your fansite. Once is a while, however, an opportunity presents itself that you cannot pass up and you only have a very small window of time with which to prepare. The first thing you need to do is wrap your fingers around any hair you have left and, screaming into the wind, pull with all your might. Take one lap around the block, grab a cup of your favorite beverage and resign yourself to the fact that you’re going to be up all night.

After you’ve done all that, read on!

Recommended Stock Interview Questions for TV Talent:

  • Can you talk about landing the role on this show and a bit about the interview process? Did you do anything unique to show you would be perfect for the role?
  • Can you talk about some of the challenges in filming? Any behind-the-scenes anecdotes you can share?
  • What are your thoughts on your character’s personality? Strengths? Weaknesses? (If he’s a good character, what do you admire? If a baddie, can he be redeemed or is he just misunderstood?)
  • Any personal ambitions yet unattained? Directing? Producing? Writing?
  • Are there any new projects you’re working on that you can talk about?

Recommended Stock Interview Questions for Authors:

  • Can you talk about people or books you have read that have inspired you to embark on your own career?
  • Why did you choose this particular genre?
  • In your opinion, what is the most difficult part of the writing process?
  • Which character was the easiest to write? Most difficult?
  • What advice would you give to budding authors?

Recommended Stock Interview Questions for Musicians:

  • Can you talk about that one defining moment when you knew you wanted to be a musician?
  • Does your music carry a particular message or is it meant for pure pleasure?
  • What challenges have you had to face in your chosen career?
  • Can you talk about a fan encounter that completely took you by surprise?
  • What advice would you give to future musicians?

Recommended Stock Interview Questions for Athletes:

  • What put you on this path?
  • Can you talk about your training? Greatest inspiration? Who/what kept you motivated?
  • How did you overcome your challenges?
  • What are your personal goals/ambitions?
  • What advice would you give to kids today who look up to you as their inspiration?

Questions for film actors can follow the same vein as the ones I listed for television talent. Just tweak them a bit to fit the film they are featured in and you’ll be fine.  Producers and directors love to talk about the process of creating whatever film you are interviewing them about. Get them to talk about working with the actors too. Oftentimes they love their cast and have tons of fun with them, so talking about them is a treat.

Always have one or two questions that are uniquely yours. For example, we have a special weekly feature on our NiceGirlsTV.com site called “Nice Boy of the Week”. One of our favorite questions that we ask as a way to wrap up the interview is who would they nominate as their Nice Boy. They love it and it’s a question no one else asks, making it all our own. It also gives us ideas for the feature of the week, so yes, it’s a bit of a cheat for us but it’s also fun!

Always do your research. I can’t stress that enough. I’ve participated in conference call Q & A’s where it was very obvious that some of the people asking the questions had no idea who they were talking to, and didn’t bother to research their work. It’s embarrassing for them and wastes time for the rest of us who have legitimate questions. Cozy up to Google and Wikipedia. It’s time well invested.

Finally, if the clock is ticking and you are still no where, Twitter, Facebook and any other social media outlet is your BFF. Put out a call for questions. Get your readers, friends, family and other fans to ask their burning questions. By the time the spotlight is on, you will be well armed and confident and your interview victim subject will know it. Believe me, they want to know they are in good hands.

I hope this will help you on your way to a fantastic interview that will thrill your readers and land you more invitations to talk with talent of all kinds. And we’d love to see your results, so feel free to share a link to your masterpiece in the comments below!

Next up, get out those video cameras because we’re going to get you ready for some video interviews.

 

8 comments

  1. Thank you for your great site.

  2. Thank-you so much for these splendid advice! :)

  3. Angel Cisneros

    I love the questions… will used them for my Facebook page!

  4. this article is so helpful!!! Thank you! and check out my blog http://www.eatingwitherica.com

  5. chandrikaramakrishnan

    so nice

  6. This is a great site and it’s really helped me but…. what would you ask if you were interviewing a scientist?
    Thankyou heaps!

    • Good question! Obviously the topic of your interview is going to determine the direction of your conversation – i.e. specific project the scientist is working on, major grant they just received, patent they just filed, etc. In general terms, however, it would be helpful to ask for that person’s background – what sparked their interest in science? in their particular field? what kinds of schooling was required? This gives you information for a brief bio and introduces them as a credible scientist. Now, go for the color commentary – experiments gone wrong? best piece of advice from another scientist? dream research project? dream research partner? We’ve found that closing an interview with a look ahead is great way to end on a positive note, so ask about upcoming projects, where they think their particular field of research is headed, a major goal they’re working toward, etc.

      Hope this helps!

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