18 Greatest Interview Movie Moments
Interviews in movies aren’t just for news stories. From comedies to dramas, the interview scene has become a great tool for revealing a character trait or some unexpected surprise. These are not Job Interviews, but rather journalistic, and while there are certainly more, these are our 18 favorites.
Bob Roberts (1992)
Tim Robbins stars a the titular Bob Roberts, a young, folks singing, right-wing politician who gets chewed up in the political machine, running a corrupt campaign. As he gains a loyal following, others question his tactics and platform, with an intrepid, small-time journalists (Giancarlo Esposito) struggling to break him. Along the way, he is booked on a morning talk show called Good Morning Philadelphia, hosted by Kelly Noble (Lynne Thigpen), who is decidedly against the junior politician. With just moments before the show goes live, she declares her disgust of Roberts and his offensive music, saying she wouldn’t vote for him if her life depended on it, then immediately dons her AM TV smile and welcomes her guest. The interview only spins wildly out control from there as the two clash on air and he asks if she is a communist.
Briony Tallis (Saoirse Ronan) is a young girl who spies on her older sister (Keira Knightley) in a compromising position with a man (James McAvoy) and misunderstands what she sees. The repercussions of her actions, because of her misinterpretation, have lasting, life-long effects that devastates all involved. As time passes and a war ravages even more lives, Briony lives with the guilt of her childish behavior. As an adult (Vanessa Redgrave), she writes a book to tell the story of she and her sister’s love, but it is not what it seems. In an interview, as an older woman, she confesses to a terrible secret.
Forrest Gump (1994)
Tom Hanks plays Forrest Gump, who may not be a smart man but knows what love is. As he travels through life witnessing many of American history’s most troubled and memorable moments, all Gump truly cares about are the women in his life, his dear mother (Sally Field), who tells him life is like a box of chocolates, and his childhood sweetheart Jenny (Robin Wright), the girl he spends the entire film trying to make his own. As circumstances make him a celebrity (more than once), at one point he ends up on the Dick Cavatt Show, where he is a guest alongside former Beatle, John Lennon. As the show progresses, Lennon comments on Gump’s recollection of his trip to China, which we realize becomes the lyrics to Imagine, one of Lennon’s most popular songs.
Brie Larson plays Ma, a woman who is kidnapped, raped, and forced to live in a shed by her captor, bearing him a son. When the boy is five, she finally feels confident to try and escape, a plan that replies on her child to understand that there is more to the world than just the single room he has grown up in. After they are free, Ma is troubled by terrible guilt and struggles adapting herself and Jack to the outside world. She agrees to a television interview where the host is cordial at first but then questions Ma’s faith, how she will explain who Jack’s father is to her son, and worse, her decision in keeping a child born of rapist rather then letting her captor drop the child off at a hospital and let him grow up normally. The questions rattles Ma, and the consequences are frightful.
Gremlins 2: A New Batch (1990)
A lighthearted, more self-aware sequel to the popular original, the second gremlins movie follows Billy (Zach Galligan) and Kate (Phoebe Cates) heading to New York City to work at Clamp Enterprises, where they work for billionaire Daniel Clamp (John Glover). Soon though, they must rescue Gizmo (voiced by Howie Mandel) from a researcher (Christopher Lee) at the company who is using the furry creature as a guinea pig for some nefarious experiments. Soon, the building is overrun with nasty gremlins and it’s all out war to stop them. At one point, the leader of the gremlins, named Brain (Tony Randall), stops by the company TV network and interviews with Grandpa Fred (Robert Prosky), explaining that gremlins want what the viewers want: civilization. That’s not gonna happen.
Private Parts (1997)
Howard Stern plays himself in this semi-autobiographical account of his rise to radio superstardom, based on his best selling book. The story centers on his break from traditional broadcasting and wanting to create a more adult-themed, progressive show that pushes the boundaries of the medium. He faces a lot of obstacles, especially from his program director (Paul Giamatti) who plays by the rules and constantly tries to suppress the outlandish antics of Stern. After a number of incidents that have Stern looking to not just push the envelope, but explode through it, he invites Mandy (Jenna Jameson) to the show. After blocking the windows with newspapers, he conducts an interview where she strips nude, making her what Stern calls, “the first naked lady on radio.” Then he gets a massage.
Wayne’s World (1992)
Wayne Campbell (Mike Myers) and Garth Algar (Dana Carvey) are two head-banging party dudes with a cable access show in Aurora, Illinois. Filming on an ultra-low budget in Mike’s parent’s basement, they talk girls, music, parties, and girls. They occasionally have guests, and the film opens with a local inventor who has attached a hair-cutting machine to his vacuum cleaner. Eventually, the boys get discovered and land a big contract with a real studio. They get a sponsor named Noah Vanderhoff (Brian Doyle-Murray), a video game arcade owner who the studio exec (Rob Lowe) says must be interviewed each week. Wayne objects, but eventually agrees, only to take the opportunity to publicly humiliate the man without him even knowing. Whoops. Wayne gets fired.
This is Spinal Tap (1984)
The king of all mockumentaries, This is Spinal Tap is a behind the scenes look at a rather pathetic rock & roll band and their failure to make it big. Essentially a long interview with backstage and concert footage, the film is a humorous jab at rock documentaries and the celebrated lifestyle of touring musicians. Rob Reiner plays Marty DiBergi, the interviewer, and at one point, the band describes how each of their drummers have expired. Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest), David St. Hunnins (Michael McKean), and Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer) are the band members and recall how one-by-one, their drummers died in increasingly bizarre ways, from unsolved garden accidents to spontaneous combustion. Turn this up to eleven.
A multi-plot interconnected story taking place over the events of a single day, it follows a number of characters whose lives impact each others. One is motivational speaker Frank T. J. Mackey (Tom Cruise), pitching a self-help book on how to pick up women. He’s overly-confident, aggressive and sexually charged. He also has a storied past, and when he sits down for what he thinks is a fluff interview, hyped up after a particularly powerful speech, he gets more than he bargained for when the interviewer (April Grace) brings up his past, claiming the story about his family is being hidden and that if she is to do her job right, she needs to know the truth. She reveals that she in fact does know the the real story and this angers the already hot-tempered Frank. He violently storms away.
What About Bob? (1991)
Bill Murray plays Bob Wiley, a happy, but neurotic man who suffers from multiple phobias and can barely get out of the house. He has a good session with egotistical psychiatrist Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss), who gives him a copy of his self help book and promptly heads to New Hampshire on a month’s vacation. Unable to deal with his issues alone, Bob bravely makes his way to the lakeside cabin and tracks down the the doctor, much to Leo’s discontent, though his family seems to like Bob well enough. Meanwhile, Leo is preparing for a television interview with Good Morning America to discuss his book and wants Bob out of the way. No such luck. Bob crashes the set and ends up as a guest, and because Leo is so upset about it, ends up looking ridiculous while his patient comes across as the sane one.
Lost in Translation (2004)
Bill Murray (again) plays Bob Harris, a once world-famous movie star now in Japan hocking Suntory whiskey. Disillusioned with his life, at the hotel, he meets Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson), a young wife who feels empty as her husband ignores her. The two make a platonic connection and spend time trying to enjoy the strange world of Tokyo together. Meanwhile, Bob’s agent books him on a popular Japanese late night talk show where the host is known as the Japanese Johnny Carson. Not able to speak Japanese or understand in the slightest what is going on, the show is anything but like the Johnny Carson Show and Bob is left bewildered as the wildly animated host seems to have the greatest time. For relaxing times, make it Suntory time.
Mr. Nobody (2009)
A man called Mr. Nobody (Jared Leto) is the last mortal man on Earth. On his death bed, he is telling an interviewer his story. He speaks of two lives, born from a choice to side with his father or side with his mother when they divorce. An epic story of love and the pursuit of happiness, Mr. Nobody experiences different sorrows, struggles and loves with each of his parents, revealing at the end, as the world waits to hear the final words of a man unlike any who will ever exist again, a twist that changes everything, including the fate all who are listening.
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999)
Mike Myers plays Austin Powers, an international man of mystery who works for British intelligence. In this, the second film in the series, he once again faces off against his nemesis, Dr. Evil (Myers). Early in film, a military security officer is watching TV at his station and sees Scott (Seth Green), the son of Dr. Evil, who isn’t quite in line with his father’s big plans, as a guest on The Jerry Springer Show. The theme is world’s worst fathers. Scott explains that his dad is the head of an evil corporation with plans for world domination but that currently his father is frozen in space. Jerry has a surprise for him though when he reveals that actually, Dr. Evil is backstage. He comes out to a chorus of heckles from the audience and quickly ends up in a fight with a Ku Klux Klan member and then, Springer.
The Insider (1999)
Al Pacino plays Lowell Bergman, an aggressive producer for 60 Minutes who feels he has a big story about the tobacco industry, but his lead, Jeff Wigand (Russell Crowe) is hesitant to talk because he’s signed a confidentiality agreement that could put him behind bars for violation. There are other issues that put pressure on Bergman to drop the story, but he persists, and gets staff journalist Mike Wallace (Christopher Plummer) to conduct the interview. Wignad eventually agrees and in the broadcast, implicates that the company he worked for, Brown & Williamson Tobacco Company intentionally made their cigarettes addictive regardless of public health warnings.
Ghostbusters 2 (1989)
Bill Murray (okay, last one) plays Dr. Peter Venkman, a former Ghostbuster and now host of a cable access television show called World of the Psychic. His guests are all alien enthusiasts and mentalists with some rather kooky theories. On this show, the topic is doomsday, and of his two guests, Elaine (Chloe Webb) believes the end of the world will be February 14th, 2016. Valentine’s Day. “Bummer,” Venkman comments. She says an alien at the Paramus Holiday Inn in New Jersey told her this in its room. A reputable source. Venkman, however, is dubious.
Edward Scissorhands (1990)
Johnny Depp plays Edward, a boy created by an old reclusive inventor (Vincent Price). The problem is, before he could fit the boy with hands, he dies, leaving Edward with clumps of scissors instead. Not long after, Edward is discovered by an Avon salesperson named Peg (Dianne Wiest), who takes him home. He soon falls in love with Peg’s beautiful teenage daughter Kim (Winona Ryder), who begins to feel the same. As the peculiar boy gains interest in the community, especially for his exquisite hedge-trimming and hair-styling, he ends up on a local television show with a host (John Davidson) who allows the audience to ask him some questions. Eventually, it leads to love and Edward is implored to reveal if there is someone special in his life. Leaning in to tell the world he loves Kim, as she looks on at home on the TV, his lengthy scissors, having created static, spark the mic stand and send him reeling off the back of the stage.
The Interview (2014)
Dave Skylark (James Franco) is the host of Skylark Tonight, a talk show that is famous for getting celebrities to open up and confess their most personal secrets. Before he makes a plan to nab the biggest interview in history, where he will travel to North Korea and meet their president, Kim Jong-un, he sits down with acclaimed rapper Eminem, a controversial artist whose latest release is causing an uproar over hateful lyrics concerning the elderly (this is a satire). As Dave attempts to bring this topic to the forefront, Eminem explains how people misunderstand his work, especially since he’s gay. He continues talking but Dave (and the people in the control booth) are shocked at his casual confession, one that gets big laughs from the audience. It’s a classic.
When Richard Nixon (Frank Langella) agrees to give his first interview after his disgraced exit from the presidency, he chooses lightweight British talk show host David Frost (Michael Sheen), thinking it will be all softball. That’s not how it goes though when Frost takes the opportunity to construct a much deeper examination of the former president’s legacy. The film is essentially a long interview, but the culminating moment comes when Frost manages to get Nixon to admit that sometimes, when the President does it, things are not illegal. It’s a crucial moment in investigative journalism and one of the greatest interview moments in cinema.