1. "We’re so honoured to have you in our Top Ten list"
Top Ten lists are the greatest insult to celebrities and war criminals imaginable. I learned this the hard way, when a celebrity’s publicist accused me of concealing the fact the Top Ten list would also have other people in it.
2. "Of all the plastic surgeries you’ve had, which one do you regret the most?"
Living in Los Angeles, I’ve seen many alarming amendments to the human body. But stranger yet is what only the surgeon sees; for example, the performer whose over-expanded breasts are now so big that during liposuction, they were taped together to stop them falling off. I am not even going to mention the actor whose oft-lifted face finally had to be pulled down.
3. "Can I touch it?"
See above. It will always be springier than you thought and slightly clammy.
4. "God, you’re boring"
There is a reason most interviews are scheduled in hotel bars: alcohol. First, ask the following Magic Celebrity Question: You’re in amazing shape, what’s your secret? To which the star will always reply, “Wow, am I? That’s really nice of you because I never do any exercise and I live off cheese.” This question allows them to relax and open up like a tranquillized tiger. Now, simply order a pint of vodka and let them bang on about how they grew by working with the amazing Daniel Day Lewis as you imagine yourself in a better place, say, a Latvian prison vessel.
5. "So do you really eat cheeseburgers every day?"
Flannel. In fact, I’m going to deliberately spin out the interview for two hours so you are forced to actually digest the burger you just ate to impress our readers. What use puking now, Tinklebones?
6. "Would you go Full Retard?"
In the best comedy monologue in recent history, Tropic Thunder’s Robert Downey Junior, an American playing an Australian playing a black GI, explains how actors choose Oscar roles: “Everybody knows you never do a full retard… Dustin Hoffman, 'Rain Man,' look retarded, act retarded, not retarded. Counted toothpicks, cheated cards. Autistic, sho'. Not retarded. You know Tom Hanks, 'Forrest Gump.' Slow, yes. Retarded, maybe. Braces on his legs. But he charmed the pants off Nixon and won a ping-pong competition. That ain't retarded. Peter Sellers, "Being There." Infantile, yes. Retarded, no. You went full retard, man. Never go full retard. You don't buy that? Ask Sean Penn, 2001, "I Am Sam." Remember? Went full retard, went home empty handed...’ It goes without say all actors would Go Full Retard. Actresses, however, Go Ugly, cf Rene slightly tubby as Bridget Jones or Charlize in Monster. By the time Nicole Kidman won an Oscar for ten years with Tom Cruise, sorry, for a heart-wrenching portrayal of Virginia Woolf in The Hours, a big hooter counted as a disability. Best unsubstatiated rumour: that after producers Harvey Weinstein and Scott Rudin argued over whether Kidman should wear the prosthetic, Rudin sent Weinstein, who was trying to quit smoking, 1000 cartons of cigarettes with a note reading “Get cancer.”
7. "Is it true you ate human hearts?"
Are you sure you want to call him a liar?
8. "Me too, it was really nice to meet you. My number? Sure! Here it is…"
In Hollywood, this marks you out as a hopelessly naïve saddo. No one will ever call. In war zones, refugee camps, or any major conurbation known for human rights violations, use this phrase and you can expect text messages that not only cost the sender a week’s wages but contain phrases like “dd fr. malaria” and “can your government help us?”
9. "Did the President bomb a peace summit?"
I got the following official response: “He didn’t bomb the peace talks. But if he did, I think there is a reason.”
10. "Well, they’d better dig him up then!"
Just believe them when they say there’s a body down there.