James Lipton was one of the most well-spoken, articulate characters on television. And I’m saying that in a day and age where we have the likes of Danny Dyer on our screens, so that’s saying something.
Tragically, the host of Inside the Actors Studio, James, passed away early on Monday, 2 March 2020 at the age of 93, from bladder cancer.
The dean emeritus of the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University sought to provide his students a greater insight into the world of acting by inviting A-list thespians to join him and them for an hour-long interview, starting with none other than legendary Paul Newman.
Nearly 3,000 iconic actors – including several Oscar and Emmy Award winners – graced the stage with James, answering questions such as what their least favourite word is.
And while I am busy wondering what God will be saying to James at the pearly gates, let’s look back at some of the most wild, iconic moments from 277 episodes of Inside the Actors Studio.
Amy Adams had starred alongside Philip Seymour Hoffman in three separate films – Charlie Wilson’s War, Doubt and The Master – so, after Amy joined James just three weeks after Philip’s death, Lipton simply asked her to share her fondest memories of him.
During one of the most emotional interviews on the series, Amy said that Philip was beautiful, before continuing; “He had this unique ability to see people, to really see them—not look through them.”
Before the A Star Is Born sensation joined Jack onstage in 2011, Bradley made several cameos in a few episodes, picking the brains of the likes of Sean Penn and Robert DeNiro; 14 years before Cooper would star as DeNiro’s son in Silver Linings Playbook.
The comic appeared on the show in 2006, and – naturally – “dropped dimes”, in the words of Dave, himself.
After having a long, rough year, having walked away from a $50 million contract, abandoning the third series of his smash-hit Chapelle’s Show and absconding to South Africa, Dave opened up by saying “It’s dismissive – ‘I don’t understand this person, so they’re crazy.’ That’s bullshit. People are not crazy, they’re strong people. Maybe their environment is a little sick.”
Lemmon is, obviously, just one of the many legends to have appeared on Inside the Actors Studio, so you’d have forgiven James for appearing nervous while discussing Days of Wine and Roses with the star.
Instead, what happened was the powerful moment whereby Jack truly opened up to James, speaking about his character’s alcoholism.
Lemmon: “Which I am, incidentally.”
Lipton: “Are you talking as Clay now, or as Jack Lemmon?”
Lemmon: “No, as Jack Lemmon. I’m an alcoholic.”Inside the Actors Studio, 1998
No-one will be shocked when I cite Robin Williams – star of Mrs Doubtfire, Good Morning, Vietnam, Aladdin, Jumanji, Hook, etc. – as a comedic genius.
Yet, it was on his 2001 mammoth stint on Inside the Actors Studio that Robin Williams performed one of his funniest bits to date, as he ranted about an audience member’s scarf for well over seven minutes, thanks to Lipton’s perfect questioning.
You read that right – in 2008, Lipton was the guest on his own show, and had previous guest Dave Chapelle interview him, to celebrate 200 episode of Inside the Actors Studio.
After stating that “Jesus Christ” was his favourite curse word, Lipton admitted to being a pimp in 1950s Paris, eventually becoming friends with one of the girls, and saying “I was going through my rites of passage. It was a great year of my life.”