James Lipton, the popular creator and host of Inside the Actors Studio, died on March 2 at the age of 93. His wife Kedakai Turner confirmed to TMZ that he had passed away.
The show started in 1994 as a class for students from the Actors Studio Drama School. It was set up as a one hour program and each one would have a performer interviewed in a one-on-one with James Lipton. These interviews were often intimate and would dive into the details. Lipton hosted the show for 22 seasons and retired in 2018 when it was moved from Bravo to Ovation TV.
James Lipton Was Best Known For His Interview Style and 10 Questions
James Lipton was famous for those interview questions on Inside the Actors Studio. He always asked the same ten questions to the nearly 300 guests who appeared on the show. These questions were:
- What is your favorite word?
- What is your least favorite word?
- What turns you on?
- What turns you off?
- What sound or noise do you love?
- What sound or noise do you hate?
- What is your favorite curse word?
- What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
- What profession would you not like to do?
- If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
James Lipton once told Larry King that Bradley Cooper was his most memorable interview. He said that “the night that one of my students has achieved so much that he or she comes back and sits down in that chair next to me would be the night that I’ve waited for since we started this thing 23 years ago. And it turned out to be Bradley Cooper.”
At the end of the interview portion, there would often be a Q&A session with Lipton’s audience of students. Lipton was known to do all his own research and preparation for each interview, which would be written on famous blue cards, and had a distinct interview style.
When he interviewed the cast of Family Guy, he told The New York Times that he prepared for each member “as if he or she were the only person I was going to interview.” He said the process of preparing for that interview “took nearly four weeks, because I had to go into each of their lives and careers,” in addition to diving into the show itself.
This is his previously mentioned interview with Bradley Cooper:
His Style Was so Particular it Became the Subject of Many Parodies
He was the subject of many parodies because of his distinctive interview style. Will Ferrell did a great impression of Lipton during a series of Saturday Night Live sketches. He also portrayed Lipton in a skit called “Inside the Actors Studio Spoof” along with Vince Vaughn, Luke Wilson and Todd Phillips. Lipton is also referenced in The Simpsons, in an episode of Mad TV as portrayed by comedian Will Sasso, and he even featured in a Weird Al Yankovic song, “Couch Potato.”
Lipton was good-natured about the parodies, saying once in an interview that he “has never been so grateful in my life as I am to Will Ferrell” after he saw the parody.