James Lipton loved Will Ferrell’s impression of him on “Saturday Night Live.” On March 2, Lipton passed away at the age of 93 following a battle with bladder cancer. He was 93 years old. The impression saw Ferrell invent the word “scrumtrulescent” in order to mock Lipton’s liberal use of adjectives.
Lipton wrote in his 2007 memoir, “I ask my share of naïve questions on Inside the Actors Studio, but one of the most naïve questions ever asked of me is, ‘Did Will Ferrell’s imitation bother you?’ Upset me! No one waited more eagerly for the next installment—and the day Will left Saturday Night Live, which is to say the day I left Saturday Night Live, was a very dark day for me.” The cult success of the impression led Lipton to a role in Ferrell’s 2006 movie, “Bewitched.”
Ferrell Said That Impersonating Lipton Was His Favorite Impression
In 2016, Lipton asked Ferrell in a segment for E! News what the comedian’s favorite impression was. Ferrell said, “I’m gonna have to say James Lipton, but I won’t, I’m not going to give him the satisfaction.”
Ferrell Said That Lipton Was Angry That He Would Not Appear as a Regular Guest on “Inside the Actor’s Studio’
A Guardian reviewer said Ferrell’s take on Lipton portrayed the host as being “courteous, slightly puzzled, charming, doing his best to answer, while inviting dark laughter at the pretentious absurdities of any such encounter.” Ferrell was quoted in the same piece as saying, “Strangely Lipton loved it. But he was also so mad at me that I would never actually do his show. I would say, ‘When I have done something worthy enough as an actor, if I win an Oscar, I will.’ I needn’t have worried, because by that time it was: ‘Jennifer Lopez: In The Actors Studio.'”
Ferrell Once Interviewed Lipton While in Character on ‘Saturday Night Life’
Memorably, Ferrell while in character as Lipton, interviewed Lipton. In one hilarious exchange, Ferrell asked, “You once wrote, if my hairline ever recedes, I am going to compensate by growing a neatly trimmed beard in hopes that no will notice.” Lipton responded by saying, “How do you know that? Have you been reading my diary?” Ferrell says, “I wrote your diary, remember?”
Contrarily, James Lipton Felt That David Cross’s Impression of Him Was ‘Not Good-Natured’
Lipton infamously did not like comedian David Cross’s impression of him on MadTV. Lipton said in a 2007 interview that he had never seen in the impression but had heard about it. Lipton described it as being “not good-natured.” When Lipton appeared on “Arrested Development, he says that Cross came to see him in his trailer to express how “thrilled” he was that the talk show host was appearing in the show.
Cross responded by saying that he felt as though “Inside the Actor’s Studio” was “pretentious.” When the cast of “Arrested Development” appeared on the talk show, Cross did not attend.
In a 2013 interview with Vanity Fair, Cross said, “I wouldn’t say that I was psyched to work with James Lipton because I had made fun of him so brutally before. But that turned out to be interesting if nothing else. And that’s what life is about.”
Cross said in a separate interview with the Hollywood Reporter, “I didn’t have any scenes with Lipton in this series, but I remember working with him before. I was really impressed with how he would just roll with it. I mean, I still can’t stand his show [Inside the Actors Studio], but he was great.”