It's not often that we gain true insight into the attitudes, vulnerabilities, and idiosyncrasies of the world's most fascinating people. But, when we do, it's an event worth planning your evening around. A good interview can reveal more about a person than anyone has known about them during their years in the public eye. We love to see celebs, politicians, and athletes humanized -- it's how we know they're like us. The interviews listed below consisted of fascinating interviewees and effective interviewers, which is why they're endlessly referenced, in some cases, years after they were conducted.
The famous English broadcaster and journalist has stated that Ali was his most memorable interview. At the time, Ali was in his prime, having just recaptured the title after upsetting George Foreman in "The Rumble in the Jungle." Opinionated as ever, he continued to talk trash about Foreman, and discussed more serious matters such as religion and race. It's an excellent display of Ali's intelligence, honesty and acerbic wit.
Never fond of the media, Nixon, a tormented soul, spent his first couple of years out of office avoiding the public. In need of money, he agreed to an interview with Frost in 1977 in exchange for $600,000. While they discussed issues such as foreign policy, the meat of the interview pertained to Watergate, during which he admitted to letting down the country and causing his own demise. Still a fresh wound, the scandal was a hot topic, and thus the five-part series garnered a record audience at the time.
For more than 40 years, 60 Minutes has been one of America's top rated television programs because of timely interviews such as this one. Amid allegations of infidelity, Democratic presidential primary underog Bill Clinton agreed to an interview alongside his wife with Steve Kroft, who grilled him on his alleged affair with former Arkansas state employee Gennifer Flowers. He denied the claims, but admitted to "causing pain" in his marriage in the past. Subsequently he finished second in the New Hampshire primary, beginning his come-from-behind journey to securing the Democratic nomination.
An audience of more than 100 million tuned in to Oprah's interview with Jackson, making it, at the time, the fourth most watched program in television history and the most watched interview ever. Extremely private, The King of Pop hadn't given an interview in 14 years, the period in which he became the world's most successful entertainer. At ease at his Neverland Ranch, he discussed love, sex, plastic surgery, and his lost childhood -- including his attempt to relive it by entertaining children at his home. The interview was conducted before the initial sexual abuse allegations.
A tabloid writer's dream, the eroding marriage between Princess Diana and Prince Charles provided a multitude of storylines during the '90s. The tipping point of the saga came in Diana's candid interview with Martin Bashir in the BBC current affairs programPanorama, in which she openly discussed her three-person marriage which included Camilla Parker-Bowles -- Prince Charles' former girlfriend with whom he was having an affair. Shockingly, she admitted that she "loved" and "adored" her former riding instructor James Hewitt, called the Prince's camp the "enemy," spoke critically about the monarchy, and talked about her bulimia and depression. Stunned, the Queen responded by requesting Diana and Charles get an early divorce.
With the War in Iraq looming, Saddam Hussein was a marked man attempting to preserve his dictatorship. Interviewed by Rather in the Republican Palace in Baghdad, he addressed the major issues involving Iraq and the United States, notably denying possession of weapons of mass destruction, denying association with Osama bin Laden, and vowing not to resign or surrender to opposing forces. At one point, Hussein challenged President Bush to a live debate, asking Rather to be the moderator. Bush, at odds with Rather, refused to participate in a rebuttal interview.
Ten years after his popular interview with Oprah, Jackson again agreed to be interviewed for a large television audience, allowing Bashir an inside look into his life for the documentary Living with Michael Jackson. He hoped to repair his damaged reputation, but ended up sullying it even more by admitting to sleeping with children -- including a 12-year-old Macaulay Culkin and 12-year-old Gavin Arvizo, his second accuser -- at his Neverland ranch. Immediately after it aired, the Santa Barbara county attorney's office conducted a criminal investigation, arresting Jackson later that year. In 2005, the People v. Jackson trial ended with Jackson's acquittal.
It was Simpson's first primetime interview since his dramatic trial 10 years earlier. America watched with anticipation as Couric asked him about his children and their upbringing, whether or not he's discussed their mother's death with them, his tumultuous relationship with Nicole, his relationship with the Browns, and his life since the murders. Prior to its airing, NBC execs verbally sparred with Fox execs, as Fox released clips of their interview with Simpson before NBC's interview in an effort to attract publicity. The conflict only added to the drama surrounding the primetime event.
America's fascination with Sarah Palin, Republican Presidential candidate John McCain's surprise choice for running mate, only intensified as McCain carefully shielded her from the press during his campaign. As she finally began to assert herself as a worthy running mate, she agreed to be interviewed by Katie Couric, which ended up being an incredible disaster. Obviously unprepared, she unsuccessfully tried to justify her comments that Alaska's proximity to Russia gave her foreign policy credentials, provided a jumbled answer regarding the Bush bailout plan, failed to name any Supreme Court decisions with which she disagreed, and failed to name a newspaper or magazine she regularly read at the time. Palin was mercilessly mocked for her performance, most famously by Tina Fey on Saturday Night Live.
Dugard isn't a celebrity, politician or athlete, but her life's story is just as remarkable as any of the aforementioned interviewees. A tale of survival, she was kidnapped and imprisoned for 18 years by convicted sex offender Phillip Craig Garrido and his wife Nancy. Details of her long ordeal, including the multiple missed opportunities to rescue her before she was found in 2009, were featured in her interview with Sawyer, an emotional experience for viewers.
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Story by Anna Miller