I think this interview featuring Helen Mirren takes the cake as my favourite television interview of all time. Helen is the beautiful 30-year-old star of the Royal Shakespeare Company, making her first chat show appearance, and she is being questioned by a young, slightly sexist Parkinson who refers to her performances as "sluttish eroticism" and describes her as "in quotes, a serious actress" (to which she replies "In quotes? What do you mean in quotes? How dare you!"). I love Helen's quiet feminism, her defiance, her eloquence and her openness.
A few of my favourite bits...
"What a crummy performance if people are obsessed with the size of your bosom or anything else. I would hope that the performance and the play and the living relationship between all the people on stage and all the people in the audience would overcome such boring questions.
"I hate calling people anything!... it's very dangerous to stick labels...
"I don't like schools... I don't find the school system at all conducive to education... I find all schools repressive... There are a few silly rules like not sitting down on the grass on a hot sunny day when all you want to do is sit down on the grass, and not undoing your top button here, and not rolling up your sleeves, and wearing long grey woolly socks but those are unimportant things. The much greater question of lack of liberty is what happens to people's minds in schools.... I think you go on living with what happened in your early life for the rest of your life.
"Oh, greatly sidetracked. I've wanted to be practically everything I can think of. And I admire people who are more than one thing enormously.
"I'm not a planner. I don't like plans of any sorts. So I believe in a true following of instinct. And that's a difficult thing to describe, because it's not just doing what you want to do, that's not following your instinct, that's a very, sort of, impoverished idea of it. But really following your instinct, in the sense that you keep yourself always open to possibilities. And when the possibilities come, you recognise them, and you go with them. I just hope that other possibilities will occur in my life.
"I find Playboy a pornographic magazine... It's disgusting, because it's pretentious and romanticised. And, I don't know, it's just money. It's just a book of money, and attitude to money. Basically.
"You are what you are, and you are what other people think you are. You can't avoid that.
"And I was really rather good. People said I was good, anyway, and I got that terrific feeling of being good at something, I suppose, and other people recognising it."
I think interviewers often mistake interesting with boring. They think that they are revealing something interesting when they persuade an interviewee to divulge whom they have slept with, which of their colleagues are a nightmare to work with, who they invite to dinner parties. But that is not interesting. It's just gossip, and we can find those sorts of dramas in our own lives, easily.
What is really interesting, and what I want to see or read when I come across an interview, is connection. I love to witness people revealing something true to their hearts. How they think about life, how they feel about it. I don't care if they name names or spill information about other people they know or list what they eat for breakfast. That's beside the point.
All I want is to see a glimpse into another way of thinking and living, that makes me understand the world a little better.