Celebrities say and do the darndest things in interviews. Remember when Charlie Sheen bragged about having tiger blood, or Morgan Freeman fell asleep on live television? You can’t make this stuff up! But sometimes, reporters do make stuff up. Unfortunately, you can’t believe everything you read, and sometimes, you can’t even believe what you hear or see. In fact, some of the juiciest, most shocking, and intimate interviews with the stars have turned out to be complete hoaxes.
In print interviews, writers have occasionally invented questions and the celebrity’s answers to them. Manufacturing falsehoods is a little trickier with audio and video, but editors have been caught doctoring soundbites to create a misleading celebrity interview. This kind of deception has prompted lawsuits, apologies, and statements galore. It’s also made one notorious fibber into a famous person in his own right. From Beyoncé’s marriage contract to Mike Tyson’s relationship with cockroaches, we’ve researched some of the most notorious celebrity interview hoaxes.
George Clooney calls foul on Hello! magazine
Landing an exclusive with George Clooney would be quite a coup, so Hello! magazine’s 2016 interview with the actor/director was a big deal. Especially given the headline: « George Clooney Reveals Wife Amal Clooney’s Most Attractive Feature. » Who wouldn’t want to know George’s favorite thing about his wife?
According to Hello! (via The Wrap), the actor said Amal’s brains were her most magnetic attribute. « The thing which really impressed me the most about her was how incredibly smart she is. I’ve never had so many great discussions as I’ve had with her. » Intelligence is a nice thing to celebrate. That is, it would have been had Hello! ever, in fact, spoken to the Hollywood A-lister.
« The problem is that I have not given an interview to Hello Magazine and the quotes attributed to me are not accurate, » Clooney said in a statement. « In my experience, being misquoted is not unusual, but to have an ‘exclusive interview’ completely fabricated is something new. And a very disturbing trend. »
Hello! claimed it bought the interview from Famous, an agency with a supposedly solid reputation. Needless to say, Hello! pulled the interview after Clooney disputed it.
Courtney Love was involved in a ‘betrayal of monumental proportions’
Süddeutsche Zeitung reporter Tom Kummer’s name comes up a lot on this list, but it was his supposed 1996 Courtney Love interview that exposed him as a fraud. He reported (via The New York Times) that Love told him: ”I play with my breasts, not to show off but to demonstrate a kind of revulsion. I simply transform myself into a voice for all the tormented souls of this world.”
Many editors might not question the outrageous Hole frontwoman talking about her breasts like that, but Love’s reps denied ever granting Kummer an interview. In fact, editors later recognized that quote from Kummer’s own description of breasts in an earlier article for a different paper. In the Swiss newspaper Welwoche, Kummer reportedly wrote, « She plays with her breasts not to show off but to demonstrate revulsion. She wants to embody the voice of all tormented souls in the world.”
Focus magazine, an SZ competitor, reportedly sounded the alarm and began questioning other Kummer interviews involving celebrities’ publicists that he’d never interviewed the stars. The Guardian reported on Focus and SZ‘s findings, which apparently identified other fabricated quotes and/or instances when Kummer appeared to plagiarize himself. According to The Guardian, Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung « published an apology to its readers for what it describes as ‘a betrayal of monumental proportions.' »
Drew Barrymore’s questionable feminism (and grammar)
When you’re stuck on an airplane for hours, you have a lot of time to think about what you’re reading, so when passenger Adam Baron read an interview with actress Drew Barrymore in EgyptAir’s Horus magazine, he apparently had time to share those quotes on social media. Supposedly, Barrymore was talking about her career ambitions … but doing so with questionable grammar.
« I would only resume my career when I feel that my daughters can depend on themselves, » she supposedly said in that Horus article (via The Huffington Post). « I cannot deny that women made a great achievement over [the] past century, there is significant progress recorded by people who study women [sic] status throughout history. This is naturally reflected on women in the west who will not be satisfied unless they gain the rights they deserve to the society. This is especially true since women exert tremendous effort that men are incapable of exerting due to their numerous commitments and obligations. »
Baron’s tweets went viral, and Barrymore’s reps saw them. That’s when the actress’ team stepped in to assert that Barrymore had never spoken to Horus writer Aida Takla O’Reilly. O’Reilly stuck to her guns and insisted that she did, in fact, interview Barrymore.
Pamela Anderson may have been the first victim of a serial hoaxer
Once Tom Kummer’s practice of faking celebrity interviews was exposed, many of his previous stories were reexamined and revealed to be fake, too. Like this fake Pamela Anderson interview from 1996, preserved courtesy of German apparel brand 032c. « My implants ache occasionally, but that’s normal, » Anderson (never) said. « I plan to breastfeed my children. » Yep, it seems Kummer is really obsessed with women’s breasts.
He also claimed to have asked Anderson if she minded her then-husband Tommy Lee’s tattoo of his ex, actress Heather Locklear. « I really don’t care, although no one seems to believe me, » Anderson allegedly replied. « I think that every man goes through countless periods of admiring different sex symbols. And they shouldn’t be ashamed of that. I think Heather is a magical person. I just think she has a poor diet. That’s her real tragedy. »
The Daily Maverick claimed Anderson was Kummer’s first fake interview. Once he earned acclaim for it, he allegedly became addicted to the recognition and manufactured more hoaxes with bigger stars saying even more outrageous things.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was manipulated by a video hoax
New Yorker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became a political celebrity during her 2018 Congressional campaign. The political underdog made headlines for her outspoken positions (and her dance skills.) When she seemed stumped by so-called reporter Allie Stuckey’s questions during an interview on conservative site CRTV, it seemed out of character for the characteristically well-spoken up-and-comer. Ocasio-Cortez had already given countless interviews in which she always seemed on the ball.
That’s because Stuckey did not, in fact, interview Ocasio-Cortez. CRTV reportedly spliced Stuckey’s questions with video of Ocasio-Cortez on the PBS show Firing Line. CRTV superimposed Stuckley’s logo over the Firing Line logo and manipulated the context of Ocasio-Cortez’ words, focusing on her stumbling between soundbites. CRTV claimed the hoax was intended to be satirical.
Ocasio-Cortez commented on Twitter (via Buzzfeed): « Republicans are so scared of me that they’re faking videos and presenting them as real on Facebook because they can’t deal with reality anymore. Here’s one bonafide truth: Election Day is November 6th. » She had the last laugh when she won the seat.
Tom Hiddleston and Taylor Swift’s fling became fodder for tricksters
When Tom Hiddleston was dating Taylor Swift, he kept his love life largely to himself (except for that notorious tank top.) However, the Avengers star really cut loose during an interview with Belgian radio show Qmusic. When the deejays asked Hiddleston about his pop star paramour, the actor sounded downright starstruck.
« Oh, she is an absolute delight, » he supposedly gushed (via E! News). « She’s got such a wicked sense of humor, and she’s really fun to have around. She’s really great. » When asked to describe his new relationship, Hiddleston apparently said, « I would describe it as a roller-coaster ride of action and spectacle, and lots of laughs. » Hmm… anybody else think that last bit sounds like the way an actor might describe a movie, rather than a person?
E! News confirmed that Hiddleston’s radio interview was a hoax. According to Metro UK, all that « action and spectacle » may have been words Hiddleston uttered while describing the film Crimson Peak, and all that gushing about « a wicked sense of humor » could be the way he described working with an on-screen costar.
This Sharon Stone story needs a total recall
Sharon Stone was arguably Hollywood’s biggest sex symbol in the ’90s. Basic Instinct made her an irresistible femme fatale, which may have inspired Tom Kummer to claim that she loved to torment men and even invited him to look between her legs. « I want a partner who really loves me, » she supposedly told him (via The Sunday Times) « But that is impossible for me. Who wants to start a relationship with me? I need a bodyguard; strange men try to break into my house; I get thousands of letters every day, half of them written by psychopaths. But the worst part of it all is that every guy, nice as he may be, wants to have sex with me immediately. »
According to the fact-checking of more reputable journalists and publications, none of that was true and Stone denied that an interview ever occurred.
Tom Cruise takes action when a hoax claims he ‘shoots blanks’
Tom Cruise was on top of the world — and the box office — in 1996. Mission: Impossible was the summer hit that would launch a lucrative franchise and Jerry Maguire became a holiday hit that had folks everywhere saying, « You complete me » and « Show me the money. » The only obvious blemish in Cruise’s big moment was a July 1996 article in Bunte magazine that claimed the actor couldn’t produce biological children. Of course, that prompted the punny question: « The Top Gun shoots blanks? »
Cruise sued the German magazine for $60 million for allegedly damaging his reputation as a virile action hero. In this case, the reporter had reportedly been involved in a conversation with Cruise, but what the journalist wrote was, at best, lost in translation. According to People, Cruise was misquoted saying: « My sperm count is zero. » Bunteeventually admitted that the reporter made up large parts of the interview, and Cruise dropped the lawsuit after the magazine apologized and retracted the story. In the suit, the actor asserted that his counts are « normal, » by the way.
Ivana Trump fell victim to fake news
By April of 1999, Ivana Trump had long been divorced from Donald Trump, so when Tom Kummer (Yep, this guy again) made up an interview with her, he didn’t focus on the future president. Instead, he zeroed in on Ivana’s glamorous physical appearance … by making her appear insecure about her skin.
‘There may be no great mishap in life than skin problems,” she supposedly said (via The New York Times.) ”Pimples are not really a problem. They come and they go. Skin irritations are much worse. It can only get worse when you’re turned down by a famous skin clinic.”
First of all, Ivana has great skin, so she probably doesn’t spend much time worrying about it. She certainly never spent any time worrying about it with Kummer. Ivana’s spokeswoman, Catherine Saxton, said Donald’s ex didn’t remember ever talking to Kummer, and The New York Times determined that Ivana’s so-called quotes appeared to be quotes belonging to artist Andy Warhol in the book The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again).
Bruce Willis was held hostage by ‘borderline journalism’
Bruce Willis was a huge star in the ’90s. He’d left TV far behind and had starred in three blockbuster Die Hard films as well as the indie darling Pulp Fiction. He’d also married and divorced A-list actress Demi Moore, and the tabloids followed their relationship mercilessly. Consequently, Willis started doing fewer and fewer interviews. What’s a reporter to do when a big celebrity won’t grant an interview?
If you’re Tom Kummer, you make it up. « I understood pretty early on that we do not advance through morality, but immorality, vices, cynicism, » Willis supposedly told the reporter (via The Guardian). Hmm… Breaking some rules may help John McClane save the day, but it’s not usually the sort of thing someone brags about doing in real life. Fortunately, we now know that Willis does not actually champion immorality. At least, if he does, he never said so to Kummer.
By the way, Kummer and what he referred to as « borderline journalism » became a documentary titled Bad Boy Kummer. According to The Guardian, the film tracked down the hoax master in Los Angeles, where he « teaches paddle tennis, an aptly fraudulent sort of sport that uses smaller courts and less bouncy balls than the original. »
Ennio Morricone didn’t say ‘hateful’ things about Quentin Tarantino
Even famous composers sometimes fall prey to media hoaxes. Ennio Morricone is a legendary musician, known for his themes to classic westerns such as The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Once Upon a Time in the West. That’s why Quentin Tarantino hired him to write the music for The Hateful Eight. Morricone won an Oscar for that work, which is why it was big news when Playboy Germany published an interview in which Morricone slammed Tarantino.
In the pages of the magazine, Morricone supposedly describes Tarantino as a cretin, says he’s not a real director, and calls his movies trash. He also allegedly called the Oscars an embarrassment. The real Morricone told The Hollywood Reporter he never even gave an interview to Playboy Germany, much less spoke an ill word about Tarantino. « I consider Tarantino a great director, » Morricone said in a statement. « I am very fond of my collaboration with him and the relationship we have developed during the time we have spent together. He is courageous and has an enormous personality. I credit our collaboration responsible for getting me an Oscar, which is for sure one of the greatest acknowledgments of my career, and I am forever grateful for the opportunity to compose music for his film. »
This Mike Tyson hoax put the press on the ropes
Mike Tyson has said plenty of outrageous things in legitimate interviews. He reportedly bragged about abusing ex-wife Robin Givens. He has talked about his pigeon collection. Why would anyone need to make up an interview with the former heavyweight champion?
When Tom Kummer and Tyson got together, the controversial reporter asked the controversial boxer to discuss the philosopher Nietzsche — something Tyson has done in authentic interviews. (Kummer must have done his research to know Tyson was a fan.) But when Kummer’s published piece discussed Tyson’s time in prison, the content became suspect. Kummer reported that Tyson said he would eat cockroaches as a source of protein. Now, Tyson did once say that he wanted to eat an opponent’s children, but at no time has the man corroborated eating insects to maintain muscle mass. Needless to say, GQ reportedly syndicated the story.
Maybe it’s a good thing Kummer’s hoax habit was exposed later, instead of immediately following his Tyson tale. Because if Iron Mike sunk his teeth into this false report, Kummer might have lost more than just his journalism job.
Beyonce calls bologna on a $10 million marriage contract story
German magazine Neon thought it had landed a major scoop when freelance writer Ingo Mocek delivered an interview with Beyoncé that detailed an alleged two-year, $10 million marriage contract with Jay-Z. In Mocek’s interview, Beyonce also supposedly shared some harsh words about white record producers. That intel would, indeed, be headline news if the Queen Bey had ever talked about any of it.
Beyoncé’s managers, who had authorized an interview with Mocek, disputed his version of their conversation. Neon did due diligence and asked Mocek to corroborate his article. When the reporter could not produce evidence of Beyonce’s comments, Neon fired Mocek and issued a profuse apology. « We do have serious doubts in the truth of many statements of the interview of Ms. Beyoncé Knowles published in Neon, Issue January/2010, » Neon‘s statement read. « Ingo Mocek was not able to verify certain statements, particularly the statements regarding a marriage contract of Ms. Knowles. Therefore, we assume that the interview did not take place as claimed by Ingo Mocek … We sincerely apologize to Ms. Knowles and her management for all personal inconvenience that may have arisen due to the publication of this interview. »