Meg Ryan’s awkward interview with Michael Parkinson in 2003
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Michael Parkinson, 86, has long been a household name; a pillar of chat show history and known as the greatest talk-show host in British television. With a number of iconic interviews under his belt, he’s chatted to the likes of John Wayne, Fred Astaire, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, David Bowie and Madonna over the years, but there was a sit-down with one celebrity in particular that has remained ingrained on his mind as he thought about things he would have done differently. In October 2003, Hollywood actress Meg Ryan appeared on the Parkinson Show to promote her new film In The Cut, which was already soaring.
I wish I hadn’t lost my temper
But rather than watching the usual compelling interviews he was famous for, viewers were left cringing as their chat became one of his most awkward of encounters.
Meg appeared alongside Trinny Woodhall and Susanna Constantine on the show, but came across to a lot of viewers as slightly uncomfortable.
After touching on her interest in journalism before she found her calling in acting, Parky claimed she was “weary of being interviewed” and asked what she would do if she were conducting this one.
Listening stoney-faced, she laughed bluntly: “Well I’d just wrap it up!”
Now, ahead of a new BBC1 documentary which airs on Saturday, the iconic host looked back upon the episode and had some regrets.
“I wish I hadn’t lost my temper with Meg Ryan,” he said in a new interview.
“I wish I’d dealt with it in a more courteous manner.
“I was quite obviously angry with her and it’s not my business to be angry towards the guests.”
He added: “I came across as kind of pompous and I could have done better.”
Parky admitted that if he saw the movie star again, he would apologise for how he acted.
He quickly added to Radio Times that he would tell her: “But you must understand that you played a part in it, too.
“Neither of us were on top form, and we were both discomforted.”
Three years after the infamous interview, Meg branded Parkinson a “nut” and insisted the awkwardness was all his fault.
“I don’t even know the man. That guy was like some disapproving father! It’s crazy. I don’t know what he is to you guys, but he’s a nut,” she told Marie Claire in 2006.
“I felt like he was berating me for being naked in the movie. He said something like: ‘You should go back to doing what you were doing.’
“And I thought, are you like a disapproving dad right now? I’m not even related to you. Back off, buddy. I was so offended by him.”
The Hollywood actress also said that the interview format was longer and tougher than she is used to on American TV and joked about going on The Jonathan Ross Show to talk about the whole thing.
Following her comments, Parkinson hit back at the Hollywood star, claiming she was “the most boring bore I’ve ever met” in response to being branded a “nut”.
“That’s her opinion. She’s welcome to it. I’m delighted – to be called a nut by her is a compliment,” he told The Mirror in 2006.
He then proceeded to joke that they were actually secretly very close and that he sends her Christmas cards every year.
Ten years after that, he spoke to The Mirror again about what happened before the tense interview.
Describing the moments leading up to their chat, he told The Mirror: “I never used to talk to people before except to say, ‘Hi, how are you,’ before they came on the set. On this occasion I had to go to her dressing room and went out there and said ‘Hi’ to her.
“She was sitting on one side of the dressing room staring at the wall, and the entourage were at the other side staring at the wall, I thought, ‘Hmm, this is going to be cosy.’
“But the thing that really did it was I had on the guest beforehand, and she was sitting behind the set watching it on a monitor there, so she knew damn well what was going on.”
Parkinson’s full interview is available to read now in Radio Times.
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