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Inside the Actors Studio

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Inside the Actors Studio
Created byJames Lipton
Presented by
Theme music composerAngelo Badalamenti
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons23
No. of episodes277 (list of episodes)
Camera setupMulti-camera
Production companiesTriage Entertainment
Original release
ReleaseJune 12, 1994 (1994-06-12) –
December 15, 2019 (2019-12-15)

Inside the Actors Studio is an American talk show that airs on Ovation. The series premiered in 1994 on Bravo where it aired for 22 seasons and was hosted by James Lipton from its premiere until 2018.[1] It is taped at the Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts at Pace University's New York City campus.[2][3][4]

On April 2, 2019, it was announced that the show would move to Ovation with the 23rd and final season premiering on October 13, 2019.[5] Ovation acquired the rights to all previous seasons.[5]

About the program[edit]

James Lipton

The program began as a televised craft seminar for students of the Actors Studio Drama School, originally a joint venture of the Actors Studio and New School University in 1994, with Paul Newman, a former Actors Studio president, as its first guest, and soon became Bravo's flagship program.[2] At first taped at the New School's Tishman Auditorium in Greenwich Village, New York City, it was shifted subsequently to its present location, Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts at Pace University's New York City campus. The program is presented as a seminar to students of the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University.

The show deliberately uses a slower pace in the interviews as compared with a typical celebrity interview, thus cameras usually record a couple of hours of conversation, later edited to one or two hours. The result, as a New York Times article expressed it, "In Mr. Lipton's guest chair, actors cease being stars for a while and become artists and teachers." Though sometimes, some interviews go longer; Steven Spielberg's 1999 visit, for example, stretched to four hours, and was later shown as two episodes of one hour each. The interviews are guided by Lipton's trademark index-card questions, which sometimes reveal his well-researched knowledge of guests' lives, often startling some. On one such occasion, Billy Crystal told Lipton, "You know you're scary, don't you?"[2][3] On another occasion, Martin Sheen asked Lipton, "How do you know all this? This is extraordinary." And Sir Anthony Hopkins, upon learning that Lipton knew the exact address where the former had been born and raised in Wales, turned to the audience and remarked, "He's a detective, you know."

In May 2005, the contract between the Actors Studio and New School University was not renewed. Beginning with the 12th season, in the fall of 2005, the program was taped at the Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts at Pace University's New York City campus. The show featured a new set with a gritty backstage feel, designed by Will Rothfuss for Blair Broadcast Designs, and The Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University re-opened in new facilities.

James Lipton with guest Angelina Jolie. The majority of the show is held as a one-on-one interview.

Since its premiere, Inside the Actors Studio has had over 300 guests. The first episode's guest was Paul Newman (Alec Baldwin was the first guest, but his interview was broadcast after Newman's). The guests have included 74 Academy Award winners: eight directors; four screenwriters; 61 actors and actresses; and three composers. For its 200th show, Lipton became the guest subject of the show. He was questioned by Dave Chappelle, whom he picked personally. The show ended with the Pace University provost announcing that the college is sponsoring a scholarship in Chappelle's name to his high school alma mater. Based on the show, James Lipton published a book titled Inside Inside in 2007.[1] In September 2018, Lipton declared that he was stepping down from the program after 23 seasons. Starting in 2019, the show is hosted by different celebrities.

In his review of the program, The Sunday Times critic A.A. Gill wrote: "The format is simple and idiotically inspired. The Actors Studio is the New York drama school made famous by Stanislavsky and his method (although the series is now filmed elsewhere). These shows are thinly set-up masterclasses for students. The cleverness is in the vanity it allows the guests, who are the very greatest and most self-regarding performers and creators of theatre and film. People who are too grand to talk to anyone will talk to Inside the Actors Studio. They believe they're giving something back, offering precious pearls of insight to a new generation. And who doesn't look good passing it on to adoring students? In truth, it's just a chat show on satellite, but the veil of education and posterity is held decorously high, so everybody turns up and talks with a smile."[6]

While most of the show is a one-on-one interview conducted by the host (Lipton in the first 22 seasons, rotating hosts since season 23), this is followed by the host submitting a questionnaire to the guest. The questionnaire concept was originated by French television personality Bernard Pivot on his show Apostrophes, after the Proust Questionnaire.[citation needed] The 10 questions Lipton asks are:

  1. What is your favorite word?
  2. What is your least favorite word?
  3. What turns you on?
  4. What turns you off?
  5. What sound or noise do you love?
  6. What sound or noise do you hate?
  7. What is your favorite curse word?
  8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
  9. What profession would you not like to do?
  10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

The program usually concludes with a question-and-answer session with the students.

In France, the show has been broadcast since 1999 on Paris Première, with French subtitles.[7]

In popular culture[edit]

The show has been good-naturedly lampooned for Lipton's paused and somewhat clipped delivery on Saturday Night Live, in which Will Ferrell portrayed Lipton interviewing himself as an annoyed guest. He was also spoofed on The Simpsons, where character Rainier Wolfcastle (a parody of Arnold Schwarzenegger) shoots his interviewer and a dying Lipton croaks, "It's a pleasure to eat your lead, good sir." In another episode of The Simpsons, in which Homer donates a kidney, he single-mindedly rushes his family home so he can watch the Inside The Actors Studio interview of F. Murray Abraham. Ferrell, with his Old School co-stars Vince Vaughn, Luke Wilson and director Todd Phillips, again portrayed a satirical version of Lipton in a skit called "Inside the Actors Studio Spoof", which can be seen as part of the DVD release special features for the film. Ferrell appears as himself and answers questions poking fun at some of his less successful films, such as A Night at the Roxbury, in what is obviously a comedic take on Lipton's reverential approach to his interviewees. Comedian Will Sasso portrayed Lipton on Mad TV and David Cross parodied him as Cyrus on Mr Show. Weird Al Yankovic's song "Couch Potato" describes "James Lipton discussing the oeuvre of Mr. Rob Schneider." among other things on TV. In the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode "Werewolf," Mike Nelson hits his head and thinks he is James Lipton.


Guest list for the show sorted alphabetically by last name. For a full list, see List of Inside the Actors Studio episodes.

























Cast notes
  1. ^ Bradley Cooper was the first guest to have attended the Actors Studio as a student. ( "Cooper talks to Stern about the Actors Studio". YouTube. April 25, 2021. Retrieved April 30, 2024.)
  2. ^ James Lipton's episode was hosted by previous guest Dave Chappelle.[citation needed]

Ensemble guests[edit]

Declined invitations[edit]

  • In January 2013, Jennifer Lawrence declined the chance to appear on the show, citing her youth and lack of experience.[10]
  • From the show's beginnings, Lipton had tried to persuade Marlon Brando to come on the show. Although a charter member of the Actors Studio, Brando flatly refused; speaking in a 2012 interview, it was the only such categorical rejection Lipton could recall:

[B]y the time I started the show -- although he was a member of the Actor's Studio and had been trained by Stella Adler as I was; we knew each other, and we used to talk on the phone for hours at a time -- but by that time he was already reclusive. I couldn't get him out of the house and neither could anyone else.[11]

Home media[edit]

Selected episodes of the show have been released by Shout! Factory. Three DVDs containing a single episode each feature Robin Williams, Johnny Depp, Dave Chappelle and Barbra Streisand. Two compilation sets were also released. Leading Men features Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Sean Penn, and Russell Crowe. Icons features Clint Eastwood, Paul Newman, Robert Redford, and Barbra Streisand.


The show has been nominated for 18 Emmy awards,[12] winning once (in 2013).[13]


  1. ^ a b "Lipton takes readers inside 'Inside the Actors Studio'". Msnbc.com. October 19, 2007. Archived from the original on October 24, 2007.
  2. ^ a b c WARREN BERGER (March 14, 1999). "All the School's a Stage; Stars Talk Shop and the Film Community Listens". The New York Times.
  3. ^ a b James barron (September 22, 1996). "The Studio, A Place Of Legends". The New York Times.
  4. ^ Carnicke, Sharon Marie (2008). Stanislavsky in focus: an acting master for the twenty-first century. Taylor & Francis (Routledge). p. 52. ISBN 978-0-415-77496-3.
  5. ^ a b "New Episodes of "Inside the Actors Studio" to Premiere on Ovation on Sunday, October 13". The Futon Critic. April 2, 2019.
  6. ^ http://entertainment...icle7048349.ece Archived September 23, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Alan riding (September 10, 2002). "ARTS ABROAD; Venturing Outside Actors Studio (to Paris)". The New York Times.
  8. ^ a b c "Bravo Writes a New Chapter with Development of Scripted Series and Live Weekly Topical Show".
  9. ^ Dave Itzkoff (April 28, 2009). "James Lipton, Lover of "Family Guy"". The New York Times.
  10. ^ Valby, Karen (January 14, 2013). "Why Golden Globe winner Jennifer Lawrence turned down 'Inside the Actors Studio'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved August 22, 2014.
  11. ^ Ernst, Amanda (April 12, 2012). "So What Do You Do, James Lipton, Creator and Host of Inside the Actor's Studio?". Mediabistro. Retrieved October 18, 2014.
  12. ^ "Inside the Actors Studio". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved September 13, 2015.
  13. ^ "Outstanding Informational Series or Special Nominees / Winners 2013".

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]