Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 9/12/2018 (258 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
For all of the discussion about the celebrity profile being dead in the age when social media can be more revealing, it would seem that the genre is alive and well.
Last week alone marked a flurry of stories, featuring Lena Dunham, Amanda Bynes and Shawn Mendes, who were surprisingly candid about their personal lives — and we don’t mean the way Beyoncé was open with Vogue (in an article written "in her own words") for its storied September issue.
We took a look back at those and other particularly forthcoming celebrity interviews this year, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Cardi B, Paul McCartney and, the chattiest of them all, Quincy Jones.
Lena Dunham, profiled by Allison P. Davis for New York magazine’s the Cut
Subjects covered: Dunham’s health (the Girls creator, who has talked publicly about her struggle with endometriosis, had an elective hysterectomy last year and has also been diagnosed with fibromyalgia); her split last year from longtime boyfriend Jack Antonoff of Fun. and Bleachers fame; the dissolution of the production company she co-founded with Girls producer Jenni Konner; her many, many, many apologies.
Juiciest revelations: Dunham hasn’t spoken to Lorde, once a close friend, since those (unconfirmed) rumours about the singer dating Antonoff. She also, apparently, is no longer speaking to Konner.
And despite Dunham’s insistence that she is trying to step back from the spotlight, she is her typical forthcoming self in the interview, even showing Davis a photograph of her uterus. Davis leans into the delightful ridiculousness of the celebrity profile genre, writing, "I leaned in so I could see her Fallopian tubes better. They looked like little outstretched arms."
Best quote: "Yeah, I’m not for everyone."
Lena-est quote: "I am so pleased to report that I’ve never done an ethnic costume."
Shawn Mendes, profiled by Patrick Doyle for Rolling Stone
Subjects covered: His Portuguese roots (the singer’s father is Portuguese, and part of the interview took place in Portugal, where many of his relatives live); his discomfort with rumours about his sexuality; his neurosis.
Juiciest revelations: Despite his wholesome image, he (gasp!) loves weed. Yes, there was something going on with him and Hailey Baldwin (before her engagement to Justin Bieber), but he’s hesitant to call it a relationship; he really wishes he could "get paparazzied with someone." And, on a related note, Doyle shares a dispatch from a musical festival in Hungary — where, after performing, Mendes meets a "cute Hungarian bartender" and takes her back to his hotel room.
Best quote: "It’s literally my biggest fear, to wake up tomorrow and nobody cares."
Amanda Bynes, profiled by Abby Schreiber for Paper Magazine
Subjects covered: Bynes’ childhood fame; her sobriety following years of increasingly heavy drug use, which she says caused her to behave erratically in public and on social media during her mid-20s; her decision to abruptly quit acting, which she attributes partly to a depression she says was brought on by being unhappy with her appearance in the 2006 film She’s the Man, in which her character pretended to be a boy.
Juiciest revelation: She advocated for a then-unknown Channing Tatum to get cast in She’s the Man.
Best quote: "I’m really ashamed and embarrassed with the things I said. I can’t turn back time but if I could, I would."
Gwyneth Paltrow, profiled by Taffy Brodesser-Akner for the New York Times Magazine
Subjects covered: The rise of Goop and its fervent haters.
Juiciest revelations: The wellness guru really does smoke cigarettes (Nat Shermans) but only a few times a year. And G.P. (we can call her that because everyone else does) basically always wanted to be "someone who recommended things," Brodesser-Akner writes. She doesn’t know what the Cut is (the New York magazine website, which lovingly and frequently mocks Goop, has really embraced that one).
Goopiest quote: "No, he’s a house manager." (As in, not a butler.)
Second goopiest quote: "It’s a cultural firestorm when it’s about a woman’s vagina."
Mariah Carey, profiled by Alex Frank for Pitchfork
Subjects covered: Carey’s childhood; the various stage of her career (including the low point that was the Glitter era); her trademark high notes; what she meant when she said she didn’t "know her" — her being the very famous Jennifer Lopez.
Juiciest revelations: She almost sold her song catalogue for $5,000 early in her career. She has a custom-made vocal booth at her Los Angeles home ("It’s tiny, but it’s pink and black with butterflies on it"). She was trying to be nice when she said she didn’t know J. Lo.
Mimi-est quote: "I really was trying to say something nice or say nothing at all. I really was."
Paul McCartney, profiled by Chris Heath for GQ
Subjects covered: McCartney’s work ethic; the Beatles (including his Beatles-era drug use); the group’s 1970 split; the happier pre-fame years.
Juiciest revelations: he once masturbated with John Lennon (and a group of others) at a party — an event that involved name-checking Brigitte Bardot and, um, Winston Churchill. Things get kinkier from there. Also, Lennon tried to get McCartney to try trepanation, a practice that involves drilling a hole into one’s head in an attempt to cure various ailments.
Best quote: "John was a kooky cat."
Quincy Jones, profiled by David Marchese for New York Magazine’s Vulture
Subjects covered: What wasn’t covered?! Michael Jackson; Jones’ friendship with the Clintons; the assassination of John Kennedy; President Donald Trump; Ivanka Trump; rock musicians; his nervous breakdown shortly after collaborating with Jackson on Thriller; his childhood and early career.
Juiciest revelations: he claims to have dated Ivanka Trump, a pairing he said was facilitated by Tommy Hilfiger. He says Marlon Brando was charming and, er, promiscuous, claiming the late actor had dalliances with James Baldwin, Richard Pryor and Marvin Gaye. (The claims were met with strong denials from Brando’s son, Miko; Pryor’s daughter, Rain; and Gaye’s son, Marvin Gaye III.)
Best quote: "I know too much, man."
Cardi B, profiled by Caity Weaver for GQ
Subjects covered: the rapper’s meteoric rise to fame; plastic surgery; gun control; Offset, the Migos rapper she secretly married in September 2017 (he’s referred to as her fiancé in the article); why she reps a particular gang in her music.
Juiciest revelations: she loves political science — and can list the accomplishments of U.S. presidents, with particular fondness for Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Several years ago, pre-fame, she got illegal (and very dangerous) butt injections in a basement apartment in Queens.
Best quote: "I love government. I’m obsessed with presidents. I’m obsessed to know how the system works."
Brian Tyree Henry, profiled by Zach Baron for GQ
Subjects covered: the Emmy-nominated Atlanta star’s long road to fame; the sudden death of his mother in a 2016 car accident; how he channelled his grief into an episode of the FX dramedy.
Juiciest revelations: The Atlanta cast is really close ("I would kill for those people," Henry says of his co-stars). His favourite Marvel character is the Hulk. After college, he initially saw himself moving to the District of Columbia and working in security (instead, he auditioned, and got into, Yale’s School of Drama).
Best quote: "Acting is my only power to use to get back at those naysayers and those people who feel like I don’t belong here."
Chevy Chase, profiled by Geoff Edgers for Washington Post
Subjects covered: His brief but beloved stint on Saturday Night Live; his stalled career; his bad reputation in Hollywood; his difficult childhood, marked by physical abuse from his mother.
Juiciest revelations: At his daughter’s 2012 wedding, Chase told Saturday Night Live boss Lorne Michaels that he was ready to host the show (Michaels declined). He also says SNL, which debuted in 1975, "went downhill" after its first two years (Chase left during the show’s second season).
Chevy-est quote: "I thought Eddie Murphy was funny. Gumby. I found that funny and people loved that… Stevie Wonder, he did well. (Pause.) It’s not that hard, for Christ’s sake. Your skin’s the same colour. You just put on some sunglasses and do this."
— Washington Post