James Lipton, the executive producer and host of the Bravo television series Inside the Actors Studio has had some of the biggest names in the film industry on his show. The guests have included a who’s who of personalities: Paul Newman, Barbara Streisand, Steven Spielberg, Al Pacino, Kate Winslet, Charlize Theron, Harrison Ford, and a host of other stars.
Lipton interviews his guests one-on-one on their career and inspirations before quizzing them specifically on ten simple questions. The questions are all relatively straightforward. They include: What turns you on? What turns you off? What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? What profession would you not like to do? And a few others.
I haven’t seen all 22 seasons, but of the ones I have seen I’ve always been interested in the response to the last question. “If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?”
The responses have over the years have varied; Billy Crystal in Season 13 and Al Pacino in Season 16 both looked forward to their next performances.
- Crystal: “Lenny Bruce is gonna do ten minutes and then you’re on.”
- Pacino: “Rehersal is tomorrow at 3.”
Robin Williams in Season 7 showed that he’s a fan just like the rest of us: “There is seating near the front, the concert begins in five, it will be Mozart, Elvis, and one of your choosing.”
Nine years before his death in 2004, James Gandolfini joked that he wanted a chance to step in for God for a few minutes. His response: “[God would say] take over for a while, I’ll be right back,” Gandolfini joked. He quickly shook his head no, but when pressed by Lipton, joked: “Think of the possibilities.”
I can’t see me giving the same comment, but I loved late comedian George Carlin’s response. In keeping with his personality, George Carlin joked: “Now we’re gonna have some fun around here.”
Helen Hunt said she wanted God to say, “You showed courage.”
I like the funny responses, but I probably best relate to Kiefer Sutherland’s response: “Why do you look so scared? Don’t worry, c’mon in.” Or Drew Barrymore’s comment: “Relax, finally.”
And even more to the point, Samuel L. Jackson’s: “You’re in.”
My own response. It’s a cliché, but I settle on this one: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Now to make that happen!