Ian Michael Kintzle recently got a chance to sit down with TV Guide and EPIX News host Carly Steel. They talked about her interview with the cast of The Avengers, and how Giuliana Rancic from E! News helped jumpstart her career.
Cliché: So, Carly, being someone who traditionally is the one doing the interviewing, what’s it like being on the other side of the gun?
Carly: (Laughs) It takes a little getting used to. In January, when I was promoting TV Guide Network’s Award Season shows, I did a lot of radio interviews. It’s funny, I was actually asked to come back and co-host for one of them, because I’m definitely more of a host than an interviewee. What’s fun is sometimes during the movie junkets, the actors will turn it around on you and they’ll take the interviewer’s seat. Clooney especially like to do that, you need to be on your toes around him.
Cliché: George Clooney likes to flip the tables?
Carly: Oh, yes! I think it’s his way of keeping things interesting. He’s so charismatic and conversational, and you think you’ve had this great interview with him, until you get into the studio with your editor and realize it’s hard to cut bytes out (laughs). George has a very unique, witty way of taking what you say and spinning it off in a completely different direction. He’s a lot like Robert Downey; you know it’ll be entertaining with lots of trademarked sarcasm.
Cliché: Speaking of Robert, you just finished the Avengers press junket in April! Tell me about it.
Carly: It was amazing. My producer, Derek Ingber, is a diehard Marvel fan, and he had a connection at Hasbro, so he managed to obtain The Avengers action figures — Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk, etc. — and we had them all lined up on a table in our room where we were shooting 1:1s for EPIX. Next we had Robert Downey Jr. and Mark Ruffalo come in for the interview, and the big question comes up: who would win in a battle, The Incredible Hulk or Iron Man? There was some playful rivalry back and fourth, then the next thing you know, the two of them start playing with each others’ respective action figures, and that’s where it went off the rails. Robert says, “Hulk, you have such big muscles”, and of course, Mark follows suit, “Stark, I love your shiny armor. Lets kiss!” It got awkward (laughs).
Carly: It got better. We brought Robert these FRS Energy Chews. A mutual friend said he loved them, so one of our assistants went out that morning and picked some up. We gave them to Robert, and his reaction was so funny and unexpected. He picks them up, and says, “How do you know about this?” And in a very sarcastic, yet charming, Robert Downey Jr. way, proclaimed, “I will not be subjected to product placement!” And then starts flinging them all around the room.
Cliché: It sounds like it was insanely fun.
Carly: It was. I must admit, though, I had a rather awkward moment with Chris Hemsworth…
Cliché: Oh, no…
Carly: Oh yes… I handed him his Thor action figure, and I said (laughs)… “Would you care to play with yourself?” I didn’t really realize how bad that sounded. Chris was a sport and just laughed it off.
Cliché: I don’t think you could have positioned that any better. Did you have a chance to chat with Jeremy Renner or Scarlett Johansson?
Carly: I did! Jeremy and Scarlett were amazing. It was interesting for Scarlett, I think. Apart from Cobie Smulders, she was really one of the only girls on set and had to adapt to being “one of the guys”. She said she would always have to tell the boys she couldn’t hang out after shooting because she needed her beauty sleep for the next day. Finally she throws this incredible little get together for the cast where she made homemade agave cupcakes and all these other incredible treats. Jeremy said she’s some kind of master baker.
Cliché: So, Carly, if you go all the way back to the beginning of your career up until now, who has been the most interesting person you’ve ever interviewed?
Carly: That’s tough. I have a few, actually. First would be Robert Downey Jr., for a variety of reasons. He’s so charismatic and quick-witted, and from an interview standpoint, I appreciate that. I love his thought process; it’s very clever. Second would be Richard Gere. He’s an incredibly charming gentleman. Clint Eastwood is another. He’s classic Hollywood. He’s just so cool to talk to, literally everything you’d imagine. You kind of walk away from a conversation with him, thinking, “That was a moment.” Another classic, Hollywood-type would have to be Michael Douglas. He was a joy to interview.
Cliché: These are leading men whose careers have spanned decades. I’m sure their stories are amazing.
Carly: They are! Speaking of classic Hollywood, the director, Garry Marshall, is another person that really stands out. I mean this is the guy that created Happy Days, and directed Runaway Bride and Pretty Woman. He has incredible stories. I did a live stream for the film New Years Eve, which he recently directed, and he regaled me with these amazing stories about virtually every major player in LA. It was so interesting to hear the history about old Hollywood. I adore anyone that can give me some firsthand insight into that bygone era.
Cliché: What a legend. This next one is a two part. How did your childhood influence your career?
Carly: Well, I was always really into drama and arts from a young age. While I was attending school in Scotland, I was selected by BBC to do film reviews for a children’s show called “Fully Booked”. As a child, it was a lot of fun. I got to go to early screenings of movies, and talk about whether I liked them or not. So, I guess that was my first little kick start on my career.
Cliché: And who was the biggest, direct influence on your career?
Carly: I think that honor has to go to Giuliana Rancic from E! News, and that’s a funny story, actually. I was living in New York and I was working for Vogue at the time. The Met Ball was that evening, so everyone was in town. I remember I was out getting Starbucks for my editor, and I saw Giuliana in line in front of me! I debated back and forth for a good five minutes on whether or not I should say something (laughs). Finally I just introduced myself. And she was so nice, and so lovely. She put me in touch with the Executive Producer of E! News and then I flew out to LA for an interview and they hired me. One thing led to another, and I was eventually doing interviews for E! Online. My career kind of snowballed from there. After E! I went to Young Hollywood, then TV Guide. I also contributed to KTLA and Good Morning America. I don’t think any of that would have happened if it hadn’t been for Giuliana.
Cliché: The world’s funny that way.
Carly: I know! When you hear the backstory on some of these amazing people that work in my field, my journey sounds so silly. Jason Kennedy from E! was chasing news trucks at ten years old, and creating videos in his basement (laughs).
Cliché: Speaking of people in your industry, who are some that you look up to?
Carly: From a journalistic standpoint, Anderson Cooper. He’s not your traditional, over-the-top reporter. He has a very casual delivery, and he stays true to himself. Ryan Seacrest is another person I look up to. I recently started my own production company and have been producing my own material and Ryan’s been a huge role model for that.
Cliché: That guy’s a beast. I heard he’s up at like 4AM every day. Insane work ethic.
Cliché: What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
Carly: There are so many rewarding parts! I love the award shows. These actors work so incredibly hard on their craft. When you see them win something as prestigious as a Golden Globe or an Oscar, it’s quite magical being able to celebrate and share that moment with them backstage.
Cliché: So apart from hosting and interviewing, you’ve done a bit of acting, including a film I really enjoyed called Unstoppable with Denzel Washington and Chris Pine. How do you balance the two careers?
Carly: It’s an interesting balance, to say the least. Acting is fun, but continuing my current career path is my number one priority. I’d like to transition into broadcast journalism — in depth one on one interviews, specifically. I really admire the careers of Diane Sawyer and Barbara Walters, and that’s the exact type of work I’d love to get more involved with. So with that said, you have to be very careful to not alienate yourself when it comes to choosing roles in film and television. It’s the same reason I don’t do gossip.
Cliché: Hey, Olivia Munn pulled it off in Iron Man 2!
Carly: She did!
Cliché: Last question: apart from chance run-ins with insanely famous people at Starbucks, what is your one piece of advice for people looking to break into your field of work?
Carly: It goes back to the old adage of preparation and a little bit of luck, but what it really boils down to work ethic. You need to have the same work ethic with entertainment as if you were a doctor or a lawyer. You need to make it your whole life, because it is very competitive, especially nowadays. Working on the production side gives you a deeper understanding of what’s expected when you host. If you want to do it, give it your best shot and you’ll never regret it. You’ll only regret it if you don’t try.
Cliché: Carly, thanks so much. It was a pleasure!
Carly: I echo those sentiments!
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Carly Steel chats with Sacha Baron Cohen on the red carpet about his role in The Dictator.