Graham Norton Gets Real About The More Competitive A-Listers He's Had On His Famous Sofa

"If an actor tells a funny story, you can see someone seething," he claimed.
Graham Norton
Graham Norton
BBC/So Television/Christopher Baines

Graham Norton has revealed the secret to getting so many A-listers to fess up to embarrassing stories on his talk show – and it’s actually got nothing to do with his interview technique.

On Thursday, Graham was a guest on Seth Meyers’ US talk show, where the Irish host was asked about his own show’s unique approach to interviewing multiple star guests at a time.

Asked whether he gets “nervous about that part of it”, Graham claimed this was actually added a competitive element to his interviews, which helped him get more alarming stories from the celebs on the couch.

“I think what’s good about actors is sometimes they don’t care about the audience, but they do care about each other,” he explained.

“So if an actor tells a funny story, you can see someone seething. Kind of like, ‘I have a funny story! I shit myself!’. And so, the stakes get higher and higher. And sometimes we do get terrible stories – kind of like, ‘don’t tell that on television’.”

In fact, Graham had one such incident just a few months ago, when Kate Winslet spilled about a moment she feared she’d “totally shit myself” on stage during the early years of her career.

“When I think of famous people and the most embarrassing story they’ve told on a chat show, it’s always on your show,” Seth said.

“But I think that is because of the other guests,” Graham then insisted. “They’re trying to outdo each other.

“And also, it is funny to say something really rude in front of Dame Judi Dench or something.”

Graham in the Late Night With Seth Meyers studio
Graham in the Late Night With Seth Meyers studio
NBC via Getty Images

Elsewhere in the interview, Graham shared that after a while, he stopped becoming star-struck by his guests – with one notable exception.

“Once they come through the door and they sit down, pretty quickly, it’s just a man in a jacket or some woman in a frock and that’s the end of it,” Graham explained. “[But] Tom Cruise, I never get past the fact that he’s Tom Cruise. He remains Tom Cruise throughout the interview.

“And an audience likes that, I enjoy that, and also the other guests, you can tell, they’re a bit starry about him. And there aren’t many people like that, that old ‘star system’ has kind of gone.”

Tom Cruise in the Graham Norton Show studio
Tom Cruise in the Graham Norton Show studio
Isabel Infantes - PA Images via Getty Images

Over the years, Graham has lifted the lid on what goes into making his talk show on a number of occasions – and made no secret of the fact that he was not a big fan of its lockdown incarnation.

He also claimed in October 2020 that he has a tendency to zone out during stars’ less exciting anecdotes, admitting: “You zone back in and they’re still talking and you think: ‘I wonder if I’ve missed anything?’ But, you probably haven’t.

“That’s the trick. It’s just yakkety yak. If I’m on it, I’m listening. I’m still bored.”


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