Inside ‘Inside the Actors Studio’: Backstage With James Lipton and the ‘Girls’ Cast
For the first time in 22 seasons, James Lipton let a journalist backstage at an ‘Inside the Actors Studio’ taping. With the Girls cast milling about, we talk about… everything.
There is a whirl of chaos that surrounds him on this frigid December night, roughly an hour before he’ll hit the stage to film the next Season 22 episode of Inside the Actors Studio. Lena Dunham, toting several bags and a respectable entourage, breezes by, chirping a giddy, “Hi! Hi! Hi!” to everyone as she passes.
People in headsets are shuttling Girls cast members into green rooms scattered in the hallway of Pace University—Dunham, along with co-stars Allison Williams, Jemima Kirke, and Zosia Mamet, will be the episode’s guests—while production assistants direct audience traffic and bustle around backstage in final preparations for the taping.
But standing calm in the middle of the storm is James Lipton. This is the 266th time he’s done this since 1994, after all, and he has his rituals.
“Rule number one: Turn off the cellphone,” he whispers to me in that regal articulation that, turns out, isn’t just for TV but Lipton’s everyday speech.
In a makeshift dressing room teeming with publicists, assistants, and sound guys manipulating his suit jacket to mic him up, he manages to lock eye contact with me, as if we’re the only people in the room and not surrounded by utter pandemonium.
“Rule number two: Tape down the mic,” he continues, his serenity suddenly interrupted by panic. His eyes dart around until he sees them: the roughly 10-inch stack of large blue index cards. His Bible, marked up with post-it tabs and highlighters and five hours of research for questions he plans to ask the Girls cast.