When Ruby Wax Met… (BBC Two) gives us a double wax bang, yesterday and today, and turns out to be an absorbing analysis of the fame, fame, and massive cultural changes that have taken place over the course of of the past four decades. In the 90s and early 2000s, Wax pioneered documentary-style celebrity interviews, with the camera often rolling before she and her subject had even met. She spent time with stars such as Tom Hanks, Goldie Hawn and OJ Simpson (more on him later) and gained an unprecedented level of access in the era of brand management and “control of the brand.” story “.
Now a writer, actress and mental health activist, Wax says she hasn’t seen these interviews in 25 years: “It’s another life. We don’t even feel like we have the same skin.
In three episodes, she scours the archives, revisits some of her most infamous encounters, and reflects on what has changed since. Earlier this year, she appeared on Louis Theroux’s podcast, Grounded, and spoke candidly about how she resented him for what she saw, for a while, as he stole from her. his career. Her approach to interviews was large and daring, at times brash, often with herself at the center; Theroux came over and was the quietly observing outsider. Trends come and go – and sobriety was the order of the day.
It could have been a simple retrospective, bringing together Wax’s biggest hits, but it’s a lot more thoughtful and has a lot of depth. She begins by reviewing “the worst interview I have ever done”, with Donald Trump, in 2000. She calls it “atrocious” – and it is. Trump repeatedly calls out heinous Wax. Her comments make her lose her game and we see her floundering. He rarely looks at her, addressing his answers to the camera. The idea of an interview going so fast, so fast, is a journalist’s worst nightmare. “I cringe even now,” says Wax, who explains that she was afraid of him. Trump is often called a buffoon; Wax captures his threat.
Even more breathtaking is her meeting with OJ Simpson, which she keeps until the end of this first episode. She calls him “the most complicated character on Earth” and it seems like she’s trying to figure it out, all these years later. “His presence was very irregular,” she says. “I couldn’t look inside.” The wax is direct with him and Simpson plays up to it, pretending to stab her with a banana. They are walking around Venice Beach and people are shaking his hand and heckling him, sometimes in the same movement. It’s impossible to imagine an interview like this now.
Just as fascinating as the horror shows – and much more enjoyable – are his encounters with Carrie Fisher and Goldie Hawn, who both enjoyed Wax and gave him candid and eloquent interviews, while seeming to fully enjoy the experience.
Seeing Fisher in his prime is exquisite. She is gorgeous, witty and fun. The interview ends when Fisher decides that the two of them are going shopping. They became good friends afterwards and actually went shopping, Wax says, for 35 years afterward. Her time with Goldie Hawn, who opens the door without makeup and does the interview between her bed and a hot tub, is equally joyous. It’s also honest and insightful.
Wax defends the idea that such setups were there to the “wacky” factor as a misconception. Really, they made for much more interesting and revealing conversations, as they meant celebrities were under scrutiny than they were in the traditional studio setup that had thrived for so long.
A setup in which Tom Hanks was willing to laugh at all of Wax’s jokes made for a high profile interview, though it revealed a lot less about Hanks than it did about Wax. But given that his best encounters required his subjects to be up to it, it’s only fitting that – 25 years later – Wax would be up to it as well. She’s brutally honest about her own psychology and why it got her to act the way she did. Trump was his worst nightmare because he reminded him of his disapproving father. She loved Fisher and Hawn because she felt appreciated by popular girls who had avoided her in school. She created a character to be on television; it made great television and inevitably she started to become his character. “I went from the ugly duckling to Joan Rivers overnight,” she says. Watching him play, with the benefit of Wax’s thoughtful analysis, is a treat.