Janet Hsieh has dreamt of interviewing actor Brad Pitt for 20 years now and in just a few days time, it might finally come to pass.
The 36-year-old Taiwanese-American beauty, who has hosted travel show Fun Taiwan for over 10 years now, has been roped in by HBO Asia to interview Hollywood A-listers at the upcoming 2016 Oscars red carpet in Los Angeles, California.
“Hopefully, he’s going to be there because of The Big Short (Pitt is a producer for the Best Picture nominee). It’s an ongoing obsession of mine that has lasted about 20 years now, it’s just a personal thing for me to be able to interview him,” she says in a phone interview from Taipei.
And what would she ask her dream interviewee? She says: “As he has two Asian adopted children (Pax Thien Jolie-Pitt and Maddox Chivan Jolie-Pitt are from Vietnam and Cambodia respectively), I’d ask him if he could say something in Vietnamese or Cambodian to our viewers.
“And then I want him to say ‘I love you,’ ” she adds with a laugh.
Let’s hope her dreams will come true. Still, she must have her share of nightmares being a part of the film industry’s biggest night.
“My biggest fear is I’m going to be talking to, for example, Tom Hanks and totally go blank and be like ‘I don’t remember your name but you’re amazing.’ I’m so terrified that that’s going to happen,” she shares.
Learn more as Hsieh spills the beans on preparing for the prestigious event and engaging in some friendly competition with her husband, actor and TV host George Young.
1. How is hosting at the Oscars red carpet different from your past experiences?
The difference here for me is I have very, very short bursts (of interview time) and everyone’s trying to get the same people’s attention. You have 30 seconds to try to get as much as you can from people who have been answering the same questions and have been probably doing these 30-second interviews.
I’m most nervous about whether I’m going be able to grab the attention of all these A-listers and get a good interview that people in Asia are going to be interested in.
The experience of the past 10 years of not knowing what’s going to go on and being able to adjust, that will help for sure.
2. What tricks do you have up your sleeve to catch these celebrities’ attention?
So over the past few weeks, I have been interviewing locals and celebrities here including one from Malaysia and Indonesia, asking them who’s going to win Best Actor and I have them saying “Leonardo DiCaprio” or “Matt Damon” for instance.
I know it’s a long shot but I have this video of all these people from these countries in Asia saying that and hopefully I can use that to make them feel a bit happy and show that we have made an effort to rally everybody in Asia to watch them and root for them.
3. Have you decided what to wear on the red carpet?
As soon as I released the news that I’m going to be at the Oscars, I’ve been really fortunate that a lot of big brands reached out.
I haven’t tried on any of the dresses yet. Given that I’m going to be standing for four to eight hours, I will plan accordingly.
We don’t have much space, so I’m going to make sure I’m not wearing like a huge poofy dress.
It’s going to be very stylish and we are going to try to give it a little bit of an Asian element and that might be through the accessories. I’m going to get as many local designers in there as well as international brands.
4. Can viewers expect the interviews to include an Asian perspective as well?
I’ve noticed that a lot of the movies will have their premieres in Asia. There’s obviously an interest in the Asian market. So some good questions would be, “If you’ve been to Asia, what are some of your favourite cities?” and “Are there any favourite foods?”
Also, “What Asian films have you seen? Are there any Asian countries where would you love to work? Any Asian directors who you would like to work with?”
Obviously, I don’t want to put them on the spot if they cannot list anybody. I’ll leave a few open ended questions like, “Do you have a country you’d like to see a film made?” or “Are there any interesting stories that you’ve heard of in Asia?”
5. Do you and George have friendly competitions to see who can land the best gigs?
We are so competitive about everything. The funny thing is one year ago, we were there at the Oscars, on the street corner.
We couldn’t get in of course, we were just visiting the city. We were standing on the street corner and we actually filmed an Instagram video.
We were literally fighting each other to see who could get closer to the red carpet. There were guards around as well as barriers, so we were sticking our hands out as close as possible to the red carpet.
And the fact that this year, I’m actually going with HBO Asia and I will be on the red carpet, it’s a huge score for me. I definitely win.
The live telecast of the Oscars Red Carpet airs Feb 29 at 8am on HBO (Astro Ch 411). Catch the primetime encore the same night at 7pm.