‘He fulfilled the stereotype of the snooty star’
NELSON Aspen has interviewed thousands of celebrities during his 15 years on Sunrise, but not all of them were pleasant.
The Channel Seven show's entertainment editor opened up to news.com.au about the best and worst stars he's spoken to during his career.
"The first one that wasn't a happy experience was Reese Witherspoon," Aspen revealed.
"The restrictions on what you could and couldn't talk about were so tough that I might as well have just used a press kit and not actually been in the room with her.
"It was frustrating and I like to say that everybody has a bad day and maybe I just caught her on a bad day."
The Big Little Lies star isn't the only "unhappy experience" the Channel Seven personality has had with a celebrity.
"Kevin Spacey was a disappointment because I had been so excited to interview him and he was condescending in all the ways that a movie star is perceived to be," Aspen said.
"He really fulfilled the stereotype of the snooty star. Most of them really aren't like that."
When asked about his favourite celebrity interviews from over the years, Aspen said he much prefers older stars.
"I'm going to be 55 years old soon but I still believe I was born too late," he said. "In my mind I'm 65 or 75 because I was raised by older parents.
"All of my pop culture references growing up were older. I like the old movie star and the old music. They're comfortable in their own skins so they give the best interviews and they're not self-conscious the way younger stars might be. They don't have the entourage of handlers in the room who make everyone neurotic - they're just easy and interesting."
So who are his favourites?
"My very first celebrity interview when I was doing a British morning show in 1991 was with Betty White," he said.
"She's being honoured next week at the Publicists Guild Awards in Los Angeles with a Lifetime Achievement Award and I'm nominated for International Media Journalist of the Year so I will be reunited with her next week.
"I've asked for an interview with her because it would be an amazing full-circle thing. My whole career started with her."
As for his other favourite celebrity to interview, it's a veteran performer who has won an Academy Award, a BAFTA, five Golden Globes, three Grammys and two Emmys.
"I've interviewed Julie Andrews eight times," Aspen said.
"That is amazing to me because at age three, my sisters had me dressed up like Maria Von Trapp and singing the entire score of Sound Of Music. I tell her that every time I see her and she always says the same thing, 'Oh Nelson, I'm so sorry.'
"When she wants to give an interview to Australian TV, I get the call and that is a pinch-me moment. For a movie and theatre fan like me, to have a relationship with her is extraordinary."
This morning Sunrise hosts Sam Armytage and David 'Kochie' Koch paid tribute to Aspen for his 15 years of service on the Channel Seven breakfast show.
But how much longer does he plan to stay with Sunrise?
"Until they put me out to pasture with the Cash Cow," Aspen joked. "I'm not leaving.
"The format of the show changes, that's the dictate of television, my role expands and contracts but I feel like I'm part of the DNA of the show and that's a great blessing.
"I probably never would have gotten the chance to visit Australia had I not had this job and now I'm here all the time. I've gotten to sing at the Sydney Opera House, I've gotten to write books and do book tours. I've gotten to become an honorary Aussie and have formed dear relationships, both professional and personal, thanks to this job."