So, ahead of the interview, we’re taking a look back at some of Oprah’s most famous and explosive interviews ever. Because if there’s one person who knows how to get people to truly open up, it’s Oprah. So much so, the Wall Street Journal coined the term ‘Oprahfication’, to mean public confession as a form of therapy. And here are five of the most iconic Oprahfications of all time…
Oprah’s interview with Michael Jackson in February 1993 is the most-watched television interview in television history, with a staggering 90 million viewers.
Michael had turned down interviews for 14 years, until allowing Oprah access to Neverland. The live interview, which took place before any abuse allegations were made against him, covered everything from plastic surgery to Michael’s relationship with his father, Joe Jackson.
During the remarkably candid interview, Michael opened up about his lack of a normal childhood: “I remember going to the recording studio, and there was a park across the street, and I’d see all the children playing and I would cry. It would make me sad that I would have to go to work instead.
“People wonder why I always have children around; it’s because I find the thing that I never had through them. Disneyland, amusement parks, arcade games – I adore all that stuff because when I was little, it was always work, work, work.”
Oprah’s interview with Ellen would go down in TV and LGBTQ+ history as Ellen came out as gay, after coming out as a fictional character on ‘Ellen’.
The interview garnered a mix response from audiences, drawing fire from viewers (and advertisers), and Oprah received the most hate mail she’d ever been sent.
In 2009, Whitney Houston gave Oprah her first interview in seven years, and it would turn out to be one of the last she’d ever give. It was at a time when Whitey’s drug addiction was public knowledge, as was the domestic violence she was suffering at the hands of Bobby Brown. She tells Oprah how jealous Brown was of her success, and how she was forced to ‘dim her own light’.
“I think somewhere inside, something happened to a man, when a woman has that much control,” Whitney said.
“He has to have his own,” Oprah replied.
“He has to have his own,” Whitney agreed, and the pair held hands.
Rihanna broke down to Oprah in 2012 about her relationship with ex-boyfriend Chris Brown, who received five years’ probation and a restraining order for physical violence against the singer three years prior.
Rihanna shocked audiences by speaking of forgiveness, friendship and love. “I have forgiven him,” she said, whilst admitting: “I was angry for a long time.”
“It was a weird, confusing space to be in,” Rihanna said. “Because as angry as I was, as angry and hurt and betrayed, I just felt like he made that mistake because he needed help and who’s going to help him? Nobody’s going to say he needs help. Everybody’s going to say he’s a monster without looking at the source, and I was more concerned about him.”
In 2013, Oprah’s interview with Lance Armstrong made headlines when the cyclist finally confessed to the doping scandal, admitting that he was under the influence of performance-enhancing drugs when he won all seven of his Tour de France titles. The confession was a shocking turnaround for Armstrong, who had spent two decades furiously denying doping allegations.
The confession saw Armstrong lose $75 million of sponsorship in a single day. When Oprah asked if he was a bully, Armstrong replied: “Yeah, yeah, I was a bully. In the sense I tried to control the narrative and if I didn’t like what someone said, I turned on them… I tried to control that. Said: ‘That’s a lie, they’re liars’.”
Armstrong also spoke of his ‘ruthless desire to win at all costs’, saying: “Before my diagnosis [with testicular cancer in 1996, aged 25] I was a competitor but not a fierce competitor. When I was diagnosed, that turned me into a fighter. That was good. I took that ruthless win-at-all-costs attitude into cycling which was bad