Barbara Walters: The Art of an Interview

Act 7: Her preparation process and the classic questions she's asked throughout her career.
8:06 | 05/17/14

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Transcript for Barbara Walters: The Art of an Interview
Griffin: Now, ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you one of America's top news correspondents. Would you welcome Barbara Walters? Would you welcome, please, miss Barbara Walters? Ladies and gentlemen, the lovely Barbara Walters. Barbara, come on out. Walters: I believe in promotion. I think if you're going to do something, you should tell people about it. It's 11 minutes before the hour right now. Tonight, Barbara Walters presenting her first television special for ABC. And it's nice to have her with us this morning. Morning, Barbara. Thank you, Dave. We do another show called the "10 most fascinating people"... Yes. ...That we're doing in December. I'd like to be on that, too. It's our 20th year. I'm very fascinating. Yeah. Walters: I promote every interview I do. What's the point of doing it, working that hard, and not telling people about it? At least open your window and shout. Tell us how you prepare for an interview. Well, the first thing I tell anybody who's going to be doing interviews is, homework. I do so much homework, I know more about the person than he or she does about himself. At one point, you had terrible anxiety attacks oh, you did do your homework. Oh, I did do my homework. You did. I don't know when I talked about that. How did you find that out? How did you find out about that? How do you know that? In 2002, you told me you wanted to wait to have sex until after you married. I said that? You said you were a mama's boy. She wanted you to be a minister. You really are thorough with your research. Then I write -- I can write 50 or 100 questions on little 3x5 cards. I put them in order. Then I throw some away. Then I put others in. Then if anybody comes in -- if you've come in to deliver the soup, I say, "Do you, by the way, have any question that you'd like to ask so-and-so?" And I'm not kidding. Geddie: How important is the order of those question? I can spend hours, days changing the order of question. But here's the important thing. You've got to know your questions so you can throw them all away if you have to. Do people ever say things that make your jaw drop? Oh, my goodness, I remember doing an interview with the actress Anne heche. It was the weirdest interview I think I've done. You wrote in your book that you were insane. Those are your words. Insane for 31 years. You're 32 now. I had another personality. I had a fantasy world that I escaped to. I believed I was from another planet. I spoke a different language. Can you still remember that language you spoke? Of course. Can you do any of it? It is a good fortune -- "Istadan" -- to be here. Geddie: What do you do if someone tries to dodge a question? Most politicians try to dodge questions. You have to push. You will hear me ask the question again and again. Okay, here it comes. When will you, if you do, decide whether or not you're going to run for president? Well, it's such a difficult decision, and it's one that I am not going to rush into. Will you consider running for president in 2016? Well, that would be fascinating to me, as well as everyone else. I have to push for the answer about whether or not you might run for president. I'm flattered that people are talking about. Yeah. But I haven't made up my mind. You really haven't? I really have not. What would it take to convince you to run in 2016? You know, that's all hypothetical. Does your husband want you to run? He is very respectful. He knows that this is -- but he does want you to run. Well, he wants me to do what I think is right. Geddie: You have these classic questions. "What's the biggest misconception about you?" Is one question you ask a lot. Why? I try to ask questions that people are not asked all the time, that make them think, that tell me something I haven't heard before. What do you think is the biggest misconception about you? That I'm flaky. But I am a little flaky, so that's okay. What do you think is the biggest misconception about you? No misconceptions. Brooding and difficult. That I'm not a real person. That I'm a bitch, maybe, if people think that. Now, why do they think that? Because I'm just like you. I have standards. I very often ask people, "Do you have a philosophy by which you live?" It's a provocative question and a thoughtful question and sometimes very surprising answers. Do you have a philosophy by which you live? Doesn't everybody? Do you have a philosophy? Staying hungry. That's it. Do you have a philosophy by which you live? Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death. I don't embrace negativity. I don't allow myself to be angry or bitter. Do you and the president have a philosophy? That everybody is put here for a purpose, and there's a reason for their life. I'm not a great planner. I just try and take each moment as it comes, you know, and try and be as truthful to myself in that moment as I can be. Do you have a philosophy? I guess. What? Unto thine own self be true. When I do an interview, I want a strong beginning and a strong ending. So, in order to get that strong ending, I often ask, "Finish this sentence for me." Finish this sentence for me. "Will Ferrell is..." Funny but... But honest and... Devilishly handsome? That'll do it. Usher is... Here. Anne Hathaway is... Very, very, very over-the-moon happy. Mariah Carey is... A nice girl. Donald Trump is... A good person. Chris Christie is... A leader. Kanye west is... Black. That's the first thing that popped into my mind. Finish this sentence for me. Bill Gates is... Well, I think that's You know, sort of an oversimplification for anybody to say, you know, somebody is just one thing. Right now, Sharon stone is... Really, really tired. Yeah. I knew you were going to say that. Well, now that it's over, can I see your cards? Geddie: Why ask, "What was the best time, what was the worst time?" President Obama has said that at dinner with Michelle and their daughters, he often asks, "What is the rose and what is the thorn?" I very often say to someone, "What is the best time in your life, and what was the worst?" If there was a time that really you think of as the best time, the happiest time, what was it? On a Christmas night at 4:00 in the morning when Gracie called me up, and she said yes. Really? She wasn't going to marry me. She was going to marry somebody else. And she called me up. She says, "It's -- let's get married." What was the worst time? My divorce. Worst time. What's been the best time of your life? Right here right now with you. What was the best time? "Saturday night live," those years. Better than now? Back then, I was Eddie Murphy, and now I'm Eddie Murphy productions. What was the lowest? I suppose the lowest point I had was when I -- was my first divorce. Does it get easier if it's not -- if it's the second divorce or the -- Is the best yet to come? Or have you been there already? I think this is it. What else would I want to do? I mean, look what I did. What are you gonna do from 34 to 90? You mean I have to go on. What was the best time of your life? Now. Mm-hmm. What was the worst?

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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