Over the course of five decades, veteran journalist Barbara Walters has interviewed sitting presidents, world leaders, megawatt celebrities and the biggest newsmakers of the day. Nothing makes her sweat -– except one thing.
"My idea of hell is that I do this wonderful interview on camera, and the lights go down and the cameras are taken away, and someone says to me, 'Did you ask thus and such?' And I say, 'No, I never asked thus and such.' And days later, I’m still saying 'I never asked thus and such,'" Walters laments.
To keep this personal nightmare from coming true, Walters told "Oprah's Master Class" that she logs hours of research to prep for an interview. "I do a tremendous amount of homework," she says. "More, perhaps, than other people do."
She wants to know her subject inside and out. "Not just reading about them -- watching the tapes they've done, watching the movies they've done, talking to other people and getting an instinctive feel about it. What's their pace, how do they look, what makes them cry, what makes them laugh," Walters says.
Not every great interviewer shares her intensity. "I used to have discussions with Larry King, who said he didn't want to read the book because he wanted to ask the questions a person at home would ask -- and that's a very good way to be," she shares. "I have to read the book. I have to do the homework so that I sometimes know more about the person than the person does himself."