The very first episode of Inside the Actors Studio aired Aug. 14, 1994.
Hosted by former brothel worker and Arrested Development star James Lipton, the show has gone on to become a cultural institution, both for Lipton’s ah, specific, delivery and persona, and for its watchable, occasionally riveting looks into the craft of acting.
Here are five great moments from the show’s 20-year-and-counting run.
Kevin Spacey Contains Multitudes
Spacey tears through nine impressions in six-and-some-change minutes. The Gielgud one is so uncanny, it’s like he’s got a tiny Englishman classically trained in Shakespeare just living in his esophagus.
Bradley Cooper Has Questions
It’s hard to believe that at one point, Bradley Cooper wasn’t the Oscar-nominated voice of America’s favorite gun-toting space raccoon, but it’s true. Once he was just a humble, well-coiffed student, asking his idols questions. And future Limitless costar Robert De Niro was duly impressed with Cooper’s inquiry. (Cooper now has his own episode, by the way.)
Dave Chappelle Gets Lipton to Bust a Move
Chappelle gives a great, engaging interview, but the biggest spectacle involved here is probably Lipton asking the comedian to dance – sorry, “bust a move.” Chappelle, with a certain degree of resignation, accepts, but with the caveat that if he passes it to Lipton, Lipton’s gotta take it. Chappelle does a few moves, Lipton immediately gets up and responds, and TV history is made.
Robin Williams Speaks French
We’ve already talked about some of the touching moments from Williams’s stint on Inside, but there’s more to enjoy from his interview. First of all, there he is speaking fluent French at the beginning, and then there’s an extended riff on why the sound of muted flatulence is his favorite noise in the world. Greatest understatement of 2014: He will be missed.
Neil Patrick Harris and Jason Segel Sing Les Mis
Prompted by an audience member, the How I Met Your Mother stars launch into a stirring rendition of “Confrontation” from Les Misérables, getting surprisingly far – with a surprising degree of accuracy – before collapsing into laughter.