Louis Theroux: Documentarian interviews Pete Doherty, Joan Collins, Anthony Joshua and more in new BBC series
In recent years, Theroux, 53, has been focusing his attention on conducting intensive, long-form interviews with prominent figures in popular culture, both through his podcasts – BBC Radio 4’s Grounded with Louis Theroux and Spotify-exclusive The Louis Theroux Podcast – and his BBC Two series Louis Theroux Interviews…
Interviews… is now on its second series, with six new episodes coming soon – featuring chats with boxer Anthony Joshua, Top Boy and So Solid Crew’s Ashley Walters, whistleblower Chelsea Manning, actress Joan Collins, The Libertines’ frontman Pete Doherty, and singer-songwriter Raye.
"I’m proud of the first series, but I was conscious that there was further we could go in terms of grit, and in the sense of having range within the choice of guests,” Theroux reflects.
“So we have our first American guest, Chelsea Manning, who is also, in a sense, our first guest who, I guess, would fall more squarely within a kind of political realm of influence, rather than culture more generally.
“With all of them, even in the past series, there was a sense like they all needed to be – in addition to people – they needed to be stories, people for whom there was something that we could get into, something that would resonate beyond their individual life.
"And I think here, the choice was to go further with that. So each one of the six feels like it’s a story in its own right, something that sheds light on the broader aspect of culture.”
Preparation is key – reading autobiographies, speaking to people with expertise in the field, Theroux says, though he admits at times he is guilty of over-researching and guilty of under-researching too.
Still, in every episode, he believes the people he interviewed said things that were extraordinary and unexpected.
"In some ways, I feel there’s a temptation to strip layers away and to see that as the ultimate goal of making these programmes.
"Like, the idea that we’re going to just take the armour off, and then figuratively take the clothes off, and then just leave this person who’s absolutely sort of naked and raw. And that’s not the goal,” Theroux says.
“I think the goal is to see people clearly, to explore their vulnerability," he continues. “But alongside that, just as important, is to appreciate how they approach their craft, what it is that makes them special in their field, and to have moments of lightness and humour.”
Series two of Louis Theroux Interviews… gets underway on BBC Two on Tuesday, November 7.