What I learned interviewing Hollywood movie stars


in Podcast, Travel

If you’ve been an HtS reader for a while, you’ve certainly seen James Swanwick mentioned multiple times — we became friends in Colombia in 2012, and since then have collaborated on many projects together, most notably our habit-building course, Get it Done in 30.

James used to be the host of ESPN Sportscenter, and before that, a celebrity journalist in Los Angeles. Not bad for an unconnected Australian kid who came to America with no plans — just a few nights at a hostel, and a plan up his sleeve to meet and befriend celebrities.

During his tenure as a celebrity journalist, James got to meet Ben Affleck, Bon Jovi, Jennifer Anison — and ask them the things that no paper usually reveals. He catalogued these quotes — the sexiest, juiciest, most interesting celebrity quotes never published.

And he was nice enough to offer it to Hack the System readers, for free! No catch, he just wants to share his writing.

You can get his new book for free on Amazon: Celebrity Confessions: What Hollywood’s Rich and Famous Say About Sex, Money and Success.

James recorded a quick intro video for Hack the System readers. See it below.

(Feel free to catch up: Check out this podcast interview I did with James and this amazing 5 minute video with James: How to Meet and Connect With Your Heroes)

And read below to see James’s article, What I learned interviewing Hollywood movie stars.



Playboy mogul Hugh Hefner gave me this piece of life advice when I interviewed him at the Playboy Mansion in 2006:

“Pursue your dreams. You only live once, so don’t conform to what society says. Make your dreams come true. Celebrate the one life you have and make the most of it.”

It stuck.  I’ve been pursuing my dreams ever since, including moving to the US from Australia, traveling the world and hosting SportsCenter on ESPN.

Movie star Ben Affleck told me his first paying job was dressing up as an Easter Bunny so he could pay rent. Oscar-winning actress Nicole Kidman told me she used to clean toilets. Action star Jason Statham told me he sold fake jewelry and perfume just to get by.

Even the most successful people in the world struggled at one point or another. But their dream was big enough and they persisted, stayed true to who they were and ultimately reaped the benefits.

If you’re human, you know that you and I – and my mate Maneesh Sethi, who runs Hack the System – ALL regularly suffer from fear and self-doubt. But what if I told you that some of the most recognized and successful people on the planet suffer from exactly the same crippling self-doubt and fear as we do? And that no matter how successful they are now, at one stage they struggled, suffered and had to overcome adversity.

I’m talking famous, successful entertainers like Hefner, Affleck, Kidman and even James Bond 007 himself, Daniel Craig. Would they be people you could learn from? Well, you CAN learn from those big name celebrities.

I used to live in Los Angeles from 2003-2009 when I was a Hollywood correspondent. I interviewed some of the world’s most successful and recognized celebrities including Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Aniston, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Jennifer Lopez, Tobey Maguire, Owen Wilson, Jamie Foxx, Denzel Washington, Keanu Reeves, Vince Vaughn, Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jessica Alba, Jennifer Garner, Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Samuel L. Jackson and many more.

See some of my photos here:

Jennifer Aniston

Me with Jennifer Aniston

Bon Jovi

Bon Jovi


james at hollywood sign copy

I put all the most interesting and inspirational quotes into one book called Celebrity Confessions – What Hollywood’s Rich and Famous Say About Sex, Money and Success. I’m giving it away to Hack the System readers until Friday, October 4 absolutely FREE. But more on that later.

Like us, celebrities get drunk, lose their temper, make mistakes and have dirty little secrets. And surprisingly to most, they also have dreams, aspirations and great words of wisdom.

Take Daniel Craig, who admits to being terrified when he was acting in the movie, Road to Perdition.

“Playing Paul Newman’s son in Road To Perdition was very, very scary. But you have to sort of shit and get off the pot. I kept telling myself, ‘Just get on with it.’ I remember sitting in rehearsals with Paul Newman and Tom Hanks and thinking, ‘I’m not actually sure I can do this.’ And then I would tell myself, ‘Snap out of it, get on with it. You’re going to do it.’”

Right now, Aaron Paul is one of biggest names on TV following the finale of Breaking Bad on AMC. But even Aaron struggled when he first went to Hollywood.

“When I first got here I worked at a movie theater at Universal Studios. I just tore tickets. Two weeks working there, and like my first two weeks living in LA, I did my first premiere, which was for Primary Colors. And the first celebrity whose ticket I took and who I recognized was actually Steven Spielberg. I was like, ‘Oh my god I’m living a dream’. You’re so close yet so unbelievably far away. Yeah it was great and I met so many people that night it was crazy. Then some friends and I ended up cleaning up the theater afterwards and so many people left their after party passes in the theater and we ended up sneaking in and it was great. We changed into our regular clothes and we were definitely under dressed but it was fun.”

 If you’ve read Maneesh’s Hack the System blog posts, you’ll know he’s struggled with self-doubt and fear on many occasions in his life. So have I. So have John Travolta, Naomi Watts, Beyonce, Matt Damon and many others.

For those of us on the path to greater achievement, this is a reminder that those “famous” people were once on a similar journey as us. It’s a reminder that we all face adversity and challenge, and we too can overcome.

I have spent the last five years compiling the best quotes these stars ever gave me, to see what made them tick, to see what he can learn from them. I put all the best quotes into Celebrity Confessions.

It contains quotes from the world’s top stars on radically different subject matter such as sex, love, anger, fear, drunkenness, embarrassments, life lessons and stories of how they climbed from struggling actors at the bottom of the heap to internationally renowned movie stars.

Now it’s your turn to pursue your dreams.

Hack the System readers can grab my book Celebrity Confessions for FREE anytime

BEFORE Friday, October 4. Download the book for FREE here…

James Swanwick writes about personal growth, entrepreneurship, and journalism at



Nick October 2, 2013 at 6:52 am

Excellent Post! Thanks for the free book! Will post comments asap!


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