It is thought the Proust Questionnaire originated with French novelist Marcel Proust, although, he did not actually create the list of questions but he did famously answer two versions – first at the age of 13 and then again at the age of 20 – which led to its notoriety. The questionnaire started as a parlor game and the original author is unknown.
Since then variations of the list have been used, probably most famously by Inside the Actors Studio’s host James Lipton. Lipton poses 10 questions to each of his guests at the end of an interview to reveal deep inner truths about one’s self. How deep the answers get depends entirely on the person answering them. Lipton gives credit for the list to French talk show host Bernard Pivot yet Lipton’s list differs slightly from Pivot’s, and neither Lipton’s list nor Pivot’s has a single question in common with either of Proust’s!
A similar questionnaire is regularly answered by various celebrities on the back page of Vanity Fair magazine, including our very own favorite ginger. In the March, 2017 issue Damian answered a Proust Questionnaire so we thought it would be fun to answer the same questions he did so you readers could get to know us a little better!
As an added bonus, I have peppered in a few extra questions from Lipton’s original list as a nod to his retirement. I had hoped to see Damian on Inside the Actor’s Studio with James Lipton one day, but this shall serve as the next best thing.
Here are my answers to the Proust Questionnaire. Let’s get started!
What is your idea of perfect happiness? Painting a canvas on a grassy knoll overlooking the Castelvecchio Bridge on river Adige in Verona, Italy. Bottle of wine next to me on this beautiful day.
What is your greatest fear? Something terrible happening to any of my loved ones.
Which historical figure do you most identify with? Abraham Lincoln – “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exists within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” And because he used the U.S. Army to protect escaped slaves.
Which living person do you most admire? Queen Elizabeth II
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Pessimism
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Unkindness
What is your greatest extravagance? Home design or travel
What is your favorite journey? The journey of motherhood
What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Profane and sanctimonious pious zealots
On what occasion do you lie? Parenting – “If you misbehave, all your toys will runaway.” Or when you want to call off plans for the evening and give an excuse – “Sorry, I’m not feeling well.”
What do you dislike most about your appearance? My hands. I have big hands for a girl. Suitable for playing piano, if only.
Which living person do you most despise? A certain family member
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Whatever~
What is your greatest regret? Not being able to have another child
What or who is the greatest love of your life? My child
When and where were you happiest? When I’m paying it forward, giving to others. Charity. Wish I could do more.
Which talent would you most like to have? The ability to play an instrument
What is your current state of mind? Dread (but by the time this is posted, I should be over the dread)
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? My potty mouth…lots and lots of cursing 🙂
If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be? Their greedy, grudgeful nature
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Motherhood
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? A person
If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be? Queen Nefertiti
What is your most treasured possession? A keepsake my grandmother gave me
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Suicide
Where would you like to live? Italy or Scotland
What is your favorite occupation? I find it fascinating knowing there are paid positions out there for employees who name nail polish colors for a living. “Ginger Scintillation” anyone?
What is your most marked characteristic? Versatility
What is the quality you most like in a man? Loyalty, intelligence, passion
What is the quality you most like in a woman? Humor
What do you most value in your friends? Mutual respect and commitment to the relationship
Who are your favorite writers? Maya Angelou, J.K. Rowling, Charles Dickens
Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Harry Potter
Who are your heroes in real life? Brave women
What are your favorite names? Other than my child’s? Watcyn is pretty cool!
What is it that you most dislike? That’s a tie between coconut and black licorice
How would you like to die? Very quickly, at home
What is your motto? “Trying to be perfect is a toxic journey. We have to love our shadows.” – Jane Fonda
Lipton: What is your favorite curse word? Horseshit
Lipton: What sound or noise do you hate? The crunch of a car crash
Lipton: What sound or noise do you love? The sound of my child in the house during home visits
Lipton: If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? We have an open bar