10 Questions That Get To Who You Really Are

If any of you have ever watched Inside The Actors Studio you’ll be familiar with this. Often called the Proust or Pivot Questionnaire* these 10 questions are a fun little exercise in glimpsing at someone’s personality. Although they’re typically given at the end of a long, in depth and well prepared interview in front of an audience of acting students, I got a kick out of them and have been asking them to most everyone the last few days…

The Questions:

  1. What is your favorite word?
  2. What is your least favorite word?
  3. What turns you on, creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
  4. What turns you off, creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
  5. What sound or noise do you love?
  6. What sound or noise do you hate?
  7. What is your favorite curse word?
  8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
  9. What profession would you not like to do?
  10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

*These 10 questions are not actually the Proust or Pivot Questionnaire but a simplified and distilled version created by host James Lipton based on the concept of using the Proust Questionnaire, which was first done by 1970’s French TV host Bernard Pivot in his show Apostrophes. The real Proust Questionnaire originates from Marcel Proust’s answers to some personality tests in the late 1800’s and is much more detailed, much longer and is a neat little story in and of itself.

These are 10 interesting questions and often provide great insight into a person’s life (and particularly their current state). The best part is there’s no rules. No right or wrong response. Whatever you want to say (or not say) is part of the whole process. You can think about them or just answer the first thing that comes to mind. It doesn’t really matter- because either way your answers are your answers. You can keep it simple or elaborate. You can have fun or be serious. You can answer however you want.

My answers:

  1. What is your favorite word? Connection (with persnickety or bamboozled a close second)
  2. What is your least favorite word? Pessimistic 
  3. What turns you on, creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Play
  4. What turns you off, creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Cigarettes 
  5. What sound or noise do you love? My son’s laugh (although the sound of a fan is right up there)
  6. What sound or noise do you hate? The sound my wife makes when she’s stressed
  7. What is your favorite curse word? Don’t curse really but would be a tie between “son of a” and “flipper!”
  8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Movie maker 
  9. What profession would you not like to do? Telemarketing 
  10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? You did well. Come on in though because the work isn’t over and we gotta lot work left to do.

My answers would have been different a couple years ago and will probably be a bit different a year from now. 

What are your answers? Feel free to share- I’d love to get a glimpse into your world. 

Thanks for reading, have a great day!

P.S. Here’s a few actors going through the questions.

Here’s the Inside The Actors Studio website.

Matthew McConaughey Interview

Robin Williams

The questions that led to what is known as the Proust Questionnaire:

Confessionsquestions Confidencesquestions Proust’s answers 1890
Your favorite virtue The principal aspect of my personality The need to be loved; more precisely, the need to be caressed and spoiled much more than the need to be admired
Your favorite qualities in a man. The quality that I desire in a man. Manly virtues, and frankness in friendship.
Your favorite qualities in a woman. The quality that I desire in a woman. Feminine charms
Your chief characteristic —- —-
What you appreciate the most in your friends What I appreciate most about my friends. To have tenderness for me, if their personage is exquisite enough to render quite high the price of their tenderness
Your main fault My main fault Not knowing, not being able to “want”.
Your favourite occupation. My favorite occupation. Loving.
Your idea of happiness My dream of happiness. I am afraid it be not great enough, I dare not speak it, I am afraid of destroying it by speaking it.
Your idea of misery. What would be my greatest misfortune? Not to have known my mother or my grandmother.
If not yourself, who would you be? What I should like to be. Myself, as the people whom I admire would like me to be.
Where would you like to live? The country where I should like to live. A country where certain things that I should like would come true as though by magic, and where tenderness would always be reciprocated
Your favourite colour and flower. My favourite colour. The beauty is not in the colours, but in their harmony.
—- The flower that I like. Hers/His – and after, all of them.[3]
—- My favorite bird. The swallow.
Your favorite prose authors. My favorite prose authors. Currently, Anatole France and Pierre Loti.
Your favorite poets. My favorite poets. Baudelaire and Alfred de Vigny.
Your favorite heroes in fiction. My heroes in fiction. Hamlet.
Your favorite heroines in fiction. My favorite heroines in fiction. Bérénice.
Your favorite painters and composers. My favorite composers. BeethovenWagnerSchumann.
—- My favorite painters. Leonardo da VinciRembrandt.
Your heroes in real life. My heroes in real life. Mr. Darlu, Mr. Boutroux.
Your favorite heroines in real life. —- —-
What characters in history do you most dislike. —- —-
Your heroines in World history My heroines in history. Cleopatra.
Your favorite food and drink. —- —-
Your favorite names. My favorite names. I only have one at a time.
What I hate the most. What I hate most of all. What is bad about me.
World history characters I hate the most Historical figures that I despise the most. I am not educated enough.
The military event I admire the most The military event that I admire most. My military service!
The reform I admire the most The reform which I admire the most. —-
The natural talent I’d like to be gifted with The gift of nature that I would like to have. Will-power, and seductiveness.
How I wish to die How I want to die. Improved—and loved.
What is your present state of mind. My present state of mind. Boredom from having thought about myself to answer all these questions.
For what fault have you most toleration? Faults for which I have the most indulgence. Those that I understand.
Your favorite motto. My motto. I should be too afraid that it bring me misfortune.


  1. ^ Carter, William C., and Henry-Jean Servat. 2005. The Proust questionnaire. New York: Assouline.


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