By Ashley Fetters
Updated July 20, 2011 at 05:10 PM EDT

Guys… it’s time to start taking Paris Hilton seriously.

But actually.

This morning, ABC News aired footage of Hilton from a taped interview with reporter Dan Harris, in which Hilton talked openly about her show, her $1-billion product empire, and her personal life. In a bizarre, bipolar moment, however, Hilton revealed her touchy side: When asked on-camera about her reality show’s ratings compared with those of her onetime celebutante protégée Kim Kardashian’s, the hard-partying heiress walked off the set. Watch it below.“Do you worry at times that the people who have followed in your footsteps — like Kim Kardashian — are overshadowing you?” Harris asked. “Do you ever worry about your moment having passed?”

The World According To Paris star hesitated for a moment, gave a short, disbelieving laugh, then got up from her seat and walked off-camera.

After a meeting between the ABC production team and Hilton’s publicist, however, things got back on track. Hilton eventually returned to the set and the two finished the interview on considerably better terms — she even hugged the reporter onscreen at the end of the interview.

Aside from the Kardashian-fueled flare-up, Hilton treated viewers to a surprisingly graceful and level-headed interview. She even gave an articulate explanation for her groan-inducing TV antics: According to the star, the whispery-voiced, baby-cooing “Paris Hilton” is a character expertly engineered and brought to life by the real Paris Hilton.

“It’s a character I developed for the Simple Life. They wanted someone who was an airhead, and kind of had the baby voice. So that’s a character that I had to do and continue to do for five seasons,” Hilton told Harris. “Sometimes when I’m on camera I’ll revert back to it, just because I’m so used to it.”

What do you think, PopWatchers? Can we take Paris seriously now that we know she’s just acting? And Paris certainly isn’t the first celebrity to sabotage an interview (see: Marc Anthony, Russell Crowe, Julian Assange). Can a star’s credibility recover after an onscreen blow-up?

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