Stephen Colbert Reflects on Emotional Interview With Anderson Cooper

After Stephen Colbert and Anderson Cooper engaged in an emotional interview about grief last year, the late night host took a moment to reflect on their viral discussion while making a guest appearance on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen Thursday night. 

During a CNN interview with Colbert, Cooper opened up about the recent loss of his mother, and discussed the letter that Colbert sent him after her death. "You wrote me a letter after my mom died, and in it you said, 'I hope you find peace in your grief,’” Cooper said. “One of the things I’ve been thinking a lot about is how we don’t really talk about grief and loss. People aren’t comfortable talking about it."

During their conversation, Colbert opened up about his faith, something he learned to lean on after losing his father and two brothers to a plane crash when he was 10 years old. 

"I was very grateful to have that conversation with Anderson," Colbert told Cohen. Cohen explained that the interview seemed to have gone viral because it was something that "resonated with so many people," recalling Cooper telling him that that interview was his "most-talked-about moment" of the year. 

"I think that because the things he was asking me about are common to all of our experiences, but we generally don't want to talk about them because there's something about grief that we feel is contagious," Colbert explained of the attention his conversation with Cooper received. He went on to explain that he finds many wanting to "socially distance" from the "knowledge that that is waiting for everyone to experience in a natural and normal and human way."

He added: "The elephant in the room is that while love lasts forever, our relationship or our present physical relationship with those we love most doesn’t. We just don’t want to talk about it to invite that particular anxiety or demon into the room and so I think the fact that Anderson and I just talked about it frankly and from our hearts might have been unusual but not unique. It's just that we did it publicly." 

Though Colbert may have gotten emotional during his interview with Cooper, he admitted to Cohen that there have been many times he's gotten into a "knife fight" with guests, during his time hosting the Colbert Report for 11 seasons. 

"There were some times when I had people on and I didn't realize that we were about to get into a knife fight because I didn't mean to. But they didn't expect me to ask them a question about whatever my character wanted to ask about," he said. He quipped that even though the audience may have only seen them from their necks up, underneath, there were "knives going back and forth."

"I didn't actually enjoy them that much because I didn't want to scare away guests," he said. 

After Cohen asked whether Colbert could name a guest that he went to battle with, Colbert paused before revealing author Dinesh D'Souza was one of those guests. "Didn't go well but, you know, no one cares, right?" 

Later on, Cohen poked fun at Colbert for having notoriously auditioned for a myriad of acting projects in his early career, but never securing a role. When interviewing Ryan Reynolds on The Late Show last month, Colbert admitted to the actor that he had auditioned to play Screech in Saved by the Bell, but the role eventually went to Dustin Diamond. 

Cohen then asked the late-night host if he could give insight into what other potential roles Colbert could've had. 

"I auditioned to be in the movie Roadhouse with Patrick Swayze. I think I auditioned for Ally McBeal," he shared, admitting that he never got a final callback. He also recalled having auditioned for the films 21 Jumpstreet and Hamburger Hill. 

"I didn't get cast in anything," Colbert quipped. "No director ever agreed with the casting agent." 

The two later discussed possible candidates to be Joe Biden's vice president, in which Colbert selected "firecracker" Kamala Harris, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer,  "America's sweetheart" Elizabeth Warren and Veep star Julia Louis-Dreyfus.