Jon Stewart signs off: A look back at 5 memorable movie interviews
Though he’s best known for skewering politicians and the news media, departing “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart has long applied his brand of skeptical humor to the world of pop culture. In contrast to many celebrity interviewers, Stewart is refreshingly freewheeling — and at times comically underprepared.
While Stewart signs off with his final show Thursday night, here’s a look back at five of his best (or at least most infamous) interviews with film stars.
While promoting “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” in 2013, it-girl Jennifer Lawrence stopped by “The Daily Show” and got a typically atypical Stewart welcome. As the two bantered, Stewart showed Lawrence a picture of a young Helen Mirren and suggested that it bore a striking resemblence to J-Law.
When Lawrence seemed genuinely puzzled by Stewart’s random comment, he sheepishly admitted, “I don’t prepare for these [interviews] very well.”
That admission came as little surprise to the actress, who replied, “Your producers and everybody involved in this show tell everyone that you don’t. They’re like, ‘He’s not really going to know a lot about the movie or a lot about you. … You guys are just going to talk.’”
When Stewart attempted to double-down on the Mirren comparison, Lawrence added, “You are so weird!”
Even comedy veterans like Stewart aren’t immune to the giggles. Case in point: Back in January, Anne Hathaway visited Stewart and earnestly recounted the somber plot of her drama “Song One,” which centers on an anthropology student who was forced to grow up fast and return to New York City after her estranged brother falls into a coma.
Stewart’s response was a beat of silence, followed by his bursting into laughter. Luckily for him, Hathaway was a good sport and began laughing herself — to the point where the two could scarcely get through the rest of the interview.
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Philip Seymour Hoffman
One of Stewart’s favorite celebrity guests was the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, who regularly appeared on the show over the years. In 2005, when Hoffman was starring in “Capote” — the role that would win him an Oscar — Stewart crowned him “the world’s greatest actor.” Tongue planted firmly in cheek, he added, “And I don’t like movies, or acting.” (Stewart would later pay tribute to Hoffman when he died of a drug overdose in 2014.)
Not every “Daily Show” guest got on so well with Stewart. In 2009, for example, the ever-charming Hugh Grant had an awkward chat with the host while flogging his fish-out-of-water rom-com “Did You Hear About the Morgans?”
After some stilted small talk about an upcoming U.S.-England soccer match, the conversation turned to Grant’s movie, which Stewart, naturally, wasn’t entirely up to speed on. The actor chided Stewart for not knowing what the film was about and for misstating where it was shot. “Thanks for doing the research, Jon,” he said drolly.
Although the interview was played for laughs, Stewart later declared Grant his least-favorite guest ever, and added, “And we’ve had dictators on the show.” Grant, for his part, conceded on Twitter that his “inner crab got the better of me” that day.
During a recent “Daily Show” appearance, Mark Ruffalo finally called Stewart out for his, shall we say, off-the-cuff approach to interviewing. After mock-interrupting a Stewart segment, Ruffalo said, “I want to drop the pretense tonight. I know for a fact you didn’t watch my movie [‘Infinitely Polar Bear’]. … It’s cool.”
As Stewart protested, Ruffalo introduced a montage of all the times Stewart admitted to his guests that he didn’t watch their movie, read their book or listen to their album. Stay tuned to the end of the video, embedded at the top of this post, to see Stewart get his comeuppance — twice.
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