Maya Rudolph Recalls Being ‘Embarrassed & Humiliated’ During David Letterman Interview

Maya Rudolph
Anna Webber/Getty Images for Netflix

A 2009 sit-down on David Letterman’s Late Show was anything but a laugh for Maya Rudolph. The Loot star said she was “embarrassed and humiliated” after Letterman, Stephen Colbert’s predecessor in CBS’ late-night franchise, mispronounced her name.

“I did not have a good time,” Rudolph recalled in a WSJ. Magazine interview posted online on Friday, October 28. “He said my name wrong, and I just sat there, like, ‘I grew up my whole life in love with you. And now my heart is broken. And I’m sitting here embarrassed and humiliated.’ I didn’t know how to handle it. I didn’t know how to come up with something funny to say.”

Loot Season 1 Maya Rudolph Apple TV+

(Credit: Apple TV+)

Looking back, the former Saturday Night Live player observed that she often found it difficult to be funny during talk shows, interviews, and red-carpet appearances earlier in her career. “It would always feel like someone was stealing my soul,” she said. “That’s where, over the years, I created a persona to protect myself.”

At the time of the Letterman interview, Rudolph’s “public persona muscle wasn’t strong yet,” she added. “I’ve definitely gotten much better. When I’m uncomfortable, I try to be funny.”

As seen in a clip from the interview posted by The Daily Beast, Letterman apologized to Rudolph later in the Late Show episode. “I’m sorry that I mispronounced your name,” the host said. “I’m just a boob, there’s no excuse for it, and from the bottom of my heart, I sincerely apologize.”

Rudolph, 50, also discussed her public persona in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter this June, describing her characters as an armor of a sort. “I think the armor has done me some good because I don’t want to be a person who has nothing left for myself,” she said at the time. “I enjoy the armor.”

In addition to her ongoing roles on the Apple TV+ comedy Loot and the Netflix animated comedies Big Mouth and Human Resources, Rudolph will next be seen in the Disney+ fantasy film Disenchanted and alongside fellow SNL vet Amy Poehler in Season 2 of the Peacock competition Baking It.