Maya Rudolph Recalls David Letterman Interview That Left Her 'Embarrassed and Humiliated'

Maya Rudolph wasn't laughing during a 2009 appearance on David Letterman's Late Show. The Saturday Night Live alum described her experience as "embarrassing and humiliating" after Letterman mispronounced her name. "I did not have a good time," Rudolph,50, said in an Oct. 28 interview with WSJ Magazine. "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."

While interviewing, appearing on talk shows, and attending red-carpet events early in her career, the Loot star found it difficult to be funny. "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." In the Letterman interview, Rudolph's "public persona muscle wasn't strong yet," she explained. "I've definitely gotten much better. When I'm uncomfortable, I try to be funny." Letterman, 75, apologized to Rudolph later in the Late Show episode, as shown in a clip by The Daily Beast. "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."

Additionally, Rudolph explained that despite decades in the spotlight, she does not see herself as a celebrity. "I know I'm a working actor and people know who I am, but I don't feel like a celebrity because that word means something else today to me," the actress shared. "There are a lot of different types of celebrities these days and a lot of self-made celebrities where people are famous for being famous, and that isn't what I do."The Bridesmaids star said that family is paramount these days. She shares Pearl, 17, Lucille, 12, Jack, 11, and Minnie, 9, with her partner Paul Thomas Anderson. 

"Believe me, I am not a Pollyanna who's like, I smile all day, every day. I get stressed out, I get pissed off, but I learned I could make a choice for myself, and it's liberating," she said.  "Maybe people who've worked as long as I have make other choices and have nicer cars. I don't know, but it's so important for me to [try to] have that balance." In a June interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Rudolph, 50, also described her public persona as a type of armor. "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." Aside from her role on the Apple TV+ comedy Loot, Rudolph will next be seen in the Disney+ fantasy film Disenchanted