What inspired Spike Jonze to make a short film with Stephen Colbert?

Behind the Spike Jonze short film starring Stephen Colbert

When “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert interviewed director Spike Jonze earlier this year, his show began not with the traditional opening sequence but with a short film Jonze directed.

In the film, Colbert wakes up Central Park, obviously dazed. As makes his way through streets of New York, people refuse his handshakes. Children point and laugh at him. He eventually sees Grover, from Sesame Street, reading a newspaper. The Muppet takes him by the hand and leads him to the set of the “Late Show” at the Ed Sullivan Theater. Colbert steps onstage, the audience applauds, and the film ends.

A Short Film By Spike Jonze by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on YouTube

In a recent interview with “Face the Nation” moderator John Dickerson, Colbert explained the inspiration behind the unorthodox show opener.

“Spike came to me with that whole idea. And he said, ‘Would you do this?’ ‘cause he was coming on the show. And he doesn’t do the – this is the only second time he’s ever been on a talk show,” Colbert said.

“Did he have…it fully realized?” Dickerson asked.

Colbert and the perfect joke

“Yeah,” Colbert replied. “When I first got this gig…I asked Spike to come in and just have a conversation with me about what I wanted to do. So he sat down and he interviewed me about what was important to me. And then, shortly before he came on the show…he transcribed our interview and he wrote it into what he thinks he’s seeing and what we’re doing that was part of my intention. And he said, ‘I wanna remind you of the conversation we had a year ago. I’ve got an idea that I think that feeds into it…would you be willing to do this new intro to the show and a new song? And I said, ‘Sure.’”

“Why is Grover in it?” Dickerson asked.

“Because he’s playfulness, I think,” Colbert explained. “He’s the joy you have as a child playing…And I think probably – I didn’t ask him, ‘cause I didn’t wanna deconstruct what he’s saying – but I imagine that what he is saying with this offering that he made is, ‘I want to see you playing like a child more.’”

“Do you know where Grover was first introduced into America?” Dickerson asked.

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“A milk commercial?” Colbert guessed.

“On the Ed Sullivan Show,” Dickerson said.

“What?” Colbert exclaimed. “I didn’t know that. That’s extraordinary.”

The Late Show, as noted above, broadcasts from the Ed Sullivan Theater – a venue named after the famous broadcaster and host of “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

“Yeah. I do my research,” Dickerson said. “I thought [the film] was really going that deep.”

“I mean, it could very well be,” Colbert mused. “Spike is a genius.”

He added, “It could just be…the universe winking at you.”

For more of the interview with Colbert, click here.