Jimmy Fallon finally opened up about his controversial interview with Donald Trump. Though the Tonight Show host briefly addressed the interaction after the 2016 Emmys, he discussed the backlash at length in a new profile published in The New York Times.
“I go, I just can’t read Twitter,” Fallon recalled of the aftermath. “Then I can’t read the news. I can’t read the Internet.” He added, “I’m a people pleaser. If there’s one bad thing on Twitter about me, it will make me upset. So, after this happened, I was devastated. I didn’t mean anything by it. I was just trying to have fun.”
In September, Fallon was the subject of intense scrutiny after Trump, then the Republican candidate for president, appeared on The Tonight Show. The host was mocked for tousling Trump’s hair and chastised for veering away from the issues and his inflammatory rhetoric.
“[People] have a right to be mad,” Fallon said. “If I let anyone down, it hurt my feelings that they didn’t like it. I got it.” He further explained that he “didn’t do it to humanize” Trump. “I almost did it to minimize him,” he said. “I didn’t think that would be a compliment: ‘He did the thing that we all wanted to do.'”
Fallon regrets how he handled the “crazy” situation. “I didn’t talk about it, and I should have talked about it,” he said. “I regret that.” Though, now he feels like the opportunity to do so has “sailed.”
In the end, Fallon is determined to move on from this. “I tossed and turned for a couple of weeks, but I have to make people laugh. People that voted for Trump watch my show as well,” he said.
In addition to the backlash, Fallon addressed reports that NBC executives were concerned about his drinking habits. “I could never do a day-to-day job if I was drinking every night. That’s just kicking you when you’re down,” he remarked.
Network chief Bob Greenblatt commented on those tabloid claims in 2016, saying Fallon “doesn’t have a drinking problem that any of us know about.”
Read more from Fallon in The New York Times.
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon airs weeknights on NBC.