Jonze and Miller join a strong list of previous speakers in the Letterman Lecture Series, including Oprah Winfrey and Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter.
Letterman graced the stage in true Indiana fashion, sporting a Charles Darwin–esque beard. The conversation jumped from heavy topics to lighthearted interactions. Here are the five best exchanges.
When Letterman opened with a story of his 94-year-old mother getting drunk off margaritas at Thanksgiving.
“We [thought] Mom was taking a nap. At 7 [or] 8 o’clock we can’t find Mom … She’d gone out to the backyard and fallen asleep. My hand to God, there was a deer licking the salt off the rim of her glass.”
When Letterman faced the underrepresentation of women in the film industry head-on.
“What about the discussion that [women] may not be trusted to produce the $600 million blockbuster?” Letterman asked.
“I can say that’s ridiculous. Hollywood, that movie business, is probably like all giant American businesses. It takes a long time to change and evolve … Spike Lee talked about how there is no black [studio] head, which is also ridiculous,” said Jonze.
When Letterman, a proud “C”-average student, asked two theater majors, “How are your grades?”
“I’m graduating on time,” one of the students replied.
Of course, Letterman laughed.
When Jonze admitted that being a director was merely a consolation prize to his lifelong dream of being a stuntman.
“Have either of you here rolled out of a moving cab?” asked Letterman.
“Funny you should ask,” said Jonze. “My whole life I wanted to be a stuntman.”
“It actually was a terrible idea because the cement was so hard, and I split my head open.”
Jonze confessed he might have had a few drinks prior to plunging out of the cab.
When Miller gave a simple but brilliant explanation of how he became a director (sans college degree, for the record) after deciding on the career at a young age.
“When I was 12 I thought, There are other 12-year-olds right now who one day will be directors. What do they know that I don’t know?”
Letterman announced that after retiring from his 6,028-broadcast Late Show run, he is donating all the memorabilia, including his Emmys, to Ball State University.