Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend - Werner Herzog

Episode Date: October 30, 2023

Werner Herzog feels a little bit weird about being Conan O’Brien’s friend. Conan sits down with Werner to talk about traveling great distances by foot, moving a ship over a mountain, and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. For Conan videos, tour dates and more visit Got a question for Conan? Call our voicemail: (669) 587-2847.

Discussion (0)
Starting point is 00:00:00 Hi, my name is Varna Hartsock. And I feel a little bit weird about being a common old Brian's friend because I met him only once and that was in front of cameras. Yes, yes. Fall is here, here they go, back to school, ring the bell, Bend issues, walkin' loose, climb the fence, books and pens, I can tell that we are gonna be friends. I can tell that we are gonna be friends. Hey there, welcome to Conan O'Brien, needs a friend.
Starting point is 00:00:43 I just announced the show, speaking through, so as you were grumbling or coughing, or what were you doing clearing your throat? I was clearing, I'm a throat clear. I cleared my, I'm, I do. I made it quite clear I was starting the show and I heard them. Can I say something though?
Starting point is 00:00:56 You sounded like you were gonna start it like four times, but you didn't, so I just thought you weren't. You never know when I will strike. Oh, that's the, oh my God. What is wrong with, like God, that was real. This is a mess. That was Matt Gourley sneezing his mind out. Uh, do you got the, um, you okay?
Starting point is 00:01:15 You got the sniffles? Just, I have so much COVID right now. Oh. Let's go to the world and this chamber together. We're broadcasting from the sphere in Las Vegas. Yeah. Maybe it is time that we take stock of, you know, I'm the editor and I know what we all do, our own little ticks
Starting point is 00:01:31 because you clear your throat quite a bit. You do. And you do what you just did right now, which is to begin a sentence with a, Yeah, you do that. That is, listen, I do that on purpose. I go, and that's my way of letting the sound engineer know that I'm about to speak.
Starting point is 00:01:46 It's a little code that we worked out. Isn't that right, Eduardo? Do you want to, and guess what, another thing? I think that it shows a lot of forethought and planning on my part. Do you know how much work that is? I take all of those out. Why?
Starting point is 00:02:02 I put those in on purpose. Wait, Matt has a tick too. He does a lot of plosives, pops, plosives. You do a lot of plosives. And then Eduardo has to take those out. That's probably a lot. Yeah. And Eduardo also, you just stink to high heaven.
Starting point is 00:02:17 Yeah, yeah, yeah. You just, I mean, I don't know what it is. That comes through on the mark. I know, yeah, we were talking about our Mike tick. You have an honorable, you got personal. That's just not cool. Okay. Yeah. Let's try it all at once. We'll all do our personal things that we do all at once. And Eduardo, you put your armpit to the microphone and one, two, three, go.
Starting point is 00:02:42 And before I begin, I go, is that right? And you just go, well, and then you'll, you go like, all right. What if I tried not to do that anymore? That would make your life easier. Oh boy, what? Maybe I substitute it for something else. So anyway, I, but see the audience wouldn't even know that this is an issue because they're never in the final product.
Starting point is 00:03:03 Same with the throat clearing. I'm going to. Oh, really? I try to clear it off my you two not. You make more noise. Yeah. I sometimes do. I do this and then I cough at my elbow. Oh, that's nice.
Starting point is 00:03:14 Yeah. What do you do? Gargle with fava beans before you get on the mic. No, I don't know why I do that. I think I talk incorrectly. Speaking correctly. Speaking shut up. I'm sorry.
Starting point is 00:03:24 That was mean. Um, that was mean. That was mean. I think you're okay with that one. Yeah. It was so distinctive. No, I think I speak incorrectly. You're supposed to speak from your diaphragm. I'm just like up here.
Starting point is 00:03:37 Well, I think. Oh God. Well, these ones, I don't have to take out. No, you can leave these in. Yeah. I'm gonna keep an eye on that from now on, because you work very hard, making sure that this product,
Starting point is 00:03:50 and it is a product, goes out to people for free for some reason, is of the highest quality. And you work hard, removing our little ticks. God knows what the listener or a fan isn't hearing. Maybe for this, the Werner Herzog episode, which I have not yet edited, I'll leave them all in
Starting point is 00:04:08 and just for a taste, just so people can see. I wouldn't do it. I think people will hate the podcast. And we might be sued by Werner Herzog. It's possible. He's got some of his own tics. That's it. He accused me of being quite insane.
Starting point is 00:04:24 Several times. He accuses everyone of being quite insane several times. He accuses everyone of being, you're enveloped in madness. I saw him yelling at a toad outside the studio. Mr. Toad, you are enveloped by insanity and madness. Mr. Hurtzart would you like to come in? Oh, sorry. How are you, Mr. Toad, Ribbit? I am going to do the best I can to be a little more professional.
Starting point is 00:04:47 Do we have buttons that we can push? Like delay buttons? Or like cough buttons? Cough buttons. Yeah, not- Why don't we have those? Because I recently recorded something at SXM Studios, Serious XM, and they had all these cool buttons that were quite helpful, and I thought,
Starting point is 00:05:03 huh, these don't exist in the studio that had war to design. I was told not to give you toys that you can just push. Oh, wow! That's hilarious. My God, I'm at it. That makes so much sense.
Starting point is 00:05:16 I like it. I made that call, made the right call. I make a chimp in a capsule. I'm like a chimp in a space capsule. Don't let the chimp actually, don't let him near any controls. I love that there was a conversation about it. Wait, I thought it was a meeting. I don't know how to conversation and said there shouldn't be any buttons.
Starting point is 00:05:34 That was a trick. That is great. I'm glad anybody. Who was it? I want to know. Give me a name. I can't say. I bet it was Jeff Ross. No, it was a Jeff Ross. Oh, Adam Sachs.
Starting point is 00:05:43 Can you either confirm Norden? No, you can't make him do it. The snitches get stitches. You can it's a Jeff Ross. Oh, Adam Sachs. Can you either confirm nor deny? No, you can't make him do it. The snitches get stitches. That's right. You can't make him do that. Not around here, they don't. Snitches get passive-aggressive. Snitches get riches here.
Starting point is 00:05:54 Yeah. I don't think it would be a problem to have those buttons. And it's not like you can go crazy with a cough button. Now, if there was a button that made a coughing sound, I'd be hitting that all the time. Or a fart button. Oh my God, I would love a fart button. Now, if there was a button that made a coughing sound, I'd be hitting that all the time. Or a fart button. Oh my God, I would love a fart button. Just hitting that, and you know what?
Starting point is 00:06:09 I'd make sure that I was waiting to like end. Today we're talking to Dame Judy Dench. Now Dame Judy Dench, you've done such an incredible, well thank you. Why? And I, eh eh eh eh. Yay!
Starting point is 00:06:21 I'm hitting all these sound effects buttons. And then she just says, I am never doing that podcast again. Game Judy Gensh, that got 8 million listeners. And your movie went through the roof. Then have me back instantly. I love that farting podcast. I want buttons.
Starting point is 00:06:37 Get me buttons. I want to get you. The King demands a fart button. I want buttons. I want levers. I want all kinds of things. I want to look like Willie Waka. You know we get him as a bobbit. Do you remember bobbit? Yeah, it's that toy that has all those things. It's basically like a kid's toy, but you have to like hit it and he goes,
Starting point is 00:06:54 oh, God. Oh my God. What a great podcast you would have if I had that thing. Yeah. Yeah. That'd be fantastic. Wait, you looked uncertain. All right, well, there's no transition here. I also need a transition. That would help right now. Yeah. Well, my guest today is a legendary filmmaker, who's made over 70 films, including Grizzly Man and Fitzgerald O. Now he has a new memoir
Starting point is 00:07:28 entitled Every Man For Himself and God Against All. He is revered, he's esteemed, he's a true artist, he should not be here. I'm excited though that he is joined us. Fruiner Herzog, welcome. Fruiner, you don't know who I really am. And so you don't really know if you could be my friend. You don't know what kind of... Of course, and we have seen each other only once. Cameras rolling and we haven't hit the bars. We haven't been in high school together. We haven't
Starting point is 00:08:06 rafed it down a jungle river and so on. Yes, yes. I understand that it's going to be harder for me to become your close friend. Yes, it is for me to be from in half an hour and an hour of being together, but that's fine. Let's try our best anyway. What about if it were to exist, would you say five hours would do it? Or are you talking it would take maybe more than more lifetime than either of us has left? It actually has happened in my life once or twice that I became an instantaneous friend to somebody. I played in a soccer team which was the best in Peru at the time and I tested the condition training with them. But all of a sudden when they had a the team A playing against team B there was one player missing and the coach said you played team B which position would you like to play?
Starting point is 00:09:06 And I said, I want to play against one of the best in the world was in that team. He was voted as one of the 11 best players in the world after the World Championships, Guyardo, a speed freak. And I tried to give him problems and be an obstacle and after 10 minutes, I didn't know which which direction we were playing. I didn't know which, seriously we were. You completely confounded you. You confounded me,
Starting point is 00:09:36 bamboozled me and I was so exhausted after ten minutes that I crawled off the field and vomited in some bushes for an hour and a half. One guy pulls me out on my legs and talks to me and he says, you did well, you played against one of the best in the world. Doesn't matter if you're defeated like that. And we were friends instantly. Oh, so it wasn't with the soccer player that you became friends. No, no.
Starting point is 00:10:01 You became friends with the man who pulled you out of the bushes while vomiting. Yes, exactly. So that's a guy who you could instantaneously be friends with. But Conan O'Brien, no, not possible. I hope that you start to vomit at some point in this interview and I will rescue you. I will not. Well, we'll see.
Starting point is 00:10:21 Drink this. I have a little something in there. Well, I'm gonna say something else. What do I call you? Because I have great respect for you. Do I call it? Just call me Werner. Okay. First name. Is it Werner with a V? Well, we say Werner in insurgent don't try.
Starting point is 00:10:37 I'm going to try Werner. Yeah, well, it will be too rough tough. Okay, I will do whatever. Let's just let's just let me say that I let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let's let saying, okay little Timmy, it's time to go to sleep. We're going to read every man from self and God against all. I don't think that boy would ever go to sleep. That's a terrifying idea. But I read your book and you describe yourself as a bit of a loner. Do you have a big circle of friends or it's not your natural way? No, a circle of real friends is small and very intense. The only problem is that I live so far out in that slush angeless.
Starting point is 00:11:31 And my friends are in Peru, they are in Germany, they are in India, they are in Sicily. So that's the hard part of it. Here's a question that just occurred to me. We now have this technology that really exploded and zoomed. And everyone is saying, well, it's fantastic because I can keep up my friendships with people who live far away. I have a problem with zoom. I don't feel like I'm really communicating with the person when I'm on zoom. It doesn't feel like something essential is being extracted from the interaction.
Starting point is 00:12:09 Is that possible? You're totally right, although I use it. But I use it only with people who might know very well. So, but I have to refresh the physical contact with them. I want to embrace them directly once in a while. I want to laugh with them. I want to cook a meal for them. And then it's okay that you do one or two Zoom calls. Sometimes there are business Zoom calls. They have to be made because there is somebody involved in a project who is in Australia, somebody who is in the United Kingdom, in London, and I'm in Los Angeles,
Starting point is 00:12:53 so it's very hard to get them together. I'm trying to imagine when you would create, and I was thinking about your whole body of work, which is mind-boggling, there are so many times where you've put yourself in extreme positions as a director. And I'm thinking that you couldn't just sit still in your office and be on a Zoom. You would need to be on a raft floating down a river in Peru, battling the elements on your Zoom while everyone else was talking. Do you know what I mean? That you would, you would, you would, you would, or hard-sock would have to be, does,
Starting point is 00:13:23 it feels like that would be the kind of Zoom you would want to have is to put yourself way out there. No, you have to be really out there and zoom is belong somewhere else. It's a, it's a different world and you, you have to make a decision. Do you want to use it for what purpose is? For example, I'm probably the last holder or two dozen, use a cell phone. You don't have a cell phone? You don't have a cell phone? I don't have a cell phone now, but it's for cultural reasons. I'm not nostalgic. So I want to derive my interaction or my knowledge of the real world in direct contact
Starting point is 00:14:01 with the world. The most intense would be traveling on foot, which I have done. This is a quote. You said it in your book and it really stuck with me. The world reveals itself to those who travel on foot. Yeah. It's important to you to walk and see things in real time. It's not just real time. You are unprotected when you travel on foot and I don't meet backpacking with your whole household on your back, your tent, your sleeping bag, your cooking, your tent, silt and so on.
Starting point is 00:14:34 And lazy bum like everyone else, I would not travel on foot unless there was an existentially important reason for it. For example, I would travel on foot when my mentor, very old woman by then, eight years old, Jewish who had fled Nazi Germany on the day when Hitler took power. And she was in hiding in France during the Second World War and the Nazi regime. And she became my mentor and was very important. And when she was dying, I said, I'm not flying. I'm not taking the train, I'm not going by car. I will come on foot a thousand kilometers. Oh wow. And it was early winter
Starting point is 00:15:19 in snowstorms, in hail and rain and whatever. And I would sleep under bridges sometimes, sometimes in the hay of a barn, I would open vacation home that was uninhabited with some sort of tools, surgical tools without breaking a lock, I can open it and close it again and sleep in there. So, and she was out of hospital by the way when I arrived. And she, eight years later when she was 88, probably 88 because we do not know exactly
Starting point is 00:15:55 how old she became. She celebrated her 75th birthday, at least twice, maybe three times. Normally women start to cheat about their age much earlier, but she had 75. I've been celebrating my 35th. And she's, she summoned me eight years later. She summons me to Paris and she said to me, just over a cup of tea, you know, there's still this spell upon me that I must not die. You put that spell on me. And I'm old now, I'm almost blind.
Starting point is 00:16:29 I cannot read books, which is the joy of my life. I cannot see movies, which is the other joy of my life. I'm lame, I can barely walk. So can you lift the spell off of me? And I said, OK, yes, it's lifted. And eight days later, she, yes, it's lifted and eight days later she died and it was good. It was right. She had put me in a position where had become independent and strong and self-confident and you just name it. That's a beautiful story. You touch on your childhood, which is not of this, I mean,
Starting point is 00:17:07 clearly not of this century, but it feels like your childhood could have been 400 years ago. You grew up in such poverty. You grew up in this. I mean, you're born, as you say, in the book, at this moment, when fortunes are changing for the German army. Right. In North Africa, Rommel is about to start losing, and the Germans have invaded Stalingrad, which is the beginning of the end. So, you grow up in this great tumult and terrible poverty, and you say that you weren't really aware
Starting point is 00:17:41 that you were poor other than you were hungry a lot. Yes, that's when you really know you're poor and my mother would have a loaf of bread, one loaf of my two brothers and me and her, four people. And she would make a groove for each day and each of us had one thin slice of bread per day. But normally, by Friday, when we were so hungry, we had eaten the whole loaf of bread, and we hoped that she would find something somewhere. But sometimes it was always Saturday, Sunday, that was the worst when there was nothing.
Starting point is 00:18:20 So I remember that very well, and we were wailing and tugging at our skirt, and she's spun her. I remember her very well for that she spins around, completely composed, but with an anger and despair in her face that I've never seen before after. Very calmly, she says, boys, if I could cut it out of my ribs, I would cut it out of my ribs, but I can't so you shut up and that made a big, big impression on me, of course. But many people have grown up hungry or poor, there's nothing wrong about that for children. It's much easier than for the parents when a mother cannot feed the
Starting point is 00:19:08 children anymore. That's a real awful thing. It's interesting because I've been thinking about all of your work and what comes up so often for me, and this is my interpretation, and so much, there's been so much discussion of your work, but will, there's an iron will that you have. And I'm wondering, with these film productions, which are, you know, impossible to pull off, you're in the jungle, it's, things are collapsing, your main actor, Klaus Kinski, wants to murder you, you want to murder him.
Starting point is 00:19:40 It all sounds impossible, and yet you always keep going, and I'm wondering wondering is that- I think there's a move for ship over a mountain. You have to keep- In Fitzgerald, you have to move a ship over a mountain and you've made work about how difficult the work was. There are documentaries about how impossible the project is. And what I keep coming back to are a couple of themes.
Starting point is 00:19:58 And one is Will. Iron, Will. And I'm wondering, was that something in your opinion is that in your soul or is in your genetics or was that something that somehow was the product of having so little growing up? I think it's not a correct description to point it, I am will. Because you can dissuade me from from my will with a real good argument. And I do the doable. I really do the doable. I knew I could move a ship over a mountain in the jungle. It can be done. And I knew I would be able to do it. Although nobody
Starting point is 00:20:41 believed in it anymore. And you become very solitary when there are 800 people around and nobody believes in it. In the next town where you can buy a torchlight battery is 800 kilometers away. So you'll become very solitary, but it's not, I wouldn't call it Iron Will, it's a very, very clear vision. Very deep vision in me. And the new, moving a ship over a mountain would be a great metaphor, something like, Moby Dick. Yes.
Starting point is 00:21:14 The white whale, something embedded, very deep in our soul, in our collective soul, probably. And I can articulate it. And all of a sudden everybody understands although I must confess metaphor for what I cannot explain. Well, everyone can have their own interpretation because we've all, in our lives, we've all pulled a giant ship over a mountain.
Starting point is 00:21:43 Sure. And when I say that, I mean, we've all battled with something that most people thought, well, that can't be done. I'm curious if, when I look at your work, I think, did you have, you seem very solid the whole time, even during all this insanity in chaos, you seem very solid. And I think, do you have a good mask, a good poker face, or did you feel true despair? If there's only a mask, it would get cracks
Starting point is 00:22:12 and it would become visible that it's only posing. You have to have it in you. So what can I say that has carried me that I'm just myself and essentially myself in many of the situations. There's another theme that you love to explore, which is madness. It comes up again and again and again, and I was noticing it even came up. And so many of your films, there's that line between
Starting point is 00:22:51 someone being obsessed and have they gone mad, have they lost control of themselves. You've worked with people who could clinically be called mad, if that's a real clinical diagnosis anymore. When you did your documentary encounters at the end of the world and you're in Antarctica, I remember it very clearly. There's a scene where you're looking at the penguins and you start to wonder have they gone mad?
Starting point is 00:23:13 At least one. At least one. At least one. Has there one penguin gone mad? But I thought we're going to hurt Sarguen all the way to Antarctica and he's looking at penguins and he's still wondering about madness. Is it right that that is a true, that's a theme that you like to try and mine or explore? Yes, it's not only madness, but a state where we can be out or beyond ourselves like an ecstasy,
Starting point is 00:23:41 like religious mystics in the late Middle Ages. Or it could be a penguin. I asked the penguin research and I was told he has not spoken to anyone for 24 years. So I said, I will be the first one. And I tell him some things that he has never heard. Why do, for example, species of ants create colonies of slaves of some sort of lice that they milked for droplets of sugar? Why is that? And why does a chimp not settle the goat
Starting point is 00:24:20 and ride off into the sunset of Death Valley or a monument valley. Yeah. Why does it happen? It's a insanity among animals, not only among people. It's a insanity among penguins, some because they observed a penguin that marches right into the continent and it's 5,000 kilometers of ice and mountains. And there's no way to turn the penguin around. You can do that and you shouldn't do it by the way, but you can turn it around. It will immediately stubbornly march into his death into the interior of the continent,
Starting point is 00:25:01 not to the water, not to the colony. So what is going on? I've been fascinated by this. Famously, it's been much discussed, but it's so riveting, you had this work dynamic with the actor Klaus Kinsky, and there's something in it that I understand. I understand because I've watched all the films, I've watched the documentaries about the making of the films, I've seen him completely lose control, I've seen in real time people who are working on the film
Starting point is 00:25:35 plotting to kill Kinsky, and threatening to kill you, you plotting to kill Kinsky. And I swear to you that what I'm saying is true right now. I've worked in comedy for, you know, 40 years and for 30 of those years, I worked many times out in the field making comedy under duress in strange conditions.
Starting point is 00:25:57 And I've wanted to kill people that I've worked with, one of them's here. Oh, no. No. But I've been, I've gotten to an altered state at times. I've been hungry and cold, and we've needed to get this shot, and a lot of what I do is somewhat improvisational, and I need to improvise something and make something happen. Yeah.
Starting point is 00:26:22 And I've, you have to deliver something. And I have to deliver something. And I do think there are times when I've gone, I've gone to another state. And I'm thinking specifically of an episode I did where we were shooting in Italy. And it was late in the day. And we were exhausted. And suddenly we had to shoot a thing where we're hunting for truffles. And I just, I've started to, I started to lose it. And I think I lost my mind during the truffle hunt and started hopping around like a rabbit. Now anyone watching it might think,
Starting point is 00:26:50 I don't know what's happening with Conan or maybe he's just doing this because he thinks it's funny. No, I really did lose, lose it and have this kind of madness, but I also understand, I'm kind of in love with it. There's a part of me that is attracted to it. And of course, what you are doing, multiply that by a thousand, you're work with Kinsky. But when you say afterwards, no, we were brothers. To most people, that would seem impossible, that this man could be screaming at
Starting point is 00:27:19 you and abusing you and you screaming back at him. But no, I understand it. I understand how you can go through that with someone but also cherish that bond, does that? It's hard to describe it. And in my book, I described quite a bit about it. Number one, there is a side to all this, which is hilarious. Number two, I've never had lost it. I cannot remember that I've ever lost it that I've always been the calmest of calm in such situations. You don't lose it.
Starting point is 00:27:48 You would scream at the native people in the rainforest, and they would huddle sit down, because they solved their conflicts very quietly, whispering, and whispering voices. And they came afterwards to whispering, and whispering voices. And they came afterwards to me and one of their chiefs said to me, you know, we were afraid, but don't you believe we were afraid of this screaming mad man? They were afraid of me because I was so quiet. Okay. And I really meant business. And in moments of real confrontation, Kinski understood when I explained to him things very, very calmly, this is impermissible.
Starting point is 00:28:34 This cannot be done, or you're trying as a task that is beyond the two of us. We have to stick to it, or else. And he would know that this or else would mean he would be a dead man within 30 seconds flat. I didn't have to spell it out. You just did though. You're doing it now.
Starting point is 00:28:59 You're doing it now. Let's put it simply. You have to have it in you to stop at a certain moment and to understand, yes, you do not do this, you're not going to kill each other. It's a beautiful script, which is outside of the movie. And the script is not going to happen otherwise. You end up on Death Row and I have made nine films on Death Row and I know that every single one on Death Row that I met, men and women, were only a step away from what I am, what almost all of us are.
Starting point is 00:29:43 Yeah, that's true. Very human, human beings. away from what I am, what almost all of us are. Yeah, that's true. Very human, human beings. It's interesting because there's this new movement that's been discussed lately, and it was written about the other day, I think, in the New York Times, which said, if you, when dealing with someone who's out of control or psychotic, they say, become a gray rock, become bland and very, very sort of almost disinterested. And they say it's the best way to treat them. So had you screamed back at Kinski and and and and and
Starting point is 00:30:12 entertained and tried to meet him scream for scream, the whole thing would have blown up by staying, yeah, almost inert as you did. No, we had a plane crash and only garbled messages in our camp. We didn't know exactly where was it. How many people can we... Was it a plane that was coming to the film show? Two-hour films, two-hour set, transporting extras. And I tried to make sense what it was in Kinski at that morning. We served coffee in all the huts. And he was the last one because we altered the line of who would be first or last. His coffee was lukewarm.
Starting point is 00:30:58 He just lost it over it. And he kept yelling and screaming for an hour and a half foam at his mouth. I mean literally, I'm not exaggerating. Screaming at the top of his lung, that close to my face, that close. And I tried to explain, close, there's a plane down. We need to understand what the radio, the garbled radio is transmitting to us. So, and finally, I couldn't get rid of him. I went to my hut. I had one little piece of chocolate,
Starting point is 00:31:32 very good chocolate left, and I stood right in his face and ate the chocolate. That was too much for him, because chocolate was the most valuable item in the camp. Yes. And I ate my last piece of chocolate, and he just fell silent in the camp. Yes. And I ate my last piece of chocolate and he just fell silent and threw, yeah. Yes, it's like you shut down the computer.
Starting point is 00:31:53 It just went to the Apple logo. There's nothing he could do at that moment. It's fascinating because you've done this very intense and, and, uh, beloved work and you explore these intense themes, but because of your fame and notoriety, you're also being asked, uh, to do these other side projects, which, um, are very popular in popular culture, you've been, uh, a guest on the Simpsons. Yes. More than once.
Starting point is 00:32:29 Mandalorian. Mandalorian. You're in the Mandalorian. Yes. Jack Richard Parks and Recreation. Yeah. And I'm curious where you've, how you reconcile because it's such a chasm between being in Peru, your life threatened by a madman trying to make this magnum opus, and then you're on the set of the Simpsons, or you're with
Starting point is 00:32:54 baby Yoda on the Mandalorian. What is it? It must be quite fascinating to imagine the trips you've taken in your life. Sure, yes, and I do not want to miss any of that because I found the Simpsons very fascinating, intelligent, and a lot of unarchy in it. And when I was invited to speak a role, I immediately said, do they speak? I cannot believe that. I thought there were only like comic strips printed in newspapers. I'd never seen it. And I think Matt Growning, who started it, he said to me, don't, I did not know that it existed. So I asked for DVD to show me a little bit so that I could see how I hear how cartoonish the voices would be. They actually sent a few of them to me and they said, you don't need to be cartoonish. Just speak with your accent. It's wild enough. Yes.
Starting point is 00:34:07 Wild enough for us. So I acknowledged this and I really, really enjoyed it. Did you work hard? I'm good at that. And in Czech reach, there are bad guys. They open fire. They have huge assault rifles. They swear they shout, they yell at you, they have fist fights.
Starting point is 00:34:27 I am the epicenter of evil. I have very few fingers left. I ate them in a gulac to avoid being sent to a let mine and lose my life there. And I'm blind in one blind eye. And I only have my voice to spread terror in a calm voice. And one of the villains, the sub-villain, who made a mistake, I tell him, you can get away with it.
Starting point is 00:35:01 If you're really determined not to do that again, you have to eat your fingers as I do it, if you are really determined not to do that again, you have to eat your fingers as I do it, as I did it. And it tries and tries and I very calmly encourage him. I say, that was, that was already good. I know you can do it. Just try harder. And it's so frightening that when the film was out, friends of my wife in Paris, they called her and they said, Lena, are you married to that man? You know, we are only one night flight away from you, we can give you shelter. So I knew I was good. And that's my best reward. The Mandalorian, there's so much
Starting point is 00:35:49 secrecy around that shoot. What was that experience like for you? Well, secrecy went so far that I had to sign a contract for a film Huckleberry Finn, not Mandalorianarian. In the same time. You had your costumes, you couldn't leave the studio unless you put a big tunic all over you and you were not allowed to speak about what was going on inside. So I understand that because it's such a worldwide phenomenon and fans were lurking outside the hedges with their little cameras and trying to snap a few feltos. But the experience was very interesting because John Favreau, who is a mastermind behind all this, he invited me. I was always invited. I never competed for any part. I never was in any audition. And he apparently loves my films and loves my writings. And he wanted
Starting point is 00:36:55 to make me as a person visible for a larger audience in the world. That's a guy who did all these things. And you see, we are speaking about my films and my acting, but equally important, I think, is writing from the very, very beginning. I've been a writer and I started out writing when when I was 15, 16 and I published my first books decades ago in the early 70s. And they are still constantly being reprinted, reprinted. And I keep saying, and it's basically two deaf ears and it will fall on deaf ears, ears, ears. Well, but time is on my side. I keep saying the written things, my books, my prose, my poetry, with all probability will have a longer life than my films.
Starting point is 00:37:50 I will be remembered for my writings, not so much for my films. You write beautifully. You are a terrific and disciplined writer and your writing is very lyrical. And I think that that can travel through all kinds of changes in how people experience entertainment, probably more safely and durably than maybe film can.
Starting point is 00:38:13 So I think that's possible. Books are more terrible than movies. It's a strange thing, but it's a fact you can see it. And I've always loved to write poetry and to, you see, when you look at my memoirs, people are looking for, let's say, content. What did he do in this period of his life? It's not, I'm not like, it's not an encyclopedia of my life. It's memoirs and it's prose. It's very, very intense writing. I write, for example, all of a sudden, in this book, Every Man For Himself in God Against All, I insert five ballots of the little soldier. I was once in Nicaragua Honduras with child soldiers between 8 and 11 and I mean tragic tragic.
Starting point is 00:39:07 And this is 8 and 11 year old with weapons. With weapons and in warfare and some of them whom I filmed were dead three weeks later and I still have them on film. My eight year old boy Angelic looking and with a catastrophic tragic life behind him where his parents were killed in front of his eyes, and he decided to become a soldier warrior. But in all of a sudden there are five ballots of the little soldier, I insert diaries when I travelled on foot around Germany. I've followed once all the simulations of the German border
Starting point is 00:39:51 to hold the country together when it was not united yet. I said to myself, politics has given up. So it's only the poets who can hold it together. And I traveled on foot around my own country. And I'm riding while I'm walking. And some of the most beautiful intense pros that I ever wrote was on that traveling on foot. Off walking in ice when I traveled on foot from Munich to Paris. When things were essentially somehow reduced to a pilgrimage, to a big quest, not the joy of walking. Of course, I also enjoyed it.
Starting point is 00:40:37 I knew that, and I'm not superstitious, but I knew when I arrived on foot, Lotte Eisner would be out of hospital and she would live. And she actually did. And she believed it was because you put a spell on her. No, she said that jokingly. Yes, later just before she... Oh, I thought you had that ability and I was going to ask for it before you go.
Starting point is 00:41:03 Ask her to say please before you go, one more thing. Like to live to 98. And then I'll ask to see you again. Because that's going to be, I'll be in a lot of pain. I, there was a revelation in the book that I found interesting because you were such a thoughtful person. I don't think your mind ever shuts off. You don't believe in therapy.
Starting point is 00:41:22 I'm very cautious about it because it hasn't done no good to no one. I can think it's one of the monumental mistakes of the 20th century, among many others. The big social utopias, communism, fascism have led to incredibly disastrous overpopulation of our planet and you just name it destruction of what what what nature is all all of that started really in the 20th century. And one of the things that one of the great mistakes of the 20th centuries psychoanalysis, of course, it started some decades earlier, but it really blossomed in the 20th century. And I do believe that the 20th century in its entirety was a mistake. And going back to psychoanalysis, I can give you a parable. When you move into a new home and you illuminate this home, it's very last recesses in corners with neon lights.
Starting point is 00:42:34 Everything is illuminated. This house becomes uninhabitable. And human beings illuminated to the darkest corners of their soul become uninhabitable, I say it in quotes now. And you should be careful what you do. Of course, there are clinical cases and you better do it. But this mass phenomenon to think that everything in your inner balance and in your soul and in your emotionality and so will be solved by psychoanalysis, I do not think it is a good approach. It's funny because I think it's a byproduct of the obsession and you live in Los Angeles, so you see this now. In the 21st century in Los Angeles,
Starting point is 00:43:28 there's just this obsession with, I wanna eat all the perfect foods, I wanna make sure that I get all the perfect treatments. I wanna achieve this perfect state of balance. Yoga classes for five years old. Five year olds. Well, they've been so easily. Yeah, too. Yeah, but, but, but I mean, the great defender of Los Angeles, everybody, Oh, no, I'm joking. And says, I love Los Angeles too. You think, yeah, the glitz and glamour
Starting point is 00:43:58 of Los Angeles, but everything in the, that in the last half century, somehow set the pace and the thinking and the trends of the world without a mean being completely trendy, originated here. The internet was born here, the internet, and I've seen the place where the first contact was made with routers in service. Reusable rockets are being built in the parameters of the city itself. I mean a southern outskirt but southern part of it. All the great painters are here. The art scene here is very fresh. They are not in New York anymore. There was early 50s or so. Now they are here. The writers and mathematicians. Also, of course, stupidities, crazy sects. Inline skating is fine, but... You're just saying to Runner-Hart talk's list of what's in and what's out, what's hot and what's
Starting point is 00:45:01 home. I actually am very much beloved by skateboarders. Oh, good. Yeah. There's a community of skateboards. That's going to have the money aside. Yeah. Yes, and they're on my side, and I'm on theirs, because the futility and the insistence, try it again, try it again, try it again.
Starting point is 00:45:18 You will do this jump up onto the railing of... No, don't do that. Now I am too old for that. And I've done ski jumping and ski flying and almost died in doing that. But anyway, you do the wild stuff when you're young. But the crazy things also come from here, originated here. And they have a worldwide repercussions. It happens. And there's no other city. Does it happen in Chicago or in London or in Florence or in Mumbai or in Buenos Aires? No, it's Los Angeles. It's wonderful to live in a city where all these things are happening. All these things are happening.
Starting point is 00:46:10 It's a very vibrant community. I guess what I was, what I was, you love to participate, you love to know what's going on. So you do watch some things that maybe your typical person might think Werner Herzog doesn't view. You watch the Kardashians. Very, very few, but I do watch some dress TV like, let's say, WrestleMania. Oh, yeah.
Starting point is 00:46:36 No, Sonya is like her. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, They're not that important, but the owner of the franchise shows up in the ring. His wife, a legit wife, in a wheelchair and blind, and he has three sexy women in his arm and rants against his wife in the wheelchair. And all of a sudden you have a form of drama going on a new form emerging apparently, probably as crude as ancient Greek drama started out in the fifth century before Christ. So I watch it for number one. I think the poet must not close his eyes,
Starting point is 00:47:46 avert his eyes. You have to know in which world you are living. You've never known. You've never known. And I have nothing against, let's say, once in a while, it isn't on the air anymore. Here comes honey boo boo. So I can't say anything.
Starting point is 00:48:07 Nobody's. Yeah. That's my favorite. The way you said it, yeah. It's gonna be a, it'll be a meme. Where that's. No, but, but very, very fascinating. Yeah.
Starting point is 00:48:21 There's something, something deep about, about society, that deep about something deep about the American dream that goes awry somehow. And I can see how the American dream is functioning because I've been in the heartland of America. I have worked in Wisconsin. I've worked in Louisiana. I've worked in North Carolina. I've lived in Pittsburgh with a guest family who picked me up from the street when I was homeless.
Starting point is 00:49:00 Without hesitation, I was part of the best that America can give you. And I think much of the political chasm between left and right is due to the neglect of the center, the heartland of America. People say, I am the flyovers, but they live in Boston or in Seattle or in Los Angeles and New York. And I ask, have you ever been in Wisconsin? No, but I have worked there. So, and I find it, I find it an outrage that some of the best of America, very good people living there, of course, underrepresented in the media with much less access to education, underpaid without that open access to the American dream. And this is why you have such conflicts now.
Starting point is 00:50:06 Yes. I say, why don't you contact your old school buddies, tell them what you are doing and be interested in what they are doing, what are they thinking, what are they doing, put them on your radar, let them know they are around there and you like them and you like Arkansas and you like Wisconsin. And do they do it? No, unfortunately, too. Very few. No. You are very prolific in your with your film work, you're writing, what's the plan now? What's the next couple of years?
Starting point is 00:50:44 What's the plan now? What's the next couple of years? Well, I've written a screenplay for a story that's long in me and I describe it in my memoirs. It's called Bucking Faster. It's a great title. A slip of tongue, and it's about twin sisters, identical twins who spoke in unison. And we have had twins, we know sometimes they develop their own secretive language. But these twins unique, we have never seen a hurt of anyone else and I was in very close contact with them, they spoke in unison. When they opened the door and they said, Ah, please come in and do you want to have a cup of tea, they can be ritualized and rehearsed. But they would answer a question that they could not expect in unison.
Starting point is 00:51:32 There was a court case, some a truck driver, an ugly purple face, truck driver had a restraining order against them. And the court, they were allowed to testify in the witness stand together. Oh my God. But it's an iron principle. If you own court, you, Conan, will testify and then you will testify and then the next person.
Starting point is 00:52:00 There was an exception they spoke in unison because they would be terrified and would unravel and start shouting and so on. And across the courtroom, they shouted to the truck driver, he's lying. Every word he's saying is a lie. He's lying under oaths and then simultaneously the bucking fast that is lying. So they both made the same mistake at the same time slip of tongue in the same moment. Even that. I need to reveal that Sona has twins. She's shown us video, the cameras of them communicating with each other before they could
Starting point is 00:52:40 really talk. Yes. And they are having full on. It's nonsense to us, but you understand, it is a full on. They're having a full conversation. I don't understand a word of it. It's fascinating to watch. But it's a separate language.
Starting point is 00:52:54 They do not speak in unison. No, they don't. They do not make up. I said, hey, girls, I said girls, even though they were not girls anymore, they were in the early 40s or late 30s, I said to them, let's go out to a restaurant. And they whispered to each other, making up, but they whispered in unison. And they said, are now a restaurant
Starting point is 00:53:17 and there are these waiters in tuxedos. And so I said, now, now, let's go to a fishing chip place around the corner. We probably will, they're speaking let's go to a fish and chip place around the corner. We're probably really there. They're speaking in unison to each other. And then they said, yeah, let's do it. So when is this coming out? There's only a screenplay.
Starting point is 00:53:32 It's not finite. And it's not short yet. I'll give you the money. But it's, that would be nice. But, uh, you doubt I have it. Do you? Well, I have tens of thousands of dollars. So I think about your, the famous story about you is that you stole your first camera. You didn't have a camera and you stole it and I actually, I love this line from the book.
Starting point is 00:53:56 You say I refused to think of it as stealing. You said I was exercising a natural right to put the camera to its intended use. I thought that it's such a fantastic rationalization, but also it makes perfect sense, but you had so many limits, and I wonder, Werner Herzog, if you went into a black hole and you appeared today as a young man, your early 20s and you have iPhones and you have computers that can laptops that can edit how different are the films. Are they completely different films? My films wouldn't be different.
Starting point is 00:54:37 No, I don't think so. It doesn't matter if I shoot it on celluloid. When I started, it was 35 millimeter celluloid. Very clumsy, expensive, took a long time to make a film much longer than today. And yet, with the clear vision that I had, I've done one film after the other. I've done, I don't know, over 70 films by now and I have published at least 10 books and I have acted in at least 20 films and I have staged operas So it wouldn't look different because writing a book whether you write it on a laptop or in long-hand Does make any difference at all. This has been a wonderful treat. I have spoken to you before Yes, I do remember.
Starting point is 00:55:26 I do, thank you for remembering. I do love this format because in the other format, I could talk to you for seven, eight minutes about Grizzly Man or nine minutes. And then thank you very much. We're in a Herzog in the band plays. And to be a commercial. Yeah. And this format
Starting point is 00:55:47 enables me to have the kind of conversation with you that I've always wanted to have. So it's a it's a feeling when I walked in here and I knew this is your new home now and you've created it for yourself. I would have advised you at that time in conflict with was it NBC or what was a station? Who can remember? Yeah, NBC. Whatever it was. Yeah, by the station. By the station and fire, fire them all. Yeah. And you take over. I didn't quite have that money at the time. It's a secret segment. Well, maybe I'll be hitting you up for financing. But you will outtalk them. You will outmail them.
Starting point is 00:56:31 I will. You will outbrilliant them. That's nice. I'll shine them and you will outtalk them. You have the gift of gap. You know, funny thing is if you just, if you love the work, you're okay. So it doesn't matter what the platform is. If you love the work, and that's what I,
Starting point is 00:56:50 what's so inspirational about you is you were not raised with a silver spoon your mouth. You weren't sent to, you know, USC film school at a young age and given a posh internship. There's no reason why you should be a prolific, amazing filmmaker. You didn't see a film till relatively late in your childhood.
Starting point is 00:57:11 I didn't know it. You didn't know you existed. And yet it was in you. And here we are. And so I think if you're doing the work and you have things to say, and you have things that you need to say, the rest will take care of itself. I believe that.
Starting point is 00:57:29 That sounds very encouraging and I will walk out here 10 pounds lighter. Absolutely. Joy, Werner Herzog. Thank you so much. And the book, I just want to say, this is a fantastic, lovely book, Every Man From Self and God Against All, a memoir and a very special memoir, because you're right, it is not just recounting what happened, A, B, C, D, E. It's a fantastic story, but also beautiful and poetic and worthy of your time. So thank you, sir. Thank you. You know, recently we did a segment about a new voicemail number and people could call and leave a voicemail and maybe we could answer the questions and it worked. We've got some voicemails.
Starting point is 00:58:20 Oh, good. New voicemails. I love to hear the Vox popular. Hmm. We've got some voicemails. Oh good. No voicemails. I love to hear the Vox popular. Hmm voice of the people. Yes So I know you're new here. They're excited to hear what they have to say. Hit it Adorno. Hey Conan I am a high school US history teacher and I have to teach high school juniors about Abraham Lincoln Sometime around November December You know, I know you're a big Lincoln and Civil War buff and so I thought, you know, surely you can make a great connection to the TikTok generation or whatever they call themselves and help me
Starting point is 00:58:56 find a way to just really hammer home the historical importance of the Civil War in Abraham Lincoln. So if you could help me out, that'd be great and also that truly was the worst outgoing voice mail message of all time. I loved it. Thanks. Is it me? It's all of us.
Starting point is 00:59:11 I don't remember what the outgoing voice mail message was. It was my apologies. Kind of coaching Sonon how to do it. Yeah. And there you go. Well, this is a huge responsibility. You're up to it. No, no, it just plain the significance of, of President Abraham Lincoln
Starting point is 00:59:26 and to explain the civil war to these students in what and what length of time I'll give you three minutes. That's insane. Look, kids, put down your iPhone. Oh, you lost them already. You lost them already. Just Photoshop his head onto a dancing TikTok person. Oh, there you go. Oh, yeah. Yeah, yeah. Photoshop, whatever you just said. Now, what's that?
Starting point is 00:59:50 Help me, Sonia. How would I communicate with the TikTok generation? I'm beyond this generation. I don't know. I have no idea. You have a really good way of connecting with people. Right, but they're not. That's something you like.
Starting point is 01:00:01 Right. Civil war, crazy, crazy carn Yes. I mean, aren't kids into that? I mean, just insane. You know how many people die and if you add it up all the John Wick movies? Yes. Multi-quiet. That's like a hundred thousand. Yeah. Yeah. Imagine just, just, there's a whole bunch of John Wicks in the South and there's a whole bunch of John Wicks in the North. And's a whole bunch of John Wicks in the North. And they just go towards each other.
Starting point is 01:00:28 The ones in the North are wearing blue suits and the ones in the South are wearing gray suits and they just go at it. And then there's this guy. Who's the guy who runs the hotel? Oh, Ian McShane. Ian McShane, but what's his character's name in the John Wick movies? I have no idea. We'll come up with a character's name in the John Wick movies? I forget. I have no idea.
Starting point is 01:00:46 We'll come up with a Continental. Yeah, the hotel is called the Continental. Well, in this, the Continental Hotel is the White House, okay, that's run by Winston. So Abraham Lincoln was a British guy played by Ian McShane. Oh, okay. Yeah, and he's the one that's sort of watching
Starting point is 01:01:02 in the background and really not doing anything, just sort of sipping. Oh, you said Abraham Lincoln's not doing anything. He's not just sitting around watching these armies, these massive armies of John Wicks fight each other and going, and so it begins. Ah, yes, and now it has begun, and just keeps, and seems pretty ineffectual and doesn't really do much at all. Unfortunately, that's Lincoln, except he did do stuff. and just keeps, and it seems pretty ineffectual and doesn't really do much at all. Unfortunately, that's Lincoln, except he did do stuff.
Starting point is 01:01:28 Wrote amazing speeches, Gettysburg address. No, they're boring, you're losing them. Okay, okay, okay. Civil War started by the killing of a dog. What happens is the South killed our dog. Yes. And then the South called its dad and said, don't worry, it's just a asshole.
Starting point is 01:01:42 I just killed his dog and he went, what? You killed the North's dog. And then all the John Wicks from the North came after the John Wicks from the South. And look, I'm gonna get a lot of mail from people in the South saying, no, they killed our dog. It's like, no, no, no, I just had, I'm from Boston, so fuck you.
Starting point is 01:01:58 Anyway, all these John Wicks are fighting each other and it's absolutely insane and it goes on for four years and you name it and Tidam cold harbor. You're losing him. You're losing him. Oh, oh, oh, they're fighting in Japan. Just steps in Japan.
Starting point is 01:02:15 They're fighting, you know, oh, around the arc to triumph and when there's no door on the car and someone wicks leaning out and he's firing. It's so fucking cool. That one's fishburns there. Yeah, and learns wicks leaning out, he's firing. It's so fucking cool. That one's fishburns there. Yeah, and learns fishburns there, and that's a little bull run. And the car. And then, wow, oh man. And then every now and then Abraham Lincoln thinks about his wife who passed away a long time ago,
Starting point is 01:02:38 and he's really sad. And he thinks about that. And that's Mary Todd Lincoln, although she didn't pass away in real life. She lived and she was crazy, but she's crazy. And spent a lot of money and really lost it all the time. And she's so hot. Yeah, so hot. Yeah.
Starting point is 01:02:52 But anyway, that's what happened. It's just incredible. You got to check this out. A John Wick that lasts four years. Yeah. Shut it up, motherfuckers! Conan O'Brien needs a friend with Conan O'Brien, Sonom of Sessian, and Matt Gourley. Get out of my motherfuckers! Incidental music by Jimmy Vivino. Take it away, Jimmy. Our supervising producer is Aaron Blair and our Associate Talent Producer is Jennifer Samples,
Starting point is 01:03:31 engineering by Eduardo Perez, additional production support by Mars Melnick, Talent Booking by Paula Davis, Gina Batista, and Britt Con. You can rate and review this show on Apple Podcasts and you might find your review read on a future episode. Got a question for Conan? Call the team Coco Hotline at 669-587-2847 and leave a message. It too could be featured on a future episode.
Starting point is 01:03:53 And if you haven't already, please subscribe to Conan O'Brien, Needs A Friend, wherever fine podcasts are downloaded. you

There aren't comments yet for this episode. Click on any sentence in the transcript to leave a comment.