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My Favorite Scene

Seth Meyers Breaks Down Day Drinking with Kristen Stewart: ‘All Your Best Laid Plans Go Out the Window’

Seth Meyers explains to IndieWire how to craft a perfect "Seth Goes Day Drinking" segment: "It's a little bit like trying to script what a date would be like, before you're about to go get drunk on that date."
Kristen Stewart and Seth Meyers play darts in a bar as part of 'Late Night with Seth Meyers' segment 'Seth Goes Day Drinking'
Kristen Stewart and Seth Meyers go Day Drinking
Lloyd Bishop/NBC/ IndieWire bug by Scott Levan

Welcome to My Favorite Scene! In this series, IndieWire speaks to actors behind a few of our favorite television performances about their personal-best onscreen moment and how it came together. 

One moment from “Seth Goes Day Drinking” with Kristen Stewart still haunts Seth Meyers.

The popular “Late Night with Seth Meyers” segment finds the host drinking an afternoon away with a celebrity guest while playing an escalating set of ridiculous games and challenges. For Stewart’s appearance in March 2024, Meyers and staff planned to have the Oscar-nominated actress do some purposely goofy cold scene readings — while appropriately tipsy.

Meyers just didn’t count on Stewart still being so damn good.

“My favorite moment of Kristen was making her act and watching her up close act was thrilling,” Meyers told IndieWire. “Big goosebumps-inducing. But I cut her off at one point [while she performed] and she was really mad. I don’t know if she was actually mad, but I felt like she was frustrated because she was about to nail it and find something as an actor. I feel like once a day, I think to myself, ‘fucking blew it, man. You got in the way Kristen Stewart when she was about to break through.’ It just feels like something I’ll never live down!”

The segment is one of Meyers’ favorites from the year, pairing his popular “Day Drinking” series with the ultimate indie It Girl. “She’d only been on my show once [prior] and I just dug her vibe,” Meyers said. “I think people like her because they can tell she’s authentically herself.”

“I saw her on ‘SNL’ and realized, ‘Oh, she also has these weird, funny moves, that I feel like none of us had been lucky enough to see,'” he continued. “Even with all that said, when her team said she wanted to do it I think our first reaction was, ‘Buuut does she drink? Aaaand is she fun when she drinks?’ [They] insisted that both of those were true. And certainly, they weren’t lying.”

Indeed. Of course, all that drunken spontaneity (dart throwing, having Kristen dress Seth up as a lesbian icon) required careful prep from the “Late Night” crew. But 10 years into the show, Meyers trusts his team, even if he can’t always quite remember the next day everything that goes down during the shoot.

“I wake up the morning after every taping of ‘Day Drinking’ in a terror, I think the way I used to after a college party,” Meyers said. “I’m like, ‘Whoa, what did I say!? Was I cool!? I felt cool yesterday and now I feel dumb.’ Thank God they’re taped, because otherwise it would be the lamest shit in the world for somebody as cool as Kristen Stewart to spend the afternoon with a 50-year-old man.”

Below, Meyers discusses how “Day Drinking” changed post-Rihanna, the full episode “A Closer Look” that heralded the show’s return following the writers strike, and how the host is approaching politics coverage in (oh, God) an election year.

The following interview has been condensed for length and clarity.

IndieWire: When you guys were originally coming up with the “Day Drinking” concept, what about it did you think would click? 

Seth Meyers: So originally, it was just a way for my brother and I to do something remotely. And he and I have certainly done our fair share of day drinking over the years. But a lot of what we thought would be fun about it, we immediately abandoned. … And it was Retta, and we credit her all the time, who said, “Oh, let’s do that with me.” It wasn’t until we did it with Retta that we thought, “Oh, look at this. It’s a fun thing to do with a guest on the show.”

How do you and your team decide someone might be a good guest for this segment? 

It’s constantly changing, but I should note that post-Rihanna [in 2019], we have a wealth of choices. She’s a real door opener. … And our music booker, Jeremiah Silva, worked the Rihanna team for like two years to get that, so that was an effort that paid off handsomely. We kind of feel as though you want somebody who A) Will be fun, and B) Might reveal over the course of it a side of them you haven’t seen before in interviews where they weren’t plastered.

Looking over the list, you really have great success with musicians both before and after Rihanna. Musicians love it. 

Yes. I think musicians … maybe they’re slightly less self-aware in the moment. Although, we’re about to talk about Kristen Stewart who is one of my favorite ever. But yes, we did think musicians are maybe the farthest away from me, in every way, shape, or form. I’m someone with no musical talent or ability to be a showman. And yet, alcohol is the great equalizer.

Once Kristen is in, what is the brainstorm like when you’re coming up with the specific drinks you’re going to serve her, like the Royals or the “Twilight”-based one?

So it’s always: Let’s come up with some thematic terrible drinks as a way to sort of break the ice. There’s always one trivia game that is a good way to start us drinking that inevitably seems to get cut from the final product. So I can tell you with Kristen Stewart, we quizzed her on whether or not she’d won awards at film festivals. And, ultimately, it was a good way for us to start drinking, and then it was not a particularly dynamic thing to watch. So that got cut. … And [then], when will it be most fun to watch Kristen act dumb [scenes]?  

She clearly had a fair amount of alcohol at that point, but is still a great actress.

I mean, that’s the takeaway, right? I’ll tell you this, if you’re a director, and Kristen Stewart shows up drunk to work, don’t think it’s a lost day, you might get some really good things [laughs].

LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS -- Pictured: (l-r) Host Seth Meyers and actress Kristen Stewart during "Day Drinking" on March 26, 2024 -- (Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC)
Seth Meyers and Kristen Stewart getting ready to drinkLloyd Bishop/NBC

Was there anything you tried with her that didn’t work at all?

Just to go back to that trivia thing. I think we thought, “Oh, so fun to bust Kristen on her not remembering what she won, and where,” and the reality is she earnestly cared whether or not she could remember. So we just were like, “Oh, you value the appreciation people have for your work in a way that is making me look dumb for having questioned it.” So ultimately, the things that don’t work are when the guests are better people than I am.

I did not realize you typically do not film a show the day after. And then for Kristen, you did have to.

Yeah, it was based on her schedule and realizing it was worth it to figure it out. Now I think we’ll just do it. It’s fine. Being a little bit hungover is not the worst thing in the world when you’re doing a comedy show. Certainly I won’t be the first comedian to do a show hungover. And it was also the fact that she was game to both tape the day drinking on a Monday and then come on as a guest on Tuesday. Just in general, a great sport.

How long does a typical “Day Drinking” shoot day go for you?

We ask for two hours. Now, of course, the thing about doing “Day Drinking” in two hours is you got to go at it pretty hard. It’s not like a slowly percolating inebriation. 

And how do you know when it is time to stop?

We now try to think [about] what’s a good thing to end on. So, we knew the lesbian makeover with Kristen would be a good final thing. And then I think maybe with Lizzo, we bailed because if you find something that you realize you’re not going to top, then you could also just call it because it’s a bit like doing an improv scene. … We work on what bits we will do and what will be funny. It’s a little bit like trying to script what a date would be like, before you’re about to go get drunk on that date. All your best laid plans kind of go out the window.

What have you learned about how to make that the most successful over the years?

I think the thing we’ve learned is, weirdly, the smaller moments work better than the bigger ones. If you let the audience see what it would be like to go out and have a drink with Kristen Stewart; go out and have a drink with Dua Lipa; get to hang out at a bar with Lizzo, if you can show that as opposed to something that also has a bunch of props, for example. I’ve always feel like I’m having the most fun when I’m just leaning over the bar looking at somebody who I both respect a great deal and also can’t believe they agreed to this and you’re just laughing the way you would with a friend if you found a couple hours in an afternoon to go tie one on. 

What do you remember about when you were shown the first cut of “Seth and Kristen Go Day Drinking”?

Basically the way we do it is Mike Shoemaker, my producer and closest friend, has to watch the first cut and then he has to come in and has to brace me for certain things. So for example, one element of “Day Drinking” I love the most is how different they all are. Kristen’s was the quietest, most conversational day drinking and I loved it so much because it wasn’t anything like the other ones. And so he came in and said it builds slower but it will resonate longer, which I think is true. 

LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS -- Episode 1501 -- Pictured: (l-r) Actress Kristen Stewart and host Seth Meyers during "Day Drinking" on March 26, 2024 -- (Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC)
Kristen Stewart and Seth Meyers play darts while drinkingLloyd Bishop/NBC

When people come up to you and want to talk about “Seth Goes Day Drinking,” what do they typically say?

“How much do you drink?” “Are they real drinks?” That’s the biggest question. Sadly, the answer is not only are they real drinks, but we often edit out some of my other drinks, because it starts to look like a problem. 

Returning from the writers strike, you guys did a full episode of “A Closer Look.” How did that specific idea came about? 

Again, Shoemaker’s idea. And the sense that there would be enough news to cover it all. And also, we went looking for [someone] who is a guest that will signify we’re back. And the fear [is] over the course of looking for it, you’d run out of time. And instead, [what if] we told our audience, “Hey, this is the thing we do that we most enjoy doing. And hopefully you most enjoy watching. And we’ve been gone for five months, and we appreciate that we missed a lot.”

It certainly filled up quickly. It wasn’t as though we didn’t think there was 40 minutes of material over the last months. And it was really fun to do. It was just fun to be back. And it was fun to have an audience there who knew they were seeing a version of the show that hadn’t happened before. And I think there might be days where we do it again.

What have you noticed has changed in terms of what audiences are looking for in political content over the last four years?

I know Sal Gentile, who writes “A Closer Look,” has said this show is written by and for the formerly sane. We want this to be a home for people who also have lost their minds with how norms have been upended. We are less upset for getting to perform the show. We hope people are maybe a little bit less upset for getting to watch the show, just because you sometimes need to remind yourself that you’re not the only person who feels this is all unacceptable. 

We’re in an election year. Would you say that sentiment has been your North Star for how you want to tackle headlines?

Yes. Sometimes people would say early on, “Do you feel like you’re changing anybody’s mind?” And I don’t. I think the only mind we want to change is people who are deciding between voting or not voting. And ultimately, we would like more people who watch our show to vote, maybe all of them in fact.

Other than that, we just want to keep hammering in a way that’s both entertaining to watch and humorous what’s happening day in and day out, because it’s all so [huge,] sometimes you can forget it’s all happening. If we can, at the end of the night, slow down and give 15 minutes to people to say, “Hey, maybe you’ve had it with the news and need to watch it this way. But here’s what happened today.”

What do fans want to talk to you about the most? Is it “A Closer Look”? Is it “Corrections”? Is it a certain guest?

I will say if you watch “Corrections,” you want to talk about “Corrections,” and I’m very down with that. I love when I meet a jackal in the wild. That’s a very special thing for me. A lot of people will say, “I watch ‘Corrections.’ I’m not a jackal.” Meaning, they like the content of “Corrections.” But they want me to know that don’t actually criticize me in the YouTube comments. And I like the distinction.

What keeps you excited about the show?

What keeps me excited is that every time I look back 12 months, I would not have guessed where the show would be if you had asked me then. I’m excited that even when negative things like COVID, or the writers strike have happened, I feel like the show has come out of it creatively better, COVID, we’re forced to do the show a different way. And then during the writers strike, we just came back with a greater appreciation of how lucky we are to have shows like this to work on. So, just knowing that whatever gets thrown at you, ideally you as a team of people will find a way to play it to your advantage. 

You’ve had so many guests, including President Biden, over the years. Who hasn’t come on that you’d still like to snag? 

I feel like getting [David] Letterman was very important to us, getting Rihanna was very important to us. … Oh, I’m sorry. There’s a very clear answer. Conan [O’Brien]. We’ve obviously had Jimmy [Fallon] on the show, we’ve had Letterman on the show. And we’re in such a debt to the people who were running this franchise before we were lucky enough to get our hands on it. So Conan would be the one.

The 50th anniversary of “Saturday Night Live” is coming up. Is there any particular person or sketch that you hope they bring back for that?

I will just say, seeing Eddie Murphy in person is still one of the most thrilling things that ever has happened to me. I didn’t even realize it until that happened. But [for the 40th], I just walked by Eddie Murphy, and he said, “Hello.” And the rest of the night was a little bit of a blur. So the fact that since the 40th, he had that wonderful Christmas episode he hosted. It’s really nice right now to think, “Oh, I don’t think there’s anybody sort of through the history of the show who’s on bad terms with the show,” and that’s a really cool thing. 

Will we possibly see you go back for it? 

I mean, you’d hope so. But it’s funny, the 40th happened and I’m like, “Look at me, I was a huge part of the last decade.” And then you realize — and by the way, everyone who’s ever worked there has had this happen — where you’re like, “Oh, yeah, they just keep on chugging, whether you’re there or not.” So at the very least I’m hoping that I will get an invitation to attend, and at the very worst, my studio is right down the hallway so I can just hang out there and will be able to hear audio.

“Late Night with Seth Meyers” airs on NBC. A new “Seth Goes Day Drinking” segment, with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, airs Tuesday, June 11.

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