With Reporting by Josh Horowitz
One thousand years from now, when Jon Stewart finally shuffles off this mortal coil, which scene from his illustrious acting career will play during the 1087th Annual Academy Awards' In Memoriam segment?
"Here's my guess," Stewart tells MTV's Josh Horowitz. "I think I'll make the montage… for hosting."
Which is to say, Stewart doesn't think much of his time as an actor. He would not use the word "illustrious" to describe it, certainly. "I'm glad you used the word illustrious, because you could've thrown in a couple of other adjectives," he says.
But Stewart, currently making the rounds for his directorial debut with this weekend's "Rosewater," never aimed to be an actor. Sure, he appeared in "The Faculty," "Big Daddy" and "Death to Smoochy," among other movies. But it was never his goal to become a full-time actor; it was just a side-effect of his time working as a stand-up comedian.
"Stand-up at the time was being defined, industry-wise, as 'Could you be Seinfeld? Could you be Roseanne?'" he says. "They were taking stand-ups and making them into stars. There was a schism in the comedy industry of guys who were stand-ups, and guys who were down there to get a little notice before getting a sitcom."
Stewart firmly identifies with the former category, saying he was never hoping for his own sitcom or anything like that. "If people came by and said, 'Do you want to be in a movie?' You would say, 'Sure!'" he says. "But I never thought of myself as an actor — and I can assure you, very few people did."
"Acting always felt very awkward for me," he says. "I never felt comfortable with it. Mainly because I didn't feel competent. I didn't feel I had the ability to understand how to make it better."
Thankfully, Stewart's career has moved into territories he's much more interested in, between his work as host and executive producer of "The Daily Show," and now working behind the camera as a director. Even if he does nothing else for the rest of his life, he'll make that far-future In Memoriam segment.
"For the most part in this business, all you can hope for is that in the end, you get into as many award show montages as you can," he says. "And people will go, 'Oh yeah! He died? Huh. I thought he died years ago. Weird.'"
"Rosewater" is in theaters now.