Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook brought his soft Alabama drawl and courtly Southern demeanor to the late-night talk show circuit, doing a celebrity turn on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”
The Apple executive, who last week presented Apple’s new product line in front of a crowd of 7,000 people in San Francisco, seemed genuinely awed as he walked onstage at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York City in the executive’s first such appearance on a late-night talk show.
“I have to admit, I feel little naked,” Cook confessed, as he stared at a huge projection on the ceiling, made to look like a stained glass dome decorated with pictures of Colbert’s face.
“You’re supposed to think of the audience as naked,” Colbert retorted. “Check your settings.”
Colbert indulged in a bit of product promotion, showing off the new rose gold colored iPhone 6s and conducting a short demonstration, with Cook walking him through the features of its new touch-sensitive screen.
“Oh, that’s awesome. It kind of touches me back,” Colbert quipped, adding, “If I hang up hard enough on someone, will it actually hit them on the other side?”
Colbert moved on to another feature, called LivePhotos, which creates a GIF-type moving image by capturing the 1.5 seconds before and after an image is shot. The talk show host illustrated how a comedian might employ the feature, posing for a portrait of Colbert holding a prop — “Slapstick Theory in Practice” — that, naturally, swings into motion and smacks him in the face.
Cook erupted into laughter and applause.
Colbert quickly shifted the tone of the conversation, mentioning how last week’s guest, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, mentioned how Apple is working on a driverless car.
“You guys aren’t big on secrets,” Colbert said in mock seriousness. “Tell me about it. come on. The cat’s out of the bag here.”
Colbert turned the iPhone 6s on Cook and began recording as the Apple CEO gamely deflected the question, offering the familiar response that Apple looks at a lot of things but devotes its resources to few products.
The host asked Cook for his opinion about the new films dealing with Apple co-founder Steve Jobs — one an unflattering documentary, and another, based on Walter Isaacson’s biography, in which the trailer focuses on the Silicon Valley legend initially denying paternity of his daughter, Lisa.
“The Steve I knew was an amazing human being,” Cook said. “He’s someone that you wanted to do your best work for. He invented things that other people could not. He saw things other people could not. He had this uncanny ability to see around the corner and describe the future.”
Cook said he loved Jobs and misses him every day. And he described the films as “opportunistic.”
“I hate this,” Cook said. “It’s not a great part of our world.”
Cook has been moving out from under the shadow of the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, gaining national and international prominence as he shepherded Apple through a period of record growth.
Cook, who is well known in Silicon Valley and on Wall Street, has seen his stature grow as he adopts vocal stands on issues such as privacy and human rights. He and other technology industry leaders played a key role in reversing a “religious freedom” law in Indiana that he argued would lead to discrimination against gays and lesbians.
The Apple CEO joined the ranks of other high-profile technology figures who’ve appeared on the new Late Show, Tesla and SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk in addition to Kalanick.
Colbert asked Cook about his human rights work and his decision, last year, to reveal publicly that he is gay.
Cook recounted a story that’s now familiar to the technology community: How he was inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King’s challenge, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”
“It became clear to me. Kids were getting bullied in schools,” Cook said. “I needed to do something. Where I valued my privacy significantly, I felt that I was valuing it too far above what I could do with other people, so I wanted to tell everyone my truth.”
Colbert asked Cook if his commitment to social responsibility extends to conditions at Apple’s suppliers around world, which have been the focus of criticism.
“Absolutely,” Cook responded. “In our supply chain, we train everybody on … their rights as we see them. We have a really high bar. We bring college classes to our manufacturing plants because we want people to grow and move up their own career ladder.”
Colbert began his show with a gentle jibe at Apple, noting he would be joined by “the cello Apple time cook — I mean, the Apple CEO Tim Cook. It’s the damn autocorrect again.” He concluded the conversation with Cook by allowing Siri to pose the final question.
“Siri, what should I ask Tim Cook?” asked Colbert, and the familiar woman’s voice responds: “Do me a favor. Ask him when I’m going to get a raise.”
Cook responded with a laugh.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.