On 'The Late Show,' Stephen Colbert had Jada Pinkett Smith — and COVID

Pickett Smith may have been the headliner, but Colbert's surprise guest stole the show.

Stephen Colbert and Jada Pinkett Smith on The Late Show.
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In what felt to some like a trip back to 2020, The Late Show With Stephen Colbert opened Monday with its host back working from his home — much like he and other hosts did during the COVID-19 pandemic.

And it turns out that while the country is not once again in lockdown, Colbert did test positive for the COVID-19 virus and can’t return to the Ed Sullivan Theater until he tests negative.

“Right now I’m feeling, uh, let’s say fine. Just a sore throat and a bad case of the lonelies,” he quipped.

Later in his monologue, Colbert said that he went to the Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour concert movie over the weekend and then started to piece things together.

“It was great. I sang, I laughed, I screamed along with my fellow Swifties who were so excited that they came to the theater despite their high fevers, loss of taste and smell and — OK, that’s where I got COVID. I got COVID: Taylor’s version,” he said.

And while some viewers reacting on social media didn’t mind seeing Colbert at home again, the host was clearly frustrated with the situation. He was also bummed to miss out on the night’s guests in person.

“I was really looking forward to meeting Jada Pinkett Smith tonight,” Colbert said. “The only upside is that no one can slap me for having her name in my mouth.”

Speaking of Pinkett Smith, she was on the show promoting her new book Worthy, which has already been making headlines after it was revealed in another book tour interview that she and husband Will Smith have been separated since 2016.

And Colbert was quick to ask if Will was her former or current husband.

“That’s still my man,” she said. “Part of my healing process — I came into my marriage with Will so young. And so all of the idealism I had around husband and marriage, and I’ve really, in my process through therapy and what have you, just learning how to break down all of those romanticized fantasies that I came into this marriage with and really learning to have acceptance for the reality of what it is. And just seeing Will in a brand new light. So, you know, just for my own healing, I just call us life partners, but he’s my dude. He’s my right hand.”

When asked why, despite being such a public family, she didn’t share this information until recently, Pinkett Smith said that she “wasn’t ready” and that “uncoupling consciously is a very difficult thing.”

“I had a lot of things I had to resolve so it wasn’t like a war in public. I didn’t want that for Will and I. And so I really needed time to get myself together,” she said. “And in that process of my healing, you know, just realized like, 'Do I really want to be divorced? Do I really want to be separated?’ And then the Oscars came.”

Pinkett Smith went on to say that the moment at the Oscars — when Will marched onstage and slapped host Chris Rock after Rock made a joke about Jada’s hair — has strengthened the couple's relationship.

“It’s crazy how intense events can bring people together, 'cause once the Oscars happened, Will and I got closer,” Pinkett Smith said, later adding: “I didn’t go to that theater as his wife, but I was leaving as his wife and I was gonna stand by his side no matter what.”

She also hinted that there were previous issues between Will and Rock that she wasn’t a part of before the slap, but wouldn’t elaborate.

“That’s a story for them, you know what I mean?” she said.

The Late Show With Stephen Colbert airs weeknights at 11:35 p.m. on CBS.