David Letterman said he was ‘paralyzed’ when Ellen DeGeneres opened up to him about her sexually abusive stepfather

David Letterman's Netflix talk show returns for a second season on Friday.

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David Letterman’s Netflix talk show returns for a second season on Friday.
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Kevin Kane/WireImage

  • David Letterman recently discussed the upcoming second season of his Netflix talk show, “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction,” with the Washington Post.
  • He revealed what he was thinking when Ellen DeGeneres appeared on an episode and opened up about her sexually abusive stepfather.
  • “I didn’t know what to do,” he said. “Luckily in my life I’ve not been in that situation where somebody is telling me something horrifying. I don’t know – do I hug them? Do I touch them? I was paralyzed.”
  • He said his reaction was “compounded” by having met her mother the day before, who DeGeneres says didn’t believe her accusations of abuse for years.
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David Letterman recently described his thought process when Ellen DeGeneres opened up to him about her sexually abusive stepfather.

“I didn’t know what to do,” he said. “Luckily in my life I’ve not been in that situation where somebody is telling me something horrifying. I don’t know – do I hug them? Do I touch them? I was paralyzed.”

Read more: Ellen DeGeneres says she was sexually abused by her stepfather when she was a teen and that her mom didn’t believe her at first

Letterman was asked about the interaction during an interview with the Washington Post, in which he discussed the upcoming second season of his Netflix talk show, “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction,” which will be available for streaming Friday.

Ellen DeGeneres on an episode of

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Ellen DeGeneres on an episode of “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman.”
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Netflix

When DeGeneres appeared on the show, Letterman asked her about her experience with sexual abuse, which she has been open about in the past.

Read more: Ellen DeGeneres opened up about being ‘a victim of sexual abuse’ and how she’s ‘furious’ that victims aren’t believed

“I think we all collectively held our breath when Ellen launched into that story,” the show’s producer, Lydia Tenaglia, told the Post.

“For her to share this very painful memory, and the manner in which she did, almost felt like you were getting access to another part of her that people don’t often see,” Tenaglia said. “It was incredible, Dave’s patience in that moment, because you can see – he’s thinking, ‘How can I let this moment happen, how can I support this moment?'”

Letterman added that his reaction was “compounded” by having met DeGeneres’ mother the day before, who DeGeneres says didn’t believe her accusations of abuse for years.

“She didn’t believe me, and then she stayed with him for 18 more years. And finally left him because he’d changed the story so many times,” she told Letterman, according to “Entertainment Tonight.”

In a 2005 interview with Allure magazine, DeGeneres said that the stepfather who abused her is now dead.