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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT

Interview with George Lopez

Aired July 31, 2011 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Don Lemon, live at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.

Here are your headlines and, of course, it's one, it is the negotiations going on in Washington. High-level talks are under way in Washington tonight as lawmakers and President Obama try to forge a deal to raise the nation's debt ceiling.

A source tells CNN this: that Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell is negotiating with the White House. Democratic leaders met with the president earlier today as well. But Senator Harry Rid said on the floor, on the Senate floor tonight, that there's no real progress to report.

We'll bring you updates on any new developments here on CNN. And, of course, we are dedicated to providing you with up-to-the-minute cove coverage on the debt crisis.

And tomorrow night, we're bringing you a special report. Beginning at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, Wolf Blitzer and will break down all the hurdles and options as we near the deadline for reaching a deal to avoid default. "Get It Done: Countdown to Debt Crisis," tomorrow night, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

Those are your headlines this hour. Make sure you stay tuned. I'm Don Lemon. I'll see you back here at 10:00 p.m. Eastern with the latest on the negotiations in Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PIERS MORGAN, HOST (voice-over): And George Lopez. He's one of funniest guys in late-night TV. But I've got a bone to pick with him. When I was on his show, this happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Wait a minute. An old man sitting on his ass?

GEORGE LOPEZ, HOST, TBS'S "LOPEZ TONIGHT": I thought I was screaming --

MORGAN: Old man sitting on his ass? One of us is in his 50s. And the other isn't, ladies.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Well, tonight you're on my show, Mr. Lopez. Old man. We'll see what happens, shall we?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Is it a good thing being single at 50? Or is it fraught with pitfalls and potholes?

LOPEZ: Well, I'm 50. So I think I'm fraught with pitfalls and potholes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Tonight his edgy comedy --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LOPEZ: If you look at my face, I don't -- I look a little Indian. I'm a little Sanjay Gupta but then I'm a little bit Mexican as well. So I'm Native American enough to get a casino, but I do black out when I drink occasionally.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: His difficult childhood, the end of his marriage, and the woman he says gave him his life and career -- his good friend, Sandra bullock.

Plus, an exclusive sneak peek at his latest project.

George Lopez for the hour.

This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MORGAN: George, welcome.

LOPEZ: Piers, I'm very excited to be here.

MORGAN: How do you like being interviewed? As a man who interviews so many other people.

LOPEZ: You know, I don't have a problem with it as much as some of the people that I work with. I always try to be honest. I'm always going to try to be honest, Piers. You know?

So, I do. You know, it's been interesting for me. I've exceeded my own expectations, seriously, of what I had planned out when I first started in the business. So, you know, it's all fun. Every day --

MORGAN: Did you find as you get more famous and successful, being very honest and candid is problematic?

LOPEZ: You know, it really is, because when I do standup, you're your own boss. You're very free. You are in an enclosed area. You know, I try my best to curtail people who are either using their cameras or video cameras because some things are just meant for that particular room. You know, it's chased some very good comedians out of clubs.

MORGAN: Your standup routine is brilliant. But, obviously, it pushes boundaries you couldn't push on television.

Do you find a constant conflict between those two roles?

LOPEZ: You know, it's interesting because as a child growing up, and a lot of our great sitcoms come from adaptations of British shows. "All in the Family," Carroll O'Connor created a character that you could probably not do today. Everybody is so safe.

But in a sense, social commentary has -- from comedians has been what people look forward to. Dick Gregory, Lenny Bruce, Mort Saul, there has been a -- Chris Rock. There's been a huge list of comedians that have fallen into that vein. And you need to think as you progress further in years that that window shuts.

MORGAN: The unique thing about is -- are you more Hispanic, Latino? I saw that when we Mariah Carey came on, that we got the stats.

LOPEZ: You're going to breakdown my ethnic background?

MORGAN: Well, apparently, she did this, right? Revealed your DNA.

LOPEZ: Yes.

MORGAN: You're 55 percent European, 32 percent Native American, 9 percent East Asian, and 4 percent African. But you relate most to being Latino.

LOPEZ: I -- you know, it's an interesting -- I mean, if you look at my face, I don't -- I look a little Indian. I'm a little Sanjay Gupta but then I'm a little bit Mexican as well. So, I'm not -- I'm not Native American enough to get a casino, but I do blackout when I drink occasionally.

(LAUGHTER)

LOPEZ: So I would say that of all of those things, I'm happy to be all of those things. I'm happy to have a little bit of African- American in me. I love the Asian part in me. And then I like that nativeness because I come -- I think my father was -- I didn't know my father but I believe that he was from an area of Mexico that was inhabited by Indians.

Are you seen by the Mexican community and so on, the Latinos, or whatever, are you seen by one of them? I mean, do they see you as their guy on television now?

LOPEZ: I would believe and have to say yes. The most difficult part for me and to get people to understand is before I came along, there wasn't somebody who had a successful show on TV that portrayed a Mexican-American family successfully. They had tried but not one that ever went 120 episodes.

And it's interesting because, you know, I can be very edgy and I can be very across the line on several occasions with things in stand-up. And then I'm fortunate enough to have done movies that kids like. You know, I'm in "Smurfs" and I was in "Rio." And then you can maintain that and maintain an audience that has been following me probably -- I have been around for the last 10 years when they were 12, you know? I'm not a new kid but also I've maintained a fan base.

MORGAN: You've ventured obviously a new world now on this TV late- night war zone, as people call it --

LOPEZ: Right.

MORGAN: -- which has many carcasses, rotting bodies of people who have been chewed up and spat out.

How do you feel about that? Do you like being that competitive? Are your ratings chaser? Do you mind all of the attention that comes with such a swap?

LOPEZ: You know, I -- I like the show. I like what it is. I like that it wins awards for diversity and portrayal of people of color. I went into it thinking that I could change the -- you know, the pallet of late night TV, to give it a little bit of flavor, a little bit of spice.

You've been on the show. The audience is tremendous. It is diverse.

MORGAN: Incredible energy. And they're all, I notice, very beautiful young women, George.

LOPEZ: Yes. I'm fortunate there, as well.

MORGAN: But it is difficult because you are trying to do something that has -- the most people have failed at.

MORGAN: Yes.

MORGAN: And you want to have partners. And I believe I do at TBS and as well as Warner Brothers that have shared that same vision from when we started November 9th. It's not easy.

It is a grind -- it is more of an abusive schedule than I imagined it when we first put it down on paper.

MORGAN: You were very gracious in welcoming Conan to take your old timeslot in TBS. And you describe Jay Leno as the biggest two-faced dude and a backstabber.

(LAUGHTER)

LOPEZ: Was that me?

MORGAN: I'm afraid it was, yes. LOPEZ: Yes. You know, I will say this. I do not have a personal relationship with Jay Leno. We are not -- we are not friends. Nor have we ever been friendly.

I've heard some things said about me by him that I took exception to.\

MORGAN: Like what?

LOPEZ: You know, there were things that he said that I was not appropriate to people of my own color.

MORGAN: Really?

LOPEZ: Which I found disingenuous from somebody else. That's a pretty big chip to pull out. And I disagreed with that. And, you know, we had --

MORGAN: What did he mean by that, do you think?

LOPEZ: I think when you understand the material, you understand it. And when you don't get it, you might think that I'm negative towards my own people when, in fact --

MORGAN: I mean, what just struck me as strange. I've met Jay Leno five, six times on his show. He's always been unbelievably courteous. He comes back. He has a chat, a cup of coffee. We have a laugh about (INAUDIBLE). And yet he seems to attract from all his competitors --

LOPEZ: Yes.

MORGAN: -- extraordinary amount of antipathy.

LOPEZ: Well, you know, there's not a -- there's not a union of superheroes amongst late-night talk shows. I just met David Letterman really for the first time I did the show. I waited 28 years to do it.

I've known Conan for a while. I know Jimmy Fallon. I know Jimmy Kimmel. I know Craig Ferguson.

And to a man, I think the one thing that we all agree on is we're all not crazy about Jay Leno.

MORGAN: Why is that?

LOPEZ: I have no idea.

MORGAN: Fascinating.

LOPEZ: I think that in our own personal dealings with him, they -- you know, some people get along and some people don't.

MORGAN: I mean, is he much more competitive than people realize, do you think?

LOPEZ: I don't -- you know, I don't know if competition is the right word. I think he is a little bit more interested in everybody else than he should be.

MORGAN: Do you think he sees you as a threat potentially?

LOPEZ: No, no. I know that. Listen, I'm struggling to maintain my audience --

MORGAN: But doesn't everybody, in the end, in this game, don't you all aspire to "The Tonight Show"? Isn't that the Holy Grail still?

LOPEZ: Well, if you ask me personally -- I know you didn't ask me -- who I thought should have been the host of the "Tonight Show", I think when Johnny Carson left, which I was fortunate enough to do that show with him in 1991, I thought the heir apparent would have been David Letterman.

MORGAN: And you still believe that?

LOPEZ: I do. David Letterman is the best late-night talk show host right now, hands down, and has been since he first took the desk.

MORGAN: How did you feel when Conan and Jay had their huge split?

LOPEZ: Well, you know, personally, in my opinion, I don't think that "The Tonight Show" should have been offered to Jay -- to Conan O'Brien. I think they probably should have kept Jay in there. He was doing well. The ratings were great.

So, when they made that move -- and Conan was happy at 12:30 and he was doing all right. I think they messed with a formula that was already fine as it was and then it just shook up everything else in late-night.

MORGAN: And as a result, neither of them talk to each other at all.

LOPEZ: They don't talk to each other. No.

MORGAN: It's just complete silence.

LOPEZ: Completely silent.

MORGAN: It's a shame, I think that.

LOPEZ: You know, it is, because this business is -- it's a game. And when you're done with the show, you take your uniform off and then you go home and then there's another game tomorrow.

MORGAN: Can you do that? Do you do that?

LOPEZ: Absolutely. Piers, I don't watch the ratings and I don't watch the show. I like to think that, almost like music, you know, you use your ears. I like to think that I --

MORGAN: How do you know when you've done a good show? When you go home and you shut the door and it's just you and you look around, how do you know when it's really going well? What do you look for? LOPEZ: You know what? I trust what I've always trusted. I trust my I think instincts and I trust my own heart and I trust my own head and what I hear.

You know, you were on -- you and I met at the Dodger game. We also spoke a little bit at the NBA all-star game. And you and I got along well. And when you were on the show, we had fun. I made you laugh. We got some stories out.

MORGAN: Yes.

LOPEZ: And we truly enjoyed each other's companies. That's what I go by.

An awkward moment you feel in your gut and in your heart, and you know when an awkward has happened. I'm sure we'll have one, but when you were on, you were fantastic.

MORGAN: Well, funny enough, I don't mind awkward moments on this show. I quite like them.

LOPEZ: Right.

MORGAN: I think it can often be quite revealing about the person you're interviewing. I don't look for it. I don't seek out an awkward moment. But if it does get awkward, for whatever reason, there's often a really fascinating reason why.

LOPEZ: I agree with you. I agree with you.

Now, the question you asked was, how do I like it and I slid over so that Conan O'Brien would be at 11:00? I thought that we would make a better team together and it would give me a nice lead-in in that thing. TBS had never been in late night. They had only been in the baseball and sports and they covered golf and they did a lot of shows that were already out of production, a lot of syndicated shows.

MORGAN: I want to play you a little clip from when I appeared on your show.

LOPEZ: OK.

MORGAN: Recently. And then come back to you after this, George.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: I'm not convinced they're all here for George tonight.

(CHEERS)

LOPEZ: I will see you on your show. I'm taping your show on Friday.

MORGAN: You are.

LOPEZ: To air at another time.

MORGAN: Yes.

(CHEERS)

LOPEZ: I love it.

MORGAN: Thank you.

LOPEZ: Hey, and no -- nothing is off limits.

MORGAN: You're going to get it, Lopez.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: So, George, nothing is off limits.

LOPEZ: That's what -- apparently was said. I think I was misquoted.

MORGAN: Well, I deliberately replayed that just a week ago.

LOPEZ: I believe I was misquoted.

MORGAN: Going to the -- going to the first break with you now feeling like there is a sentence you wish you'd never said on air.

See you in a moment, George.

(LAUGHTER)

LOPEZ: You bet.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LOPEZ: We're going to do something for Matt that my mother never did for me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're going to breastfeed him?

LOPEZ: We're going to go outside the family and get somebody to help. OK? We're going to get him a tutor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't need a tutor. You know, having a dumb kid is nothing to be ashamed of. I wasn't.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: That's from the "George Lopez Show." It's run for six seasons on ABC.

Do you miss doing the show?

LOPEZ: You know what, I do. I miss the people. You know, I had a lot of great relationships. It's interesting because when the show first started, I was so disconnected from people that the first Thanksgiving that we had food there, I went to my dressing room and closed the door. I couldn't be involved, because I couldn't see people happy to be someplace.

So, I had -- I was uncomfortable with that. As the show progressed, I got more and more involved. And if it wasn't for that -- you know, the community is very closed off and troubled. So it revealed a lot of the things that have always been wrong with me.

I mean, your life is completely fascinating. I had no idea about most of your life. And when I met you a few times -- let's find out more about George Lopez. And I read up about you and I was quite shocked actually what you've been through.

You know, you talk about troubled comedians. Your life was beyond that.

And I read this quote here. "I was never encouraged or congratulated by anybody or included in anything. I didn't come from a home where people asked, did you have a good day or cared what I was doing or what I wanted to be. I fill that void now with the laughs and adulation from doing comedy."

And I have other comedians talking about a lack of love in their early lives --

LOPEZ: Right.

MORGAN: -- which led them to seek applause and affirmation from an audience. Never quite as striking me as you seem to have done.

LOPEZ: You know, of all the comedians that I've met, I don't think any of them had the situation that I had. You know, I never knew my father. My mother was epileptic and then illiterate. And --

MORGAN: And they both left before you were like 10 or 11 years old?

LOPEZ: Yes. Yes. And it was difficult for her to be around because, mentally, she was probably like an 8-year-old. And when you have a child like that it didn't matter to her what I did. And if I would have been raised by her, I'm not sure what would have happened to me.

You know, there's a lot of stories about me being neglected and being left that my grandmother ended up taking me. And my grandmother wasn't much better -- you know, a very hard woman, hard life. But ultimately wouldn't let anybody mess with me, you know?

And even though, there was the negativity, she never learned to be positive. Everything I tried to do for her was met with negativity. And you know, I took her one time to see her house toward the end of her life. And I was redoing the house for her. And I walked in and she said it looks horrible. And it wasn't done.

But to her, it just wasn't -- nothing was ever enough. And I kept trying.

And I remember going home and sitting on the edge of the bathtub thinking that is the only person in my life that could ever make me feel like I'm 10 years old again. No one else. MORGAN: That's heart-breaking.

LOPEZ: You know, it is heart-breaking. It is -- it hasn't been easy and it's very difficult because, you know, you have success and you have people that love you. But then you have to make sure that you appreciate it when no one taught to you appreciate it. That's the hardest thing I think I deal with every day.

MORGAN: But neither your parents nor your grandmother ever told you they loved you?

LOPEZ: No, no. You know, the only -- the only encouragement I got that I never forgot, and it's amazing how different my life would have been if I had gotten it every day. There was a guy who came to our elementary school. Probably we were probably in third grade. And he was AAA or AA baseball player for the Baltimore Orioles.

And he said that if you stay in school and you stick to what you want to do, you can become anything. That's the first time I ever heard that from anybody, and it came from somebody that I didn't even know at an assembly with all these kids that most of them weren't even paying attention. But I listened.

And you know -- listen, I'm not perfect but I've always tried to do what inherently I was meant to do.

MORGAN: Do you like to be loved by lots of people now, in the way that you are?

LOPEZ: That's an interesting question. I appreciate it but I don't think it's a need like when I might have said that.

MORGAN: Do you feel damaged by your upbringing still?

LOPEZ: You know, if I was a can at the store, if I was a can of soup at the store, I would have a dent in me and I would be in that basket that they have at the end of the hall, at the end of the aisle that says these are 99 cents, everything in the can. That's how I would have considered myself.

You know, I saw "Seabiscuit" in just nearly enough, years ago, the day I did my first special "why are you crying" special. And there's a line in there that says just because something is, you know, damaged, you don't throw it away. I never heard that either.

So, what I'm trying to say to you, Piers, is I've gotten all of my life lessons from movies.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Interestingly, your grandmother did say to "The New York Times" in 2002 that she was proud of you. Did you remember that and how it made you feel?

LOPEZ: Yes, I remember. I remember the headline, "A Life So Sad That It Had to be Funny." And that was toward the end of my grandmother's lucidness. And, yes, it made me feel good.

I -- you know, she was the one that, whether good or bad, I loved the most.

MORGAN: At least she was there, right?

LOPEZ: At least she was there.

MORGAN: Your parents left you.

LOPEZ: Yes.

MORGAN: She stayed. So she may not have been perfect by a long way and clearly wasn't able of expressing the kind of love and care that you might have wanted, but she didn't abandon you, right?

LOPEZ: She did not. She did not. And when it came time for her funeral, I cremated her and I kept a little bit of her with me. I couldn't let -- somebody asked me why. And I can't be without her.

MORGAN: Really?

LOPEZ: Yes.

MORGAN: Where do you keep her?

LOPEZ: I keep her in my dressing room.

MORGAN: Do you really?

LOPEZ: Yes. Yes.

MORGAN: Wow.

LOPEZ: I look at her every day. And look at a picture of us together.

MORGAN: Really?

LOPEZ: Yes.

MORGAN: And when you look at her, what do you think?

LOPEZ: I think that I wasted a -- I think that I wasted a lot of time not seeing her when I should've spent more time with her.

And that goes for all people. You know, I should've spent more time with her when she was alive -- whether she was lucid or not. And, you know, it wasn't toward the -- until the end, that I really appreciated all of the times that we spent together and missed all the times that we could've spent together.

MORGAN: Is there anything you wished you'd said to her that you never got the chance to?

LOPEZ: I wish that I would've told her that there was nobody that loved her more or anybody that would've protected her more than me. And that, when she wasn't around, that I would think of her every day and never forget her.

MORGAN: Do you think she knew how much you cared about her? Despite the fact that she wouldn't show that -- do you think she knew?

LOPEZ: Yes, I think she did. I think she did. I think she knew. Yes, I think she knew.

I'm not even going to say I hope, I think that she did know, because I did things for her that nobody would have done for her. And I made her a promise in 1988 that I would take care of her after her husband died. And I did, until she passed away.

MORGAN: So you did the right thing.

LOPEZ: I did the right thing.

MORGAN: Do you ever think about your parents, or are they just something that you blanked out, really?

LOPEZ: You know, I -- on Father's Day this year, my friend -- a friend of mine, we'd just come back into town. My daughter was in Costa Rica. Not with me on Father's Day.

And we were watching golf, because the U.S. Open -- I'm a huge golfer -- and the U.S. Open is always held on Sunday -- on Father's Day. And he was fortunate -- he was nice enough to spend an afternoon with me knowing that I was going to be by myself.

And as we're watching Rory McIlroy win and hug his father, I looked over at him and I said, "The one thing that I regret in my life was not having a father," because I think every boy should have a father. Not a father figure, but it'd be nice -- it would've been nice to have had a father.

MORGAN: Run a short break, and come back and talk more about your life.

LOPEZ: OK.

MORGAN: Because it's been a pretty extraordinary journey for you.

LOPEZ: Thank you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: George, you finally did meet and fall in love with someone, your ex-wife, Ann. And you were together 17 years. What did marriage bring you, given all that you'd been through?

LOPEZ: You know, Ann -- Ann was great. And Ann came from a family that was very connected. Both her parents were doctors. I always used to say, you know, we're opposites, because both her parents were doctors and mine never went to the doctor. So, she brought a sense of family and of home, you know? And the holidays were important to her, very important, every holiday. And it's great for my daughter to grow up with that.

And I battled that in the beginning, going over the top at Christmas or a tree or spending a week to do the lights and doing the lights together as family. It's all -- it was all very different for me and hard for me to do.

MORGAN: Something you'd never been used to it.

LOPEZ: No, not --

MORGAN: So, eventually you blanked that out and said, "Well, that's not for me," that kind of thing.

LOPEZ: Yes. It -- and she was giving -- very giving of other people and very considerate of her friends and things like that.

And I was fortunate enough to be married to her for 17 years. And it -- as marriages go, you know, it was fun. I mean, we used to look at each other and laugh, and, you know, we had nothing when we started. So, it was a great period.

You know, it's funny, because I look at pictures of us, and it does seem like, you know, another life. You know, it seems like another life.

MORGAN: You had this extraordinary time when you needed a kidney.

LOPEZ: Right.

MORGAN: And she gave you one of her kidneys. I mean -

LOPEZ: You know, the most interesting thing for me as I found out that I had kidney disease, that could have been prevented, is that I was born with narrow ureters that made me wet the bed because it didn't drain properly.

Now, instead of going to the doctor when I was growing up, my grandmother would not let me drink water or not let me do this or not let me drink punch -- when it was about a defect. But instead of taking me to the doctor which would have been easily found out, you know, I had borderline hypertension when I was 18 years old, it just continued to get worse and worse.

And kidney disease is not painful because it shows up in fatigue. I mean, it is painful but it shows up in fatigue so you're always tired. People work now and they say, I'm so tired and I've been working hard. But it misled me to think that I was tired because I was working so hard when really my kidneys were shutting down.

MORGAN: 2010, it's well-known, well-documented, you filed for divorce. People were a bit surprised, I think, given that you'd seemed such a perfect couple. And you got quite a lot of flack, as the guy often does in that kind of situation. LOPEZ: I've taken a lot of hits, yes.

MORGAN: Yes. What's the truth? How much of the flack was deserved? How much do you think was unfair?

LOPEZ: The kidney thing created an awareness of kidney disease, but also of a wife giving a gift to her husband, which I've run into a lot of people that have done that.

You know, we have personalities that are very big, you know? And she's funny and she's great. And I would honestly say to you that I deserve a lot of the hits that I got.

MORGAN: But was it unfair in the sense that because of the kidney thing -- lots of -- one in three marriages fails. Because of the kidney thing, it put you both onto this kind of pedestal of marital purity.

LOPEZ: Right.

MORGAN: There could be no greater thing a woman could do for her man. And so, therefore, you had to be the heartless rat, even though it was years later. I sort of got a sense of that.

LOPEZ: Yes, exactly.

MORGAN: You had no way out of this.

LOPEZ: I had no way out. And you know, there's a lot -- there's a lot of complexity to a gift, and a lot of times that -- well, most times, they don't like donors to meet, because they'd like it to be an anonymous thing, because there's an expectation that goes along with giving the gift of life.

MORGAN: I mean, did you ever -- in the heat of the arguments you must have had building to the divorce, did you ever hear the immortal words, "I want my kidney back?"

LOPEZ: Not quote-unquote in those terms, but it did -- it did come up, Piers.

You know, it is -- I am a -- as we all are, when you're an entertainer, and I don't want to blame entertainment, and I don't want to blame creativity. But, you know, when you grow up a certain way -- unfortunately, I was not equipped with a lot of the tools that a person would need to be a -- a partner.

MORGAN: I mean, are you emotionally fragile, do you think? You're pretty complicated, I mean.

LOPEZ: I don't think I'm emotionally fragile. I think I'm emotionally closed off. I'm very -- you know, it's one of the reasons why I think you can be so successful in business, because they ask you, do you ever get nervous? And when the answer is no, the answer should be, "Oh, yes, sometimes I'm scared to death."

But when you're that closed off, when you put up these barriers, it's difficult for people to get through, you know?

Now, I smile and I love what I do, but I'm happy to say that it's not what I am.

And have I taken hits? That personality has taken hits, but the real person inside is much different than the public persona. And there, unfortunately, aren't a lot of people that get to see that because I don't trust a lot of people.

And I never have. It's not new. I never have.

And I'm not as willing a partner or incorporating myself in people's lives like someone else would. I mean, there's times that I go through a weekend and my phone won't ring, because in order to be a friend, you have to be -- it's a two-way street.

MORGAN: Really?

LOPEZ: Yes.

MORGAN: It's interesting.

LOPEZ: Yes.

MORGAN: How do you feel about that?

LOPEZ: It's a problem for me. It is. I have to say that it is a problem, and I do miss -- I do miss times when, because I work so much -- and I think I hide it in work, that you can sit outside somewhere -- and, you know, I have a nice home at Pebble Beach. And sometimes when I sit out there, you get really a chance to be a normal person without work and without things that go along with work. And I don't do enough of that.

I think if I did enough away from work, it would make me -- give me a little more normalcy. But I do have -- but I do have really good friends.

MORGAN: You're divorce came through very recently.

LOPEZ: Yes.

MORGAN: You've just turned 50 --

LOPEZ: Yes.

MORGAN: -- as well. So, you're single, footloose and fancy free --

LOPEZ: I don't know if I'm footloose and fancy free.

MORGAN: Is it a good thing, being single at 50? Or is it fraught with pitfalls and potholes?

LOPEZ: Well, I'm 50, so I think I'm fraught with pitfalls and pot holes.

But I -- I'm not -- you know, I'm not a dater. And I don't -- I'm not interested in ever being re-married.

MORGAN: So, what are you going to do?

LOPEZ: I --

MORGAN: If you're not going to date or get re-married, it --

LOPEZ: I'm going to --

MORGAN: -- are you going to be a monk? What's going to happen?

LOPEZ: I'm going to take Tylenol PMs and sleep a lot.

I'm not sure. You know, that's a good question. I'm not -- I think I'm going to take a little period of time to assess the good and the bad in my life and, hopefully, make good decisions.

MORGAN: How's your daughter been through the whole divorce?

LOPEZ: It's been a little difficult for her. You know, there's not anybody that I love more with all my heart. She inherited the love that I had for my grandmother, you know?

And she's a good girl and she's very funny, and I -- my -- I regret that I've put my daughter in a position where -- where you don't want to put your --

MORGAN: Because she was at a tricky age, isn't she? She was 15?

LOPEZ: She was 14, and she's 15 now.

MORGAN: Yes. I mean, that's a tricky age, I think, for a girl to watch her parents -- only -- obviously an only child, as well.

LOPEZ: Yes, an only child.

It is tricky for her, but she knows that I love her and that I tell her all the time that she's the most important thing in my life. And it's interesting because so many people think that they know -- they know somebody. And I -- I love that I live from the walls in and not from the walls out.

MORGAN: Do you think you're a good father?

LOPEZ: I don't think I -- you know, I always wanted a father. I don't think that I've been the father to my daughter that I wish -- the father I would've had. I could do better.

MORGAN: It's not too late, though.

LOPEZ: It's not too late. No. I will do better, and I'm going to.

MORGAN: Do you think you have it in you, though? You talk about this emotional closure you have.

LOPEZ: Yes. MORGAN: Do you think you have it in you to be the father you'd like to be?

LOPEZ: For her, yes, because it's my only unconditional love. So, yes, I would say yes.

MORGAN: We're going to have a break and come back and talk politics with you. I want to know your view on America, on Obama, on the debt crisis. Anything else you want to chew over with me, George.

LOPEZ: Yes, let's do it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LOPEZ: I'm going to run for -- although, I don't believe I'll pass the background check now, I do intend to run for mayor, at some point, of Los Angeles.

If Arnold Schwarzenegger can be governor --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why can't George Lopez? Absolutely!

LOPEZ: Why can't George Lopez be the mayor of Los Angeles?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you like to be?

LOPEZ: We have Obama, we'll have Lobama.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: The Lobama. That was George Lopez making a little joke -- we think it was a joke -- on my favorite morning show, "Good Day L.A.," about running for mayor.

People did actually believe you, George.

LOPEZ: They did. I got messages from everybody. But I --

MORGAN: Did it make you think twice? Did you think -- I mean, if you just got the Hispanic vote in L.A., you'd probably get in.

LOPEZ: I'd like to think that I would get the Hispanic vote. And I would have to tell you that I'm not ruling that out, not now -- but in eight years.

MORGAN: Really?

LOPEZ: Absolutely. And I even ran into a candidate this is running for mayor now and told her that I'm going to attempt to run for mayor of Los Angeles.

MORGAN: Why would you seek public office?

LOPEZ: This is a great city, and it's my city. I believe that there are certain things that could be taken care of that you don't need a strong political background in. And just --

MORGAN: Like what? What do you care about most?

LOPEZ: -- bonding the city back. The streets are -- they're terrible. And it's unsafe in some areas. And people ignore those things.

You know, downtown can be as viable as New York City. And in some areas, it has. But that architecture downtown is beautiful.

And people live here, but they don't have a pride in Los Angeles that they did years ago, when I was growing up.

MORGAN: I want to play a clip, because you were a big supporter of President Obama. And I want to play you what you then said about him here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LOPEZ: The Latino vote, now, has become a very powerful tool and politics. And I think we'll both agree that it's not something that we're just going to give to you because you're running for president or we supported you the first time. You're going to have to earn the vote.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: You were with Carlos Santana there. I mean, pretty provocative stuff to say. It suggested to me that you're a bit disappointed with Obama's performance. Would that be fair?

LOPEZ: Well, I'm disappointed with his performance as far as immigration goes. If you would've asked me if I were president, I'm not sure I would've started with health care when the economy seemed to be the bigger issue at that time.

Am I happy that the country's going broke? No. Do I think Barack Obama has done a good job? Absolutely. I think he's done a better job than he's gotten credit for.

MORGAN: You said on immigration, "Elect Sarah Palin as president of the U.S. in 2012 and we'll all leave voluntarily."

LOPEZ: I agree. If Sarah Palin becomes president at any point, I will say, allegedly, I will move to Canada.

MORGAN: Really?

LOPEZ: I will go further north. I've been south. I'll go further north.

MORGAN: You would literally leave the country?

LOPEZ: I would leave the United States of America.

MORGAN: Why would you be so drastic? LOPEZ: You know, I like my politicians to actually have a political background, to be politically -- to know politics, to actually have inherited something from working in the political world.

MORGAN: Why is someone like Sarah Palin so popular with so many people, do you think? How does she resonate with people?

LOPEZ: Well, she's --

MORGAN: What is she giving them they're not getting from conventional politicians?

LOPEZ: You know, is it that maverickness? Is it that homespun kind of Andy Griffith wink your eye, shift your imaginary gun thing? Maybe.

Is it just that we've become a culture of personality? Of do we elect somebody by their smile instead of by their content?

You know, it's a little bit of all of that.

MORGAN: Do you find it quite scary?

LOPEZ: I think it's scary to me now politically that -- and addressing the immigration thing, again, with Carlos Santana is that we feel like whether we're here -- there are more people in the United States here legally than illegally, but there is a service provided that no one else wants to do. And that has run the country from the ground up.

I see it in the neighborhood that I live in. They -- all the people that come to work, and you can't have it both ways. So, if there was a way of -- a path towards citizenship. And there's that divide word, those people don't trust authority figures.

It's very broken. And I understand why Barack Obama didn't want to deal with it in his first term. Not guaranteeing the second term, but that vote, that Latino vote is very important to him.

MORGAN: And what is the simple best way of getting somewhere to resolving this?

LOPEZ: You know, you have to make us feel like we're important in the United States. You can't make us feel like we're invisible.

If I see television, Piers, it's as black and white to me as the day it was invented. You cannot ignore that the largest demographic in the United States is Latino. We don't see 'em in advertising. We don't see 'em in anchors. We see them in television shows in Spanish.

You know, my show struggles for ratings and struggles for publicity when other shows get publicity and get nominated for Emmys and do all of those things. I understand. It's a condition. But --

MORGAN: One in six Americans are now considered to be Latino. LOPEZ: Absolutely. And with that comes power. Power comes in economically, and we do have a lot of resources, but we're not together. If we ever really got together, it would be interesting to see.

MORGAN: As that Latino population increases, of course, the power base of that electorate increases.

LOPEZ: Right.

MORGAN: You've said you might flirt with the mayorship of Los Angeles. Have you got bigger political aspirations?

LOPEZ: I would win -- no. No, because then the background check gets more intense.

MORGAN: We're going to have a short break. When we come back, George, I've got an exclusive sneak peak from your latest big screen project.

LOPEZ: OK.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATY PERRY AS SMURFETTE, "THE SMURFS": I kissed a Smurf and I liked it?

JONATHAN WINTERS AS PAPA SMURF, "THE SMURFS": It's an embarrassment of riches.

ALAN CUMMING AS GUTSY SMURF, "THE SMURFS": They're giving you gold, here.

NEIL PATRICK HARRIS AS PATRICK WINSLOW, "THE SMURFS": Thank you.

WINTERS AS PAPA SMURF: Master Winslow, you'll know it's the right message if it comes from the heart. Right, Smurfs?

SMURFS: Yes, you said it, absolutely, of course!

LOPEZ AS GROUCHY SMURF, "THE SMURFS": Welcome to my world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: It's an exclusive look at George Lopez as Grouchy in the new "Smurfs" movie coming this Friday. Brilliant cast -- I mean, Neil Patrick Harris, Sofia Vergara, Katy Perry. But you didn't actually get to see any of them, right, in the filming?

LOPEZ: I did not see any of them. Hank Azaria's brilliant in the movie. I did not. When you do these things, you're just in the room with the director and a producer.

MORGAN: It's not very glamorous, is it? LOPEZ: It's not -- you know what? It's not glamorous. It's actually the only -- probably the only profession in Hollywood where you don't need to shower before you show up to work.

(LAUGHTER)

LOPEZ: Yes. But I quite enjoy it. I've been able to -- because of the schedule of -- that I maintain, to do more animated work, more voice-over work, which --

MORGAN: Well, you've done five animated feature films.

LOPEZ: Unbelievable. Unbelievable. It's almost like I'm a reluctant movie star. These things -- you know, "Valentine's Day" that was number one and "Rio" was number one and "Smurfs."

MORGAN: Do you feel the mystique after celebrity is just getting chipped away all the time? In the old days, because you didn't know much about these stars and you put them on these pedestals and stuff, that there was much more respect really for them. Whereas now, I get the sense it is a real bear pit out there in the attitude towards famous people.

LOPEZ: I think respect is right. You know what, they have these tours that go up and down and you know more than you did. And I believe the less you knew about a star made them a bigger star before there was the Internet and TMZ and Perez Hilton.

MORGAN: The Queen Mother who always had this great quote, because she was immortalized in "The King's Speech." She was the Helena Bonham Carter character. But she once said there are three rules to public life, never complain, never explain and certainly never be heard speaking in public.

LOPEZ: Right.

MORGAN: Which is actually if you think about it --

LOPEZ: It's impossible for us to do.

MORGAN: Yes. It is impossible. We can do it. I think a lot of celebrities, famous people who have a real talent could pursue that.

LOPEZ: If I were -- if I were an actor and I didn't have to be in the public eye so much, I would not speak publicly.

MORGAN: Really?

LOPEZ: Yes.

MORGAN: Do you like being famous or is it quite restricting now?

LOPEZ: I like the fact that I did something that I never imagined that I would do and something I told my friends I was going to do, whether I believed it or not. I do like that. I do like that when I sit down and look around that -- you know, sure there's been ups and downs but inherently, I stayed with what drove me in the beginning.

MORGAN: I'm going to come over a final break and ask you if you could relive one moment in your life, again, what would it be?

LOPEZ: OK.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is so low. How do you expect to run from the cops in those shoes?

(CHEERS)

LOPEZ: Sandra, you know, you look the part, but I don't think you're hard-core.

SANDRA BULLOCK, ACTRESS: Dude, dude, dude, dude, you have no idea how hard-core I really am. You really have no idea. I don't need this. I don't need the outside because I got it on the inside.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: That was Sandra Bullock, who was actually a kind of mentor. She sort of found you, didn't she?

LOPEZ: I would say that without Sandra Bullock, I would not have had an opportunity to -- in the last 10 years, to have the career that I've had.

MORGAN: Amazing.

LOPEZ: I love her.

MORGAN: And do you still stay close to her?

LOPEZ: On occasion we talk, yes.

MORGAN: I love Sandra Bullock. I felt so sorry for her.

LOPEZ: Everybody loves Sandra Bullock.

MORGAN: I felt so sorry for her because it was so publicly humiliating.

LOPEZ: Absolutely.

MORGAN: She just didn't deserve that, did she?

LOPEZ: No, she's a good woman and she had -- has always been very loving to everybody, very fair to everybody. And she is what she appears to be, this great person.

MORGAN: And a great actress.

LOPEZ: Absolutely.

MORGAN: So -- you've had some time to think. If you could relive -- you've had a pretty checkered life. We've discussed that in some detail in this fascinating interview. If you could relive one moment again, what would it be?

LOPEZ: You know, I -- it's interesting, because it's -- I was a -- I was a huge Freddie Prinze fan, of "Chico and the Man." It actually inspired me. It ignited something in me when I was 12 years old that I'd never felt before, which was a love of a performer that kind of looked like me, that was Latino, had a difficult time, and was a friend in a house where I had no friends.

I wrote a letter to NBC asking for tickets to see "Chico and the Man," and I asked my grandmother if she would take me. And she said that she would. And then, on the day that -- of the event, I didn't go because she wouldn't take me.

And then, he committed suicide, I think, two years after.

I'm friends with his widow, Kathy, and his son, but the one thing for me, inherently because there was -- I would have liked to have seen him with my own eyes.

MORGAN: We've discussed a lot of pretty heavy stuff today, George, which is enlightening, because you're just known as this fun guy on TV. And then you find out there's so many more layers to you.

What have you really learned about yourself, do you think, over years, as you've now hit 50? What have you really learned about yourself?

LOPEZ: You know, the one thing that I believe that nothing was ever going to be given to me, and nothing was ever going to be easy. And I was always a quitter, Piers, in everything that I did. If I picked an instrument I quit. If I picked a friend up, I quit on them. I -- when things got difficult, I quit.

I started playing golf in 1981, and I love golf. And it taught me things that people should have taught me. It taught me courtesy, it taught me honesty, it taught me to be -- temperament. I had a tremendous temper growing up and I was very angry.

And with people that I've met along the way and things that I've done good and bad, the one constant thing through that is I'm continue to learn and hopefully learn from my mistakes and golf was the first thing that I looked at it almost like a father figure that helped me get on that path.

LOPEZ: You know, I'm not perfect, but I am George Lopez. And that's all I ever really wanted to be.

MORGAN: And I don't think I'd like you as much if you were perfect, George.

MORGAN: I quite like the imperfect George Lopez.

LOPEZ: Thank you.

MORGAN: Thank you very much.

LOPEZ: I appreciate you, very much. Thank you.

MORGAN: It's been a fascinating interview.

LOPEZ: That was a lot of fun for me.

MORGAN: Well, thank you.

And, of course, George's show, "Lopez Tonight," airs weeknights at midnight Eastern on our sister network, TBS.

That's all for us tonight.