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Interview with Rob Lowe; Interview with Bruno Mars

Aired January 6, 2012 - 21:00   ET


PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Tonight, the Hollywood heartthrob's real love is politics.


MORGAN: You have said, well, I want these guys to court me as a voter.

ROBE LOWE, ACTOR: They need to personally come to my house, Piers. I think I deserve exactly the same respect as an Iowa corn farmer. Come and spend some -- politics is retail, come to my house.


MORGAN: Rob Lowe on "The West Wing," the real one and the television one.


LOWE: Behind closed doors our real leaders are more similar to "The West Wing" people than not.


MORGAN: Plus my exclusive interview with the biggest music star you may not have heard of. You should. Six-time Grammy nominee Bruno Mars.


MORGAN: I ask him the questions few others have dared to put to him.


MORGAN: What's the worst song you've ever written? If I could take away the money or the women, which would you rather keep?

BRUNO MARS, MUSICIAN: Definitely the women, Piers. What kind of question is that? What is this, a setup?



MORGAN: Bruno Mars, the man, his music, probably the biggest pop star in the world right now.



MORGAN: Rob Lowe isn't a White House staffer, but he played one on TV in what may be my favorite series of all time, "The West Wing," and he's an unrepentant politics junkie. And Rob Lowe joins me now.

Rob, how are you?

LOWE: I'm really great. Good to see you. How are you?

MORGAN: Well, you must be really excited, because last time I interviewed you, I mean, you -- politics is seeping through your veins, isn't it?

LOWE: Well, look, this is my -- one of my favorite times of year, Iowa caucuses going into New Hampshire. It's good. I've been watching a lot of you, getting my info.

MORGAN: It was -- I mean, it was an amazing night in Iowa, and I was part of the CNN team until 3:30 am. And at one stage, you know, when you had 99 percent of the votes cast, and there was one vote in it between Santorum and Romney, it was utterly thrilling. It was like a script out of "The West Wing."

LOWE: Well, and what I love about all of it is like the 2000 election, it runs counter to the -- to people feeling like, ah, what does it matter, does my vote really count? Yes. Your vote counts. Get out -- get out and participate.

MORGAN: Yes. No, it's completely true. I mean, one vote, and it seemed to be, once they had clearly decided it, that's the moment to answer all the people who were apathetic about politics that still want change in their lives, it's that moment, isn't it?

LOWE: Well, it's why I'm against term limits, because it -- we all have the power. We -- term limits exist. Just go and vote people out of office if you don't want them around any more, right?

You got to -- but you have to -- you have to participate. You have to invest. You have to buy in. And my sort of feeling is if you're not buying in, then nobody -- to listen to your voice in the first place.

MORGAN: Well, I couldn't agree more. But what is your sense about the way the Republican nomination process is going? I mean, everyone's assuming that Mitt Romney basically just has to turn up now and he'll win it. I'm not so sure.

LOWE: Well, I'm also not so sure that any party should pick a candidate based solely on whether they can beat the other candidate. I mean, I think that it should be about what the person stands for and where they're going to take the country and all that, that sort of classic stuff. But it's -- doesn't it sound like more and more it's about who can beat who? And I just -- I just don't think that's any way to decide things -- to decide things. But that said, I think you're right. It looks like -- it's Mitt.

MORGAN: Yes, but I mean, how do you feel? Is he the kind of candidate that makes it a good race, as this year with Obama? Because I think that's what America needs, is a proper, aggressive battle between two formidable opponents, and out of it comes a solution for America's problems.

LOWE: Well, I do think that it be a substantive discussion on issues, you know, for sure. And I do think the two of them on a debate stage, it would be a lot of fun to watch. And I think it would be a high level of discourse. They're both bright guys, pretty good orators.

Obama's obviously an amazing orator, and I think Mitt has gotten better and better and better, sort of on the stump, as I've paid attention. So I think it would be an interesting contest.

MORGAN: I mean, you're an independent, and you've sort of said, look, I want these guys to court me as a voter. In that courting process, what should they be doing? How are they going to hook you in? What are you looking for?

LOWE: They need to personally come to my house, Piers. They need -- they need -- they need to come over and they need to watch some football with me, and spend some quality face time.

Look, I'm no different than an Iowa farmer. I think I deserve exactly the same respect as an Iowa corn farmer. Come spend some -- politics is retail. Come to my house.


MORGAN: Well, let's take a little look at "West Wing" to remind ourselves of the great Sam Seaborn, everything you've always aspired to be but never quite made it.



CLAUDIA JEAN "C.J." CREGG: It was people pushing paper around 50 years ago. Why does it matter?

SAM SEABORN: It was high treason, and it mattered a great deal. This country is an idea, and one that's lit the world for two centuries, and treason against that idea is not just a crime against the living. This ground holds the graves of people who died for it, who gave what Lincoln called the "last full measure of devotion, of fidelity."

(END VIDEO CLIP) MORGAN: Brilliant scene there from Sam Seaborn on "West Wing." I mean, that was one of your favorite lines, and I know also one of mine. There's a great one, also, when President Bartlet makes a similar kind of address about America, when he's faced with a Christian bigot in the Oval Office.

And there were moments like that throughout "The West Wing," which are very relevant today, aren't they? I mean, America is crying out, I think, for a reaffirmation of what America is, at its heart.

LOWE: Yes, and I think at this time of year, people look back to "The West Wing," because we would like to see that kind of idealized government, and those kind of -- those kind of leaders. And, honestly, I think, behind closed doors, our real leaders are more similar to "The West Wing" people than not, in fairness.

And my experience in Washington has always been the people are there for the right reasons, and they really believe in the great themes that "The West Wing" dramatized. They just probably don't wear makeup as well as we do.


MORGAN: If you were in the White House now, advising President Obama as the Sam Seaborn character, what would you be saying to him?

LOWE: Well, without getting into the politics of it, I think -- I think this recess appointment is exactly the kind of thing that "The West Wing" White House chief of staff would have advocated, for the president to be bold. So whether I like it or not -- I reserve my right on that -- I like that he's out there, you know, swinging his bat. He's the president. The president should swing the bat.

MORGAN: Yes, I mean, is he swinging the bat hard enough?

LOWE: Well, yes, you know, just for me, I always compare it to leadership. I think leadership is leadership is leadership, whether it's as a president or a CEO or a director, you know, in my business.

MORGAN: When you worked on "The West Wing", and you saw the kind of, I guess, regime that a president has to go through, I mean, presumably you had to study all this as a group of actors and get it pretty accurate. The pressure, the strain on somebody like Barack Obama, you can almost see it in the way his hair's gone gray. It's like this is a fit guy, aging before our eyes, because it must be relentless, isn't it?

LOWE: Well, listen, I think every president should get a lifetime supply of Grecian Formula when they're -- when they're sworn in, because it's -- look at Clinton. I mean, Clinton went white.


LOWE: And the same thing is happening with the gray for President Obama. It really just goes to show you that we probably cannot have any idea what it's like to wake up with that kind of pressure. And I always try to think of that when we all get critical of our president.

It's easy for us to sit on the sidelines and take potshots. Man, that job is a hard, hard job, and you see it -- you literally see it by the time the second reelection comes around.

MORGAN: Well, I mean, never mind being president, actually getting to that point is incredibly tough. I mean, this process that America has politically in these elections is an extraordinary test of endurance, isn't it? I mean, look at -- just look at Santorum in Iowa --


LOWE: He's lived there --

MORGAN: -- 177 rallies in 99 counties. I mean, in England, that would be just almost unthinkable that a politician would make that kind of commitment to one small part of the country.

LOWE: Well, first of all, listen, you English are so much more civilized, so you just wouldn't stand for living in Iowa for two years. Nothing against Iowa, but two years is a long time to vacation in The Hamptons, let alone Iowa.

MORGAN: You've said you want to moderate a debate. I guess that was slightly tongue-in-cheek, but if you were doing it now, with the senior Republicans, what are the areas that you sense most Americans really care about?

LOWE: Well, I mean, obviously, they care about the economy, because so many people are trying to figure out where they stand with the changing economy. But I also like -- I think foreign policy is also a really great time, with the events in Iraq today.

It seems odd, you know, we're just transitioning out of Iraq and now there's the violence and this kind of Sunni-Shia stuff that was going on really early in our time there, is now kind of flared up. You have a new, you know, new power regime in North Korea. You've got Syria. There's so much going on in the world.

I want to know what these guys think about those things. I think sometimes America is -- America looks so inward, that this is the commander in chief we're hiring. And I know we have issues with the economy. But I'd like to see some focus on what they're going to do in the world as well.

MORGAN: Yes, I agree, although I have to say, in America's defense, in terms of the political system here, that I really admire the way that you string out these debates and the caucuses and the primaries over a long period of time, because by the end of it, I get a real feeling of what these people are really like.

LOWE: Right.

MORGAN: And I'm not sure there's any other process in the world that is so forensic, that lasts so long, and is so detailed, so no stone can be left unturned. I mean, the reality is by the time you pick a president, very few surprises ever emerge after the event, because you've had it all out there. That's a good thing, I think, for the process.

LOWE: Well, it's like anybody can have a couple good cocktail parties and be charming and interesting and funny. But to do that -- to do that, you know, however, 16 times, I don't even know what the exact number of all of the debates have been and are going to be.

You know, you're not going to have a lucky punch and win it. It's the guy who's the most consistent, or woman, who's going to win. And I think that's probably a good thing.

I mean, what the Nixon-Kennedy debates -- I think had those gone longer, it might have been a different -- a different outcome. You want to give people a --

MORGAN: Well, I mean, as well, I mean, television makes such a difference now, because they always said if those debates had happened on the radio, then Nixon would have won comfortably. It was the fact it happened on television, suddenly you saw an old guy and a hot young pup.

LOWE: Yes, listen, I'm less for the hot young pups.

MORGAN: Let's take a -- let's take a little break from all this political stuff. When we come back and talk about your next incarnation on screen, because you are wonderfully evil. And I want to talk to you about that after the break, and also gloriously old- looking, which really pleased me.



LOWE: You forget that I know you're not the kind of girl that lets marriage stop you. You forget that I know what kind of whore you are.



MORGAN: That was Rob Lowe's latest role, playing notorious murder suspect Drew Peterson in Lifetime's "Untouchable."

Right. So I sat down two days ago, and I watched this from start to finish. And several observations: one, you look fantastically old, and I like that. All that boyish charm and good looks replaced by basically an old guy with gray hair -- good.

Secondly, you're wonderfully evil. I mean, I don't know what the real Drew Peterson's like. I only he's a kind of caricature. But the way you play him is so sinister, so gloriously evil. Tell me about both these processes: one, looking old; and, secondly, playing a guy like this, who is so controversial. LOWE: Well, the -- he's controversial and people know what he looks like. He, you know, he's outrageous, he's over the top, he was all over the media until he was finally put in jail, awaiting trial.

So I had to look like him. And so, that -- the challenge was how do I transform myself, because I -- and not have it be a caricature, not look like I'm doing a version of "The Klumps" or something. Right? So --

MORGAN: But you do -- you do look like him, and but you've also got this kind of aura that he has, which is kind of -- it's sinister charm, is how I would overview it.

LOWE: Well, listen, he -- clearly, Drew Peterson had something going on, because he was going on wife number five, and they were all young and beautiful, so he -- I think he has a sort of malignant charm. And the question was how do you find that?

I watched hours and hours and hours and hours of footage on him. He's got a very particular speech pattern, the way he holds himself, all the stuff that all actors do when they're playing somebody who's a real character. And I just -- I loved it, because it was so far astray from what I do on "Parks and Recreation" every week, where I'm -- where I play Chris Traeger, who's sort of comedy character.

MORGAN: Yes, I mean, and also you've watched "The West Wing" with charming Sam. This is a real departure. But more interesting to me, you're on a real roll now with these evil roles, because that character you play in "Californication" is one of the most outstandingly nasty creatures I've ever seen.

LOWE: Thank you. I read a tweet where you had finally discovered my character, Eddie Nero, and I'm glad --

MORGAN: I love him.

LOWE: -- I'm glad that you were among the fans, because that's one of my favorites as well. That's just insanity, that guy.

MORGAN: Now even though you like all these characters, I hear that your wife isn't quite so happy. She didn't like the Drew Peterson role that you took on. And I can understand why, because, you know, in terms of a female point of view, this isn't sort of the sexiest role for your husband.

LOWE: No, she didn't much like the gray hair. She definitely didn't like that my sort of world view that I brought home each night after playing this guy. And I think she would rather me going back to sort of West Wingy and characters, probably.

MORGAN: Wasn't quite what she bought into, right?

LOWE: Yes, no, she's, wait a minute, I didn't sign up for -- I didn't marry a character actor? What the heck's happening?

(LAUGHTER) MORGAN: No, but did you have any qualms about playing a guy who remains out of prison? I mean, this isn't like a normal kind of Lifetime crime film, where the guy is convicted and in prison. You can basically portray him in that -- in that sort of context.

LOWE: Yes.

MORGAN: Here, the guy remains technically an innocent man.

LOWE: Yes, which is, in a way, is what's very interesting about this story, because it -- the final chapter hasn't been written on Drew Peterson. We don't know whether he'll walk like a Casey Anthony, or whether he'll be convicted. We just -- we just don't know.

And so what you're left with is a character study of a very complicated, you know, sort of tragic, dangerous, almost cartoonish -- I mean, I remember watching him live on a national interview, and him just walking off the interview, happy as he pleased, just, well, then, goodbye, I'm going to go then, take the earpiece out, and off he went.

So, he's an outrageous guy, and that's what actors look for, to play people who are larger than life.

MORGAN: Are you -- are you able to -- do you allow yourself to have any kind of view as to his innocence or guilt?

LOWE: No, because it's that thing of -- if you're playing a -- playing a hero, you can't play a hero. And if you're playing a villain, you can't play a villain. You can only play the human being. So it's a -- it's a -- it's a luxury that actors don't really have. They can't editorialize on their characters. They just have to play them. And so --

MORGAN: There was -- there was a report that he -- that Drew Peterson laughed out loud when he heard you playing. I couldn't work out if that was a compliment or an insult.

LOWE: Yes, no. I couldn't either. I kind of read that and went, am I -- should I feel bad about this? I'm not sure.


MORGAN: Well, he laughed out loud at the most inappropriate things, so I guess that may be a badge of honor.

LOWE: Yes, exactly. That's sort of the way I decided to take it at the end of the day.

MORGAN: Well, what I can say, it's a gripping thing to watch. I mean, I absolutely loved it. I think you bring a great air and a sort of kind of sinister, charming menace to it. And anyone that followed that case will find it an enthralling movie to watch. So I applaud you for that.

And I also applaud you for your book, which you came on to promote last time, because thanks to my help in promoting the book -- and I'm sure it was mainly down to me --

LOWE: Yes.

MORGAN: -- you spent 17 weeks in "The New York Times" best sellers, "Stories I Only Tell My Friends."

LOWE: Thank -- and it is. It's all you. In fact, the next book, I'm putting a banner with your picture next to mine.


LOWE: But it --

MORGAN: Well, you've got the paperback out now. You must be thrilled, are you, in the way it's gone?

LOWE: I am. The paperback came out this week, and I -- you know, look, Piers, I try -- with Drew Peterson, with the book, at this point in my life, to do things that are a little different, and you never know how it's going to go. And the book ended up being, honestly, probably other than "The West Wing", my most satisfying creative endeavor.

But what I do, for my day job, is very collaborative. I have -- I had the great Aaron Sorkin. There was a great cast I worked with on "The West Wing". The book's all me. So it rises and falls on me. So that it worked is a little extra bit of satisfaction. But I was really humbled by people being so gracious about it. It was -- it's been -- it's been fun.

MORGAN: What was the single most repetitively boring question that you had to answer on your book tour?

LOWE: My favorite part about the book tour, actually, Piers, is my interview -- on -- and I'm not sucking up -- more people -- and I did every show on the planet -- more people saw our interview than anything I did, more people were complimentary of it.

And I -- and I want to thank you for it, because it was really -- it was really, really fun and in-depth and I got to talk about a lot -- a lot of different things. And I had a great time. And what I really learned about you, my good friend, is that when you hear the phrase, "after the break," coming, you know you're about to get hammered.


MORGAN: Well, funny enough, I've got a better one this time, because after this interview, running in the second half of the show, I deliberately chose to interview somebody half your age, twice as good-looking, Bruno Mars. So, how do you feel about that?

LOWE: Not so good. Thanks.

(LAUGHTER) LOWE: So let me get this straight, you're running clips of me with a double chin, gray hair, and then a guy who's 100 times hotter than me after I'm on?


LOWE: I'm leaving.

MORGAN: And the good thing is he revels in making you personally feeling uncomfortable, the fact that he's following you. You were his warm-up man, and he is so much younger and better looking. So I've deliberately egged him into a situation where we get Bruno slams Rob Lowe, the old guy.

LOWE: A Smackdown, listen, if he wants a piece of me, you know, I can only be pushed so far.


MORGAN: Rob, it's been a great pleasure as always. And thank you for coming. I actually thought it was one of the best interviews I've had all year, because you came to play. And as you know, in this game, it takes two to tango, and we tango pretty well. So come back on any time you like.

LOWE: Thank you, and I will. I really appreciate it.

MORGAN: Take care, Rob. All the best.

LOWE: Thank you. Bye.

MORGAN: Coming up, the singer-songwriter who is half Rob Lowe's age and twice as good-looking, and one of "TIME" magazine's 100 most influential people on the planet. And he's pretty popular with the ladies, too, certainly more popular than my last guest. And that's Bruno Mars.



MORGAN: I switch to the rather more glamorous Avalon Club in Hollywood. I found somebody even more glamorous than Rob Lowe. And that is Bruno Mars.

Bruno, welcome.

MARS: Good to be here.

MORGAN: That's going to really eat away at Rob Lowe. You're younger. You're better looking.

MARS: That's my goal in life. Eat your heart out, Mr. Lowe.

(LAUGHTER) MORGAN: Listen, you tweeted, "I thought 2010 was a great year but thanks to you guys 2011 has been the greatest year of my life." Why?

MARS: For many reasons. I toured the world this year. I've been to places that I never dreamt of going singing these songs and promoting my album, and got a tremendous response. It's funny, that day I tweeted that I just bought my mother a house.

MORGAN: Really?

MARS: Yes. And it's thanks to these fans.

MORGAN: Was that a dream of yours to do that?

MARS: Absolutely. She had been taking care of me for quite some time. It's time for her to sit back and relax.

MORGAN: How did she react when you did that?

MARS: She said, it's not big enough. Get me out of it.


MARS: She was in tears. It was a very special moment for me. So --

MORGAN: The thing I like about your story is it hasn't all just been easy. A lot of entertainers your age, it all goes crazy very young, it carries on and burns out.

In your case, you had this big wakeup call. You were 18 years old. You come to Hollywood. Motown signs you up. And you thought, whoa --

MARS: This is it.

MORGAN: I have arrived.

MARS: Yes.

MORGAN: I, Bruno Mars, am a Motown sensation. I mean, boom, almost as fast as you got it, they dropped you.

How did that feel, that time in your life?

MARS: It was taking a step back. I used to be able to walk into a room and say, hey, I'm Bruno Mars, I'm signed with Motown Records. Now I have to say I got dropped from Motown Records. You lose leverage. You lose people believing in you because, then, why didn't it work?

MORGAN: How did you get told the news?

MARS: It was like this. Hey, we don't want you anymore.

MORGAN: As brutal as that?

MARS: It wasn't as brutal as that. And you know what? It's not Motown's fault. I was too young. I didn't know what it was like.

I knew I could sing. I knew I can sing, but there's so much more I had to learn. I didn't come from the recording background. I came from doing live shows and performing with bands and that was my craft. I didn't know what it took to become -- to record and be a recording artist.

Now, you got to write songs. Now, you got to establish who you are. I don't know if anyone knows who they are at 18 years old.

MORGAN: Did you react well? Or like most 18 year olds when --

MARS: I might have cried. I might have shed some tears.

MORGAN: Did a part of you believe that, that maybe you weren't good enough?

MARS: You definitely have those nights where you fell a little insecure, but I didn't want to give up, I wasn't going to -- my goal was, I'm not going to go back home. I'm not going back to Hawaii and face my friends and my family saying it didn't pan out. I've got to do something.

MORGAN: What did you change about what you were doing? How did you move from has been at 18 to back on track?

MARS: I think I grew. I grew as an artist. I grew as a writer. I wrote songs every day. I started producing. And you know, practice is what you need. I've written a lot of awful songs. Hopefully --

MORGAN: What's the worst song you've ever written?

MARS: I don't even want to say it. This is CNN, come on.

MORGAN: For the CNN worldwide audience, the worst Bruno Mars song you have ever written, the one that even now makes you come out in a weird sweat?

MARS: Me and my partner Phil wrote a song called "Bedroom Bandit." That's all I have to say.

MORGAN: I can't even imagine how bad those lyrics are.

MARS: But I promise you, Piers, had you been in the studio, we thought we were going to win 18 Grammys off this song. The next day, we called each other up like, what were we thinking?

MORGAN: You told a good story, that I read about you, when you were talking about Elvis Presley and a bit of footage you'd seen of him performing I think on a TV show, with a big audience of women. There was a moment when Elvis spotted the girls were going crazy.

Rather than doing what most guys do, which is speed up, get to the moment, he slowed it all down.

MARS: That's right.

MORGAN: Everyone went to slow motion.

MARS: I think it was the Milton Berle show. I believe. I think it was the Milton Berle show. I don't if it was Ed Sullivan. But he sang "Hound Dog." He had girls in the palm of his hand. He said, you know what, watch this. You could tell that it was like an improv thing, because the band kind of didn't know what to do.

I don't know if that was live TV or not. But as he started, he got -- he milked it for everything it was worth. I remember being a kid watching that and saying, I want that. I want girls to scream like that.

MORGAN: Now they do, Bruno.

MARS: That's right. Rob Lowe, you hear that?

MORGAN: In numbers only Rob Lowe could dream about. What is the reality of being a heartthrob?

MARS: Heartthrob?

MORGAN: Don't do the usual, me, a heartthrob? Me, Bruno Mars?

MARS: Not me.

MORGAN: Really, me? No, you're kidding me. Let's cut through all that crap, shall we?

MARS: What's the question.

MORGAN: Do you plead guilty to being a heartthrob.

MARS: I definitely don't plead guilty to being a heartthrob. I don't think my friends will ever let me say that I'm a -- they keep me --

MORGAN: Some mornings you look in the mirror.

MARS: And I say, yeah, you are the most beautiful man I've ever seen. But that's just me, Piers.

MORGAN: This is a stupid question, but when you look out now and you see a sea of beautiful women screaming at you --

MARS: What else is new?

MORGAN: It's got to feel good, right? How good does it feel? Is it actually a bit weird?

MARS: It's the greatest feeling on Earth. You can't deny that. Like I said, I don't know if it's a sea of women. It's fun. It's fun. MORGAN: Let's have a little break. I want to talk to you when we come back about your early life in Hawaii, the time before this craziness was going on. Also how you felt about "Time Magazine" putting you in their 100 most influential people of the year, because that's quite an accolade.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Four-year-old Bruno, tomorrow's king of rock an roll, the world's youngest Elvis impersonator, Bruno.


MORGAN: Back with my special guest, Bruno Mars. Bruno, that's you as a four-year-old doing your Elvis impression. You were a good little Elvis, weren't you?

MARS: Man, I see those. I don't even remember that. I can't remember doing that. I don't even remember -- I don't think I even knew what I was doing, that I was actually impersonating somebody else.

MORGAN: I've seen your parents say that unlike the other kids in the family, who were quite shy when it actually came to performing on stage, you loved it.

MARS: I was a ham bone.

MORGAN: You wanted to be there. You wanted to be little Elvis running around. Is that true? Do you remember that part of it?

MARS: Yeah. I remember one night I had 100 some odd fever. I was about five years old, six years old, something like that. My mother wouldn't let me perform. I was bawling all night up in the room. I had to call in sick that night. And I couldn't get to put my jumpsuit on.

I was just crying. That's the one thing I remember.

MORGAN: What was early life for you and the family like in Hawaii?

MARS: You know, Hawaii is a special place. And -- because when I think about my childhood, I think about my family, my sisters, my brother, us going to the beach, doing things that you would think a family that grew up in Hawaii would do.

But, you know, my father who put this show together where you see these little Elvis clips, you know, he had this show six nights a week at the Sheraton Waikiki. So it was me going to school and then at nighttime I turned into Batman.

MORGAN: What values did they instill in you? MARS: Just family is everything for us. You know, I wouldn't be where I am today without the support and the love that my parents gave me and the knowledge that my father gave me. He's the one that put me on to music. He's the one that showed me Jackie Wilson and James Brown.

MORGAN: What kind of advice did he give you, your dad? Because he's putting you into a business he knew well. It can be a rough business. It can be a lonely place.

MARS: Right.

MORGAN: It can be a place, as you discovered at 18, can be full of great highs and full of terrible lows.

MARS: Right. His advice -- you see, my dad was a show man. My mom's the singer in the family. My dad is -- my dad was kind of the leader, as far as putting shows together and finding guys that could sing and doing this doo-wop stuff. That was the show we were in. It was called the Love Note Show.

My dad has this love for 1950s doo-wop music. So he knows that he's not the best singer in the world. But he knows he can find the best singers in the world and put them all together on the stage and make magic happen. That's what he did with this.

I think as far as like -- my father was like leadership qualities. That's what he showed me.

MORGAN: How do they feel, your family, when "Time Magazine," one of the most prestigious publications in the world, comes out with its famous annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world and you're on that list. You're sharing this with people like Benjamin Netanyahu, Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg, General David Petraeus, and Justin Bieber.

So you weren't the only heartthrob who cracked the list. But that's a big moment, isn't it? That's a moment that recognizes not just you as a performer, but as a businessman and as a young man with real influence over millions of people.

MARS: I guess proud. I think my mother and father are extremely proud. To them, I'll always be little Bruno. And that's what I need. Doing what I do, I need my family and I need to go back home and feel like I'm safe and everything is cool.

MORGAN: If I could take away the money or the women, which would you rather keep?

MARS: Definitely the women, Piers. What kind of question is that? What is this, a setup?

MORGAN: It's a good answer.

MARS: Don't you take away my women, please. Don't you do that to me. MORGAN: Take all the money away, all the cars, the house. Think about this, Bruno? This is a big question.

MARS: I'm good.

MORGAN: Does the money, in the end, mean that much? It's obviously great to have it, but does it mean that much to you?

MARS: No. No. I'm not doing -- of course, like I said, being able to buy my mom a house, that's something awesome that I've always wanted to do. I don't think -- if you're doing music for money, I don't know if you can be taken seriously.

MORGAN: You've been involved with songs about desperately wanting to be a billionaire.

MARS: That's the beauty about "Billionaire." If you listen to the lyrics, it, it's really not about -- it is. We touch on it a little bit. Why I wrote that -- I wrote "Billionaire" when I was flat broke. I just helped write a song for Flo Rider. It was the number one song in the world, biggest downloads ever. It was the number one song for I don't know how many weeks. It broke records.

I was flat broke.


MARS: Because we're going to -- I can explain all of that. It works differently for songwriters. Songwriters, you have to work -- you have to wait for residuals. You have to pray that the song's going to be a hit. And then a year later, you might get a check.

MORGAN: You're seeing this song go round the world, massive, huge international hit. And you're making nothing.

MARS: And I can't buy a sandwich.

MORGAN: Literally?

MARS: Literally.

MORGAN: What do you think brings happiness?

MARS: The simple things, little things in life.

MORGAN: Hold that.


MORGAN: Let's come back after the break. I want you to think carefully. I want the Bruno Mars secret recipe to happiness.


MORGAN: Back with Bruno Mars. That was, of course, "Grenade," another one of your huge hits. You've been nominated for six Grammys. This is one below Kanye West. This is crazy. Same as Adele. Do you not sit back some nights and go, wow? Six Grammy nominations.

MARS: It's so cool, man. It's so surreal, especially when you're in the categories with artists like Kanye and Adele, who I really look up to and I'm genuine fans of. I've got every Kanye West album.

MORGAN: Who do you most admire in the business and why, currently?

MARS: Currently, I love -- I love Adele. I think what she's doing is amazing for music. It's amazing for the music business. She's selling records when everyone was told records aren't selling anymore. Adele's selling records. Kanye's selling records. It's quality control.

MORGAN: When you saw what happened to Amy Winehouse, what did you think of that? She was, to me, one of the most gifted singer/songwriters certainly Britain has produced.

MARS: I was really -- I was really hurt by that whole story, how that went down. I really felt like I was going to have an opportunity to meet her. That album -- I remember, it was around that Motown time. I was going through frustrations of explaining -- I want to do this music, but mixed with this music.

When her album came out, it's like, she did it. She took what she liked and made it her own.

MORGAN: She had these big problems with addiction, drugs, alcohol, so on. Very well-documented, very sad. You're in a business that's full of this stuff. The road is littered with the wreckage of problems of excess and all of that kind of thing. You had an incident yourself last year.

I know you don't want to talk about at length, but I want to ask you just really what you learned from that. You were found with cocaine in Las Vegas and so on. For you at the time, potentially a big problem for you, but I think you dealt with it in a very mature way.

What's your feeling about it looking back on it now?

MARS: I just -- I don't live my life with regrets. And I don't dwell on anything. I feel like it happened. It must have happened for a reason. I hope that I'm not here today because of what happened then. I hope I'm here today because of my achievements and because of my music. I want to be known and hopefully respected because of that.

And I think it's something that I moved past. And I'm hoping everyone else that I come across will move past it too.

MORGAN: Did it scare you, this episode?

MARS: Sure.

MORGAN: Did you think, whoa, OK? MARS: Yeah, sure. But, like I said, it's -- it's behind. It's behind. And the only way for me to move forward is to move forward.

MORGAN: Well, you have done that. You have done your time. You did the community service and so often. I asked you before the break, what's the secret of happiness? Because you seem to me to be a guy very comfortable in your own skin and happy with life.

MARS: Yeah.

MORGAN: What do you think? You have had it all. You've had nothing.

MARS: Right.

MORGAN: What do you think is the secret to happiness?

MARS: To get my hair better than Rob Lowe's. You hear that? You hear that, Lowe?

MORGAN: Got to say, job done. Seriously.

MARS: Yes! Last year -- last year, we were on tour. And I sat down for -- at the Grammys for the first time in my life. And I'm sitting next to my manager and they didn't announce it on TV, but we got an e-mail, I'm sitting next to him, and he says you got nominated for seven Grammys. I had to go on a -- I had to go back to tour that night. I couldn't sit down and enjoy it.

That's one thing that I wish that I -- I never experienced. I never got to experience, man, I want to call everybody up and tell them. It's things like that.

MORGAN: Is time the real problem when you get as successful as you've become?

MARS: Yeah.

MORGAN: Just finding any time for yourself?

MARS: And a personal life, time and a personal life. But I think you said it to me before the interview, what's the alternative? It is much better than the alternative. It is much better than where I was, where I can't afford gas to get to a studio.

MORGAN: You sing about love a lot.

MARS: Damn straight.

MORGAN: How many times have you been properly in love?

MARS: Never. Next question.

MORGAN: Really? Of course you have.

MARS: I've been in love. MORGAN: Properly in love, where it aches your heart.

MARS: Man, I feel -- I've been single for a while now.

MORGAN: Just to clarify, you're on the market?

MARS: That's right, Piers.

MORGAN: Are you a taken man?

MARS: I am on the market. No, I'm not a taken man.

MORGAN: You're a single man? You are available?

MARS: Yes.

MORGAN: Actually, that in itself is quite pathetic.

MARS: Sorry about it.

MORGAN: One thing I have got over you.

MARS: Sorry to let you down.

MORGAN: Let's have another break and come and meet two guys that know you better than anybody.


MORGAN: That was Bruno Mars. And I'm very excited to be joined by two other characters who I hope will chisel away the saintly halo of Mr. Mars, Phil Lawrence and Ari Levine. Phil, you're the producer. Ari, you're the engineer, The brains really behind this, right? Is that how you describe yourselves?

PHIL LAWRENCE, BRUNO MARS' PRODUCER: We wouldn't put it that way. But I like that. That sounds really, really good.

MORGAN: How long have you guys worked with Bruno?

ARI LEVINE, BRUNO MARS' ENGINEER: Got to be like four years now.

LAWRENCE: At least four years.

MORGAN: What makes him special? Because whether --

MARS: Oh this is great.

MORGAN: Whether you like his music or not -- I'm an unashamed fan. Whether you do, the reality is you cannot argue with the multitude of instruments he plays, the songs that he writes, the way he performs, the work ethic. What is it --

LAWRENCE: His physique, especially his cute little earlobes.

MORGAN: Be serious for a moment. From a musical point of view, how good is this guy?

LEVINE: He is one of the best. One of the best that I've ever come across. You know what I mean? He has got -- settle down over there, buddy. He has got -- you know, he's got a solid history in music, you know? He comes from -- like he was telling you, an extremely musical family. I think all the stuff that he did as a kid really helps to play in his production and the stuff -- music that we do now.

MORGAN: What I like about him is -- never having met Bruno before, but he has the self-confidence about him, which I think you need to be a proper star. You can be a good performer. And I saw this when I had to judge "America's Got Talent" and so on. It is ones who have that basic confidence to perform.

LAWRENCE: A lot of stubbornness, too.

MORGAN: I think all those things. What else do you think? What else do you need to be as successful as Bruno?

LEVINE: His voice is incredibly unique as well.

MORGAN: Got to have a unique voice. You've got to be stubborn, be determined.

LAWRENCE: Well, I mean, it is his instrument. You have to train your instrument. He is a well-trained instrument.

MARS: Do I have to be here when you guys are talking?

LEVINE: Ear muff it

MORGAN: You're a well-trained instrument, Bruno.

MARS: Appreciate you.

MORGAN: How important to have guys of this caliber in the locker, looking after you?

MARS: The most important. This is the secret to -- this here is the secret to all our success. Without each other, I don't know where we'd be.

LAWRENCE: Where would you go?

MORGAN: Bruno, it has been a real pleasure. Ari, thank you very much. Phil, best of luck. And good luck with the Grammys, guys. I got a feeling it's going to be a big night of you. Obviously the Brit, Adele, will win more, but I hope you come in second.

MARS: Again, Adele. Again!

MORGAN: It's been a real pleasure, seriously. Best of luck with hit all. That's Bruno Mars. That is all for us tonight. "AC 360" starts now.