Matt Lauer opens up on family, work and remaining humble in Esquire

The Oct. cover of Esquire's 80th anniversary issue, which features a photo essay on the "Life of Man."

Esquire magazine commemorates its 80th anniversary issue with a photo essay on the American man, including TODAY anchor Matt Lauer, who reflects on his career, his parents, fallen heroes and the impact of a strong bond between co-workers.

The portfolio features 80 actors, activists, business leaders, sports icons and other personalities who reflect the “Life of Man,” ages one through 80. It begins with octogenarian Willie Nelson and concludes with an American-born one-year-old of political refugees.

In the middle is Lauer, who is listed as 56 but clarified Tuesday on TODAY that he is actually 55 but "living my 56th year." In his snapshot, Lauer explains the difference between having chemistry with someone and sharing a bond, like the one he had with his former co-anchor Katie Couric.

“Chemistry is something you have with somebody you meet – or you don't. It’s an intangible. It may be superficial," he told Esquire. “It’s much harder to put your finger on than a bond. Broadcasting through 9/11 together, like Katie Couric and I did, creates a bond.”

Mark Mann / Today
TODAY's Matt Lauer is among the 80 men profiled, one for each year of Esquire's existence, in the Oct. issue of Esquire magazine.

Lauer also speaks about his parents, a father whom he described as “the most reliable person I’ve ever met”, and also about the “unspoken generosity” of his mother.

He also addressed the effects of fallen sports icons on his children.

“So many times my son and I will be watching a baseball game together and a popular player hits a home run, and as he’s running around the bases, my son, without hesitation, will look up at me and ask, ‘You think he’s on steroids?’” he said. “Heroes have been broken before his eyes so many times, and that’s disheartening.”

Lauer said conducting an Oval Office interview with the president “doesn’t give me a tenth of the good feeling of going to the school play and making eye contact with my kids as they’re onstage delivering their lines.”

Lauer also addressed:

  • His career: "Over the course of twenty years that I’ve been at NBC, I have never seen the amount of money I make reported correctly by the media.”
  • On how he keeps humble: “Someone once wrote a wonderful complimentary little blurb about me. At the end, the writer said, ‘So that’s why we love Matt Lauer. Of course, the day will probably come when we’re going to have to kick his ass.' I never forgot that. Voilà.

The photo essay is featured in the Esquire October issue, which will be available on newsstands on Sept. 17. The issue also includes profiles on Robert Redford (77), Jesse Jackson (72), Bill Clinton (67), Robin Williams (62), Peter Dinklage (44), Jon Hamm (42), Derek Jeter (39), and Michael Wyatt (3), whose father was killed in Afghanistan the day before he was born.