This interview with Jones came after surgery in 2002 to remove a cancerous thyroid, followed by subsequent surgeries which left Ebert without a jaw and the ability to speak. The piece is accompanied by a photograph of Ebert as he looks today. Ebert writes:
"When I turned to it in the magazine, I got a jolt from the full-page photograph of my jaw drooping. Not a lovely sight. But then I am not a lovely sight, and in a moment I thought, well, what the hell. It's just as well it's out there. That's how I look, after all... This was no time to get sensitive and ask for photo approval, or an advance look at the piece. I'd been the goose, and now it was my turn to be the gander. I've never known what that means, geese-wise."
Ebert reflects at length about how it felt to give the interview, what he thought about the process, the story itself, and the meaning of the cover line: 'Roger Ebert's Last Words.'
I knew going in that a lot of the article would be about my surgeries and their aftermath. Let's face it. Esquire wouldn't have assigned an article if I were still in good health. Their cover line was the hook: Roger Ebert's Last Words. A good head. Whoever wrote that knew what they were doing. I was a little surprised at the detail the article went into about the nature and extent of my wounds and the realities of my appearance, but what the hell. It was true. I didn't need polite fictions.
"Ebert is dying in increments, and he is aware of it," Jones wrote in the article. Ebert added: "Well, we're all dying in increments. I don't mind people knowing what I look like, but I don't want them thinking I'm dying."
The piece is well worth a full read. Find it here.