Throughout his years of hosting Muhammad Ali on his television show, Dick Cavett grew to have a close friendship with him, as chronicled in the new film Ali & Cavett: A Tale of the Tapes.

“I don’t know what it was, but I’m getting kind of embarrassed to say it, but we, that icky word, bonded, somehow,” Cavett said to uInterview exclusively at South by Southwest. “We became very good friends who would see each other and hung out and stayed at my house one night out in Long Island.”

In fact, one of Cavett’s favorite memories with Ali was of the night the boxer stayed at his Long Island home. “He came down the next morning, and I was trying to figure out how you make breakfast for Muhammad Ali,” Cavett said. “He was coming down, and he was kind of looking around and he said, ‘You love your house, don’t you Dick?’ And he was right. It’s the first house I ever have loved. It’s kind of a side of him that you don’t suspect, a really sensitive man, totally, always aware of what’s going on around him.”

Cavett first met Ali while working for Jerry Lewis, and he thought he’d never see the star again. Years later, Ali appeared on Cavett’s television show.

Cavett enjoyed interviewing Ali on his show, and the feeling was reciprocated. “I was always glad to see him, and people would say, ‘He just couldn’t wait to get here to be on your show again. He loves going on this show,’” Cavett said. “The man who made this documentary pointed out that he went on other shows and often talked about the exact same thing that he did on mine, but it wasn’t the same and that it was better, more lively, more friendly, more instinctively up. I don’t know what I — I’ve never made anybody else feel that way.”

He said Ali had an essential quality and was extremely intelligent, but also that he could be touchy and temperamental, even cruel at times. Still, Cavett called Ali’s personality “dazzling.”

“He was a miracle,” Cavett said.

Read uInterview full exclusive interview with Cavett below.

When was your first encounter with Muhammad Ali?

Dick Cavett: Let’s see, when did I first — oh, I was working for Jerry Lewis on his old Saturday Night show, and one day I looked at the guest list for tomorrow and they said, ‘Muhammad Ali is coming,’ and I thought, ‘I will get to at least see Muhammad Ali close up if I play my cards right. He came outdoors — they shot something outside the El Capitan theater and then the Jerry Lewis theater — and he talked with whoever was out there, a sort of announcer type, and then he pretended to get furious. And he was a very good actor, and I don’t know whether it was, ‘I told you to never use that word around me,’ or something. He’s convinced everybody that he was mad, and I thought he was and he came charging off the set, so to speak. Then he broke into this great grin and you realize he had had everybody with his acting, and then he came back on and was nice, of course.

I thought that night, ‘I’ve met Ali’ and couldn’t imagine where I would again. Then years later, as you know, perhaps, I was doing a television show.

What was it about Ali that you found engaging?

DC: I don’t know. It was a dazzling personality, for one thing. That often helps to attract you to someone, and [he was] so intelligent and so smart and so instinctively perfect in performance — performance meaning his appearance on a talk show, too. He knew just what to do, just how to say it, just how to time it, just how to repeat it if the audience didn’t get it the first time. He did that once, it was funny. I don’t know what it was, but I’m getting kind of embarrassed to say it, but we, that icky word, bonded, somehow. We became very good friends who would see each other and hung out and stayed at my house one night out in Long Island.

I was always glad to see him, and people would say, ‘He just couldn’t wait to get here to be on your show again. He loves going on this show.’ The man who made this documentary pointed out that he went on other shows and often talked about the exact same thing that he did on mine, but it wasn’t the same and that it was better, more lively, more friendly, more instinctively up. I don’t know what I — I’ve never made anybody else feel that way.

How would you describe Ali’s personality?

DC: He had an essential quality — do I sound too professorial? — a sense of an element of danger in his personality. What might he do next? And often he did it, like walking off the show … Very smart man. Very touchy, very temperamental.

Cruel at times, but then he would, to the guy on the staff he hadn’t been nice to, he would toss a new suit into the guy’s office the next day that he knew fit him. How he knew suit sizes, I never found out.

Is there a favorite memory you have of your friendship with Ali?

DC: There is one. It won’t play very dramatically, but it was the night he stayed at my house way out on Long Island. He came down the next morning, and I was trying to figure out how you make breakfast for Muhammad Ali. He was coming down, and he was kind of looking around and he said, ‘You love your house, don’t you Dick?’ And he was right. It’s the first house I ever have loved. It’s kind of a side of him that you don’t suspect, a really sensitive man, totally, always aware of what’s going on around him. He could hear three people at once talking in a crowd and deal with each one. He was a miracle. He was a great man.