Jay Leno never reached out to Conan during the very public power struggle that sent Conan packing and reinstalled Leno as the "Tonight Show" host.
"It wasn't my place to reach out to Conan," Leno told Oprah Winfrey in the interview, which will air Thursday.
In quotes from the interview provided by Harpo Productions, Leno tells Winfrey that it didn't seem right to speak to O'Brien. But Leno says the two comedians might talk when "things cool down."
While talking felt inappropriate, bashing one another with jokes was acceptable behavior, the late-night comedian said.
"They were jokes. And that's OK," he told US Magazine. "It's what we do, you know? You can't -- it's like being a fighter and say when you got punched in the head, did it hurt? Well, yeah. But you're a fighter. That's what you do."
In a video previewing "The Oprah Winfrey Show" interview, Leno says: "This whole thing was a huge mess."
He's scheduled to return to "Tonight" on March 1.
Harpo Productions made an offer for O'Brien to appear on her show, but it hasn't been confirmed.