Saturday Night Live has been called home by many actors who went on to have megastar comedy careers: Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, Tina Fey, Maya Rudolph, and loads of other talent all got their start on the historic variety show. Of course, not everyone who auditions makes the cut, and over the years executive producer Lorne Michaels has let some eventual A-list stars slip through his fingers, as he revealed in a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
Among them, “Lisa Kudrow gave a brilliant audition,” Michaels said of the Friends star’s 1985 tryout. “But it was at the time when it was Jan Hooks and Nora [Dunn].” An odd explanation, for sure, considering Julia Sweeney auditioned at the same time and was cast for the show.
Another famous actor was passed over because Michaels simply never saw the audition. “I wasn’t at the Jim Carrey audition, but somebody who was there said, ‘I don’t think Lorne would like it,’ and they were probably wrong, but it doesn’t matter,” he said, adding, “Or maybe they were right — who knows? No one gets it all right.”
In fact, Michaels himself gets it wrong every now and then. “Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell auditioned,” he recalled, but one of the actors doesn’t remember it that way. “Sad to say … I never auditioned for SNL,” Carell revealed in a tweet. “Would have in a heartbeat, but was never asked.”
It wasn’t a complete wash for either Colbert or Carell, though. The former had a brief stint as a freelance writer for the program, and they both eventually provided voices for the animated segment “The Ambiguously Gay Duo”.