Celebrities You Didn’t Know Were Rejected By SNLPublished on February 9, 2015. Updated October 2, 2019
For comedians just starting out, “Saturday Night Live” is the place to be. It is pretty competitive though – not all people who audition are hired on. We have come to realize that there are actually tons of really famous people who auditioned for “SNL” and were rejected. Many of them went on to find fame elsewhere and we’re pretty sure that the creator Lorne Michaels is kicking himself for rejecting a few of them. Many of these celebrities still remember their auditions like it was yesterday. Because we are so excited for the 40th anniversary episode of “Saturday Night Live,” here are 7 celebrities who the show rejected!
7. Kevin Hart
Kevin Hart really wanted a role on “Saturday Night Live,” but he didn’t make the cut. “Not only did I not get (the SNL job), I basically walked out of there feeling like I had no talent. Little to my knowledge, years come afterwards, and I’m in a position to host SNL and tell that story. Everything happens for a reason, that’s the moral to that story,” he told reporters on the red carpet for his movie “The Wedding Ringer.” “Back in the day, I actually auditioned for SNL. True story, people. I didn’t get it. No, they passed on me… It’s so long ago, you shouldn’t think about it. You’re talking about something that happened 67 months ago, 22 days, like 6 hours…It’s fine, I’m over it.”
We’re sure that he is totally over those feelings of rejection. After all, his career has totally taken off. His audition for “SNL” is definitely more of a footnote now.Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com
6. Dane Cook
Dane Cook auditioned for season 28 of “Saturday Night Live,” but he was rejected. He reportedly lost out to Will Forte; however, he has insisted in the past that he was offered a role, but he rejected it because he wasn’t ready. “I didn’t feel like I was ready,” he said. “I didn’t have the chops to offer anything to the show. And I didn’t want to be a benchwarmer, so I passed on the audition. Since then, there’s been rumblings about me becoming a cast member, but as the years went on, my fan base grew and I got so busy, it basically fell apart.”
Cook’s career definitely took off around that point; however, we think that he is trying to save face by saying that he rejected “SNL” and that it wasn’t the other way around. Since then, he has been invited to host the show twice, which we’re pretty sure makes up for the rejection.s_bukley / Shutterstock.com
5. Lisa Kudrow
In the late ‘80s, Lorne Michaels showed up at the L.A. improv studio and had Lisa Kudro and Julia Sweeney auditioned for a role on “Saturday Night Live.” Even though Kudrow gave a brilliant performance, Michaels ended up choosing Sweeney instead.
“Julia and I got to be friends over this. I remember us being on the phone and talking about what a crazy, hideous situation this was for us. There was going to be one show that we were going to do, and based on that one show, a big chunk of our career was going to be decided … Julia had a lot of people in the audience. I had some friends in the audience. I even had some good friends who were writers on the show. Conan O’Brien was writing on the show, and I asked him if he could be in the audience. He actually thought that wouldn’t look so good. So I just thought, yeah, the classier route is not to stack the audience. I don’t think I did my best, and, rightly so, they picked Julia,” Kudrow said.s_bukley / Shutterstock.com
4. Donald Glover
Donald Glover auditioned to play Barack Obama on “Saturday Night Live,” but lost the role to Fred Armisen. Many people weren’t overly impressed with Armisen’s impersonation of the president. Part of it was the darker makeup that he used to look the part.
According to Hannah Pool, a writer for The Guardian, casting a non-black actor for the role of Obama was a mistake. “Casting a black actor wouldn’t have guaranteed the quality of the sketch, but it would have made the whole thing a lot less shoddy,” she wrote. “Let’s get one thing straight. The moment anyone starts reaching for ‘blackface,’ they are on extremely dodgy territory. Anyone who thinks it’s either necessary or, for that matter, remotely funny to black-up needs to have the gauge on their moral compass reset.” They really should have just given the role to Glover – he wouldn’t have needed all of that makeup and he probably would done a great job.Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com
3. Kathy Griffin
Kathy Griffin was up for the same spot on “Saturday Night Live” as Lisa Kurdrow; however, they both ended up losing out to Julia Sweeney. Several years later, she found herself competing with Kudrow again, but this time it was for the role of Phoebe on “Friends.” It goes without saying that she didn’t get that role either.
According to Griffin, the audition for “SNL” was one big hot mess “One night I had a meeting with Lorne Michaels, and he was a total a**hole. So he was coming to see me, Lisa Kudrow, and Julia Sweeney in a Friday late show. Backstage it was ridiculous. One girl was in the other room audibly sobbing. [Fellow Groundling] Mary Scheer was throwing makeup in her bag and saying, ‘Let’s be honest-I deserve this as much as you guys.’ I was like, ‘Jesus, just focus.’ Lisa and I were really crushed. Julia just kicked our a**es. She was perfect,” she said.s_bukley / Shutterstock.com
2. Jim Carrey
Jim Carrey auditioned for a role on “Saturday Night Live,” but he didn’t make the cut. According him, when he arrived at NBC for his audition, one of pages was on the ledge of the building about to commit suicide. He knew at that moment that his audition wasn’t going to go well and that he wouldn’t land the part.
“SNL” creator Lorne Michaels has said that he didn’t see Carrey’s audition and that it was someone else’s decision not to hire the funny man. “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 told The Hollywood Reporter. “Or maybe they were right – who knows? No one gets it all right.” Something tells us that he considers passing up on Carrey to be one of the show’s biggest mistakes.s_bukley / Shutterstock.com
1. Stephen Colbert
Stephen Colbert was considered for a role on “Saturday Night Live.” “Robert Smigel had seen me perform at Second City when he was one of the people scouting for Saturday Night Live. When was Carvey? 1996? So that was in 1992 and I didn’t get hired for SNL that time,” he told GQ magazine. Even though he wasn’t hired, Smigel was still really impressed with Colbert.
In 1993, the famous funny man was also considered for a role on Conan O’Brien’s show. “And then when Conan was starting in ’93, Robert brought Conan to meet me. Conan came to the show. We met at a bar, the Old Town Ale House, had a couple of beers, talked, I submitted some jokes – and didn’t get hired,” he said. According to Smigel, Colbert wasn’t hired because O’Brien couldn’t figure out how he would fit in on his show. It has all worked out for Colbert – he is going to be taking over David Letterman’s late night show!Jaguar PS / Shutterstock.com