For the past six years, Taran Killam has been a cast member of “Saturday Night Live,” but his contract for the 42nd season wasn’t renewed and he, along with Jay Pharoah and newcomer Jon Rudnitsky, won’t be returning for the next season.
Killam and Pharoah were some of the more recognizable names of the cast, which means their exits could shake up the success of the upcoming season. Variety TV critic Sonia Saraiya called showrunner Lorne Michaels’ decision “inexplicable.” In an interview with Uproxx, Killam explained what was behind the decision.
“I don’t know fully. I don’t know the other side of it. You sign for seven years, so I had one more year. I had sort of had it in my head I would make this upcoming year my last year, but then heard they weren’t going to pick up my contract. I was never given a reason why, really,” he said.
“But I do know I’m directing this movie [‘Why We’re Killing Gunther’ starring Arnold Schwarzenegger] and I’ll have two months of post-production that would have bled into the ‘SNL’ production schedule, so we kind of communicated that,” added Killam.
Working on other projects has to get cleared with “SNL” before cast members can join them or be a part of them, according to Killam. But even though he wasn’t taking any time off to do the film, he’s still not sure what went wrong.
“Sometimes people are allowed to miss days out of the week to go film movies and sometimes you’re not allowed to do a guest spot. There’s no one right way or one wrong way and there’s really no rule book,” he said.
“I honestly don’t know what happened on the other side, but I do know we had expressed I have work on this film and in bonding this picture, that has to get cleared with ‘SNL.’ And then [another offer] came up. I wasn’t going to have to take any time off to do it, but it was a thing that they would have had to okay,” he added.
But even after an early exit, Killam still counts “SNL” as his “dream job.”
“I set out to be on ‘SNL’ and I got to do that and I did very well. And I love and adore and will forever have close ties and tight bonds with the brilliant, smartest, funniest people I’ve ever met in my life. So, I have no gripes at all. I am so, so, so lucky to have been given the time I’ve been given,” he said.