‘SNL’ Star Darrell Hammond Reveals Past Trauma in Documentary Trailer (EXCLUSIVE)

For 14 seasons, “Saturday Night Live’s” Darrell Hammond delighted crowds with his uncanny impersonations of Sean Connery, Regis Philbin, and (most notably) former President Bill Clinton. Mimicking over 107 celebrities, Hammond found fame on the sketch show, appearing on films and even performing at the White House Correspondents’ dinner. But behind-the-scenes, the comedian suffered.

Plagued by incapacitating flashbacks, Hammond struggled to cope, eventually turning to substance abuse and self-harm. After 50 years of pain and misdiagnoses, he discovered the root of his ailments: repressed memories from his youth. Documentarian Michelle Esrick captured Hammond’s story in the film “Cracked Up.”

Esrick, who met Hammond via mutual friends years ago, could tell they were both on a healing path and wanted to tell the actor’s story with a balance of comedic clips, interviews, and the intricate sculptures from the artist Dustin Yellin. 

“[Hammond] said something to me that really stood out,” Esrick explains to Variety. “His doctor told him not to call what he had a mental illness rather a mental injury.” Esrick says that descriptor blew her mind. “I felt this huge wave of compassion rush through my body and go out to everybody.”

Esrick hopes “Cracked Up” can lift the stigma of shame around mental injury or illness. “Like Darrell says, ‘If you got hit by a car you wouldn’t be ashamed or if you broke your leg you wouldn’t be ashamed.’ But somehow if you have things you can’t explain, anxiety, depression, alcoholism, addictions you feel ashamed.. It’s Darrell’s story, but it’s a bigger story that we both wanted to tell.”

Also featured in the documentary are Lorne Michaels, Steve Higgins, Christopher Ashley, Dr. Nabil Kotbi, Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, Whoopi Goldberg, and Larry Laskowski.

The world premiere of “Cracked Up” takes place Wednesday, Nov. 14  in New York.

More Film

  • Film Comment Magazine Goes on Hiatus

    Film Comment Magazine to Go on Hiatus as Film at Lincoln Center Lays Off Half of Staff

    Many companies are being financially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, and the Film at Lincoln Center is the latest organization to have to lay off employees and pause some of their operations. On Friday, executive director Lesli Klainberg released a memo announcing that the center had to furlough or lay off about half of its [...]

  • "Birds of Prey" egg sandwich

    'Birds of Prey' Actor Bruno Oliver Recreates Harley Quinn's Famous Sandwich

    When actor Bruno Oliver booked the role of short order cook Sal in “Birds of Prey: (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn),” he had no idea how significant Sal and his breakfast sandwich were to the story. “You couldn’t tell from the audition necessarily and as actors, we always worry about our scenes [...]

  • Minyan

    'Minyan': Film Review

    Best known for the unexpectedly soul-shattering San Francisco suicide doc “The Bridge,” indie filmmaker Eric Steel came out and came of age in 1980s New York at a moment just before AIDS devastated the city’s gay community. Such timing must have been surreal, to assume something so liberating about one’s own identity, only to watch [...]

  • Animated Movie 'The Queen's Corgi' Fetches

    Film New Roundup: Animated Movie 'The Queen's Corgi' Fetches North American Distribution

    In today’s film news roundup, “The Queen’s Corgi” finds a home, the Overlook Film Festival is postponed and the California Film Commission adjusts its tax credit rules due to the coronavirus. ACQUISITION Freestyle Digital Media has acquired North American rights to the animated family comedy feature “The Queen’s Corgi,” and plans to make it available on DVD and to [...]

  • APA Logo

    APA Sets Salary Cuts and Furloughs in Wake of Covid-19 Pandemic

    Following in the steps of several agencies dealing with the coronavirus, APA has informed all offices of upcoming salary cuts along with possible suspensions and furloughs for employees due to the pandemic’s economic effect on the industry. APA board of directors will make the largest financial sacrifice. The move has been made to avoid layoffs [...]

  • SAG-AFTRA HQ

    DGA, SAG-AFTRA, WGA Scramble to Keep Residuals Flowing During Coronavirus Pandemic

    Hollywood’s creative guilds have been working overtime to keep residual checks going out to members during the coronavirus crisis. Even though most of the staff members of the Directors Guild of America, SAG-AFTRA and the Writers Guild of America West have been working remotely, the guilds have stepped up efforts to maintain the flow of [...]

  • Hannah Marks, Dylan Sprouse. Hannah Marks,

    How a Bart Simpson T-Shirt Delayed Dylan Sprouse’s Movie ‘Banana Split’

    Long before the release of “Booksmart,” actress Hannah Marks set out to make a movie that would be the female bookend to “Superbad.” She started writing the script eight years ago, at 18, based on a real-life story about how, in high school, she befriended the girlfriend of her ex-boyfriend. Many drafts followed for “Banana [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content