10 Famous People Who Rejected Saturday Night Live

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getty images

In the past, we shared a list of 32 Famous People Rejected by Saturday Night Live. But rejection is a two-way street at Studio 8H, as these 10 equally funny famous people proved when they gave SNL the cold shoulder.

1. MINDY KALING

Saying “no” to SNL wasn’t really Kaling’s idea. But timing wasn’t on her side. In a 2007 interview with The A.V. Club, she revealed that she had auditioned for SNL just a few months earlier (a year after The Office’s American debut). “They didn't offer me a part, but the audition went pretty well, and that night, they were like, ‘Do you want to come write for the show?’ [The Office creator] Greg [Daniels] used to write for SNL, and he had known that being on SNL was my great dream. He said, ‘Listen. If you get cast on the show, I'll let you break your contract and go do it, but if they ask you to write, I can't, because you have a job writing here, plus you're on the show. So I'm not going to let you leave the show so you can go be in New York.’ At that time, I missed New York so badly. I hated L.A. for a long time, and I wanted to leave it. I had these fantasies of going to SNL and falling in love with some writer on SNL, of getting married and living in New York. That was really heartbreaking to have to turn down, but then I got to guest-write in the spring.’”

2. JOHN CANDY


SNL got a serious shakeup in the early 1980s. Following Lorne Michaels’ departure, the show was turned over to producer Jean Doumanian, who was replaced by Dick Ebersol after one season following bad reviews. Just as Doumanian had tried to retool the show, Ebersol did the same, and set his sights on some of Second City’s most talented players. There was only one problem: The legendary comedy group had its own sketch comedy show, which featured John Candy, Catherine O’Hara, Eugene Levy, and Harold Ramis. That small detail didn’t stop Ebersol from trying to recruit Candy to SNL. According to Doug Hill and Jeff Weingrad’s book, Saturday Night, Candy “was mortified at being caught in the middle of the tug of war between Saturday Night and SCTV.” He stuck with the latter, but did host SNL in 1983 (and made a couple of cameos).

3. CATHERINE O’HARA

Dick Ebersol’s SCTV poaching efforts were slightly more successful with Catherine O’Hara. She signed up to be a part of the 1981 season, but didn’t last long. “Maybe two [weeks],” she told the Toronto Sun of her SNL tenure. While many reports state that she was scared off by an incident in which writer Michael O’Donoghue yelled at the show’s other writers, O’Hara simply says that she made a mistake in leaving SCTV in the first place. “I hung out with some nice people, tried to come up with some ideas ... but I never really felt involved,” she said of her decision to depart before the season even began. “I had to leave. I said I’d made a huge mistake. I'm not proud of that. I felt stupid doing it. But I had to come home. I couldn't not be with them.”

4. JOHNNY KNOXVILLE

“The ball was rolling on Jackass, but it was going slow,” Jackass co-creator Jeff Tremaine said in a 2006 interview with The A.V. Club. “We made a little tape basically showing what Jackass was. It was going around, and it was really popular. SNL got a hold of it.” The show’s producers liked what they saw and offered Knoxville a spot on SNL, which would make use of his stunting abilities. “It was at the point where I either say yes to my friends, where we had all the control, or yes to Saturday Night Live, where none of my friends were really going to be there and I had no control,” Knoxville told the Washington Times in 2005 of his choice to just say, "no."

5. BONNIE HUNT

Bonnie Hunt’s decision to turn down a role on SNL all came down to one question she posed to Lorne Michaels. “I asked, ‘If there's an end of a scene that doesn't feel like it's working, can you improvise?’” Hunt recalled to the Los Angeles Times. “And he said, ‘Absolutely not.’” And that was it.

6. ANDY DICK

“Early on in my career they just asked me if I wanted to do Saturday Night Live. Literally, they were just offering it to me,” Andy Dick told Laughspin in 2011. “I said no because I had just come off The Ben Stiller Show, but the truth of the matter is I was afraid I would not be able to do a few characters every week. I didn’t have the confidence that I do now... I can do it now,” Dick continued, “but I’m 45 years old. What’s the point? I’m too old for that club, anyway. They wouldn’t have me—unless they start a Saturday Night Live: Seniors; Saturday Night Dead.” When pressed as to whether he would say “yes” if offered a part on the show today, Dick replied that he “would jump at that opportunity. But you’re talking to a guy who, if Dancing With The Stars called, I’d say, ‘I’m putting my tap shoes on now, bitch.’” He wasn’t kidding: Dick hoofed his way to a seven-week stint as a contestant on the reality dancing show in 2013.

7. AMY SEDARIS

Following Janeane Garofalo’s departure in 1995, SNL was in need of another funny lady and Amy Sedaris auditioned for the spot, but at the same time she was starring in a play she had written with her brother, David. “I met with Lorne Michaels, but at that time we were doing our play One Woman Shoe, and it was everything I wanted,” Sedaris told Interview Magazine in 2001 of her decision to pass. “Maybe even three years earlier it would have been great, but at that point it was like, oh, it’s too late. A few years later Strangers with Candy fell into my lap. But television’s not something that I ever thought about or planned.”

8. JENNIFER ANISTON

Though the story of whether or not Jennifer Aniston was ever really, truly offered a spot on SNL has been heavily questioned, it’s Aniston herself who started the rumor. While promoting Just Go With It on Oprah in 2011, Aniston’s co-star—and SNL alum—Adam Sandler recalled, “being on the ninth floor where Lorne Michaels’ office was, and seeing Jen come in,” back in the early 1990s. “I was like, ‘Oh, my God. There’s Aniston. Is she about to be on our show?’” But Aniston, who was getting ready to star on Friends, says she declined because, “It was a boys’ club. They thought I was making a huge mistake.”

9. THE BEATLES

In 1976, six years after they had disbanded, The Beatles were offered $230 million by promoter Sid Bernstein to reunite—an offer they promptly declined. Shortly thereafter, Lorne Michaels made a live plea to the Fab Four to reunite as musical guests on SNL, stating that NBC had authorized him to offer them “a certified check for $3000.” In David Sheff’s book All We Are Saying, Lennon shared that they actually considered it: “Paul and I were together watching that show,” Lennon said. “He was visiting us at our place in the Dakota. We were watching it and almost went down to the studio, just as a gag. We nearly got into a cab, but we were actually too tired.”

10. CHARLIE BARNETT

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Legendary street performer and comedian Charlie Barnett, who was a mentor to Dave Chappelle, spent many years smarting from his missed opportunity with SNL. Barnett advanced quickly in the audition process but ended up ditching a final reading when he became concerned about his lack of education (Barnett had dropped out of school in the eighth grade). “I was too scared,” he admitted to People Magazine in 1983. “I read good, but I read slow.” Though he ended up finding success on his own terms (he had a recurring role as “Noogie” on Miami Vice during its heyday), Barnett admitted that for a long time he was extremely jealous of Eddie Murphy, the man who ended up taking what could have been his spot on the show.

Images courtesy of Getty Images

8 Facts About Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Bloomsbury Children's Books via Amazon
Bloomsbury Children's Books via Amazon

Longtime Harry Potter fans who feel like first-years at heart may find it hard to believe, but the books have been around for decades. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the release of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the third installment in J.K. Rowling’s fantasy series, which follows Harry as he faces Dementors, investigates the mysterious Sirius Black, and gets through his third year at Hogwarts.

From Rowling’s writing process to how it changed The New York Times Best Sellers list, here are some facts you should know about the wildly popular book.

1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was J.K. Rowling’s "best writing experience."

In a 2004 interview with USA Today, Rowling described the creation of Prisoner of Azkaban as “the best writing experience I ever had.” This had more to do with where Rowling was at in her professional life than the content of the actual story. By book three, she was successful enough where she didn’t have to worry about finances, but not yet so famous that the she felt the stress of being in the public eye.

2. The Dementors represent depression.

Readers who live with depression may see something familiar in Prisoner of Azkaban’s soul-sucking Dementors. According to the book, “Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. If it can, the Dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself ... soulless and evil. You will be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life."

Rowling has stated that she based the Dementor’s effects on her own experiences with depression. "[Depression] is that absence of being able to envisage that you will ever be cheerful again," she told The Times in 2000. "The absence of hope. That very deadened feeling, which is so very different from feeling sad. Sad hurts but it's a healthy feeling. It's a necessary thing to feel. Depression is very different."

3. Rowling regretted giving Harry the Marauder’s Map.

In Prisoner of Azkaban, the Marauder’s Map is introduced as a way for Harry to track Sirius Black and learn of the survival of Peter Pettigrew. But this plot device proved problematic for Rowling later on this series. In Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide, she wrote, “The Marauder’s Map subsequently became something of a bane to its true originator (me), because it allowed Harry a little too much freedom of information.” She went on to say that she sometimes wished she had made Harry lose the map for good in the later books.

4. Rowling was excited to introduce Remus Lupin.

One of the aspects Rowling most enjoyed about writing Prisoner of Azkaban was introducing Remus Lupin. The Defense Against the Dark Arts professor and secret werewolf is one of the author's favorite characters in the series, and as she told Barnes & Noble in 1999, “I was looking forward to writing the third book from the start of the first because that's when Professor Lupin appears.”

5. Crookshanks is based on a real cat.

Harry had Hedwig the owl, Ron had his pet rat Scabbers, and in book three, Hermione got a pet of her own: an intelligent half-Kneazle cat named Crookshanks. J.K. Rowling is allergic to cats, and she admits on her website that she prefers dogs, but she does have fond memories of a cat that roamed the London neighborhood where she worked in the 1980s. When writing Crookshanks, she gave him that cat’s haughty attitude and smushed-face appearance.

6. Prisoner of Azkaban was the last Harry Potter book Americans had to wait for.

Harry Potter fans based in America will no doubt remember waiting months after a book’s initial release in England to buy it from their local bookstore. Prisoner of Azkaban was the last Harry Potter book with a staggered publication date: Beginning with Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the rest of the books in the series were published in both markets on the same date.

7. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban broke sales records.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban sold 68,000 copies in the UK within three days of its release, making it the fastest-selling British book of all time in 1999. The book has since gone on to sell more than 65 million copies worldwide and helped make Harry Potter the bestselling book series ever.

8. It changed The New York Times Best Sellers List.

For part of 1999, the first three Harry Potter books—Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (which is known as Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone pretty much everywhere besides America), Chamber of Secrets, and Prisoner of Azkaban—occupied the top three slots on The New York Times Best Sellers list. It didn’t stay that way for long, though: Prisoner of Azkaban was the book that pushed the paper to create a separate list just for children’s literature, leaving more room on the original list for books aimed at adults. That’s why Harry Potter is missing from the famous bestsellers roundup during the 2000s, despite dominating book sales at this time.

Game of Thrones Star Emilia Clarke Turned Down the Lead in 50 Shades of Grey

Dia Dipasupil, Getty Images
Dia Dipasupil, Getty Images

Though Emilia Clarke is undoubtedly best known for her starring role on Game of Thrones, she has landed some other plum parts over the past several years, including Sarah Connor in Terminator Genisys, the role of Qi'ra in Solo: A Star Wars Story, and the lead in Phillip Noyce's upcoming Above Suspicion opposite Jack Huston. But there's one major role Clarke passed on, and has no regrets about it: Anastasia Steele in the 50 Shades of Grey franchise.

The movies, based on E. L. James's erotic book series, trace the sadomasochistic/romantic relationship between college graduate Anastasia Steele and millionaire businessman Christian Grey. Both the books and the movies have garnered a lot of criticism for their graphic nudity and sex scenes. While Clarke is no stranger to appearing nude on film for her role as Daenerys Targaryen, she said that 50 Shades of Grey would have taken her too far out of her comfort zone.

“There is a huge amount of nudity in the film,” the British actress told The Sun of her reasons for not wanting to get involved with the film series. “I thought I might get stuck in a pigeonhole that I would have struggled to get out of.”

Even without 50 Shades of Grey on her resume, Clarke says she has dealt with a lot of negative backlash because of the nudity in Game of Thrones. “I get a lot of crap for nude and sex scenes,” the 32-year-old star said. “Women hating on women. It’s so anti-feminist.”

When we last left Daenerys, she seemed to be getting serious about Jon Snow—who, unbeknownst to the two of them, is her nephew. We'll see how that unpleasant discovery plays out when Game of Thrones returns on April 14, 2019.

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