Bill Hader Discusses the ‘Stefon’ Movie That Almost Happened
It’s been 12 years since there was a new movie based on a character who originated on Saturday Night Live. That was MacGruber, which absolutely tanked at the box office. That could be part of the reason there hasn’t been an SNL movie since — but that doesn’t mean the powers that be over at Saturday Night Live haven’t been trying to make movies since then.
In a recent appearance on the Fly on the Wall podcast, Saturday Night Live alum Bill Hader discussed his attempt to mount a movie based on Stefon, his extremely popular character from SNL’s Weekend Update. Created by Hader and John Mulaney, Stefon was an eccentric party guy who recommended all of the strangest New York hotspots (and frequently broke character because Hader was laughing so hard at the lines that had been written for him).
Stefon was wildly popular, appearing on SNL more than 20 times; in one season alone, he showed up six different times. So why not a movie? That’s what Lorne Michaels thought anyway, according to Hader. On Fly on the Wall, he told hosts Dana Carvey and David Spade that they had worked on a movie based on Stefon. Hader and Mulaney thought about it but, as Hader put it “It was a hard one to do.”
[Lorne] wanted to do a Stefon one. And then John Mulaney and I were like ‘It didn’t work as a sketch!’ ...We were like ‘It died twice at the table, and then we did it a couple times at dress and it was terrible. It was low-energy, weird thing that never worked.’
In other words, before Stefon became one of Weekend Update’s most famous recurring characters, he’d been the subject of sketches that Hader and Mulaney wrote that didn’t actually work. Hader went on to explain that after several failed attempts to get Stefon sketches on SNL, writer/producer Doug Abeles, who was in charge of Weekend Update at the time, needed to fill time on an episode and asked Hader to write something about “that club kid you did.”
The rest was history — and eventually so was the Stefon movie. Oh well. We’ll always have MacGruber.
You’ll have to settle instead for the third season of Hader’s series Barry, which premieres on HBO on April 24. (And if you haven’t listened to Fly on the Wall and you are an SNL fan, you should check that podcast out; each week Carvey and Spade talk to other comics and actors, and go into a lot of detail about the backstage world of Saturday Night Live.)