If you've been keeping tabs on Saturday Night Live over the past couple of days, you probably already know there are going to be some major casting shake-ups heading into Season 42. We recently learned that Taran Killam, Jay Pharoah and featured player Jon Rudnitsky would not be returning for the upcoming season of the long-running sketch series. Killam and Pharoah's exits were spun by the network as being a result of their ever-expanding careers, but Taran Killam has spoken out, now, claiming that he was actually fired from the series. Here's why he thinks he is not coming back:
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. I can assume until the cows come home. But I do know I'm directing this movie and I'll have two months of post-production that would have bled into the SNL production schedule, so we kind of communicated that.
The outside project that Taran Killam is working on is Why We''re Killing Gunther with Arnold Schwarzenegger. The movie was announced as part of the former SNL castmember's interview with Uproxx, and he noted that his work on the movie was going to bleed into his time on the NBC show. That could certainly be a reason why NBC ultimately passed on bringing the comedian back to the series. Saturday Night Live is a full-time job and cast members work tirelessly from Tuesday through Saturday each week during the season. There's not a ton of time for outside projects.
Taran Killam also asserts that he had only planned to do one more season with the series, meaning NBC probably had an inkling he would be leaving sooner rather than later, but we're still a little surprised the network didn't pick up his contract to let him go out on his own terms. It makes us wonder if some things were going on behind the scenes that we just don't know about. Although, Killam also mentioned that more opportunities were pouring in and maybe that's why NBC ultimately made the call it did.
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 doesn't seem too bent out of shape about it---likely because he does have other projects in the pipeline, but he will still definitely be missed. The ladies have been killing it on Saturday Night Live for the past few seasons, but Taran Killam was one of the most memorable and well-known players among the current male cast on the show. Jay Pharoah was also a well-known name at this point, but that's likely why opportunities were coming in for the two gentlemen.
However, Taran Killam's exit does leave us with one question: Who is going to play Paul Ryan moving forward?
Saturday Night Live is set to return this fall. To find out what else is coming back, check out our fall TV premiere schedule.