Why Bill Hader Had Such A Hard Time Performing On SNL

Bill Hader in the HBO series 'Barry'

Saturday Night Live alum Bill Hader is hitting the promotion trail for his new HBO series Barry and talking about his stint on the popular sketch series, while he is at it. In an insightful profile, Hader talked about his battle with nerves and the give and take of his run on the series. Speaking on how he grappled with the nervous energy of performing on SNL and the toll it took on him, Hader said,

I love the people there, but doing that show was really hard for me. It was this funny thing of being trapped by this thing that was hurting you. I had to go to a therapist and do meditation--all these things to try to calm my nerves. It was becoming really detrimental for my performing.

Bill Hader announced he was leaving SNL, back in May 2013, after an eight-year run on the series. Despite his enormous popularity on the show, Hader was constantly plagued by the fear of losing a job that meant so much to him. While Hader discussed his high anxiety during his time on the sketch comedy series, fans may not have ever picked up on it during his performances. Whether he was playing his signature characters, Stefon and Herb Welch, or doing a spot-on impersonation of Clint Eastwood, Hader never let his nervousness show.

That said, in the interview with GQ, Bill Hader also expressed frustration with the grinding gears of what sounds like SNL's production line style and the subsequent loss of his creative energy, saying:

SNL took all the romanticism out of writing and acting and being an artist. It was like, 'We go on at 11:30. Come on guys, we gotta go.' I couldn't wait for the muse to come to me. That's not the way it works.

The good news is that Bill Hader, who recently returned to guest host SNL, does not have to face the stress of a live performance for Barry. It is not an aspect of his latest project. Hader's new show is a dark comedy, in which he co-stars with TV icon Henry Winkler. Barry's darker tone may come as a shock to Hader fans. But it isn't the first time he has starred in a more muted comic capacity. In 2014, he starred with his former SNL co-star Kristen Wiig in the dark indie The Skeleton Twins. The critically heralded film was promoted as being more comedic in tone than it actually was. At least, Barry isn't pulling any punches.

Bill Hader as Barry in the new HBO series about a hit man turned actor

Barry premiered on HBO this past Sunday, March 25. New episodes of the half-hour series air Sundays at 10 p.m. ET. In addition, hopefully Bill Hader will face his fears and return to Saturday Night Live in future seasons. For a look at who will appear on NBC's sketch comedy series coming up, check out our full guide.

Britt Lawrence

Like a contented Hallmark movie character, Britt happily lives in the same city she grew up in. Along with movies and television, she is passionate about competitive figure skating. She has been writing about entertainment for 5 years, and as you may suspect, still finds it as entertaining to do as when she began.