It's hard to say we didn't see it coming, but even harder to admit it's true. Bill Hader, a regular cast member of Saturday Night Live since 2005 and linchpin of the show's cast, has announced via The New York Times that he won't be returning next season. His seven-year contract was up last spring, when Andy Samberg and Kristen Wiig-- who both started the same season he did-- left the show. But after being persuaded to hang on for one more year, and earning an Emmy nomination last fall for his work on the show, he's decided to move on. Here's how he explained it to the Times:
“It was a hard decision, but it has to happen at some point. It got to a point where I said, ‘Maybe it’s just time to go.’ ”
Hader's announcement comes just days after news broke that Weekend Update anchor Seth Meyers will also leave the show as he prepares to take over Late Night from Jimmy Fallon. Jason Sudeikis, who seemed ready to leave the show last year, has not yet announced his plans, and Fred Armisen-- who, unbelievably, has been on the show since 2oo2-- remains a wild card as well.
And Hader, like Wiig and Samberg and most SNL cast members who depart, is busy booking more roles in film-- just yesterday he entered talks to star in a comedy about a high school reunion, and he's reuniting with Wiig in this year's The Skeleton Twins. Leaving SNL, and with plans to move to Los Angeles, Hader will surely only get busier from here.
As the inventor of Stefon and Herb Welch, and owner of probably the world's best Vincent Price and Alan Alda impressions, Hader is a crucial member of the current SNL lineup, but he also seems aware that a new generation of talent is starting to make their own claim: "There’s a new sensibility happening, and if it isn’t totally apparent on the show yet, I see it on Wednesdays at the table reads.”
Fair enough. We can't begrudge the man being ready to move on-- but it's hard not to mourn the loss of Weekend Update as we know it.