Bill Hader Says He Cried in a Bathroom Before Every ‘SNL’ Episode: ‘I’m Just Not Built for It’

Saturday Night Live has been charming audiences for decades. There’s no end in sight to the iconic show, which holds a funhouse mirror up to every aspect of American culture. The show isn’t afraid to pull punches over politics. Everyone is fair game, and almost every big comedy career has been made off of an SNL role. 

Bill Hader’s career is one of them. Like many SNL alums, he’s gone on to be a comedy giant. Ironically, even though SNL did so much for him, Hader didn’t really like his time there. In fact, the comedian would cry in the bathroom before every show.

Bill Hader made a name for himself on ‘Saturday Night Live’ 

Bill Hader, as Stefon, and Colin Jost film a Weekend Update sketch during Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live‘s Bill Hader, as Stefon, and Colin Jost on the Weekend Update | Will Heath/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

In 1999, Hader made a decision that would change the face of comedy forever. At the time he was attending Scottsdale Community College in Arizona. He decided to leave that all behind and move to LA. In the city of Angels, Hader had to hustle to make things work. He took up any job he could in entertainment, all while honing his own talent.

In between roles as a production assistant, Hader and his friend Matt Offerman — yes, the brother of Nick Offerman — put on informal comedy shows. Matt’s sister-in-law, Megan Mullally, essentially ‘discovered’ Hader, passing his name to SNL producer Lorne Michaels. Even though Hader was discovered doing a live comedy performance, he hates performing live, which became a problem on SNL. 

Hader didn’t like working on ‘SNL’ even though he was hilarious

Hader has since said that he wasn’t “built for” live TV. He was great on SNL. So great that he now has his own HBO Max show, Barry, which he acts and directs in. But the live aspect of SNL was insanely stressful for Hader. He told The Hollywood Reporter, “Before shows, I would go into a bathroom that was way down this hall, go into a stall, and have a full-blown panic attack, crying, the whole thing. And then I go and get in a giant banana costume.”

Still, Hader knew he was lucky to have the opportunity to be on SNL at all. Hader said he would feel guilty during his pre-show crying sessions. “This voice would come on in my head of like, ‘You fucking asshole, do you know how many people would kill for this? Dude, get your shit together, come on.'”

Bill Hader has found his ideal workplace with ‘Barry’ 

After almost 10 years on SNL, Hader finally felt comfortable enough with his career to leave the show. In 2014, Hader left SNL behind and found his true calling. Despite his natural comedy talent, Hader never moved to LA to be an actor. He wanted to write and direct his own projects.

Now he’s finally able to do it with the HBO dark-comedy crime drama. Although Hader is still on screen, he directs many Barry episodes. The 43-year-old created the show with his friend Alex Berg, but he didn’t necessarily create the show to give himself a role. He wanted to finally make his own show from behind the scenes. Then, he just happened to fit the role of Barry.

Hader told the Hollywood Reporter, creating Barry “was about figuring out what’s the story, and getting into the tone and the feel of it. And then being like, ‘Oh, I guess I’ll play Barry.'”

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