‘Saturday Night Live’: Lorne Michaels Explained Why He Lost 8 Cast Members Before Season 48

Saturday Night Live is going through an array of new changes, including the cast itself. Boss Lorne Michaels recognized that the show is going through a transition period, but many uncertainties come with switching up a format that audiences became so comfortable with. Michaels explained why so many Saturday Night Live cast members left the show in such a short period of time ahead of season 48.

‘Saturday Night Live’ lost 8 cast members

'Saturday Night Live' Bowen Yang, Lorne Michaels, and Kate McKinnon standing in front of Emmys step and repeat. They're all holding an Emmy award with their mouths slightly open in excitement.
L-R: Bowen Yang, Lorne Michaels, and Kate McKinnon | Evans Vestal Ward/NBC via Getty Images

The Saturday Night Live cast always shifts from time to time. The show is a marvelous opportunity for all who join the family, but many find other ways to flex their artistic muscles. Actors such as Adam Sandler and Mike Myers pursued movie careers that launched them further into fame. However, Saturday Night Live Season 48 will start with eight of its former cast members leaving the show.

Chris Redd, Kyle Mooney, Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant, Pete Davidson, Melissa Villaseñor, Alex Moffat, and Aristotle Athari won’t be returning. Nevertheless, it won’t be the last time that audiences see their faces. They’ll continue to push their careers forward in other ways. For example, Davidson most recently starred in A24’s horror-comedy hit Bodies Bodies Bodies.

Lorne Michaels blamed the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic for quicker cast exits

According to an interview with The New York Times, Michaels explained that the Saturday Night Live cast left quicker than usual ahead of season 48. He acknowledged that they already had over 20 cast members at the time and he understood the need for them to move on. However, he recognized that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic ultimately had a big impact on the time of these departures.

“We got to a point where we had a lot of people, and people weren’t getting enough playing time,” Michaels said. “The way the series has survived is by that level of renewal. The price of success is that people go off and do other things; their primary obligation is to their talent and to keep pushing that. And there’s something so much better about the show when all that matters is the show. There’s a time to say goodbye, and there’s a natural time for it, but the natural time just got interfered with by the pandemic.”

Additionally, Michaels told the interviewer that some faces from Saturday Night Live have “side projects” on streaming services or movies that they’re starring in. As a result, it becomes more difficult for them to juggle their time on the show.

Michael continued: “We try to do the best with the cast that was there, and at the same time, my first responsibility is to keep the show fresh. Things grow stale. I don’t think we’d gotten stale because the people we had were so gifted and at their peak.”

‘Saturday Night Live’ Season 48 will introduce new faces

As Saturday Night Live audiences say goodbye to some of their favorite comedians on the show, they have the opportunity to welcome new ones. There are some fresh faces that are joining the cast heading into season 48 that Michaels assured will add a new spark to the show, although those are some big shoes to fill.

The new Saturday Night Live cast members include Marcello Hernandez, Molly Kearney, Michael Longfellow, and Devon Walker. Season 48 kicks off its big premiere on Oct. 1 at 8:30 p.m. PST on NBC.

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