‘Saturday Night Live’: The Real Reason Taran Killam Left the Show

Saturday Night Live, the weekly NBC sketch show helmed by executive producer Lorne Michaels, has had its ups and downs over the years. While many former cast members have expressed varied disappointments in the way the show was run, Taran Killam — who often portrayed President Trump, Brad Pitt, and other celebrities in SNL sketches — got candid about why he really left.

‘Saturday Night Live’ former cast member Taran Killam said the 40th-anniversary episode made the following seasons less happy

Taran Killam on Saturday Night Live
Taran Killam as Donald Trump and Cecily Strong as Melania Trump on SNL in 2015 | Dana Edelson/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Vulture reported on SNL cast member Killam’s 2016 exit from the show, as Killam discussed on “Matt Gourley’s … podcast I Was There Too.”

Getting honest about the way Saturday Night Live changed, Killam felt a definite shift when Seth Meyers stepped down as head writer.

“When Seth Meyers left the show, the dynamic changed quite a bit,” the comedian/actor shared. Killam also mentioned the “40th [anniversary show]” and its impact on Saturday Night Live as a whole.

The anniversary special “really sort of affected Lorne,” Killam argued on the podcast. Continuing on that point, he said:

I think it was exciting and I think it was flattering and I think he was really able to sort of relish in this incredible institution that he’s responsible for and all these amazing iconic careers and all of his famous friends, and it had to have been the most potent overwhelming boost of a ‘this is your life’ experience ever.

After years of the show producing celebrities, Michaels was apparently disappointed in the more recent seasons of SNL.

After the 40th anniversary show, Killam explained, “it was back to this cast who’s all 40 years younger than you and aren’t as famous as Tina Fey or whatever.” What did that do to the Saturday Night Live creator?

“…. my experience was he became very impatient,” Killam said of Michaels.

Saturday Night Live apparently was “less of a happy place to be,” and more of a “competitive, exhausting environment,” according to the former cast member.

‘SNL’ cast member on playing President Donald Trump

Taran Killam and cast of Saturday Night Live
Kanye West, Melissa McCarthy, and Taran Killam on February 11, 2016 on SNL | Dana Edelson/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

RELATED: ‘Saturday Night Live’: Colin Jost’s Book Makes Lorne Michaels Sound Like the Worst Boss Ever

According to Vulture, Killam also “told Gourley about how Lorne Michaels essentially forced the cast and writers to go easy on the presidential candidate,” (AKA Trump). When Saturday Night Live started joking about the Republican candidate, Michaels mysteriously encouraged the writers to hold back a bit.

But then, it was revealed why: Trump was being invited on Saturday Night Live as a celebrity host. (Which caused its fair share of controversy at the time, as well).

Killam explained:

Lorne was being so specific about what we could and couldn’t say about him, and he was dictating a lot of the settings. At that point — the first CNN interview he was doing — and that was sort of looking like what we thought we were going to do, and Lorne’s like, ‘It’ll be too old news by then, and you know, you don’t want to vilify him. You know, he’s like any New York taxi driver. I know him, I’ve seen him around at parties for years and years, and he just says whatever it is he’s thinking, and that’s his thing. But you know, you have to find a way in that makes him likable.’

While Killam’s departure had more to do with the working environment at Saturday Night Live, Killam — who often had to play Trump on the show — no doubt was affected by Michael’s decision making around the controversial candidate for president.