‘SNL’ Star Molly Shannon Used to Scam Talent Agents Into Getting Her Acting Gigs

Molly Shannon is one of the most iconic comedic actors of the last 20 years. From Saturday Night Live to blockbusters movies, Shannon has dominated both big and small screens. It wasn’t always so easy for Shannon to get roles, though. She recently revealed the trick she used to trick talent agents into meeting with her. 

Molly Shannon’s career in movies and TV

molly shannon
Actor Molly Shannon attends the 24th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 21, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. | Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Turner

Shannon is most famous for her time on SNL, where she created iconic characters like Mary Katherine Gallagher and Sally O’Malley, as well as imitated stars like Courtney Love. 

The actor has gone on to star in movies like How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Wet Hot American Summer, and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. Shannon has also starred in shows like Twin Peaks, Will & Grace, 30 Rock, Glee, and The White Lotus

How Molly Shannon and a pal scammed agents into meeting with them

Before joining the cast of SNL, Shannon lived in Los Angeles, working as a waiter while she hustled for roles. She and pal Eugene Pack — now a writer and director famous for stage shows like Celebrity Autobiography and reality programs like Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team — came up with a plan to trick agents into agreeing to meetings with them. 

“We called it the Mamet Scam,” Shannon explained on a recent appearance on The Howard Stern Show. “And what we did was, we thought [of] it to get into agents’ doors. So, I had a fake character named Liz Stockwell. Eugene Pack’s character was Arnold Katz, and we would call for one another, pretending to be, you know, one another’s agents and we would call whatever agent we wanted to meet.”

She continued, “I would say, ‘Hi, this is Liz Stockwell calling, I’m from David Mamet’s office. We’d like to speak to this agent.’ And they were like, ‘Oh, my gosh!’ They would put the agent right on the phone.”

“I would say, ‘David speaks so highly of your company and, you know, we have a kid out here who’s in David’s next play. He’s, like, the up-and-coming star and, you know, you gotta meet this kid,’” the actress laughed. 

“We always had a rule doing sales where you couldn’t hang up the phone ‘til you had the credit card,” Shannon explained. “So, we used the same thing with the Mamet scam. So, it was like, ‘Don’t hang up the phone ‘til you got the appointment in the books.’”

She continued. “So, if this agent would say, ‘Well, why don’t you just have Eugene call me when he gets to town?’ I would go, ‘No.’ There was an answer for every obstacle,” she finished.

Molly Shannon’s terrifying encounter with Gary Coleman

Shannon recently published her autobiography, called “Hello, Molly!” The memoir made waves for the story she told about her experience with actor Gary Coleman, who died in 2010. Via Fox News, the two actors shared the same agent in 1987, and the trio met up for a meal at the Plaza Hotel in New York. 

Coleman invited Shannon up to his hotel room, along with their agent, but he soon disappeared. Coleman asked Shannon to sit down on the bed and then started to try and “get on top” of her. 

The actor said he was “relentless” in trying to kiss her and get on top of her, but she was able to get away from him and lock herself in the bathroom. After Coleman continued to knock on the door and stick his hands under the door, Shannon fled the hotel room. 

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