From Laraine Newman to Will Ferrell, 'SNL' Greats Reveal Their Favorite Show Memories

by Raphael Chestang 4:29 PM PST, February 11, 2015
Playing From Laraine Newman to Will Ferrell, 'SNL' Greats Reveal Their Favorite Show Memories

Before the big Saturday Night Live 40th anniversary celebration on Sunday, ET is talking to former castmembers, getting them to dish on their favorite times on NBC's long-running late-night sketch show.

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From original castmember Laraine Newman to the show's fearless leader in the '90s, Will Ferrell, everyone had plenty to say about their time as a not ready for primetime player.

"That experience -- the seven years I was on the show -- will be the hardest slash most fun thing I've ever done," Ferrell said.

"Getting up to air live and getting it done was kind of a work of art in itself," Nora Dunn said.

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Dunn was a part of an '80s cast that saved the show from nearly getting canceled, even though the previous season had big names like Robert Downey Jr., Anthony Michael Hall and Joan Cusack. Dunn helped bring the ratings back with iconic characters like vacuous talk-show host Pat Stevens.

Another notable character was Kevin Nealon's Mr. Subliminal, who whispered caustic remarks under his breath while delivering Weekend Update news segments.

"Mr. Subliminal was kind of a complicated character," Nealon said. "It was my first sketch on there. I was a little concerned and also nervous, because I was about to go on -- five seconds to go -- and Lorne Michaels comes up and puts his arm around me and goes, 'Are you sure this is what you want?'"

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The anniversary special is expected to include special guests Justin Timberlake, Tina Fey, Chris Rock, Ferrell, Amy Poehler, Chevy Chase, Adam Sandler, Dana Carvey and Eddie Murphy -- none of whom are entirely sure about what will be in the show. But Ana Gasteyer says that's SNL's style.

"We would start writing at three o'clock on Tuesday and sketches were due 10 a.m. Wednesday. Invariably throughout the night we'd be like, 'We have to start [writing]! We have to start!'" Gasteyer said.

The funnylady told ET about one instance in which a sketch was being re-written as the live show was airing.

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"Basically after [Weekend] Update, the show is like a free for all," Gasteyer said. "I remember we were doing this Dr. Laura sketch and as we started the stage manager looked at me and said, 'Heads up! Eyes on the cards.' They were making cuts as we went. He's taping and rewriting the sketch on the floor as you're doing it. So I'm watching the rewrite happen and I'm just thinking, 'I have no idea what's going to come up on the next card.'"

Watch the video for more. SNL's 40th anniversary celebration airs Feb. 15 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC. Click the video below to learn Bobby Moynihan's theory about Weekend Update guests.