Moving On

Post-‘SNL’ Report Card: Jason Sudeikis, Kristen Wiig & More (PHOTOS)

The Horrible Bosses funnyman is hinting at his exit. Will it be a good move? The Daily Beast grades the post-Studio 8H careers of recent alums, from Tina Fey to Chris Kattan.

 “Goodbyes are tough,” Saturday Night Live star Jason Sudeikis tells Men’s Journal, essentially confirming the swirling rumors that he, like Kristen Wiig and Andy Samberg, won’t be returning to the sketch show next season. All three cast members made big-screen splashes this past year—Sudeikis with Horrible Bosses, Wiig with Bridesmaids, and Samberg with That’s My Boy. Undoubtedly, they hope to follow in the footsteps of Mike Myers, Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell, Eddie Murphy, and Chris Farley, among others, who all bid adieu to Studio 8H and saw their careers skyrocket. But in the last 10 years, that kind of success has been elusive. Is leaving SNL really a good move for Sudeikis, Wiig, and Samberg? We grade their career prospects, as well as alumni’s varied post-SNL runs from the past decade.

John P. Johnson / Everett Collection

Jason Sudeikis (2003-2012)

Sudeikis dominated 2011 with major roles in three R-rated comedies, but the actor, who has been portraying Mitt Romney on the show, still hasn’t proven that he has the box-office cachet to pull in Mitt-like big bucks. Hall Pass and A Good Old Fashioned Orgy underperformed both with critics and audiences, though Horrible Bosses was a surprise summer hit—the rare raunchy comedy to pass the $100 million mark. His next film, the political comedy The Campaign, has the benefit of Will Ferrell’s golden box-office touch, and a string of announced projects cast him in supporting roles in larger ensembles. Still, he’s consistently working, and his status as Hollywood’s most unlikely Casanova keeps him in the gossip rags—which is never bad for a career.

Prospective Grade: B-

Suzanne Hanover, Universal Pictures / Everett Collection

Kristen Wiig (2005-2012)

After the massive success of Bridesmaids, Wiig, who wrote and starred in the zeitgeist-defining comedy, earned Hollywood It Girl status. Almost single-handedly, she put to rest the exhausting debate over whether women could be funny. She earned an Oscar nod for her script, a Golden Globe nomination for her performance, and offers to star in a slew of major projects. Though her first post-Bridesmaids release, the indie rom-com Friends With Kids, was only a modest box-office success, her upcoming slate is promising: the Ben Stiller-directed The Secret Life of Walter Mitty; the buzzy indie Imogene with Annette Bening; and a starring role opposite Robert DeNiro in the Sean Penn-directed The Comedian. She’s strategically proving her versatility by signing on to both comedies and dramas. Plus, she’s the only female SNL alum with a $169 million film under her belt.

Prospective Grade: A

Tracy Bennett / Columbia Pictures

Andy Samberg (2005-2012)

SNL’s resident bro can take credit for ushering the elderly sketch program the hip digital age. His Digital Shorts—“Lazy Sunday,” “Dick in a Box,” “Mother Lover”—essentially proved that the show could be repackaged for the new millennium with a series of viral-video hits. But those cool points haven’t exactly extended to his movie career. His first starring role, in 2007’s Hot Rod, was an embarrassing flop, and last month’s That’s My Boy was the rare Adam Sandler vehicle to tank at the box office. His next film, the quirky romantic dramedy Celeste and Jesse Forever, has been receiving raves on the festival circuit, which could improve his spotty track record.

Prospective Grade: C

Greg Peters, Universal / Everett Collection

Will Forte (2002-2010)

During his eight-year tenure on SNL, Forte proved one of the show’s most versatile supporting players, but only really had one breakout sketch to his name: MacGruber, the bumbling spoof of the resourceful hero from MacGyver. So it didn’t bode well for Forte’s career prospects when the big-screen version of MacGruber, released one week after the actor’s final SNL appearance, crashed and burned. Since then, Forte’s sustained himself with recurring characters on TV shows like 30 Rock and Up All Night and bit parts in movie flops like That’s My Boy and Rock of Ages. He earns minor redemption, however, for brilliantly channeling Mad Men’s Megan and her “Zou Bisou Bisous” earworm during 30 Rock’s most recent live show.

Post-SNL Grade: D+

Darrell Hammond (1995-2009)

Hammond holds the distinction of having the longest run of any SNL cast member, and, at age 53 when he left, being the oldest in the show’s history. His post-SNL career hasn’t been quite so distinguished, with his only major gig being a recurring role in the second season of Damages. Credit is due for playing against type in FX’s dark dramatic thriller, however, as well as for delighting SNL fans by frequently returning to Studio 8H to cameo as Jay Leno and Donald Trump, and for reviving his iconic Bill Clinton impression for a popular Funny or Die short. Last year, he made headlines for his shocking memoir, which revealed that he had a crack cocaine habit and cut himself during his SNL days. He has no major projects announced.

Post-SNL Grade: D

Tyler Golden / NBC

Amy Poehler (2001-2008)

Since leaving SNL, Amy Poehler went on to star in one of the hippest comedies on network television. Critics routinely throw bouquets of roses at Parks and Recreation, and Poehler has earned three Emmy nominations for her performance. Yet with the arguable exceptions of Tina Fey and Kristen Wiig, no female SNL alum has been able to parlay their time on the show into a lucrative film career to rival Sandler, Murphy, or Ferrell. Baby Mama did well for Poehler, but that was while she was still an SNL cast member. A trio of intriguing, star-studded films in the works—A.C.O.D., You Are Here, and They Came Together—could put her on Ferrell level.

Post-SNL Grade: A-

Suzanne Hanover, Universal Pictures / Everett Collection

Maya Rudolph (2000-2007)

Maya Rudolph actually has an impressive post-SNL film résumeé. The problem: She’s not exactly a film star. The success of Bridesmaids is attributed to Kristen Wiig. Her role in Grown Ups was sixth banana to the comedy combo of Sandler, James, Rock, Spade, and Schneider. Her quietly brilliant work in Away We Go was woefully under-seen. Still, she’s a scene-stealing riot on NBC’s delightful, if low-rated Up All Night, and her return to SNL as host this past season was a triumph.

Post-SNL Grade: B

Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation / Everett Collection

Rachel Dratch (1999-2006)

Rachel Dratch’s struggle to capitalize on her SNL fame is no secret. Tina Fey wrote the part of Jenna Maroney on 30 Rock with Dratch in mind, but the actress was eventually replaced by buxom blonde Jane Krakowski, and the bit parts on the show offered to her as consolation were increasingly demeaning. Small roles in films like I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry and larger supporting characters in flops like My Life in Ruins have also done little to boost her profile. Dratch chronicled her woes in a memoir titled A Girl Walks Into a Bar.

Post-SNL Grade: D+

Bruce Birmelin / Disney Channel

Finesse Mitchell (2003-2006)

With only three years on Saturday Night Live, Finesse Mitchell didn’t exactly have a chance to leave a lasting impression. He hasn’t left one with his post-SNL work, either. After his brief stint on the show, he toured as a standup comedian, took small roles in duds like Who’s Your Caddy, and appeared as a panelist on E!’s Chelsea Lately. Currently, he has a recurring part on the Disney Channel series A.N.T. Farm.

Post-SNL Grade: D

Dana Edelson / NBC

Chris Parnell (1998-2001; 2002-2006)

Chris Parnell holds the distinction of being the only SNL cast member to be fired twice. He was sacrificed due to budget cuts in 2001, returned midway through the next season, and was then cut loose again in 2006. Following his second firing, Parnell never landed the star-making turn SNL alums desire—or a starring role of any kind, really. But he’s racked up an impressive laughs-per-minute-of-screen-time ratio with short-but-hilarious turns in films like Walk Hard and 21 Jump Street, as the lunatic Dr. Spaceman on 30 Rock, and most recently in a supporting role on the breakout ABC hit Suburgatory.

Post-SNL Grade: C

ABC

Horatio Sanz (1998-2006)

Even when Horatio Sanz has popped up sporadically in guest spots on 30 Rock and Girls since leaving Saturday Night Live, the sketch show’s fans may not even have recognized him. The comedian dropped about 100 pounds after exiting SNL, which is definitely something to be proud of—even if IMDB credits like “Aide on Balcony” in The Dictator are not.

Post-SNL Grade: D-

Lloyd Bishop / NBC

Jimmy Fallon (1998-2004)

Jimmy Fallon left SNL to pursue a film career—an ambition that stalled after the underwhelming Taxi and Fever Pitch. Perhaps it’s for the best that Hollywood never warmed up to the star, as Fallon’s New York-based talk show, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, which he took over from Conan O’Brien in 2009, is a joy. New York magazine even labeled Fallon “Mr. Sunshine,”, crediting the sheer exuberance the host brings to his late-night gig.

Post-SNL Grade: B+

Ali Goldstein / NBC

Tina Fey (1997-2006)

No one can argue that Tina Fey is Saturday Night Live’s most successful female alum. Seven Emmys, three Golden Globes, three hit films, a bestselling book, countless magazine covers, and a Mark Twain Prize shoot down any naysayer. 30 Rock, which she created, produces, writes, and stars in, ranks as one of the defining comedies of the past decade. Mean Girls, Baby Mama, and Date Night prove her box-office value. The self-effacing attitude she weathers her monstrous success with endears her to just about every comedy fan in the U.S.

Post-SNL Grade: A+

Richard Foreman / ABC

Chris Kattan (1995-2003)

After leaving SNL, Chris Kattan didn’t have a screen credit for two years. His heralded return: a TV movie called Enough About Me and a holiday film called Santa’s Slay. A series of cameos in forgettable projects followed over the years, until he finally landed a recurring role on ABC’s critical darling The Middle, which begins its fourth season in the fall.

Post-SNL Grade: C-