After eight seasons on the long-running sketch show, it was announced that Will Forte will not be returning to Saturday Night Live for its 36th season this fall. This announcement comes not too long after one of his best-known characters from the show, MacGruber, got his own movie which opened in theaters last May.
Forte leaves behind many crazy characters that will live on in one rerun after another (not to mention online as well), including Roy Calhoun, The Falconer, the “Oooooooooh Noooooo!!!” character, Zell Miller, and of course MacGruber. His publicist, Lewis Kay, said that Forte is leaving to “pursue other opportunities” and that he is “eternally grateful” to Lorne Michaels and “to all the incredible people he worked with over the years” on the show.”
Now all eyes will be focused on Forte in regard to where he will go from here. Saturday Night Live has seen so many cast members come and go through its 35-year run, and each has seen varying degrees of success. One of the biggest examples is Will Ferrell, who has seen a lot of success in movies after leaving the show. Although he suffered through some bad movies over the last few years, including 2009’s disastrous Land Of The Lost, Ferrell rebounded big time this summer with The Other Guys.
Forte, however, is not leaving SNL with the same amount of momentum that Will Ferrell had, nor is he giving himself one final show to put a cap on all the great characters he created. So, right now, his prospects for movie stardom don’t look good, but he can still do well with the right TV show.
Adding to this uncertainty is the fact that his big screen action comedy MacGruber ended up bombing at the box office, which means movie studios are not going to be in a hurry to sign him up for his next big film (at least, not for a bit). It’s actually sad that MacGruber didn’t get the audience as many (including myself) found it to be the funniest SNL movie to come out in a long time, the last truly great one being Wayne’s World (and that was back in the early ’90s). The only other movie in which he had a major starring role (and which he also co-wrote) was The Brothers Solomon,which also featured Will Arnett from Arrested Development. That one cost $10 million to make, and it is said to have grossed $900,026 in its initial release.
In the past, if one SNL star bombs with a movie based on one of their characters from the show or any movie in general, they pretty much get stuck with television for an indefinite period of time. So it looks like Forte is meeting the same fate as Chris Kattan, whose Corky Romano crashed on takeoff, and Andy Sandberg, whose Hot Rod sped out of the box office in record time. If Forte insists on playing the same kind of characters he brought to SNL, then he can only hope to be as lucky as Adam Sandler, who has been doing just that in movie after movie. Of course, even he had to stretch his acting muscles with Punch Drunk Love and Funny People.
While his prospects for movies look about the same as Kattan’s, his best bet may be to stick with television. Many of the more recent SNL alumni have had major success in this medium, especially Tina Fey, whose 30 Rock is one of television’s acclaimed comedies. Co-starring with Fey on that show is Tracey Morgan, whose own sitcom from a few years ago didn’t fare as well, and Alec Baldwin, who has now hosted the same number of SNL shows as Steve Martin. There’s also Amy Poehler, who went straight from the sketch show to her own Office-like comedy with Parks and Recreation,which is coming back for another season this fall. Furthermore, many SNL stars have guested on these shows quite a bit, including Rachel Dratch, Chris Parnell, and Forte himself. Plus, Jimmy Fallon is still hosting Late Night as his movie career pretty much bit the dust after a couple of movies.
Whatever happens, it doesn’t look like Forte will be one of SNL‘s huge breakout stars in the same way Will Ferrell or even Eddie Murphy were, but anything is possible for this funny actor. I don’t think he will sink into relative obscurity the way other stars from the show have, like Joe Piscopo or the late Charlie Rocket, among others. Television will be his best bet for the time being, but he will also need to try to move a little beyond all these broad characters to prove that there is more to him than just SNL. Even Ferrell and Murphy found they had to stretch themselves a bit as actors when people started to view them as one-note performers.
I would like to wish Forte the best of luck in his future endeavors, and to thank him for the many characters he brought to the television screen for eight solid years. He strikes me as a nice guy who was gifted with a great sense of humor, and I hope that leads to a long-running career outside of what he has done so far. Anything could happen for him, so let’s hope he makes the best choices for himself.