In the wake of the firings of Brooks Wheelan, Noel Wells, and John Milhiser , I thought it might be instructive to take a gander at the ten Saturday Night Live cast members who have succeeded the most in terms of box-office dollars. There are two reasons. First of all, because this goes to something I wrote about a few weeks ago, which is that — no matter what naysayers may think — Saturday Night Live is, and continues to be, incredibly relevant and if you can’t see that, you’re eyes aren’t open.
Second, as many are suggesting (including Judd Apatow to Brooks Wheelan after he was fired), there are a lot of former SNL cast members who didn’t make a big impact on that show but did make a huge impact in the industry. Just because you were fired from SNL doesn’t mean your career is over.
.@brookswheelan you will have the Robert Downey Jr. post SNL career! (minus the painful drug addiction). Rock on friend!
— Judd Apatow (@JuddApatow) July 15, 2014
Besides the people in movies, just consider Julia Louis Dreyfus or Laurie Metcalf or Michaela Watkins or Casey Wilson, who had little to no impact on the SNL but did find success in television.
So, here are the ten most successful SNL cast members at the box office (and I’ll also note that Jason Sudeikis is actually number twelve, behind Rob Schneider, whose box-office numbers are inflated by cameos in Adam Sandler projects). No real huge surprises here.
10. Billy Crystal — $1.3 billion
9. Kristen Wiig — $1.3 billion
8. Chris Rock — $1.5 billion
7. Bill Murray — $1.6 billion
6. Will Ferrell — $1.89 billion
5. Mike Myers — $2.2 billion
4. Adam Sandler — $2.4 billion
3. Ben Stiller — $2.6 billion
2. Robert Downey, Jr. — $3.02 billion
1. Eddie Murphy — $3.8 billion
The next Avengers movie should put Downey over the top, which is good because I hate the thought that the highest-grossing SNL cast member of all time owes much of it to Shrek movies, and is atop the list in spite of also being in several of the biggest box-office disasters of all time.