Taran Killam On Why He’s Leaving ‘Saturday Night Live’

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Taran Killam, who has been a cast member on Saturday Night Live for the past six seasons, will not be returning to the show for its upcoming 42nd season. As Killam explains below, he found out recently that his contract wasn’t renewed. Killam is currently directing a movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Why We’re Killing Gunther, and has other projects in the works. Both of these projects had to be approved by SNL and, in the end, for whatever reason, the decision was to part ways.

When speaking with Killam, he was noticeably disappointed, because it’s obvious how much SNL – a show he’s been a huge part of since 2010 – still means to him and this is all still very recent news. (But, again, he’s directing a Schwarzenegger movie, so I think he’s going to find plenty to keep himself busy.) Ahead, Killam explains what happened, looks back at some of his favorite moments on SNL, and looks ahead to releasing a new Arnold Schwarzenegger comedy.

I was very surprised when I first heard this news.

I enjoyed being on the show. I was there for six years. I have not been anywhere in my life for six years. I don’t know that the end of something that you’ve committed that much time and energy to is ever going to feel “great.” And I think that just bodes well in both directions. Not feeling great leaving means that you were where you were supposed to be. And not feeling great leaving also means you didn’t overstay your welcome. You know what I mean? Like, “Oh, thank God I’m done with that,” and there was time wasted, you know? It doesn’t feel like that.

So, what happened?

I don’t know fully. I don’t know the other side of it. You sign for seven years, so I had one more year. I had sort of had it in my head I would make this upcoming year my last year, but then heard they weren’t going to pick up my contract. I was never given a reason why, really. I can assume until the cows come home. But I do know I’m directing this movie [Why We’re Killing Gunther with Arnold Schwarzenegger] and I’ll have two months of post-production that would have bled into the SNL production schedule, so we kind of communicated that.

I honestly don’t know what happened on the other side, but I do know we had expressed I have work on this film and in bonding this picture, that has to get cleared with SNL. And then [another offer] came up. I wasn’t going to have to take any time off to do it, but it was a thing that they would have had to okay.