News Column

Hader makes his move

July 28, 2013


July 28--Bill Hader didn't get emotional when he announced earlier this year that the last show of the season for "Saturday Night Live" would also be his last show after eight years of creating indelible characters and making America laugh.

That decision to announce it publicly was a "fan thing," he said last week during a phone interview.

"I can remember being a fan of the show in the past and thinking, 'Oh man, this will be the last show with Will Ferrell, I can't miss that, because something special is going to happen,' " Hader said of a ritual that he did his best to continue when his eccentric character Stefon got married -- to Seth Meyers -- in the May finale.

The man known for occasionally breaking character as Stefon and other characters on "SNL" said he never broke up in his emotions about departing until the last show -- and the last moment.

It was the traditional "SNL" conclusion, when all cast members gather on stage to say good night. And in this case, for Hader, goodbye.

"It's the very end, and I'm talking with Fred (Armisen, also appearing in his final "SNL" the same night) and I'm saying, 'You know, when we step off this stage, we're really not going to be cast members anymore, you know?'"

He took a deep breath to steady himself, looked Armisen in the eyes, and said: "So, are you ready to do this?"

Hader was ready to make a change in his career, but moreso in his life. Working in New York for TV and Los Angeles for his busy and growing film career was an extreme juggling act.

Working in New York and being married to a filmmaker in California, and being a dad to two infant daughters? A change had to come.

The release of "The To Do List," a naughty comedy opening Friday across the country, represents a couple of firsts for Hader. It's his first live-action appearance on film after leaving "SNL," and it's his first film to work on with his wife, Maggie Carey, who wrote and directed "The To Do List," her first feature-length film and based on her own high school experiences.

"Yes, I did know somebody on this movie, and that is how I got the part, and no, I didn't have to audition for her, but I wouldn't have though twice about it if asked," Hader said with a chuckle.

"I recall her saying, 'I kind of wrote this part for you,' (of Willy, the thirtysomething slacker-dude pool manager) and I'm like 'Oh, you think I can sell the part of the lazy pool guy with some pathos?'

"Working with Maggie was a lot of fun. Seeing her go through the process of making it was very inspiring, and I'm so proud of her. So many people write scripts -- sometimes it seems like everyone is writing a script -- and she got her movie made. That's impressive."

If Hader were writing his own coming-of-age film based on his high school life in Tulsa, what would be the setting?

"Oh, it would almost totally be set at Sound Warehouse. I'm not kidding," he said of the former 15th Street record store, for which he has previously professed his love for its collection of foreign films and indie movies, to the point of spending hours there and being found asleep in the drama section by an employee many years ago.

"My teen movie would (show) me there, and hanging out at the Annex (the former UA Annex 7 theater), and at the Novel Idea bookstore that was by that theater (the former Fox Theatre at 51st Street and Harvard Avenue).

"And I suppose it would have to have a scene of me at the Christmas tree lot. That was my first job, there at the lot at 41st and Harvard. I was 14, and I just wanted to have a little extra spending money in my pocket."

At this point in his career, Hader's longest term of employment has been his time at "SNL." It will always have a prominent place on a work resume for the man who just earned his second consecutive Emmy nomination for supporting actor in a comedy series, and it will always hold a special place in many fans' and critics' hearts.

"I was really surprised by how many nice things were written," Hader said of the stories written during his final months on the show, complimenting his broad range of comedic skills.

"I just learned everything that you need to know about show business by being on that show. It turned out to be the best job that I could hope to have starting out."

With "SNL" behind him, Hader can focus on his wife, and his daughters, and on his new job, which means beginning a new chapter in his career.

The Bill Hader File

Born: June 7, 1978, in Tulsa, to Sherri and Bill Hader, who still live in Tulsa.

Schools in Tulsa: Patrick Henry Elementary, Edison Jr. High, Cascia Hall.

Married: to filmmaker Maggie Carey, director of "The To Do List," opening Friday in theaters.

Children: daughters Hannah, 3, and Harper, who turns 2 on Sunday.

TV: eight years on "Saturday Night Live" with two Emmy nominations for best supporting actor in a comedy series, including 2012-2013.

Film: lead voice character in "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" and upcoming sequel, and supporting roles in "Men in Black III," "Superbad," "Tropic Thunder," "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" and "Adventureland."

Read a review of "The To Do List"

Michael Smith 918-581-8479


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