Maya Rudolph Refuses to Think About Lorne Michaels Leaving SNL

It’s become the question du jour for just about anyone with ties to SNL: Who will replace Lorne Michaels when he leaves?

While a growing number of SNL alums are denying the premise, Maya Rudolph won’t even consider the hypothetical. “I can’t do it,” she insists.

Michaels first turned heads back in 2021 when told CBS Mornings that the show’s 50th anniversary would “be a really good time to leave.” He’s since said that he hasn’t made up his mind either way.

Appearing on the red carpet at the Time100 Gala on Thursday, Rudolph was asked by ET who she’d want to replace Michaels. “I can’t think about those things,” she said. “You know how there’s things you can’t think about? I can’t do it. I can’t bring my brain to think about things like that.” She went on to say that SNL and Michaels are “synonymous. I like it exactly the way it is.”

Seth Meyers shut down talk of Michaels’ SNL departure earlier this year, telling saying he’d “bet the house that Lorne will still be running that place in five years.” He doubled down on comedian Mike Birbiglia’s podcast a month later, calling speculation over who would replace Michaels “a false narrative.”

Adam Sandler said the same to Entertainment Tonight. “I don’t see [a retirement] happening. Maybe somebody said he might, but I’ve talked to Lorne. I don’t think he’s hanging up anything,” Adam said. “He gets the high just like we always do, every week. He’s in control.”

And earlier this month, Conan O’Brien—who worked with Michaels for 23 years as an SNL writer and then host of the Michaels-produced Late Night—cast his own doubts. “If you took an X-ray of Lorne Michaels, you would see SNL in his bone marrow,” he explained. “I just don’t see it happening. And I don’t think anyone’s anxious for him to go anywhere.”

While Rudolph didn’t outright challenge the idea of Michaels retiring, it seems all of the SNL alums are at least taking a cross-that-bridge-when-we-get-to-it approach.