Will Ferrell Reveals the SNL Advice Kevin Nealon Gave Him

Will Ferrell is looking back on his early days at SNL.

In a recent episode of the MeSsy with Christina Applegate & Jamie-Lynn Sigler podcast, the Anchorman star shared some wise words of wisdom he received from “Weekend Update alum Kevin Nealon. Ferrell was a cast member on SNL from 1995 to 2002, while Nealon starred from 1986 to 1995 for a whopping nine seasons.

“Kevin Nealon gave me the best advice during my first season on the show,” Ferrell said. “He was like, ‘You don’t have to hit it out of the park every show. You just want to be able to look back at the end of the year and say, ‘Oh my gosh, I had five to six to seven to eight signature moments. And that’s enough.’”

Nealon suggested that Ferrell think of himself as a baseball player. “You know, if you hit 300, you’re really good,” Ferrell said. “If you succeed 30 percent of the time, you’re a really good baseball player. And so I just viewed it with the long game in mind.”

“I had an embarrassment of riches there for a while,” Ferrell said of his time on SNL. “I was in almost every sketch, which was amazing. And [I was] so thankful that I was being used so much. “But then I had that… the neurosis of like, ‘Are people getting sick of me?’”

When asked why he departed the show after seven seasons, Ferrell initially joked that he was “forced out.” However, he then explained that he simply felt like it was time to move on in his career. The decision was admittedly risky: Old School, which he filmed during his tenure at SNL, hadn’t even been released yet. 

“It just felt like the right time to just take a chance and leave the show,” Ferrell shared. “It wasn’t as if I had a stack of new movie scripts waiting for me. It was more that it felt like I had a certain amount of momentum and thought, ‘Let’s just leave the show and see what the next chapter is.’”

While Ferrell’s SNL chapter may be over, he has never forgotten his roots. Over the years, he has hosted five times, making him a proud member of the Five-Timers Club. On an episode of Late Night with Seth Meyers last month, Ferrell even revived a lost SNL sketch during an installment of “Second Chance Theatre.”

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