SNL 1975 brings iconic comics back to life

Must read

By Louisa BallhausFeatures correspondent

Getty Images (Credit: Getty Images)Getty Images

See the cast of Jason Reitman’s SNL 1975 movie – who’s playing Lorne Michaels, Chevy Chase and more in the film version of the very first Saturday Night Live.

NBC’s Saturday Night Live is one of the longest-running programmes in US television history, and the story of how it all began is now getting the feature film treatment. Jason Reitman, acclaimed director of films like Tully, Juno and Up in the Air, is going behind the curtain of the first-ever SNL show with a new film called SNL 1975 – and cast members playing the iconic comedians behind this first iteration are slowly being revealed. 

More like this:

–       10 of the best films to watch in February

–       Argylle is a ‘shoddy’ and ‘derivative’ Bond pastiche

–       Netflix’s Griselda: Who’s real and who is not?

This week, it was announced that Garret Morris, Dan Akroyd, Chevy Chase and John Belushi – four comedians featured in the first-ever episode of SNL – will be played by Lamorne Morris, Dylan O’Brien, Cory Michael Smith and Matt Wood, respectively. Jane Curtin, Gilda Radner and Laraine Newman, three other cast members from the inaugural show, will be played by Kim Matula, Ella Hunt and Emily Fairn. SNL creator Lorne Michaels, still the showrunner today, will be played by Gabriel LaBelle. Cooper Hoffman will play NBC executive Dick Ebersol, while Rachel Sennott will take on the role of Michaels’s ex-wife Rosie Shuster.

Reitman scripted SNL 1975 alongside writer and director Gil Kenan, with whom he previously collaborated on Ghostbusters: Afterlife. Speaking to Deadline, Reitman and Kenan revealed they had conducted extensive interviews with “all the living cast, writers and crew” who worked on the first SNL show on 11 October 1975. They aimed to craft a film that shows the tension and last-minute chaos of the final minutes backstage, before the first-ever proclamation of “Live from New York, it’s Saturday night!”

Find out more about the actors portraying the iconic cast and crew behind the 1975 launch of SNL below, as well as what became of the pivotal comedy figures making up this cast of characters.

Getty Images Cory Michael Smith will be playing Chevy Chase and Ella Hunt will play Gilda Radner in SNL 1975. (Credit: Getty)Getty Images

Cory Michael Smith will be playing Chevy Chase and Ella Hunt will play Gilda Radner in SNL 1975. (Credit: Getty)

Matt Wood – John Belushi

John Belushi, one of the biggest breakout comedy stars of SNL, will be played by Matt Wood, who has previously appeared in television series such as Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Difficult People, as well as Broadway shows like SpongeBob SquarePants and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Belushi famously starred in National Lampoon’s Animal House and The Blues Brothers before tragically dying of an overdose at the age of 33. He is widely considered one of the greatest comedic talents to be propelled to mainstream fame from his work on SNL. 

Dylan O’Brien – Dan Aykroyd

Dan Aykroyd, another major breakout star of the original SNL crew, went on to become a widely recognised actor for his roles in films such as The Blues Brothers, Ghostbusters and Trading Places ; he was also a writer on the former two. Aykroyd will be played by Dylan O’Brien, who first gained prominence for his role as Stiles Stilinski in MTV’s Teen Wolf and his leading role in the Maze Runner franchise that followed.

Cory Michael Smith – Chevy Chase

Chevy Chase also went on to have one of the biggest comedy careers of early SNL stars, later starring in films such as Three Amigos!, Caddyshack and National Lampoon’s Vacation, as well as the hit 2009-2014 TV series Community. He will be played by Cory Michael Smith, who recently starred in Todd Haynes’s May December and previously appeared in Carol, Call Jane and TV series Transatlantic, Utopia and Gotham. 

Lamorne Morris – Garrett Morris

Lamorne Morris, best known for playing Winston on the hit TV show New Girl, will be playing SNL star Garrett Morris, who later appeared in films like Coneheads and How High as well as TV series including The Jeffersons and Diff’rent Strokes. The first African American SNL cast member, Morris was best-known on the show for his recurring role as Dominican baseball player Chico Escuela.

Ella Hunt – Gilda Radner

Ella Hunt, known for TV roles in Cold Feet and Dickinson – and previously a child star in films such as Intruders and Les Misérables – will be playing Gilda Radner, a comedy icon who got her start as part of the original cast of SNL. She later had a one-woman Broadway show called Gilda Radner – Live From New York, which was taped and turned into a feature film called Gilda Live by Mike Nichols. 

Gabriel LaBelle – Lorne Michaels

Gabriel LaBelle, best known for playing a young Steven Spielberg-inspired character in 2022’s The Fabelmans, will take on the role of SNL boss Lorne Michaels, one of the most formidable figures in late-night television and comedy at large. The producer behind Late Night, The Tonight Show and 30 Rock earned a record 98 Emmy nominations, taking home the award 21 times.

Getty Images 2025 will mark Saturday Night Live's 50th anniversary (Credit: Getty)Getty Images

2025 will mark Saturday Night Live’s 50th anniversary (Credit: Getty)

Cooper Hoffman — Dick Ebersol

Cooper Hoffman, the son of Philip Seymour Hoffman, made his film debut in Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2021 Licorice Pizza. He has since appeared in 2023’s Wildcat and will play Dick Ebersol in SNL 1975, a former NBC executive who first approached Lorne Michaels about creating Saturday Night Live and later executive produced the show in the 1980s. 

Kim Matula — Jane Curtin

Jane Curtin is an original SNL cast member who went on to have a long career in television, starring in shows such as 3rd Rock from the Sun and Kate & Allie, for which she won two Emmys, as well as films like Coneheads. She will be played by Kim Matula, known for roles in TV shows including The Bold and the Beautiful, Unreal and LA to Vegas. 

Emily Fairn — Laraine Newman

Emily Fairn has previously appeared in TV shows Cobra, Black Mirror and The Responder as well as the film Chuck Chuck Baby. She will play original SNL cast member Laraine Newman, who performed on the series from 1975 to 1980 and later appeared in movies such as Coneheads and episodes of hit TV shows like Friends, 7th Heaven, Entourage and Curb Your Enthusiasm, as well as voice acting in Pixar films including WALL-E, Up!, Finding Nemo and Monsters, Inc.

Rachel Sennott — Rosie Shuster

Rachel Sennott has had a breakout year after cowriting and starring in 2023’s Bottoms, previously appearing in films Bodies Bodies Bodies and Shiva Baby as well as HBO series The Idol. She will play Rosie Shuster, a writer on SNL behind famous sketches like Killer Bees and Todd and Lisa. Shuster also later wrote Gilda Radner’s one-woman show and wrote for Carol and Company and The Larry Sanders Show. She was creator Lorne Michaels’s wife when the first SNL show was made, a marriage that lasted from 1971 to 1980. 

SNL 1975 release date has not yet been anounced.

If you liked this story, sign up for The Essential List newsletter – a handpicked selection of features, videos and can’t-miss news delivered to your inbox every Friday.

If you would like to comment on this story or anything else you have seen on BBC Culture, head over to our Facebook page or message us on Twitter.


More articles

Latest article