Taran Killam and Jay Pharoah, two of the more senior members of the “Saturday Night Live” cast, won’t be back when the late-night NBC comedy series begins its 42nd season this fall.
The news came in a TV Line report confirmed by NBC. Both actors started at “SNL” the same week in 2010 and lasted six seasons.
No explanation was given for their departures, with Killam telling Uproxx that “SNL” decided against picking up his option. It may have related to a film he’s directing, “Why We’re Killing Gunther,” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“I was never given a reason why, really,” he said. “I can assume until the cows come home. But I do know I’m directing this movie and I’ll have two months of post-production that would have bled into the ‘SNL’ production schedule, so we kind of communicated that.”
Killam was a former child actor and Groundlings cast member whose “SNL” characters included a French teen who initiates melodramatic dance numbers and a 19th century critic named Jebidiah Atkinson. He impersonated dozens of celebrities including Brad Pitt, Piers Morgan and Marco Rubio.
Pharoah, a stand-up comic, came to Studio 8H with an arsenal of impressions including Barack Obama, Will Smith, Denzel Washington and Jay-Z. During primary season he appeared often as a simpering Ben Carson.