What has 40 years of Saturday Night Live produced? Limitless talent.

What has 40 years of Saturday Night Live produced? Limitless talent.

Comedy gets serious

Image: Gage Skidmore
Image: Wikipedia

Saturday Night Live may have aired their 40th anniversary celebrations back in February, but today, we commemorate five stars who have broken past the comic relief.

Yesterday (11 Oct) marked SNL's (Saturday Night Live) 40th anniversary, and as seen during their commemorative show back in February, the live series has produced icon after icon over the past four decades. While most of pop culture's staple comedians began their careers on SNL, many of these personalities have moved on to greater things, be it acting in feature films, or writing and directing them.

The list is extensive, but today, we take a look at five stars who began their careers on SNL who have proven that they've got more under those slapstick comedy personas that we may be aware of.

Bill Murray

The most obvious choice for this list, Bill Murray is probably the most diverse actor SNL has ever produced since he began his run in 1977. Having built his on-screen persona of the glum-faced, sleazy and insincere character, Murray had quickly embarked on an array of film genres following his debut success on SNL. He first made a somewhat shocking impression when he co-wrote and acted in an adaption of the novel The Razor's Edge in 1984, which was a flop. But he soon bounced back and took Hollywood by a storm with critically acclaimed roles in films such as Rushmore and Wild Things in 1998, and of course, his most renowned film Lost in Translation (2003) for which he received an Academy Award nomination.

Will Ferrell

Thanks to his iconic roles in comedies such as Anchorman and Step Brothers, Will Ferrell has easily become this generation's face of comedy since he first stepped foot onto the set of SNL in 1995. Having become the first SNL star to receive a Golden Globe nomination in 2006, for his role in The Producers, it's easy to say that Ferrell has probably played some of the most outrageous characters we've seen on screen. So it wasn't utterly surprising then, that nobody could take his Lifetime television movie A Deadly Adoption seriously, an all-too-serious dramatic thriller in which he stars opposite fellow SNL cast member Kristen Wiig. That aside, he proves his more serious acting chops in the 2006 film Stranger Than Fiction, a bittersweet dark comedy about a man named Harold Crick.

Kristen Wiig

It was baffling, the fact that Kristen Wiig's starring credits were sided with that of Will Ferrells in A Deadly Adoption. The television movie wasn't quite a hit, but critics were unsure if it was because of its cliché plot, or if it was the fact that two major names in comedy were playing a couple of madly serious characters. Wiig is probably one of the most unassuming of the SNL cast - a perfect female counterpart that can match the outrageous characters Will Ferrell plays - and she seemed to have found a perfect balance between comedy and dramatic characters in her starring roles in Bridesmaids (2011), The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013) and Welcome to Me (2014). But as her recent role in The Martian goes to show, the actress almost completely removes herself from her quirky brand of comedy, playing the head of Public Relations for NASA, Annie Montrose.

Amy Poehler

Amy Poehler got her big break when she joined the cast of SNL in 2001. Since then the actress has become somewhat a comic sideshow, appearing in hilarious roles in films such as Mean Girls where she plays the try-to-be-hip sub0urban plastic mom, Mrs. George, and other comedies such as Arrested Development (2004 - 2005), Blades of Glory (2007), and Baby Mama (2008). Most recently she takes on a semi-goofy role as Parks and Recreation's enthusiastic Leslie Knope. It was her voicing role as Inside Out's Joy however, that threw some of us off playing the Disney-Pixar film's main voice of no-nonsense, straightforward positivity.

Eddie Murphy

Eddie Murphy made his debut on SNL when he was just 19. A long and lucrative career followed, and the memory of his "Weekend Update" skit began to fade while his signature loud and energetic persona began to thrive with his iconic roles in films such as Beverly Hills Cop, Doctor Dolittle, and The Nutty Professor - all of which became franchises. If not, you would have found him voicing some indistinguishable characters on Disney's Mulan (1998) and the Shrek franchise. He took a notable turn, however, when he stars in the musical drama Dreamgirls (2006) in which he portrays the soul performer James 'Thunder' Early, for which he earned an Academy Award nomination. It is here we see Murphy's character spiral into a downward depression, all the while showing off his impressive vocals and stage skills. 

Catch Saturday Night Live every Saturday at 11pm on HyppTV (channel 609 on IPTV)