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Andy Samberg Left ‘Saturday Night Live’ Because He Was Falling Apart

Andy Samberg Left ‘Saturday Night Live’ Because He Was Falling Apart

Andy Samberg is looking back on walking away from Saturday Night Live.

While appearing on Kevin Hart‘s Peacock interview series Hart to Heart, the comedian recalled why he made the decision to quietly exit the comedy sketch series after seven seasons back in 2012.

“I was falling apart in my life,” he said, opening up about the exit all these years later. He called the decision to leave “a big choice” and though he didn’t want to leave, he couldn’t “endure it anymore.”

Samberg joined SNL in 2005. After seven years, his contract was up and he decided not to return after the 2011-2012 season wrapped, officially announcing his decision weeks after the finale.

Though he dreamt of being on SNL since he was 8 years old, Samberg explained to Hart how things started to change when his longtime friends and Lonely Island collaborators, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, left when their writing contracts were up — Schaffer and Taccone both went on to direct films The Watch and MacGruber, respectively.

The trio’s The Lonely Island’s digital shorts were a viral success and became historical SNL sketches including “I’m on a Boat” and the Emmy-winning “Dick in a Box” with Justin Timberlake. But when Schaffer and Taccone departed, Samberg said, “I was basically left in charge of making the shorts, which I never pretended like I could do without them. We made stuff I’m really proud of in my last two years, but there’s something about the songs that I can only do with Akiva and Jorm. It’s just how it is, we’re just a band in that way.”

Samberg also recalled the busy schedule he had with being on the show and over time it began taking a toll on him physically and emotionally.

“Physically, it was taking a heavy toll on me and I got to a place where I was like I hadn’t slept in seven years basically,” Samberg said. “We were writing stuff for the live show Tuesday night all night, the table read Wednesday, then being told now come up with a digital short so write all Thursday, all Thursday night, don’t sleep, get up, shoot Friday, edit all night Friday night and into Saturday, so it’s basically like four days a week you’re not sleeping, for seven years. So I just kinda fell apart physically.”

Prior to leaving, Samberg said he consulted with former SNL castmembers who had already left including Amy Poehler. When doing a guest spot on Parks and Recreation at the time, he said he was able to “see that life” with Poehler telling him “It’s pretty comfortable Samberg” given there was an easier schedule.

He was also explained how it was it was easy to become addicted to the rush of being able to see their comedic ideas to come life so quickly.

“I had talked to Poehler and other people that had already gone. I was like, once I go, when I have an idea, I can’t just do it,” he recalled. “The craziest thing about working there is once you get going, if you’re just in the shower and you have an idea that shit can be on television in three days, which is the most like intoxicating feeling.”

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When Samberg was asked to stay, he said it made the decision even more difficult: “They told me straight up, ‘We prefer you would stay,’ and I was like, ‘oh, that makes it harder.’ But I just was like, I think to get back to a feeling of like mental and physical health, I have to do it. So I did it and it was a very difficult choice.”

Samberg reiterated that he had projects lined up before leaving, including another upcoming The Lonely Island album and he had filmed a movie with Adam Sandler. But he felt, “even if it doesn’t go well, I got to do the thing I wanted to do” by being on SNL. “It was hard. I didn’t like leaving.”

Samberg went on to star on Brooklyn Nine-Nine for eight seasons. He returned to host SNL in 2014 and has made five other appearances since leaving.

Hart to Heart is available to stream on Peacock.

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