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‘Mentally Fraying’ Balancing Wicked Filming and SNL

‘Mentally Fraying’ Balancing Wicked Filming and SNL

Bowen Yang is opening up about the mental and physical impact of trying to juggle Wicked filming and Saturday Night Live at the same time.

In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, the comedian-actor said it became “mentally fraying” flying back and forth between the Wicked set in London and NBC’s sketch comedy show in New York City, even causing SNL creator Lorne Michaels to worry.

“This is when Lorne Michaels comes in,” Yang said. “Whatever you think about the situation, however you think it’s unique to you, however you think you might be the exception to the rule, Lorne is here to be like, ‘Actually, it might not be so good on the body for you to fly back and forth between New York and London to go shoot a movie.’”

The Fire Island star clarified that he was referencing the Jon M. Chu-directed film, in which he portrays Pfannee, as his most recent project that he was trying to balance with other work obligations.

“I’ll say ‘Wicked,’ for example. [It] was an incredible experience and I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but I really thought I could hack it,” Yang said. “I was like, OK, I’ve got my nootropic gels that I’m going to suck on the airplane, and I’m going to take my little CBD potions that are going to help me fall asleep and get over the jet lag. I had all these things in the armory, and then none of it really could beat back that tide.”

He continued, “It really did get to me just on a somatic level — I was just like, Wow, my body is refusing to lift an arm, or whatever. It really got to that point that was a little mentally fraying. It was a tough summer, just between the strikes and the constant bouncing back and forth.”

Although Yang likely felt some relief once filming for Wicked wrapped, he shared earlier this year that his final day on set was still “really emotional.”

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“I was like, ‘I can’t believe I’m, one, in Oz. Two, standing next to Ariana Grande and Michelle Yeoh, who are sharing a scene together. Three, in this film version of this musical that I love so much,’” he told People in March. “All of it was just these different braids of surreal elements coming together as one.”

Wicked: Part One, starring Cynthia Erivo and Ariana Grande, is set to hit theaters Nov. 27, with Part Two being released a year later, on Nov. 26, 2025.

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