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Ryan Gosling’s SNL Beavis and Butt-head Sketch Was Years in Making

Ryan Gosling’s SNL Beavis and Butt-head Sketch Was Years in Making

The buzziest moment of Saturday Night Live‘s recently concluded 49th season faced no shortage of hurdles in getting to the screen — and actually was several years in the making.

During Ryan Gosling‘s return to NBC’s long-running late night sketch comedy series on April 13 for his third time as host, he and castmember Mikey Day played two attendees at a NewsNation taping who happen to be dead ringers for Beavis and Butt-Head, respectively, the slacker teens who debuted in 1993 on the Mike Judge-created MTV cartoon series.

SNL makeup department head Louie Zakarian and lead hairstylist Jodi Mancuso recall Day and head writer Streeter Seidell working on a version of the sketch circa 2018 that ultimately was cut for time from the live show and never quite clicked. The sketch got a second shot when it was picked for the Oscar Isaac-hosted 2022 episode but cut before production began. Luckily, the bit found its latest advocate in Gosling, who was tickled by the concept. Zakarian and Mancuso recall not loving the looks they designed for the sketch’s previous iterations, but this time was different, with Zakarian unlocking the trick for nailing the facial expression of Day’s Butt-Head.

“The biggest challenge was those teeth,” Zakarian tells THR. “I made him a little retainer that had dentures and braces on it but with a little protrusion that kept his lip up.”

As for Gosling’s Beavis, the key concern was how to get the host in his blond wig and nose prosthetics during his three-and-a-half-minute break between skits. “Jodi and I were both like, ‘We need more time,’ ” Zakarian recalls. “After dress [rehearsal], they came back: ‘We got you more time. You’ve got 10 more seconds.’ ”

Somehow, they made it work, and the rest was viral history.

Helping the sketch draw online attention was the plentiful laughter from the cast, particularly Heidi Gardner as the NewsNation host; she could not keep a straight face once she caught a glimpse of Day. “She fell apart during the dress rehearsal probably even more than she did in the live show because she did not know what to expect,” Mancuso says of her reaction to Day’s look, which also included a prosthetic nose and an extended forehead created by a bald pate.

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The episode garnered the show’s highest seven-day viewership since 2021, and the sketch’s popularity led Gosling and Day to reprise their characters later that month for the L.A. premiere of Gosling’s Universal feature The Fall Guy. Zakarian and Mancuso accompanied the performers for the follow-up appearance, which allowed the pair’s Beavis and Butt-Head to wander the red carpet. This time, they had 10 minutes to prepare the actors’ looks.

This story first appeared in the June 5 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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