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The comedian, actor and now cannabis farmer recently spoke to Vulture about his career and divulged details about his two-year stint on the long-running late night sketch comedy and variety series. That includes how he was fired and rehired during his run from 1983 to 1985.
Belushi, who was preceded on the show by his brother, John, admitted that the experience “is the hardest thing I ever did,” and that played into the behavior that got him booted.
“I was out of control,” he said. “It was the best thing to ever happen to me. I was out of my mind. I was throwing a fire extinguisher at Dick Ebersol, a hissy fit. SNL is the hardest thing I ever did, and that’s including divorce.”
He went on to say that he “barely” survived his experience there during seasons nine and 10, but part of what brought him back after being fired was a major shift in his behavior. “I went back to [Ebersol] with my tail between my legs,” Belushi admitted. “I drop the ego, I got humble. I stopped drinking the rest of that season.”
Following creator Lorne Michaels’ departure from the show in 1980, Ebersol took over for Jean Doumanian, who had been fired after just one season. Belushi said that following his earlier behavior, Ebersol rehired him — but under probationary circumstances.
“Dick put me in my place, rightfully, and had the courage to do it,” the actor said of his return to SNL. “I came back; I begged [him] for forgiveness, and he put me on probation. My wife at the time said, ‘You thrive on probation. You were on probation from freshman to senior year of high school. You operate better with boundaries.'”
His rehiring would be short-lived, however. Following a shortened 10th season in 1985, Michaels returned to the helm and fired the cast and writing staff.
Belushi also reflected on his brother’s decision to leave the show, telling Vulture that John had described his time on SNL as like being in high school.
“John did four years and he quit. I said, ‘What the fuck, man? What are you quitting for?’ He said, ‘Jim, it’s like high school: Senior year, you’ve got to move on,'” Belushi recounted. “And I felt like I was in my sophomore year, and the second semester that year I finally got it. Then I didn’t come back because Lorne came [back].”
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