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Chris Kattan became known for dozens of characters during his time on Saturday Night Live. His teamups with Will Ferrell as The Roxbury Guys are among the most enduring sketches of his year’s on the show, 1996 to 2003.
As SNL turns 40, Kattan sat down with The Hollywood Reporter to reveal the inspirations behind The Roxbury Guys, the most intense Mr. Peepers moment and which hosts brought the most to the table.
How did the The Roxbury Guys come together?
It was based on an observation that Will and I both saw at a bar we were at. We saw some guy at the bar, alone, sort of desperately looking for someone to give him some attention. He was holding a beer, and to the beat he was looking for some girl to hopefully look at him so that moment can happen of some sort of connection. He was being kind of antsy but nothing happened after long time. He danced to the music kind of waiting. We thought it was funny to see this guy with a beer sort of dancing, but waiting for someone to notice him dance.
Fred Wolf, who was the head writer of SNL at the time, suggested with Lorne Michaels, “Why don’t you have Jim Carrey be the third guy?” Jim Carrey hosting was a big deal and so you throw around ideas. With the Roxbury guys, we had established Will and I doing the characters, but we didn’t really have a name for them. It hadn’t really take off just yet. And we didn’t have the infamous “What is Love” song. When Jim Carrey jumped in and it was the three of us doing the same moves — it just kind of took off.
You could tell it was hitting while you guys were doing it?
It was really fun to do, because you are running from set to set, and it’s a live show. People describe the rush of being on a live show and racing from set to set — my first experience was during that sketch, because it was really, really fast. You had to get to that set quickly so you’re not on the bumper too long to get to the next scene. The next day, the writers were saying the reaction was huge.
Did ever injure yourself eating an apple as Mr. Peepers?
I usually bit the inside of my mouth. There we some sounds of teeth being moved around. There was definitely some cutting going on. I remember on the version I did with Katie Holmes, I was bleeding in my mouth for sure. When she’s on the ground she’s pretending she’s dead, and I’m supposed to hump her back to life. I was on top of her, and there was some blood coming out of my mouth. Katie Homles didn’t like it. She peeked her eye out, like “don’t you dare bleed on me.” It was a very erotic scene, actually, but Katie Holmes didn’t like it.
Who were the best hosts?
People who played along and had a good sense of humor about it. Charlize Theron, when she hosted, really wanted to do this sketch. She got so involved. It was a therapy session with the Mr. Peepers character, and she was blindfolded and we were swapping food into each other’s mouths. It was one of my fantasies. She got into it so much that she ripped my wig off. That was something important to her. She said “let’s go for it” in dress rehearsal. “Let’s go crazy.” This was after Lorne Michaels said to Charlize Theron and I, “just tone it down a bit.” That’s when Charlize and I got a little bit rebellious and said, “no, let’s go crazy.” All I was thinking was Charlize Theron said let’s go crazy to some character who is basically molesting her on television.
Did Lorne say anything after?
Ultimately he was fine. Whatever works at the end of the day, it was fine. I know they cut out of the scene quickly, though.
— Chris Kattan (@ChrisKattan) June 28, 2014
Do you have a favorite memory you go back to that stands out?
Terri Hatcher was hosting, and it was a scene I was trying to find the perfect music on a CD player to make out with her. I liked it a lot, because it established me doing something that was still physical, but it was a human being doing it. It wasn’t a monkey. It wasn’t any of these crazy characters I was known for. It was an actual human being who was on a date with a woman. That was more of who I was anyway.
SNL‘s 40th anniversary special airs Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.
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