Kate McKinnon Breaks Silence On Reason Behind 'SNL' Exit: 'My Body Was Tired'

The comedian decided to step away from the late-night sketch series after an 11-season run.
Kate McKinnon during her final episode of "Saturday Night Live."
Kate McKinnon during her final episode of "Saturday Night Live."
NBC via Getty Images

Live from “Saturday Night Live” retirement, it’s Kate McKinnon, who for the first time is opening up about her decision to step away from NBC’s long-running sketch series.

The comedian made her final appearance as a cast member on the show in May after an 11-season run, which earned her two Emmy trophies, eight nominations and a place in the history books for her impressions of a variety of celebrities and public figures, from Justin Bieber to Hillary Clinton.

“I thought about it for a very long time, and it was very, very hard,” McKinnon said on Thursday’s episode of “Live With Kelly and Ryan” about her exit, according to Entertainment Weekly. “All I ever wanted to do in my whole life was be on ‘Saturday Night Live.’ So, I did, I loved it, I had the best decade, and then I was just like, my body was tired, and I felt like it was time.”

McKinnon said she’s unsure whether she’ll continue to watch the series when it returns in the fall.

“I don’t know what I will do. I don’t know that I can watch the show yet because it’s too emo because I miss everyone so much. It’s my family,” she added. “It’s too emo. So, I think I’m just going to take ‘The Bachelorette’ and watch it.”

In the cold open of her final “SNL” episode, McKinnon reprised her fan-favorite character Colleen Rafferty, who volunteered to be abducted by aliens.

Breaking character as tears welled up in her eyes, she bid an emotional farewell to viewers, saying, “Earth, I love ya! Thanks for letting me stay a while.”

The comedian, along with cast members Pete Davidson, Aidy Bryant and Kyle Mooney, exited the show after the Season 47 finale, setting the stage for a major cast upheaval.

Bryant, who joined the show in 2012 alongside McKinnon, previously spoke about why she made the decision to step away, citing the uncertainty that COVID-19 brought to Studio 8H.

“If it weren’t for COVID, I probably would have left a few years earlier,” Bryant told Variety last month. “But it was such a huge change. When COVID hit, it was so jarring that we were all like, ‘I’m definitely going to come back next year.’ And then I had to shoot ‘Shrill’ for half of last season, and so I missed a lot. And then it was like, ‘Well, now I should go back one more.’”

“I kept trying to seek one last normal year,” she explained. “This year wasn’t the normal year that I hoped for, but it was closer to that. It was like, ‘OK, it’s really time now.’ And 10 felt like a nice, solid round number.”

McKinnon, meanwhile, has kept busy since leaving the series with roles in Peacock’s “Joe vs Carole” and the animated film “DC League of Super-Pets,” as well as a part in the upcoming and much-buzzed-about live-action “Barbie” movie from director Greta Gerwig.

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