Kate McKinnon Breaks Silence on Why She Left Saturday Night Live

Performers have left Saturday Night Live for a number of reasons over the years, often because the acclaim they earn on the series opens the door for bigger and better opportunities, but while Kate McKinnon continued to star in the sketch series while also earning major feature-film roles, she recently confirmed she left based on the physical toll the project took on her body. The nature of the sketch series means that, not only is performing the show late on Saturday night with heavily physical sketches a requirement, but the week leading up to each new episode can also be an exhausting and taxing experience.

"I thought about it for a very long time, and it was very, very hard," McKinnon recently shared on Live With Kelly and Ryan, per 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."

The star's comments make it sounds as though it was a bittersweet exit and that, were it not so physically challenging, she might have continued her tenure. In fact, she noted that she might not be able to watch the series quite yet as a fan, as it would be too emotionally difficult at this point.

"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," McKinnon confirmed. "It's too emo. So, I think I'm just going to take The Bachelorette and watch it."

McKinnon starred on the series since 2012, with the most recent season finale also seeing Pete Davidson and Kyle Mooney take their final bows. Aidy Bryant also left the series this season, who joined SNL the same year as McKinnon, with Bryant previously expressing that she nearly left the show even earlier.

"If it weren't for COVID, I probably would have left a few years earlier," Bryant previously shared with Variety. "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. 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."

Saturday Night Live will be returning to NBC this fall.

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