As Jimmy Fallon prepares to begin his 10th season as host of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, he recalled Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels saving his career at NBC more than a decade ago.
The four-time Emmy winner, 49, launched his TV career on NBC in 1998 as a Saturday Night Live cast member. After six years, he left the series, passed on hosting a late night talk show as he focused on his acting career.
In 2009, Michaels, 78, wanted Fallon to replace Conan O’Brien as host of Late Night on NBC. As Fallon explained to his “Strike Force Five” podcast cohosts Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Meyers and John Oliver on Wednesday, September 27, the network was not interested in hiring him. Fallon said that Michaels confessed to him that “NBC doesn’t really want you.” The comedian added on the podcast, “I’m not even on their list.”
Fallon said the network had gone “cold” on him as his career was no longer thriving after “two movies that didn’t work.” (After SNL, Fallon starred in the 2004 action comedy film Taxi with Queen Latifah, Gisele Bündchen, Jennifer Esposito and Ann-Margret. The following year, he starred with Drew Barrymore in the romantic comedy Fever Pitch. Neither film did well at the box office.) Michaels ended up changing the executives’ minds.
“I think Lorne said, ‘Look, I’ve worked with Jimmy. He’s a hard worker. He’s going to be great at this. Either you do this with Jimmy or I’m not involved,’” Fallon commented. “Or something like that. He actually went to bat for me and changed my life.”
Michaels persuaded NBC to hire Fallon as host of Late Night, and he starred in the show from March 2009 to February 2014, leading to his current gig with The Tonight Show.
Fallon admits that his wife, Nancy Juvonen, who he married in 2007, had to convince him to want the Late Night position
“[She said], ‘You have to take this job. You’re one of three human beings to ever do this: David Letterman, Conan O’Brien and you. And, if anything, you’re on a great list of people. Like, this is insane,’” Fallon said.Fallon also recalled that Michaels first suggested he host a talk show back in 2004.
“I was leaving [SNL] and so [Michaels] goes, ‘Would you ever want to do it? A talk show?’ I go, ‘I don’t think so,’” “And so I said, ‘Well, in six years ask me and if I, you know, if I’m around, I’ll think about it,’” he recalled.
Now Fallon is preparing to kick off the new season of The Tonight Show on Monday, October 2 following the end of the writer’s strike. It will mark his 15th consecutive year hosting NBC shows.
Jimmy Fallon Says ‘Saturday Night Live’ Creator Lorne Michaels Saved His Career at NBC. Jimmy Fallon Says ‘Saturday Night Live’ Creator Lorne Michaels Saved His Career at NBC