“That feeling when you’re in the high school lunchroom with your friends. That’s the funniest I’ve ever been in my life.” – Bill Hader
Fans of the long running sketch show Saturday Night Live have known and loved Bill Hader since he joined the cast all the way back in 2005. He became one of the best cast members on a stacked show, and a go-to for outrageous sketches and impersonations. But to casual movie-goers, he was just a familiar face in comedies.
Hader’s talent finally caught up with fans when he landed a role in Trainwreck. Not one to settle, Hader also set out to conquer dramatic roles with Barry and It: Chapter II. Hader is a true example of someone who started at the very bottom and worked his way to the top through hard work and dedication—plus it helped that he was and still is insanely funny and talented.
However, all that time spent working his way up the ladder has led to countless stories and moments that seem almost too good to be true, and surprisingly, a lot of them revolve around Arnold Schwarzenegger, for reasons that are explained below. So, for all the fans of Hader out there who need more of the comedian in their life, or anyone who saw his picture and finally realized what his name is and wanted to learn more about him, here are some facts about a true legend of comedy!
Bill Hader Facts
1. Spreading the Love
Shooting intimate scenes for movies is awkward enough, but it’s even more awkward when one of the actors is in a loving relationship. That’s the issue Bill Hader ran into while filming the movie Trainwreck, however, he figured out a unique way to deal with it. He and his wife agreed that any time Hader shot an intimate scene with his co-star Amy Schumer, he would come home and the pair would make their own movie magic. And that is the story of how they had their third child, Hayley.
Hader performed several impressions of celebrities during his Saturday Night Live audition but one particular impersonation clinched his place on the legendary show. He created the character of the Italian talk show host Vinny Vedeci. The inspiration for the character came from a random Italian man that Hader saw hitting on women while waiting in line for the movie A.I.
3. Mixing It up
Hader sort of provided the voice of BB-8 in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Hader tried to do a voice but it “sounded too human” so instead, he made random noises while J.J. Abrams manipulated the sounds with an effects app on his iPad. Hader was given a unique credit at the end of the film: voice consultant.
4. Royal Family
It’s possible that the reason why Hader has managed to conquer the comedic world is because victory is in his blood. Hader appeared on the television show Finding Your Roots and discovered that he had some famous ancestors. It turns out that Hader is a descendant of King Edward I of England and that his 40 great-grandfather was Charlemagne.
5. Ghost Writer
Did you know that Bill Hader helps write the hit animated show South Park? Hader has been in the writer’s room since season 13. Plus, he’s the brains behind the famous Kanye West fish sticks episode. He came up with the idea while on a writer’s retreat with South Park‘s infamous creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone.
6. All Work and No Play
Like most people who move to Hollywood to pursue a career in the film industry, Hader started at the bottom. He worked as a production assistant on several movies like Critical Mass, Collateral Damage and The Scorpion King. The last film made him quit the PA business for good. Hader cited the 18 hour work days and zero free time as the main reasons why.
7. I’ll Be Back
Hader wasn’t just a production assistant on the set of Collateral Damage. He was also Arnold Schwarzenegger’s personal assistant. Hader discusses this unique experience often in interviews, sharing some little known facts about the action star. Apparently, the Terminator would get schnitzel flown in during shoots and was constantly late because he preferred to play chess in his trailer.
8. Too Cool for School
Add Hader to the list of successful college dropouts! He spent some time at the Art Institute in Phoenix but when his dream couldn’t wait any longer, he officially dropped out. In 1999, the funnyman moved to Los Angeles. To help get settled before finding work, Hader used the college funds that his parents saved for him. At least he put the money to good use!
9. Spoiler Alert
Hader was always connected to the film industry in one way or another. One of his early jobs was an usher at a movie theatre. However, he quickly got fired for being either a hero or a jerk, depending on the way you look at it. One night, a group of sorority girls who were there to see Titanic gave Hader a hard time. As he ripped their tickets, he spoiled the ending of the movie. He was fired on the spot.
10. That Guy Looks Familiar
Before getting fired from that movie theatre, Hader actually sold a box of Raisinets to a visibly nervous Michael Bay. He was there for the first test screening of Armageddon. Don’t worry, young nervous Michael Bay, it’s going to be a bit hit!
11. Live From New York
Hader was initially hired as a featured player on SNL back in 2005. But it was obvious even from the beginning that he was going to be one of the show’s very best. By the next season he became a full time cast member. Hader starred in the show for eight seasons before calling it quits in 2013.
12. Guess Who’s Back?
Not long after leaving SNL as a cast member, Hader returned to host the show. When he hosted the sketch show for the second time in 2018, Hader got a nice surprise. The Emmys nominated him for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series.
13. Unlikely Choice
Surprisingly, Hader’s favorite sketch from his time on SNL didn’t involve a fellow comedian but instead a musician: Dave Grohl. The sketch in question revolves around a band—consisting of Hader, Grohl, Ashton Kutcher and Fred Armisen—reuniting at a wedding reception.
14. Sneak Attack
One of Hader’s most popular characters on SNL was Stefon, who is actually based on a barista that Hader came across at a coffee shop in New York. Part of Stefon’s appeal was in watching Hader struggle to keep it together. Hader’s laughter was genuine. SNL writer John Mulaney used to add new jokes to the cue cards during the show to intentionally try and make Hader laugh. It’s clear that he was successful on numerous occasions.
15. (Sort of) Like Father
Hader may have found his calling in life with comedy, unfortunately his dad wasn’t so lucky. Sharing a similar passion for making people laugh, Hader’s dad tried stand-up a few times in the 1980s but it didn’t work out. Hader never saw his dad perform but he believes he has a general idea of the kind of material he performed. The comedian joked that since it was the 1980s he probably talked, “about the differences between men and women” in front of a brick wall.
16. Sweep the Leg, Hader!
Another sign that PA work wasn’t for Hader came courtesy of Martin Kove, an actor who is probably only known for his role as the evil karate instructor in the movie The Karate Kid. Hader worked as a PA on a low budget movie with Kove. One of his jobs was driving Kove to and from set. Kove would give Hader the wrong directions on purpose so he could brush up on the script. Of course, when they arrived, the bosses only yelled at Hader.
17. Desperate Times
One job Hader kept secret for a long time, specifically for his parent’s sake, involved working in the adult entertainment industry, but not in the way people may think. He worked as a stage manager on a TV show for the Playboy network called Night Calls. Basically, all he did was bring the hosts coffee and magazines and help them prepare for scenes. According to Hader, “he quit after two or three shows, in an effort to avoid disappointing his parents.”
18. Happy Mistake
Hader may seem like a natural born comedian but he only got into comedy as a last resort. Initially, he wanted to be a filmmaker, idolizing role models like Paul Thomas Anderson and Wes Anderson. (This is why Hader put up with all those PA jobs. He thought he was paying his dues). However, after six years of grunt work, Hader decided it was time for a change. He kickstarted his journey into comedy by joining Second City LA.
19. Behind the Scenes
From an outsider’s perspective, it may seem like working on SNL is the ultimate dream job for any comedy. But according to Hader, the first few years were anything but fun. It took four years before he became comfortable performing on the show, with those first four years consisting of a lot of stress and no sleep. Hader claims he was so nervous before shows that he would be awake for 48 hours and then have to perform in front of a live audience!
20. Think Before You Talk
Generally, when people meet celebrities, particularly ones they idolize, they want to cherish and remember that moment forever. Not so much with Bill Hader. When he met Bill Murray, Hader was so star struck that he couldn’t speak. When he finally opened his mouth, he asked Murray if Strother Martin had chops. Hader immediately regretted talking and admitted the word “chops” was one he never said before in his life, and hasn’t since.
21. Early Years
Hader was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 7, 1978, and has two younger sisters, Katie and Kara. Hader was immediately drawn to movies as a kid and even made a few short films of his own while in high school. One of his first acting gigs was as the gentleman caller in the high school play The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams.
22. Recognized but Rarely Rewarded
Hader has 15 Emmy nominations but only took home two awards. He won throughout his career for various shows and categories, taking home two. His first win was also his first nomination (he won Outstanding Animated Program for South Park, which he helped write). More recently, he won for Barry—which he also co-created.
23. In Good Company
When Hader received an Emmy nomination for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for SNL, he became only the second SNL cast member ever to be nominated in that category. The first Emmy nominee was Eddie Murphy all the way back in 1983. However, the next year Hader one-upped Murphy by becoming the first SNL member to be nominated twice in that same category.
24. Comedy Is Subjective
Hader stood out in the book Poking a Dead Frog: Conversations With Today’s Top Comedy Writers. The actor provided a list of 200 movies that every comedy writer should see. The list helped label Hader a cinephile, but the main reason it had everyone talking was because of the high number of movies that aren’t usually classified as comedies. For example, Hader thinks Eyes Wide Shut is hilarious because it’s “a movie about how Tom Cruise can’t get laid.”
25. Lack of Options
Hader claims that he only wanted to do two things while growing up in Tulsa: play sports or do nothing. He preferred nothing but his dad wanted him to play sports and sent him to football camp. It should go without saying that it wasn’t for him.
26. Comedy Influences
Although a career in comedy wasn’t always his main plan, Hader grew up a fan of the genre, citing Monty Python, Woody Allen and Mel Brooks as his inspirations. He especially took a liking to British comedy, specifically the movie Spinal Tap, which he saw as a kid and immediately thought, “that’s how you perform comedy.”
27. Love Life
Hader met writer/director Maggie Carey when they lived in Los Angeles. The fellow movie buffs sparked up a relationship that would see them move to New York when Hader landed his role on SNL. Eventually, the pair got married on May 28, 2006. They had three daughters together, Hannah in 2009, Harper in 2012 and Hayley in 2014.
28. Single Life
Unfortunately, after 11 years of marriage, the stress of SNL and the time apart eventually put too much of a strain on the relationship and they separated on July 31, 2017. Hader then officially filed for divorce on March 1, 2017 and it was completed on June 23, 2018.
29. Not a Fan
Having spent nearly 10 years on SNL, Hader has seen quite a few celebrities host the show and musicians perform. According to him, the worst guest ever was Justin Bieber back in 2013. Bieber played host and musical guest and was nearly impossible to deal with because of his attitude and the fact that he brought a 20-person entourage with him. 20 people may seem like an excessive amount, but when one person’s sole responsibility was to hold a slice of pizza for Bieber, it makes sense.
30. Allergy Warning
Hader has a serious peanut allergy and even suffered a dangerous allergic reaction while on set of the movie The Skeleton Twins. Apparently, some people don’t know that peanut butter falls into the peanut category. A set assistant assured Hader that the chocolate didn’t contain peanuts, but when Hader bit into it and tasted peanut butter, the assistant replied, “Oh, you said peanuts.” He was immediately rushed to the hospital and treated.
31. Odd Pairing
Hader doesn’t hold any ill will towards peanuts though. He’s actually the voice of Mr. Peanut in the commercials for Planters. Rather than run away from his fears, he faces them head on!
32. You Never Know Who’s Watching
Hader owes his career to actress and comedian Megan Mullally. She recommended Hader to Lorne Michaels and got him an audition for SNL. Hader used to perform improv in backyards with his group Animals from the Future, which also featured Matt Offerman, Nick Offerman’s brother. Mullally happened to be at one of those shows and thankfully saw Hader’s potential.
33. Man of Many Voices
Hader has been credited as an actor in 38 movies throughout his career, but nearly half of them are voice work. From starring roles in movies like Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, all the way to strange roles like the computer for the USS Vengeance in Star Trek: Into Darkness and simply The Voice in Scott Pilgram vs. The World, Hader’s voice dominates.
34. Meet Cute
Hader first met fellow SNL cast member Andy Samberg in an elevator at 30 Rock before their auditions for the intimidating show. Hader remembers seeing Samberg with a box full of props. While Hader was impressed with how prepared Samberg was, Samberg thought the opposite! He saw that Hader had no props and thought he must be super talented since he didn’t need any.
35. Christmas Spirit
Hader’s first real job growing up was selling Christmas trees, which he did from the age of 12 to 15.
36. Better Late Than Never
Hader’s career may have taken a different path than what he originally moved to LA for, but everything came full circle in 2018. That’s when he finally achieved his dream of directing. Hader got the chance to direct the first three episodes of his Emmy award winning TV show Barry. Clearly it went well! The show is a major critical hit.
37. Off the Grid
Although there are a ton of accounts on social media sites like Twitter and Instagram with the account name Bill Hader with a picture of the actor, don’t be fooled. These are all fake accounts. The closest Hader came to joining any social media site was when he almost joined Twitter while promoting Trainwreck. But even then, he ultimately decided against it. As he says, he prefers “a certain degree of privacy”.
38. Harder Than It Looks
Hader made a name for himself on SNL thanks to his impressions, however, admits that he can’t do impressions of, arguably, two of the easiest celebrities to imitate—Christopher Walken and Jeff Goldblum.
39. Rock on
Hader grew up a fan of heavy metal music, specifically the band The Misfits, and even got sent home from school for wearing one of the band’s t-shirts. However, after hearing Metallica, his new favorite genre became punk rock. He even shared that trait with his character Barry Berkman from Barry, as he has a Metallica poster above his bed in the pilot episode.
40. Scared Straight
It may have appeared that everything came easy for Hader on SNL, however, behind the scenes he struggled for years with anxiety. One significant moment came when he was playing Julian Assange in a sketch. Hader suffered a panic attack live on air. The comedian pointed out that during the sketch he kept a glass of wine in front of his mouth to try and disguise the attack. According to Hader, SNL is so stressful that, “producing, writing, directing and starring in my own HBO show is less stressful than being a feature player on Saturday Night Live.”