Bill Hader will leave Saturday Night Live after eight seasons in which he became known for his spot-on impressions of a wide array of celebrities from Vincent Price to Al Pacino, and helped create Weekend Update's beloved New York City correspondent, Stefon, The New York Times reports.
"It was a hard decision, but it has to happen at some point," Hader said. "It got to a point where I said, 'Maybe it’s just time to go.'"
Hader, whose last show will be this weekend's season finale, joined SNL in 2005 as a featured player before being promoted to full-time the following year. Last year, he became one of the few cast members to ever be nominated for an Emmy for best supporting actor in a comedy series.
"In terms of intelligence and talent, he was in that same tradition," Lorne Michaels, SNL's executive producer, said, adding that the first time he saw Hader perform he was reminded of Dan Aykryod. "He was so completely committed to the art of it and enough a student of it that there's something strikingly original. He didn't explode onto the air, but gradually he found his voice, and that became a huge thing."
Hader said he was motivated to leave partly after seeing friends and fellow cast members Kristen Wiig and Andy Samberg depart after last season, and partly because he plans to move his family to Los Angeles. Just this past season, Hader (who's been in movies including Superbad and Men in Black 3) juggled SNL as well as three live-action and four animated movies. His wife, Maggie Carey, saw her own film career ramping up with the upcoming comedy The To Do List, which she wrote and directed, and which Hader appears in.
While Hader is so far the only cast member to be departing after this season, longtime Weekend Update anchor Seth Meyers is set to leave next year when he takes over Late Night from Jimmy Fallon, who's being promoted to The Tonight Show. Meanwhile speculation continues to swirl about the future of longtime cast members like Fred Armisen and Jason Sudeikis, though neither has made an official decision yet.
Still, Hader is confident about about the future of SNL thanks to new cast members like Kate McKinnon, Taran Killiam and Vanessa Bayer: "There's a new sensibility happening," Hader said, "and if it isn't totally apparent on the show yet, I see it on Wednesdays at the table reads."