Is there a more reliably amazing team player in comedy than Bill Hader? No, there is not. The Saturday Night Live star, 33, is a man of many faces, voices, even a few ill-advised mustaches. You can stick him in a sketch where he’s the leading man, as with his Stefon or Herb Welch bits. Or you can put him in a utility role and watch him make everybody else 10 times funnier. He can do quiet or loud, sweet or outrageous. “You just try to serve the scene,” Hader says. “And if there’s a laugh in there someplace, you go for it.”
Hader’s been a brilliant ensemble player in movies like Paul, Adventureland and Tropic Thunder, not to mention a South Park writer. “Sometimes you work in comedy, and the idea is, ‘Well, just make it funny.’ The people I work with say, ‘No, we know we’re funny. So let’s make the story work. Get that right, and everything will turn to funny.'”
On SNL, he’s most famous for playing Stefon, the glitter-dazed Chelsea club kid who drops names like “Gay Liotta” and “Tranderson Cooper.” “We first did Stefon as a sketch when Ben Affleck was hosting,” Hader recalls. “Affleck was like, ‘What the fuck is this?’ So we dropped that. But Stefon returned as a ‘Weekend Update’ regular. He’s a gay character, but that’s not the joke. The joke is that he’s kinda like on drugs, but he’s trying to piece it all together in a very honest way.”
Hader can also slip into a role like the mustache-chewing, bat-wielding boss in the totally underrated Adventureland. “He could have been Stefon’s dad,” Hader says. “And, any kids who came to pick on Stefon, he would have just threatened them with the baseball bat.”
This is from the November 10, 2011 issue of Rolling Stone.