There are plenty of people who host Saturday Night Live that you look back on later thinking, “Gee. Pretty crazy they hosted.” Like Tom Green, or Mena Suvari, or Jaime Pressly, for instance. But for each of them, and for whoever you’re thinking of in your head, you could explain why they hosted at the time (because they was engaged to Drew Barrymore, because of those two movies with American in the title, and because My Name is Earl was a much bigger hit than you remember).
So if you scroll through the IMDb of SNL episodes, some will make you do a double-take, but then you’ll nod and remember the context. But one (at least from the time I’ve been alive–I can’t comment whether it was weird for Strother Martin to have hosted in 1980) just makes no sense.
Peter Sarsgaard hosted Saturday Night Live in January of 2006.
Like, Peter Sarsgaard is a good actor, but… why?
Okay. Maybe I’m completely misremembering how famous Peter Sarsgaard was in 2006. Let’s see.
So, the last three wide-release films he had before he hosted were (in reverse order) Jarhead, Flightplan, and The Skeleton Key. He was second-billed in the first two and fourth-billed in the third. Now, I don’t remember those movies being the kind of hits that launch their supporting actor to hosting-SNL-levels of fame, but lemme double-check to make sure.
In the year 2005 (when they all came out), the aforementioned movies were the 41st, 20th, and 50th highest-grossing releases. While that seems like a solid financial year for Peter Sarsgaard, but I don’t know if that makes him famous. And why didn’t Jake Gyllenhaal, Jodie Foster, or Kate Hudson host for those movies instead? Wait. Scratch that. I really don’t want to see Jodie Foster host.
If I had to pick the least famous person to host SNL this last season, it would probably be Halsey, and even she had a number one single and was deemed famous enough by Bradley Cooper to present an award at the fictional Grammy’s in A Star is Born (….did you win?!).
And it’s not like SNL bought stock early on a budding actor with a few credits who ended up going on to massive things. Sure, he had roles in critically acclaimed films like An Education, but the highest-grossing film of his career is Green Lantern, which judging by his and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s house, was worth the paycheck, but was also a flop that was panned.
And the strangest thing about all of this is that I’ve seen Peter Sarsgaard’s SNL episode (Hulu link attached), and it’s not bad! There’s a sketch where he plays himself and is asked to be the keynote speaker at a pirate convention, only to realize they only asked him because they like to say his name (SAAAAARRRSGAARRRRRD), one where he endorses the “Peter Sarsgaard SARS Guard” (it’s a mask with his face on it), and one of the most delightful technical difficulty sketches I’ve ever seen on the show (it’s not on the Hulu version, so here’s a separate link).
What’s the point of all this? I don’t know. I just want someone to share in the knowledge that unlike Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Cruise, and Denzel Washington, Peter Fucking Sarsgaard hosted SNL.
Good for him.