Saturday Night Live returns from summer break this Saturday with Owen Wilson standing at home base, the first in a series of four first-time hosts set to kick-off the show's 47th season. While it's the five-timers who tend to get all the attention, this season's early focus on first-timers is intriguing, and it got us wondering which other first-time hosts the show could pluck later in the season. The following ten performers from the realms of film, television, and music would be fantastic and compelling presences, possessing either sneaky or overt comedic talents. (And as custom dictates, most of them have projects that will need promoting this fall as well). Your move, Lorne...
Saturday Night Live has become increasingly fond of the host/musical guest hybrid in the last decade or so, and at the moment there's no one we'd love to see in that dual role more than Lil Nas X, the expert provocateur whose debut album, Montero, was just released on September 17. As SNL has become progressively more queer in recent years, there's little doubt that the writers and cast members would make space for him to shine; he already appeared in the "It's Pride Again" sketch last season when he was a musical guest. This is a zeitgeisty musician with an impish sense of humor; he'd be perfect.
With Impeachment: American Crime Story currently airing on FX, there are few actresses having more of a moment right now than Beanie Feldstein, who's playing Monica Lewinsky on the Ryan Murphy-produced series. Feldstein is a young actress who's been killing it in the comedy department for years, in films like Lady Bird and Booksmart. She's done live theater, most prominently the recent Broadway revival of Hello, Dolly, so she can clearly hack it when it comes to live performance. Her brother is Jonah Hill, a Five-Timers Club host, so she's basically a legacy. And in addition to Impeachment, she's got the indie film The Humans coming to theaters (and Showtime) at the end of November. It's Beanie's moment!
One semi-reliable slot in nearly every SNL season is the British actor who doesn't have much of a reputation for doing comedy. It's a slot that's been filled in recent years by Daniel Craig, Idris Elba, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Daniel Kaluuya, and there's no good reason that it shouldn't be filled this year by Tom Hardy, whose peculiar personality and proven ability to throw himself into his roles feels like it would be fertile ground for the SNL writers room. Hardy's latest film, Venom: Let There Be Carnage is set to open on October 1st, so the promotional window is pretty much upon us, but SNL has never been that slavish to the promotional calendar for that to be a limiting factor.
This slot could go to just about any of the main cast members of HBO's Succession, which returns for its third season in October. Truly there's no good argument against letting Brian Cox host and riff on his McDonald's commercials or let Kieran become the second Culkin family member to host Saturday Night Live. But there's something that tells us that Snook could really impress comedically when placed in this environment. She even co-starred in An American Pickle last year, which was written by former SNL writer Simon Rich.
Although her Killing Eve character was the centerpiece of a drama, Jodie Comer was never shy about throwing a little comedic glint into Villanelle's eye. Comer feels like she'd be a natural fit among a trend of recent emerging-British-actress hosts that's included Anya Taylor-Joy and Phoebe Waller-Bridge in recent seasons. She was the female lead of a top ten box-office film in Free Guy, and this October she'll be starring opposite Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, and Adam Driver (SNL hosts all!) in the Ridley Scott film The Last Duel.
Yes, it does seem weird that Zendaya hasn't already hosted Saturday Night Live. She's already starred in two Spider-Man films, won an Emmy for her lead role on Euphoria, and is just generally a huge star. And while she hasn't done anything particularly comedic since her Disney Channel days, that only makes it more compelling to see how she'd handle the challenge of live sketch comedy. She'll have plenty of projects to promote this year as well, with Dune opening at the end of October, followed by Spider-Man: No Way Home in December.
This one is purely advocacy for an actor who we think can do just about anything, including knocking an SNL gig out of the park. He's delivered top-notch dramatic work in films like Widows and If Beale Street Could Talk, but we know he can do comedy too, after his years opposite Donald Glover (a 2018 SNL host himself) on Atlanta , and a terrific turn as Berry Gordy on the Motown episode of Drunk History. Another performer with a foundation in live theater, he's got the chops, and with his Marvel movie Eternals coming out on November 5th, now is the perfect time to get onboard.
A few years ago, this suggestion would have seemed like madness, given how most critics slammed his wooden performance in the Fifty Shades of Grey movies. But that was the before times. Before Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar re-calibrated all our expectations of Jamie Dornan as an actor. Now, suddenly, Jamie Dornan is charming, game for even the silliest of concepts, and a singer! He's singing again in the trailer for his new movie Belfast, which looks like it might be a player this awards season. SNL loves a good comedic song, so you have to imagine they'd have quite a good time with the Jamie Dornan belting out "Everlasting Love" to all of Northern Ireland.
Sometimes Saturday Night Live will invite a host simply because they're likable and funny, and there is no better reason to have Lil Rel Howery host this season, because he is undeniably both. Anybody who saw the improv-heavy prank shenanigans that Howery and Eric Andre got up to in Bad Trip this year should have no problem envisioning the delights he could deliver in an SNL sketch. And that's not even getting into what a charming presence he was as a kind of sideline reporter at the Oscars. Bring on Glenn Close as a walk-on for a reprise of "Da Butt"!
Keanu Reeves has NEVER hosted Saturday Night Live. Marinate in that for a moment, then try to make it make sense. Not after Bill & Ted, not after Speed, not after The Matrix. You're telling me that no era of Saturday Night Live could have cooked up a legendary sketch or six for the star of Johnny Mnemonic and John Wick? Maybe the offer went out and Keanu was just never into it. It's possible. Live sketch comedy isn't for everyone, after all. But with the fourth Matrix movie due out in December, it's time somebody did some convincing. A Keanu Reeves-hosted Saturday Night Live full of weird vibes and outlandish comedic concepts would be exactly what the doctor ordered. (That doctor being the character Keanu played in Something's Gotta Give.)
Owen Wilson hosts Saturday Night Live's Season 47 premiere on NBC this Saturday October 2nd, live coast-to-coast at 11:30 PM ET / 8:30 PM PT on NBC.
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Joe Reid is the Managing Editor at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.