Michael Cera Passed on Hosting ‘SNL’ Post-‘Superbad’ Because He Was Scared of Getting More Famous

Cera spurned Lorne Michaels and nearly quit acting because fans were getting too handsy
Michael Cera Passed on Hosting ‘SNL’ Post-‘Superbad’ Because He Was Scared of Getting More Famous

Michael Cera refused an offer to host Saturday Night Live in 2007 because he was afraid it would make him too famous — if it was less fame he was looking for, Cera should have asked to be in a Saturday Night Live movie.

Anyone born after 2000 probably can’t remember a time when Cera wasn’t everyone’s go-to actor when they wanted to describe a skinny, artsy, awkward and comedic white guy. The child actor who erupted in popularity following his portrayal of the straitlaced, cousin-loving George Michael Bluth on Arrested Development will appear in the highly anticipated film Barbie, which may end up being Cera’s most high-profile project to date. Though the 35-year-old has certainly adjusted to his celebrity status in the two decades since he was slinging chocolate-dipped bananas in Newport Beach, there was once a time when fame nearly drove him into an early retirement from acting.

Following the same-year release of both Superbad and Juno in 2007, Cera was one of the biggest teen stars of the lame duck Dubya years — to Lorne Michaels, though, he’s simply “the one who got away.”

“I didn’t know how to handle walking down the street,” Cera told The Guardian in a profile published yesterday. “Fame makes you very uncomfortable in your own skin, and makes you paranoid and weird. There were lots of great things about it, and I met a lot of amazing people, but there’s a lot of bad energies, too, ones that I was not equipped to handle.”

The specific “bad energy” he’s talking about is one to which both strippers and dogs brought along to beer gardens can relate — drunk people wanting to touch you. “If people are drunk, and they recognize you, and they’re very enthusiastic, it can be kind of toxic too,” Cera explained. “When you’re a kid, people also feel they can kind of grab you — they’re not that respectful of you or your physical space. I didn’t know how to respectfully establish my own boundaries. It was like a burning feeling the whole time, just like everybody was so aware of me. It was a mistake.”

Hordes of handsy boozers made Cera question the path he was on, for fear of his rise becoming a little too meteoric. “There was a point where I wanted to stop taking jobs that would make me more famous,” Cera explained. For example, when he was offered the opportunity to host SNL, Cera turned it down, disappointing both his agents and the show’s writers’ room, which probably had about a thousand different Juno parody sketches loaded in the chamber. “I was kind of having a bit of a crisis. I was really not enjoying the level of heat. I really didn’t know if I was going to keep being an actor.”

Cera did, however, host Saturday Night Live on Strike that same year, a stage show performed at the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York during the 2007 writers’ strike. Expect Michael Che and Colin Jost to make a couple calls.

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