Bob Odenkirk Secretly Recorded Jeremy Irons Telling Him How Much He Hated the ‘SNL’ Monologue Odenkirk Wrote for Him
According to Bob Odenkirk, Academy Award-winner Jeremy Irons was thoroughly repulsed by the monologue Odenkirk wrote for him when he hosted Saturday Night Live in 1991, considering the script to be well-beneath an artist of his stratum. Between Odenkirk and Irons, I wonder whose agent is busier in 2023.
Odenkirk spent four years writing for SNL, with Irons’ appearance on the show coming in Odenkirk’s last season under Lorne Michaels’ thumb. Soon after his departure, Odenkirk would win a post-cancellation Emmy for his writing work on The Ben Stiller Show before moving on to write for Late Night with Conan O’Brien. Then, in 1995, he co-created Mr. Show with Bob and David, which would become one of the most influential and acclaimed sketch comedy shows of all time. All this is to say that, if you’re hosting SNL, you couldn’t ask for a more capable speechwriter than old Bobby-O.
Irons, a classically trained Shakespearean actor and legend of both London’s West End and New York’s Broadway, didn’t see it that way — in fact, his hatred of Odenkirk’s work on his behalf was so intense that the writer would tape record the tirade, just so that he could imitate it on Late Night with Seth Meyers some three decades later.
In all fairness to Irons, the monologue in question, which he delivered just two days before winning the Oscar for Best Actor in recognition for his work in Reversal of Fortune, is decidedly undignified for a thespian of his training — in it, Irons takes the stage adorned in an oversized coat bearing a garish “Vote for me!” message splattered across the back while he obsesses over Oscar-shaped candlesticks and crude watercolor paintings of awards statues before sitting at a piano and singing a silly song about how much he desperately desired to win the Oscar that following Monday night.
Irons, whose trophy case now contains not just an Oscar, but a Golden Globe, a Tony and three Emmys, delivered the Odenkirk-written plea for the Academy’s recognition through gritted teeth, rushing to announce the musical guest Fishbone before finally cracking a smile at his own ability to endure such humiliation for three whole minutes.
In revenge, Irons should have been invited to write Odenkirk’s acceptance speech when Better Call Saul won its first Emmy — unfortunately for both of them, that day never came.