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The SNL Sketch That Rattled Melissa McCarthy

"Saturday Night Live" — "SNL" for short — is NBC's weekly variety show that features a team of writers and musicians and actors scrambling to create content that reflects newsworthy hot topics. Politics, Hollywood, Hollywood politics, nothing is off the table when it comes to their comedy stylings. Perhaps in an effort to conserve mental energy or because certain individuals (for one reason or another) refuse to leave the spotlight, "SNL" often revisits skits and characters. Consider Alec Baldwin, who portrayed Donald Trump to great effect for four years. Consider, too, Kate McKinnon, whose popular alien abduction skit was revisited during her final episode.

Sometimes, a character is revisited long after the original actor has left "Saturday Night Live." One such instance saw Melissa McCarthy, a guest talent best known for projects such as "Bridesmaids" and the 2016 "Ghostbusters," donning the mantle of a character whose performer wasn't just gone from "SNL" but gone from this world, too. Adds a bit of emotional weight to something that's intended for giggles, doesn't it? Here's the skit that McCarthy found almost too much to bear, and the story behind it.

Melissa McCarthy was nervous to portray Matt Foley

The skit in question aired in 2015 as part of the 40th anniversary of "Saturday Night Live" in an event suitably called "SNL 40"  (via Twitter). In it, Melissa McCarthy portrayed Matt Foley, the failing motivational speaker who lives in a van down by the river. The character was created for and originated by Chris Farley, a comedy legend who passed away in 1997. McCarthy has gone on the record to say that she considered Farley to be one of the greats. "I put him up on a pedestal," she said in a 2022 radio interview with Andy Cohen.

For her, paying tribute to the character must have been an immense honor. As previously mentioned, though, it wasn't easy, and it was all the harder because "SNL" literally fitted her with Farley's original costume. "It was really his jacket," she said. "And they just kind of like clipped it back, and they're like, 'We're gonna take it in, but we don't wanna damage it.'"

McCarthy described how she felt in the moments before she made her debut as the character. "It was the one time right before I came through the door, I was so nervous that the sweet stage manager came up and he goes, 'Honey, are you okay?' My legs were bouncing to the point where I couldn't, I was holding onto the door. And I was like, 'I don't know if I can get the handle open.' Because I couldn't, I was not in control of my body. And I've never done that before. I was just rattled."

McCarthy wasn't the only one rattled, either

In that interview, Melissa McCarthy mentioned how the other "SNL" members also struggled to process the emotionally significant moment. "It was really wild because when I walked out ... I just kind of hugged people," she said. "And you could tell they knew it was me but you could [also] tell some of his dear friends needed a minute." For her part, McCarthy seems to have understood the weight behind carrying another performer's torch and to have handled it gracefully, an adjective that is not often used to describe the activities that occur during "SNL."

Ultimately, the skit went on exactly as planned. McCarthy unveiled her own rendition of Matt Foley with just as much yelling and slapstick as Farley could have ever hoped for. When summing up the experience, the actress said, "I literally was like, 'I'm either gonna black out or I'm gonna come through like a train,' so thank, thank God, I think I picked the train."