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Steve Carell and 11 other stars surprisingly rejected from SNL

Lorne Michaels spills on the huge stars who weren't funny enough for SNL

As SNL gears up to celebrate its 40th anniversary special on Feb. 15, longtime producer, Lorne Michaels, dishes on the celebs who didn't make the cut over the years.

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1. Lisa Kudrow

Lisa Kudrow

Image: FayesVision/

Lorne Michaels told the Hollywood Reporter that "Lisa Kudrow gave a brilliant audition, but it was at the time when it was Jan Hooks and Nora [Dunn]." So, unfortunately, she wasn't cast on the show.

2. Stephen Colbert

Stephen Colbert

Image: Nikki Nelson/

Colbert was the first name Michaels mentioned when the Hollywood Reporter asked which celebs he'd overlooked and kicked himself over later. That's quite the consolation prize, if we say so. And we doubt Colbert is still upset about it. He has, after all, done way more in his career than prove SNL and Michaels wrong.

3. Jim Carrey

Jim Carrey

Image: Daniel Deme/

Michaels says he wasn't there for Carrey's audition, but if he had been, things might be different.

"... somebody who was there said, 'I don't think Lorne would like it,' and they were probably wrong, but it doesn't matter. Or maybe they were right — who knows? No one gets it all right."

4. Steve Carell

Steve Carell

Image: Dimitri Halkidis / WENN

"There were lots of people who you'd see how brilliant they were, but you knew on some level that it wasn't going to work," Michaels said after mentioning that Colbert and Carell came in for auditions.

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And while Michaels only discussed the four stars above, there is also a ton of other well-known names that didn't make the SNL cut.

5. Louis C.K.

"SNL was like the last chance, the last boat leaving," the comedian said during a 2006 interview, "so Dave Attell, Laura Kightlinger, Sarah Silverman, Jay Mohr and me and a bunch of other people all auditioned." Despite his great set, "everybody but me [was cast]."

6. Kevin Hart

Hart joked about his failed audition during a standup performance in 2013. He assured the audience he was over it, saying it happened a long time ago — "Six or seven months, 22 days, like six hours ago."

7. Kathy Griffin

Griffin auditioned at the same time Kudrow did and said both of them were "really crushed" when they didn't get the spot. She ultimately concedes that Julia Sweeney, who beat them for the spot, definitely deserved it because she killed her audition.

8. Paul Scheer

Scheer thinks there was one specific mistake he made during the audition that cost him the slot: He didn't have any questions after meeting Michaels for the first time. "Really?" Michaels reportedly asked him. "Thirty years in TV and you don't have a question for me?"

9. Kel Mitchell

This audition story probably breaks our hearts the most. After starring in Kenan & Kel on Nickelodeon (and making childhood nostalgia all about orange soda), the two funny men auditioned for SNL. Kenan got a spot. Kel did not.

More: Our original thoughts on "Elastic Heart"

10. Geena Davis

Davis lost her SNL spot to Pamela Stephenson in 1984, but five years later, she won an Oscar for The Accidental Tourist. So we doubt she's really regretting anything at this point.

11. Dane Cook

Cook auditioned back in 2002 and made it pretty far in the audition process. But he ultimately lost his spot to Will Forte.

12. Aubrey Plaza

Plaza talked about being passed up for SNL in a 2012 interview with the Guardian. "I wanted to be on that show for as long as I could remember." But it wasn't meant to be for the funny lady, though she did have an internship with the show in 2005.

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