Yesterday, “Saturday Night Live” revealed an exciting lineup for the beginning of its upcoming 45th season. But now, we have news that one of the show’s stars will not be there to participate in the fun.
Multiple outlets have confirmed that Leslie Jones will be leaving “SNL,” after five years with the long-running sketch comedy series. According to Deadline, Jones made the decision to depart herself, opting out of her seven-year contract to focus on a number of upcoming film projects (including a role in the “Coming to America” sequel) and a new stand-up special for Netflix.
The comedian earned two Supporting Actress Emmy nominations for her work on “SNL” (and is a current Emmy nominee for co-writing an original song for a digital short) which she joined in 2014 initially as a writer, before several buzzy appearances on Weekend Update bumped her up to cast member status. She went on to star in several films, including “The Angry Birds Movie 2,” “Top Five” with Chris Rock, and the 2016 “Ghostbusters” reboot, throughout her “SNL” tenure.
Jones’s costar in that latter flick, Kate McKinnon, is also one of her “SNL” cast mates, and was also on the bubble to return for next season, thanks to her bustling film career. But thankfully, the two-time Emmy winner has officially signed on to come back for season 45, though Deadline says that it remains to be seen whether she will be a full-time cast member or only appear sporadically. (Our fingers are crossed for lots of McKinnon in the coming months.)
According to The Hollywood Reporter, it’s not clear yet whether “SNL” will hire a replacement for Jones, though its cast is already quite large. The stars that will be returning this season are Beck Bennett, Aidy Bryant (whose future was uncertain after her Hulu series, “Shrill,” was renewed), Michael Che, Pete Davidson, Mikey Day, Colin Jost, McKinnon, Alex Moffat, Kyle Mooney, Cecily Strong, Kenan Thompson (who is seemingly always rumored to be leaving), and Melissa Villasenor; featured players Heidi Gardner, Ego Nwodim, and Chris Redd will also be back.
Season 45 of “Saturday Night Live” premieres on NBC on September 28.