In a candid and frequently hilarious chat with Stephen Colbert on Saturday, Julia Louis-Dreyfus reflected on her “miserable” time as a “Saturday Night Live” cast member, and how the experience taught her to make sure she always enjoyed every future job.
Speaking to Colbert as part of a benefit for Montclair Film at Newark’s New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Louis-Dreyfus explained how unprepared she was when she joined the show in the mid 1980s at the age of 21, not even finishing her studies at Northwestern University before heading off to New York.
“I was unbelievably naive and I didn’t really understand how the dynamics of the place worked,” she told Colbert. “It was very sexist — very sexist. People were doing crazy drugs at the time. I was oblivious. I just thought, ‘Oh, wow! He’s got a lot of energy!'”
She and Colbert then joked for a second that they couldn’t understand how anyone could ever perform inebriated, just before taking big sips from their cocktails.
Louis-Dreyfus, who went on to decades-long TV success with shows like “Seinfeld,” “The New Adventures of Old Christine” and “Veep,” explained that her time on “SNL” led her to develop a system that helped her choose her future projects.
“It was a pretty brutal time, but it was a very informative time for me,” she told Colbert. She said she realized then she wouldn’t do “anymore of this crap” unless “it was fun.”
“It is important and so basic, but I just felt like, ‘I don’t have to; I don’t have to do this, I don’t have to walk and crawl through this kind of nasty glass if it’s not ultimately going to be fulfilling,” she said. “And so that’s how I sort of moved forward from that moment and I sort of applied that kind of ‘fun meter’ to every job I’ve had since and it definitely has been very helpful.”
There was another benefit to the actress’ time on “SNL”: She met and bonded with Larry David, who would eventually put her in “Seinfeld.”
“Larry David and I had been on ‘SNL’ together my last year there because he was a writer, and we bonded because he was as miserable as I was,” she revealed, earning a laugh from the crowd.
Representatives for NBC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.