Kate McKinnon Breaks Silence On Reason Behind ‘SNL’ Exit: ‘My Body Was Tired’

Live from “Saturday Night Live” retirement, it’s Kate McKinnon, who for the first time is opening up about her decision to step away from NBC’s long-running sketch series.

The comedian made her final appearance as a cast member on the show in May after an 11-season run, which earned her two Emmy trophies, eight nominations and a place in the history books for her impressions of a variety of celebrities and public figures, from Justin Bieber to Hillary Clinton.

“I thought about it for a very long time, and it was very, very hard,” McKinnon said on Thursday’s episode of “Live With Kelly and Ryan” about her exit, according to Entertainment Weekly. “All I ever wanted to do in my whole life was be on ‘Saturday Night Live.’ So, I did, I loved it, I had the best decade, and then I was just like, my body was tired, and I felt like it was time.”

McKinnon said she’s unsure whether she’ll continue to watch the series when it returns in the fall.

“I don’t know what I will do. I don’t know that I can watch the show yet because it’s too emo because I miss everyone so much. It’s my family,” she added. “It’s too emo. So, I think I’m just going to take ‘The Bachelorette’ and watch it.”

In the cold open of her final “SNL” episode, McKinnon reprised her fan-favorite character Colleen Rafferty, who volunteered to be abducted by aliens.

Breaking character as tears welled up in her eyes, she bid an emotional farewell to viewers, saying, “Earth, I love ya! Thanks for letting me stay a while.”

The comedian, along with cast members Pete Davidson, Aidy Bryant and Kyle Mooney, exited the show after the Season 47 finale, setting the stage for a major cast upheaval.

Bryant, who joined the show in 2012 alongside McKinnon, previously spoke about why she made the decision to step away, citing the uncertainty that COVID-19 brought to Studio 8H.

“If it weren’t for COVID, I probably would have left a few years earlier,” Bryant told Variety last month. “But it was such a huge change. When COVID hit, it was so jarring that we were all like, ‘I’m definitely going to come back next year.’ And then I had to shoot ‘Shrill’ for half of last season, and so I missed a lot. And then it was like, ‘Well, now I should go back one more.’”

“I kept trying to seek one last normal year,” she explained. “This year wasn’t the normal year that I hoped for, but it was closer to that. It was like, ‘OK, it’s really time now.’ And 10 felt like a nice, solid round number.”

McKinnon, meanwhile, has kept busy since leaving the series with roles in Peacock’s “Joe vs Carole” and the animated film “DC League of Super-Pets,” as well as a part in the upcoming and much-buzzed-about live-action “Barbie” movie from director Greta Gerwig.

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