"Saturday Night Live" cast member Bill Hader is known for his dead-on impersonations of Eliot Spitzer, Charlie Sheen and others. Recently, his "Weekend Update" character, Stefon, a New York City correspondent and club boy, has become a hit with audiences. The 32-year-old comedian, writer, actor and producer also has appeared in several films, including "Tropic Thunder," "Adventureland" and "Forgetting Sarah Marshall."
This summer, he will host Turner Classic Movies' "TCM Essentials Jr." Sunday showcase of films for younger viewers. It starts June 5 with "The Adventures of Robin Hood" (1938) at 8 p.m. EDT. Raised in Tulsa, Okla., Hader lives in New York and is married with a daughter.
Excerpts from an interview:
Q: How long did it take you to come up with the list of films you wanted to introduce on TCM?
A: TCM actually sent me a list. I forget how many. So I chose from their list because it has to be stuff that is in their library. I think the only one that wasn't on the list that I asked for was "Road to Utopia." I thought it would be fun to do a (Bob) Hope, (Bing) Crosby movie and that is kind of the weirder one.
Q: Were you an outdoor kind of kid before you really got into watching movies?
A: (Laughs) I mean, I played sports and stuff growing up. I played baseball and played with my friends. We'd always go to the lake and stuff like that. It was just like at the end of the day we would go inside, and mostly it was just watching movies. As I got a little older, like high school, I kind of stopped playing sports and devoted almost all my time to watching movies. (Laughs) And making little movies with my friends.
Q: Was there any particular character you liked to be?
A: Indiana Jones. I remember there was a ditch in front of my grandmother's house, and I would pretend and play Indiana Jones in the ditch.
Q: I see that you are an actor, producer, comedian and writer.
A: I can only speak for me and my friends, but we all kind of grew up making short films and being pretty savvy as to how to make a movie. It's interesting that so many of the people I know -- Andy Samberg, Danny McBride and people like that -- were one time or another P.A.s (production assistants) or they worked behind the scenes. Maybe a generation before us it was all standup comedians, and maybe a generation before that it was all improv and stuff like that. I'm not saying that comedians and people from improv don't exist now. They do; it's just more of us were making movies.
Q: Is it true your dad did a little standup comedy?
A: Um, yeah. Very little standup comedy in the '80s, but I never saw his act. I never knew any of the stuff that he did. He's really funny. Both my parents are really funny and really enjoy movies. Both my parents -- my mom especially -- really love old movies. It was just in our house. You know, where some people listen to a lot of music or some people go camping, for our family it was watching old movies.
Q: Did your parents mind when you dropped out of college to go to Hollywood?
A: (Laughs) I didn't really drop out. I went to a community college, and I got an associate degree. Most people in our school would get the associate degree and then do their junior, senior year at a four-year university. Instead of doing that, my friend and I, well, actually a group of friends, were, like, "Let's just move to L.A." My parents, to be honest, were just kind of, like, "Great! Saves us some money. Go!" (Laughs)
Q: Did you ever have second thoughts about it?
A: No, never, and so much of that was being with a group of friends and none of us second-guessing it. All of us were, like, "Yeah, we love movies and this is where we're gonna go and meet people." At the same time, we would never go up to somebody and say, "Hey, would you read our script?" We would never bother people.
I was a P.A. for a long time and an editor for a long time. We all worked those jobs while attending stuff at "Second City L.A." and formed a sketch-comedy group.
Q: The 2012 presidential campaign will be fertile ground for "SNL" skits. So what happens if two cast members want to do the same character?
A: I've never seen it happen. Usually that gets figured out pretty quick. Seth Meyers (head writer as well as anchor of "Weekend Update") goes, "You're playing this."
Q: Are you content being in supporting roles, or do you aspire to leading-man status?
A: I think it all just depends on the movie and where I'm at. Sometimes people try to put pressure on you to do stuff, and it's, like, "Well, I'd rather be something good." It's just the thing that comes along that I get excited about, and the people making it are excited about me being in it. It all makes sense. ... I've just never been, like, "Oh, my God, I've got to be a star."