How Darrell Hammond’s Sean Connery Became Unlikely ‘SNL’ Success
Comedian Darrell Hammond looked back on the unlikely success of his Saturday Night Live impersonations of Sean Connery, admitting he hadn’t expected the first performance to make the cut.
In a new interview with Rollling Stone, he also said that his Connery impression on Celebrity Jeopardy!, which first appeared in 1996, had been the “most popular thing” he’d done in his entire career.
Hammond presented a version of the James Bond star – who died on Oct. 31 aged 90 – as someone who hated Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek and indulged in foul-mouthed rants. And he revealed to the publication that his character was a last-minute suggestion.
“[I]t was late one night, and I was trying to get some character that maybe they would use,” Hammond said. “I came up with, I think, the most unlikely character of all, which I was sure would be my biggest flop and failure, and that’s Sean Connery.”
He continued: “I was told when I was coming up the audiences had to understand your premise and kind of agree with it in order to laugh. And I remember thinking to myself, ‘They’re not gonna understand this premise. They’re not going to agree with it. It makes no sense that Sean Connery hates Alex Trebek. And it makes no sense that he’s a homophobe,’ He accused Alex Trek of being … ‘Not a fan of the ladies, are you, Trebek?’ It doesn’t make any sense. And yet it’s easily the most popular thing I’ve ever done.”
Darrell Hammond as Sean Connery on ‘SNL’
Hammond believed he knew why the impersonation was so successful. “Connery had that thing that [Bill] Clinton had; people just couldn’t get enough of him,” he said. “There are just very few humans like that that you’ll ever play as an actor. … [W]e ended up doing Clinton in all different kinds of comedy, from slapstick to drawing room. Connery had the same charisma. People were fascinated by Bond, James Bond. Still are.” He summarized: “[W]hen you’re doing Sean Connery, people are already interested.”
He cited the moment where his character selects the Jeopardy! category “Therapists” but says: “I’ll take The Rapists for two hundred,” saying: “And that was the intro to SNL’s Sean Connery. That was the intro to that character.” He reflected: “I always wanted to go down for something that was cross-generational; I just didn’t think it would be, ‘I’ll take ‘Famous Titties’ for six hundred.’”