’SNL’ is again. Listed below are the tales behind the present’s iconic pictures

Actor Jonah Hill performs a tiny piano on this picture that aired throughout the “Saturday Evening Reside” episode he hosted in November 2018. “We talked about his favourite movie as ‘Amadeus,’ so we type of ran with that,” photographer Mary Ellen Matthews mentioned.

She’s not part of the forgedhowever Mary Ellen Matthews has been a key piece of “Saturday Evening Reside” for the previous 23 years.

Since 1999, Matthews has been the present’s official photographer, capturing the pictures that you simply see each time the present comes again from a business break. These celebrity portraits spotlight every week’s host and musical visitorthey usually’ve change into as a lot part of “SNL” because the opening monologue or “Weekend Replace.”

“I all the time attempt to carry the enjoyment,” Matthews mentioned. “That is my form of maxim of how I function: to carry the sense of playfulness, to maintain it gentleIt is also good to have these quiet moments which are a little bit extra introspective occasionallyI believe it is a good stability within the present.”

Singer Adele is touched up for a “Saturday Evening Reside” picture shoot in October 2020. The behind-the-scenes shot wasn’t deliberate, Matthews mentionednevertheless it ended up airing throughout the present.

These portraits have been part of the sketch comedy present since 1975, the 12 months the present premiered. Edie Baskin was the photographer then, and Matthews picked up the place she left off.

Each Thursday earlier than a present, Matthews is ready to meet with every host and musical visitor to collaborate on quite a lot of appears to be like or ideas. She is available in with concepts which may play off every topic’s persona or public persona. Or perhaps it’s re-creating a well-known piece of artworkTypically it’s simply so simple as placing Charles Barkley’s bald head in a sea of basketballs.

And there is all the time one thing natural that occursso that you type of have to depart room for that,” Matthews mentioned.

Corridor of Fame basketball participant Charles Barkley poses amongst basketballs previous to internet hosting “Saturday Evening Reside” in March 2018. “I do not watch basketball that a lothowever so far as the host, he is undoubtedly certainly one ofI believeeveryone‘s favorites,” Matthews mentioned. She mentioned Barkley “simply gave the right expression” right here.

After every shoot, a little bit little bit of post-production is required to verify the pictures have the graphical therapy and colours they should “pop” for the stay broadcast. Lately, Matthews has additionally dabbled with animated stills.

Due to the hectic nature of “SNL” manufacturing week, Matthews solely will get about 90 minutes with every host and 20 minutes with every musical visitorBut it surely’s thrilling, and she or he loves it.

Every week is like the primary week yet again,” she mentioned. “You all the time wish to do higher than the final week, and also you all the time wish to present the identical incredibleinventive service to every host and musical visitor and make it as enjoyable for them and (make) their dream come true.”

Matthews mentioned musician Anderson .Paak introduced loads of vitality to his shoot in December 2018. “I assumed two is healthier than one for him,” she mentioned.

And make no mistake: Even for a number of the largest celebrities, internet hosting “SNL” is a dream, Matthews mentionedthey usually normally come to the shoots keen to participate within the custom.

“I really feel the thrill,” she mentioned. “I really feel (them) pondering like, ‘What are we going to do?’ There are quite a lot of zany concepts. There have been quite a lot of humorous ideasI believe it is a time for them to let free a little bit bit and simply do that form of belief fall.”


Oscar Isaac

Matthews usually references well-known artwork in her shoots. This one is a nod to the René Magritte portray “La Clairvoyance.”

In Magritte’s portrayit is a self-portrait of him portray a chicken whereas he appears to be like at an egg.

“I type of was similar to, flip it,” mentioned Matthews, who introduced in a prop rooster for the shoot with Isaac. “And now it is a fried egg, and the rooster will not be liking that very a lot.”


Claire Foy

Air date: December 1, 2018

Foy, one of many stars of the present “The Crown,” is perched on a swing whereas ingesting from a teacup.

“We’re type of leaning into her Britishness,” Matthews mentioned.

The studio crew attached the swing for the shoot at NBC Studios. “That’s actual,” Matthews mentioned. “She’s really hanging from a swing within the rafters in Studio 8H.”


Probability the Rapper

Air date: October 26, 2019

Probability performs a complete gospel choir by himself. It was becoming as a result of on this episode, he was each the host and the musical visitor.

“We did him in all these poses and put it collectively,” Matthews mentioned.

Probability has additionally labeled himself a Christian rapper, and he references his religion in his music.

“This spoke to him,” Matthews mentioned.


Adam Driver

Air date: January 25, 2020

There have been no particular digicam methods used for this picture of Driver, who was internet hosting the present for the third time in 2020. Simply fastidiously positioned mirrors and a little bit of endurance.

He is somebody who will get what we’re attempting to do,” Matthews mentioned. “Very collaborative of getting the correct place and the correct positioning of him inside the mirrors and the correct place of his fingersIt is very nice to get these sorts of photos within the digicam.”


Kim Kardashian

Air date: October 9, 2021

I used to be doing coloured gels final 12 months, and it’s kind of of like a long-exposure ({photograph}) and it performs with the accents on her costume there,” Matthews mentioned. “I simply suppose that is lovely for her. Just a little bit extra of her simply feeling the second. …

“She’s understanding what we’re doing with the sunshine and the lengthy publicity, so she’s conscious of the method, and our collaboration got here out superbly there.”


Paul Rudd

“We discovered the sofa after which Tom Broecker, our unimaginable costume designer, had this go well with made,” Matthews mentioned.

She mentioned she couldn’t recall for positive whether or not the sofa got here like this or whether or not it was upholstered to match Rudd’s outfit. But it surely was all good for the playful Rudd.

He’s so expressive,” Matthews mentioned. “He is simply the very bestproperAll of us love him.”


Larry David

Air date: November 4, 2017

This was one other instance of how a number of the finest portraits aren’t deliberate.

“We simply began enjoying, and, you already knowa personality evolves once you hand somebody a pipe typically,” Matthews mentioned.

She mentioned this was David’s favourite from their shoot.

I believe he is requested to make use of as a headshot or one thing. He loves this, too,” she mentioned.


Jason Momoa

Air date: December 8, 2018

Matthews usually tries to formulate concepts based mostly on every topic’s public persona. But it surely’s additionally enjoyable to go in the other way — like placing Momoa, who usually performs powerful guys, in a goofy go well with.

“There’s one other shot from the identical shoot where I had him in pigtails, and (his expression) is like ‘thanks loads,’ that type of factor — which is precisely enjoying towards kind,” Matthews mentioned.

She initially wished to make this picture an animation, however she unfold it out as a nonetheless picture.

“We talked about it, and he type of gave me a pair strikes on the finish. And the go well with simply labored completely in a graphic sense.”


Regé-Jean Web page

Air date: February 20, 2021

Matthews remembers the breakout “Bridgerton” star being “so beloved” throughout his week. “He simply was such a beautifulfantastic particular person to work with,” she mentioned.

Just like the Foy shot above, this performs into his British background.

Possibly I am overdoing the teacup,” she mentioned with amusing. “However we have been doing one thing and we each simply determined, why do not you simply bust via the opposite aspect of this? It was on the very finish of the shoot. Simply be playful and wreck the set. Why not?”


Daniel Craig

He’s undoubtedly certainly one of my favorites to {photograph} as a result ofyou already knowhe is Bond,” Matthews mentioned. “And for him to be standing as a topic is sort of a factorI need to say.

I am an enormous fan, and I simply thought him giving these form of glances and placing them collectively, it took the spy and gave it a little bit one thing comedic there.”


Donald Glover

This mirror wasn’t deliberate to be part of Glover’s shoot.

“We have been simply utilizing it to verify appears to be like and stuff, and it simply grew to become this reflective, wonderful second,” Matthews recalled. “Not traditional for these type of enjoyable bumpers. However I believe it is actually highly effective.”


Will Ferrell

Air date: November 23, 2019

Yearly, it’s custom for Matthews to include this similar turkey prop into the Thanksgiving present.

Now we have whoever is internet hosting the Thanksgiving present do one thing else with the turkey,” she mentioned. “I believe Matthew McConaughey was within the steam room and they both had little towels on.

However with Will, I simply considered strolling his turkeys there on Fifth Avenue. I simply made it up, I do not know. Like I wasn’t fairly positive the place we have been going with this. As a substitute of strolling your caninesyou are strolling your turkeys, and it grew to become form of this ’70s model in some way alongside the road.”


Dan Levy

Air date: February 6, 2021

He is such a vibrant particular person,” Matthews mentioned of “Schitt’s Creek” star Daniel Levy. “So including that vibrant coloration to that candid second, it simply appeared very him. There was nothing compelled there. It is easy Dan Levy proper there.”


Matt Damon

Air date: December 15, 2018

“The Christmas exhibits are all the time enjoyable to do, and for this one I discovered a reference to the Beach Boys’ Christmas album the place they’re adorning a Christmas tree,” Matthews mentioned.

Like with different vacation exhibits, Matthews will begin pondering forward of time about concepts that may make every year really feel totally different. She thought this one was an amazing match for Damon and his clean-cut picture.

“Matt nailed it completely with this form of pasted-on smile, ‘every thing‘s OK on the earth.’ … I wished every shot of him right here to type of be the identical, and he rose to the event.”



Air date: February 9, 2019

This picture of Halsey is one other nod to an album cowl“Goats Head Soup” by The Rolling Stones.

“Mick Jagger is type of lined in a silk the identical manner,” Matthews mentioned. “We have been enjoying Rolling Stones, and I used to be speaking in regards to the Stones, and I instructed that and she or he cherished it. … And he or she is so current. She is such a collaborator. I like her, her artistry. She’s a painter. There’s a lot to her.”



Matthews didn’t have her regular hosts or musical visitors to take pictures of, so she needed to improvise, too.

“I’m unsure how a lot she’s having fun with it there. However she was very affected person, and I owe her an enormous biscuit for that one.”

The brand new season of “SNL” premieres Saturday at 11:30 p.m. ET/8:30 p.m. PT on NBC and Peacock. This weekend’s host is actor Miles Teller, and the musical visitor is Kendrick Lamar.

Through the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, “SNL” aired some particular “At House” episodes the place forged members would movie segments at house whereas they practiced social distancing.

All of us needed to simply make do with what we had at houseand she or he grew to become my topic,” Matthews mentioned. “So I put her in a bubble tub with a bathe cap and a rubber ducky. … It was not simple. It wasn’t really that a lot water. It was extra bubble tubHowever she undoubtedly appears to be like like: ‘Please cease. Get me out of right here.’

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