Darrell Hammond Reflects on His Popular Sean Connery Impression on SNL

After Sean Connery’s death, former Saturday night star Darrell Hammond revealed his popular portrait of the legendary actor in a celebrity protection suit. Already in 1996 the authors of the SNL had made a new sketch for the parody of Star Game! with Will Ferrell as Alex Trebek. Almost at the last minute Hammond offered to play the role of Sean Connery, making the breakthrough for the segment with Norm McDonald as Burt Reynolds and Martin Short as Jerry Lewis.

The rest is, as they say, history. Hammond portrayed Connery as very cruel and insulting with an inexplicable contempt for Trebek and was very well received by Saturday Night Live viewers, so the show immediately became a hit. Celebrity Leopard! then became an integral part of the series over the years, with Darrell Hammond back in the role of Connery to continue the Oscar-winning actor’s long feud with Trebek. Hammond and Ferrell both re-released the roles in the special Saturday night to celebrate their 40th anniversary in 2015.

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Speaking about the origins of Sean Connery’s Rolling Stone parody, Hammond says it was late at night when he was thinking about the concept of Connery the Evil One, who was in Celebrity Jeopardy! Expecting it to be the biggest failure of his race, Hammond also admits that this hypothesis doesn’t make sense on paper and he seems curious as to why it got in his way.

I have always been told that when I insert myself, the audience has to understand your point of departure and somehow accept it in order to be able to laugh. And I remember thinking to myself: You won’t understand that assumption. They won’t agree. There’s no need for Sean Connery not to know the answers to Jeopardy… There’s no point in Sean Connery hating Alex Trebek. And there’s no reason for him to be homophobic. He blamed Alex Trebek… What did I say to Will Ferrell that night? You’re not a fan of the ladies, are you, Trebek? It doesn’t make any sense. And yet it’s the most popular thing I’ve ever done.

Hammond also explains that when he started pretending to be Connery, he tried to imitate the actor exactly, but for the crazy man, everything changed as soon as the SNL writers started putting sketches on paper. Hammond repeats that Connery has no reason to talk to the weekly Trebek and says that his impression was only created by the polite laughter in the writers’ room that night, and that no one knew they had clapped their hands until the sketch was broadcast.

Hammond’s impressions may be a bit empty, but luckily Connery had a sense of humour with them. Hammond also told Rolling Stone that Connery wanted to say a few friendly words about the sketches. He also transfers the responsibility for the invention of his quote under the name Connery to the authors of the NL and says he should do the easy part by simply quoting them.

I heard he was very friendly and complimented me on today’s show. I mean, I feel like I didn’t do anything. They had all these wonderful Emmy Award-winning writers writing these brilliant lines, and I just had to make sure the people heard those words clearly. Because if you do Sean Connery, people are already interested.

Connery died last week at the age of 90 in his home in the Bahamas. You can read more about Hammond’s interview in Rolling Stone.

Topics: Live on Saturday night

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