10 Best Bill Hader roles
One of the strongest performers to come out of Saturday Night Live in the show’s history, Bill Hader has proven himself to be so much better than his sketch comedy roots. Throughout his eight years on the show, Hader created all kinds of memorable characters (including Stefan, the inimitable New York nightclub enthusiast, who might be one of SNL’s greatest creations) but gave it all up in exchange for a career in Hollywood.
He was always destined for greatness, though: even before he made a name for himself on SNL, Hader was giving memorable performances in films and television shows. Since leaving, he’s earned himself plenty of great roles. Do they compare to the ones he had during his run on the show, though?
Released in 2007, less than two years after he started on SNL, Hot Rod stars two-thirds of the Lonely Island (who also happen to be SNL alums): Andy Samberg and Jorma Taccone. Samberg plays a wannabe stuntman, and Hader plays his hilariously clueless ramp-builder. The film is goofy as can be, which just so happens to be the perfect vehicle for these guys.
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One of Hader’s many creations since leaving SNL, Barry is one of HBO’s best and strongest new shows. Premiering in the first half of 2018, the show follows Hader as Barry, a hitman-turned-theater actor looking to start over in LA. The show is so inspired, and Hader’s the mastermind behind it all.
Purchase the complete first season now on Amazon for $14.99.
Jumping back to 2007, we have Superbad. A launching pad not just for Hader, but for Emma Stone, Jonah Hill, and Michael Cera as well, the film is basically a raunchy sex comedy with smarter jokes. Hader and Seth Rogen star as two clueless cops who spend their time goofing off around town.
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Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Get used to seeing Hader’s name associated with all kinds of Judd Apatow wunderkinds: he seems to always be starring in something at least Apatow-adjacent at all times. This instance is Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Freaks & Geeks alum Jason Segel’s masterpiece about a lonely guy who gets dumped and goes on vacation to Hawaii, only to find his ex is there too. Hader plays Segel’s half-brother, frequently popping in to remind Segel a breakup is not the end of the world.
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His first big break since leaving SNL, Trainwreck stars Hader and Amy Schumer as an unconventional couple in New York—she’s a journalist and he’s a sports doctor, and the two get along pretty well (more or less). It’s a great vehicle for Hader’s nice guy charm, and Apatow probably knew that when he took on the role of director for the film.
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Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s delightful animated feature (based on the children’s book of the same name) has Hader in the leading role: Flint Lockwood, inventor extraordinaire. It’s one of the first times audiences really got a glimpse at how good Hader could be in a voice-acting role. He has the perfect tone of voice, managing to transcend “that guy from SNL” to create a really convincing character.
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Probably Hader’s most successful film to date, Inside Out was Pixar’s strongest and most original film in years when it hit theaters in 2015. Taking place inside the mind of a young girl as she experiences all kinds of changes in her life, Hader lends his voice to the character Fear. Despite seeing so one-note, Hader’s able to add multiple dimensions to such a simple-sounding role.
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The Skeleton Twins
Hader takes on a lot of comedic roles, but that’s not to say he’s unable to do drama, too. The Skeleton Twins stars Hader alongside Kristen Wiig as two dysfunctional siblings who find themselves unhappy with the course of their lives. Hader’s playing a more subtle role than what we’ve come to expect from him, and he absolutely nails it.
Purchase now on Amazon for $11.35.
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby
Another dramatic role (released the same year as The Skeleton Twins), The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby is an ambitious film that contains two separate films within it, one from the point-of-view of “Her” and one from the point of view of “Him.” Hader plays Stuart, an observer to the complicated relationship that plays out over the course of the film.
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His first foray into television after leaving SNL, Documentary Now! stars Hader and Fred Armisen (another SNL alum) and spoofs a different documentary each week. The two play the leading roles in each of the satirical documentaries, ranging anywhere from a Grey Gardens spoof to a Thin Blue Line spoof.
Purchase the complete Seasons One and Two now on Amazon for $15.48.
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