Jimmy Fallon has been an NBC staple for years — but according to him, he didn’t make the greatest first impression at the network.
While giving a talk at the New Yorker Festival this weekend, Fallon revealed he almost lost out on hosting Late Night. The comedian took over from Conan O’Brien in 2009 and hosted until 2014, when he took over at the coveted Tonight Show gig after longtime host Jay Leno stepped down.
According to Fallon, 44, it was Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels who helped him secure the job.
“NBC didn’t even want me. I remember them saying, ‘Really, Jimmy Fallon? His movies are terrible,’ ” Fallon said with a laugh, according to Vulture. “But Lorne was like, ‘Don’t worry, he works well and plays well with others.’ Like I was a kindergartner.”
Fallon said it took multiple meetings with NBC executives before they were willing to give him a shot.
“I remember having to go to three or four dinners with NBC, trying to convince them I was the guy. And then finally Jeff Zucker was like, ‘Are you sure? This is a lot of work,’ ” he said. “I was like, ‘Yes, I’m sure.’ “
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Of course, Fallon and Michaels go way back: Fallon got his start in television as a cast member on SNL‘s season 24 in 1998.
Last month, Fallon reflected on the beloved sketch comedy show with PEOPLE’s editor-in-chief Jess Cagle for an episode of The Jess Cagle Interview.
“I wouldn’t go out on Saturday nights because I wanted to be by myself, watching Saturday Night Live, from 11:30 to 1:00,” he said of his pre-casting days. “I would watch every [episode]. I wouldn’t go to parties.”
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