It’s week 7 of Saturday Night Live’s 47th season, and making his hosting debut is newly-minted Marvel star Simu Liu alongside musical guest Saweetie. A few years ago, upon Marvel’s announcement of a Shang-Chi movie in the works, the then-unknown actor playfully tweeted, “OK @Marvel, are we gonna talk or what #ShangChi”.
Fast forward about six months later, and Liu found himself auditioning for a Marvel project that was, like all other Marvel projects, a major secret. In his first late-night talk show appearance, Liu explained to Jimmy Kimmel Live! guest host Sean Hayes that he wasn’t even told what the project was that he was auditioning for. “The first audition that I did, we didn’t know the character name, didn’t know the project, it was just two scenes from Good Will Hunting,” which he argued was a blessing and a curse because it was one of his favorite movies. “I knew all the scenes, I knew the characters, but I also, like, knew exactly the way that the lines were delivered [in the movie].” He jokingly admitted that his audition was basically him doing Matt Damon’s performance. “I remember very clearly, I sent in two scenes of me doing Good Will Hunting but me doing Matt Damon from Good Will Hunting with the full Bostonian accent.” He clearly did something right, because now he’s the titular hero in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, the first Asian American hero to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This past summer, he sat down with Collider to detail exactly how excited he is for this opportunity, but more importantly, how excited his friends are that he’s in the MCU.
Liu is a perfect example of how hard work, dedication, and following your heart pays off. He went to school for finance and accounting at the University of Western Ontario, but knew that wasn’t what he was passionate about. He quickly made the jump to acting and would routinely come to California for pilot season. Like most actors starting out, he took up odd jobs to make ends meet. One of which, ironically, was playing Spider-Man at kids’ birthday parties. Before landing the role of Shang-Chi, he had bit parts on shows like Fresh Off the Boat, Orphan Black, and The Expanse. Since 2016, he’s starred as Jung in Kim’s Convenience, a comedy series about a Korean-Canadian family and the misadventures that come with owning a convenience store.
But what about that tweet? Turns out, it was completely unrelated to him landing the role. “The tweet resurfaced after I got cast and it does really feel like I’m Nostradamus or something because when the movie was first announced, I tweeted to my 17 followers,” so, “it makes sense connecting the dots, going backward, but it’s obviously not how it happened. I sent the tweet out, forgot about it, nobody [at Marvel] ever read it.” Well, his original 17 followers must be very proud of him, because he brought his "A" game to 8H last night.
Let’s revisit some of the best moments from the November 20 episode of Saturday Night Live. Live from New York, it’s Simu Liu!
5. Karaoke All-Stars
Nothing good happens at karaoke, and the Wilmington, North Carolina cable access show Karaoke Recap is living proof. Host Misty Barefoot (Chloe Fineman), along with the owner of the bar (Kenan Thompson), takes the audience on a disturbing journey down memory lane as they show clips from the uniquely terrible performances that took place at the bar that week. Liu channeled his early days as a finance student when he played “Finance Bro Trying to Get Laid” and sang the Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way.” Newbie cast members Aristotle Athari and Sarah Sherman also shined as “Two German Tourists Trying Their Best.”
4. Target Thanksgiving Ad
Thanksgiving is coming up, and that means your family is also coming up whether you like it or not. You know that uncle that gets way too into the family football game? He’ll be there. What about your niece’s new boyfriend (Liu) who will make you feel guilty for eating turkey? Don’t worry, he’ll be dominating most of the conversation. Thankfully, Target is ready to save you from as many headaches this Thursday as possible. Not only do they have low-priced sides like mashed potatoes and brussels sprouts, but they also have the headphones you’ll need to cancel out any of the inevitable political arguments that you might overhear. Oh and wine. A lot of wine.
3. Simu Liu Monologue
Liu exuded confidence from the moment he appeared on stage. The Marvel star ran down the stairs with the biggest smile on his face and took in a very warm welcome from the audience. He poked fun at his polite Canadian roots while acknowledging his tweet from way back when, and talked about his humble beginnings as a beaten-up Spider-Man.
2. Walking in Staten
If you follow Pete Davidson’s career, you know that he is proud to have been born and raised in Staten Island. He even starred in a quasi-biopic about himself called The King of Staten Island that was directed by Judd Apatow and also featured Marisa Tomei, Bill Burr, Steve Buscemi, and Bel Powley. Pete pays tribute to his home once again in this music video that specifically covers the many interesting things you might come across if you went for a walk in Staten Island. Marc Cohn, Big Wet, and Method Man all appear in this video to help Pete sing about pizza, pills, bagels, and Robert Loggia.
1. Simu & Bowen
Bowen Yang became the first Chinese-American SNL cast member in 2019 and Liu became the first Asian superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe this year. Hmm... seems like there may be some competition in the air. What starts out as a friendly bond over both being Asian “firsts” quickly becomes contentious when the two compete for increasingly specific awards. But, like, they totally don’t care about it or keep track of any of their accomplishments.
Liu can be heard voicing various roles in Star Wars: Visions, Corner Gas Animated, and Bright: Samurai Soul. He’s currently filming Arthur the King with Mark Wahlberg and One True Loves. Saturday Night Live returns after a short holiday break on December 11 with host and musical guest Billie Eilish. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
Paul Rudd joins the Five-Timers Club, while Billie Eilish hosts for the first time.
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