Andy Samberg explains why he left “Saturday Night Live ”for his mental and physical health: 'I was falling apart'

"For me, it was like, I can't actually endure it anymore. But I didn't want to leave," Samberg says of his decision to exit "SNL" after seven seasons.

Andy Samberg made a big impact during his time on Saturday Night Live, helping put YouTube on the map with the viral success of The Lonely Island's digital shorts, but the show ended up taking such a toll on his mental and physical health that he knew it was time to leave.

"It was a big choice. For me, it was like, I can't actually endure it anymore. But I didn't want to leave," Samberg said of deciding it was time to exit the sketch comedy institution after seven seasons on the latest episode of Kevin Hart's Peacock interview series Hart to Heart.

"Physically and emotionally, like I was falling apart in my life," he confessed to Hart.

<p>Peacock</p> Andy Samberg on 'Hart to Heart'


Andy Samberg on 'Hart to Heart'

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Samberg quietly left SNL after the season 37 finale in May 2012, only confirming weeks later that he would not return.

He told Hart it was his dream since he was 8 years old to be on SNL, but his first breaking point came when his longtime friends and Lonely Island collaborators, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, who both started there with him in 2005, left when their writing contracts were up after five years.

The trio had found great success — and breathed new life into the show — with their fan-favorite musical pre-tape sketches like "Lazy Sunday," "I'm on a Boat," and the Emmy-winning "Dick in a Box." But when Schaffer and Taccone departed to direct movies (The Watch and MacGruber, respectively), Samberg felt the pressure of working without his childhood pals.

"I was basically left in charge of making the shorts, which I never pretended like I could do without them," Samberg said. Even when he worked with other talented writers and directors there, it just wasn't the same. "We made stuff I'm really proud of in those last two years, but there's something about the songs that I can only do with Akiva and Jorm. It's just how it is, we're just a band in that way," he acknowledged.

Related: Lonely Island members worried everyone at SNL hated them after 'Lazy Sunday'

After seven seasons, SNL's grueling schedule finally caught up with him. "Physically, it was taking a heavy toll on me and I got to a place where I was like I hadn't slept in seven years basically," Samberg explained. "We were writing stuff for the live show Tuesday night all night, the table read Wednesday, then being told now come up with a digital short so write all Thursday [and] Thursday night, don't sleep, get up, shoot Friday, edit all night Friday night and into Saturday, so it's basically like four days a week you're not sleeping, for seven years. So I just kinda fell apart physically."

Samberg said he consulted with other alums, namely Amy Poehler, who he'd overlapped with on the cast for four seasons before she'd moved on to Parks and Recreation. She told him sitcoms had a "pretty chill" schedule in comparison, but he was still on the fence about walking away.

"I had talked to Poehler and other people that had already gone. I was like, once I go, when I have an idea, I can't just do it," he recalled. "The craziest thing about working there is once you get going, if you're just in the shower and you have an idea that s--- can be on television in three days, which is the most like intoxicating feeling."

To make matters worse, the show didn't want to lose him. "They told me straight up, 'We prefer you would stay,' and I was like, oh, that makes it harder," he said. "But I just was like, I think to get back to a feeling of like mental and physical health, I have to do it. So I did it and it was a very difficult choice," he stressed of finally pulling the plug.

<p>Kevork Djansezian/Getty </p> The Lonely Island members Akiva Schaffer, Andy Samberg, and Jorma Taccone in 2016

Kevork Djansezian/Getty

The Lonely Island members Akiva Schaffer, Andy Samberg, and Jorma Taccone in 2016

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He noted that achieving his childhood dream of starring on SNL put less pressure on the rest of his career. "Even if it doesn't go as well, I got to do the thing I wanted to do so everything past this point is icing," he remembered thinking.

Samberg went on to star on Brooklyn Nine-Nine for eight seasons, reteam with his Lonely Island partners to make Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, lend his voice to the Hotel Transylvania franchise, host the Emmys, cohost the Golden Globes, and star in the existential rom-com Palm Springs, which broke Sundance Film Festival records when it sold for $22 million in 2020.

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He returned to host SNL in 2014 and has made five other cameo appearances since leaving, but has not been back on the Studio 8H stage since 2018. His fondness for the show remains, as evidenced on The Lonely Island & Seth Meyers Podcast, on which Samberg, Schaffer, and Taccone are currently revisiting every digital short they created at SNL, joined by former cast member and head writer Seth Meyers.

"It sounds very corny and rehearsed, but I'm just always like I still can't believe I get to do comedy for a living," Samberg shared with Hart. "It's all I wanted to do. I got to be on SNL. It went way better than I expected."

Samberg's full interview on Hart to Heart is available now on Peacock.

Read the original article on Entertainment Weekly.