‘SNL’ Star Chloe Fineman Interview 2024


Chloe Fineman’s Save The Last Dance Sketch With Julia Stiles Came Together Overnight

The SNL star is taking her fifth season one week — and wig — at a time.

Every weekend while Saturday Night Live is on air, Chloe Fineman has a wig-induced identity crisis. For example, when Dakota Johnson — who has “the world’s best bangs,” Fineman says — hosted last month, the SNL star begged for some fringe. (The show’s wig guy refused to oblige.) But now in her fifth season on the late-night show, Fineman says she’s used to the emotional roller coaster. “I’m always like, ‘Should I have red hair? Should I have white hair?’” she tells NYLON from her couch. “When the wigs come off and you’re under a penis cap all day and your hair is matted down, you’re like, ‘Oh, I could be this person!’ It’s fun.”

For the show’s 49th season, Fineman has been on a roll — both in and out of hairpieces. In a matter of weeks, she’s done a Timothée Chalamet impression in the same sketch as the actor (who, in turn, donned a bald cap for a stellar take on Martin Scorsese); got carnal with Jason Momoa; and performed a last-minute, Juilliard-worthy rendition of that scene from Save the Last Dance with Julia Stiles herself. But on the advice of SNL alumna and her personal hero Molly Shannon, Fineman says she’s trying not to “live and die by each week” in lieu of taking a big- picture look at the year.

So ahead of SNL’s return Feb. 24, Fineman chats with NYLON about her season, her forthcoming film projects, and her lifelong love of wigs.

Let’s talk about embodying Julia Stiles on stage with Julia Stiles. How was that for you?

It was something I had been doing in some standup shows in L.A. during the strike because I was just kind of glued to my phone over the summer. I had seen clips going around of her [Save the Last Dance] dance, and I didn’t know how to do it on the show. We pitched it as a sketch for Adam Driver where it was kind of sexy. I was like, “I have something I want to show you in bed…” And he was like, “Wait, what?” And then at the table read, I got up and did it as Adam Driver was just staring at me.

But then Lorne [Michaels] liked it and wanted it on “Weekend Update.” It was one of these things where a big pop star was maybe going to come on “Weekend Update,” and then at 11:30 p.m. on Friday, they were like, “Actually, we’re going to do your ‘Weekend Update’ sketch. Also, maybe should we ask Julia Stiles?” We literally texted her at midnight the day before which was insane. She happened to be like, “Yeah, sure, I’ll be there.” She came six hours later, we had a choreographer, we learned the dance, and that was that. It was down-to-the-wire cuckoo.

Learning choreography with six hours’ notice is not for the weak.

Adam Driver was my inspiration that week. He is a Juilliard guy who was also a Marine, so his work ethic is of another planet. He would come in and fully memorize our sketches, even though we changed stuff all the time. We have a gym in 30 Rock that supposedly only Seth Meyers works out at, so I trapped our amazing choreographer in the gym, held her hostage for two hours, and we choreographed the whole thing to the words.

Not to say the most obvious statement in the world, but you’re really good at impressions. What is your main key for getting it so spot-on?

I do feel like it probably is a form of a broken brain a little bit. A part of me shuts down and tunes into something. It comes from a love of this person or finding them charming. I did Sydney Sweeney recently, and I find her laugh so funny where it’s like [laughs exactly like Sydney Sweeney]. They do or they have a little “ism” that I find charming and funny. And then it’s usually me being a lady sitting on my couch watching YouTube videos.

What was it like doing your Timothée impression in the same sketch as him?

I love and hate it at the same time. I feel like this one was good because he wasn’t on set for it, but the first time he hosted, I had never had a host who I’ve done an impression of before. I was really excited and also approached it really weirdly: I brought my Timothée Chalamet wig to our table read. It’s like a prince-type wig I got on Amazon that I put a bunch of coconut oil in to make it have his hair.

Oh, my God.

Now looking back, I’m so embarrassed. I put the wig on. I was fully in Timothée cosplay and wrote this sketch that we definitely didn’t do. But I felt freed up to do that because he wasn’t there. Then afterwards, he walked by and we looked identical. And he’s always like, [laughs exactly like Timothée Chalamet]. It’s also lucky I had fully had hours with him the day before, we go to dinner sometimes with the host. I was really blessed getting to study him like a creep.

Sam Hylton
Sam Hylton
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Between Timothée’s hair, SNL in general, and your photo shoot, you’re a true wig lover. What’s your relationship to wigs?

Part of it is because my mom’s a painter. My sister’s a painter, and they were always going to art-supply stores to get their tools to make their stuff. Probably out of competitiveness and insecurity, I was like, “I need my tools.” Wigs really became that. I just love everything about them. I love that they’re little dolls without a body. It’s like going to a toy store for me, I get the same thrill. I’ve been going to the wig store from this photo shoot since way before I was on SNL. The owner is really sweet to me. There’s always new little treats, and they have such a transformative quality. I find myself so basic and deeply boring. When I put on a wig, I don’t feel that way.

Do you remember what your first wig was?

There’s an amazing store in San Francisco where I’m from called Piedmont. It’s sort of this hybrid Burning Man-drag-clubhouse store. I bought a pink wig, and I wore it around San Francisco, and no one said anything, which I think is so funny about the Bay Area.

Was it like Natalie Portman’s wig in Closer?

It was definitely one of those. It was ingrained in me and my friends as the hottest thing to happen to cinema. Obviously, I was like, “I need this wig!”

It’s your fifth season of SNL. What’s set it apart for you from past seasons?

I feel like I had a weird start where my first year was during COVID. I got a sense of what the show was, and then we had COVID [protocols] for two years basically. The show itself was always the same, but how it was produced was really different. Then, there was the strike, and I feel like now I’m trying to enjoy it. It’s such a pressure cooker. When you start, you’re like, “I will be fired every day. I’m getting fired!” It’s kind of an unavoidable feeling if you’re a sane, normal person.

You start to live and die by each week. I’ve been blessed with certain heroes of mine DMing me. Molly Shannon and I had a long DM session around two years ago where she was like, “You have to look at the whole year.” Once you do that, you really enjoy the show. I think the Julia Stiles sketch was a good example, where I was like “There’s no way they're going to put this on the show, but I like it and I want to do stuff that I like, and is my Internet sense of humor.” Even the “Big Dumb Cups” sketch we just did. You never know if a sketch will go, but this is what I find funny — and I think the confidence in that started slowly happening.

Sam Hylton

What’s on the horizon for you, through this season and then after it wraps?

What’s fun about the show is we have this board in Lorne’s office where you see who’s hosting, and otherwise, I have absolutely no idea what’s going to happen. I have a movie I worked on last year that hopefully will be coming out next year. I wore wigs in that movie, too. I haven’t done a movie where I’m not in some form of fake hair. I like making the transition from comedy wigs to my actor wig. There’s Francis Ford Coppola’s Megalopolis, which was a very wig-heavy movie. I feel like people who do wigs in TV and movies, at least on the East Coast, all know each other. It’s always delightful to be like, “Oh, my wig guy at SNL…” It really is a community.

I wonder if there’s a wig group chat, and if you ever piss a wig person off, they’re like, “You’ll never get a good wig in this town again. Plastic hair only.”

It’s also so interesting how different people prepare wigs. When I was on Dickinson, she shellacked my hair, and this weird gel was the wig cap, and then they put the wig on. Other times they cut the wig cap, have some hair showing, or they’ll straighten your hair. It’s such an art. I’m always so fascinated with what my hair’s going to be like under this wig.

Were there any wigs that have stood out to you this season?

For Jacob Elordi’s episode, there was this acting-class sketch and out of nowhere, my wig, which I had no say in, was Tab. Do you remember Tabatha Coffey from that Bravo show about how she was a hair salon lady? It was basically a white pixie cut with a side-swept bang. Everyone was like, “Whoa!” Usually the girls get silky hair. We always joke about Sarah Sherman, who has this amazing mullet, and then when she’s in a silky wig, we call her Sarah Normal. It was so jarring to not have a silky wig and just have this white, Michelle Williams pixie cut.

My favorite one was by accident, but Bowen [Yang] and I wrote this cigarette talk-show sketch for Natasha Lyonne. Absolutely Fabulous is one of my favorite shows of all time, and I thought we could do wigs where she’d be Patsy and I’d be Edina. Lorne was definitely like, “What the f*ck are these wigs?” Then, the whole Internet was like, “Are they wearing Ab Fab wigs?” You have to be kind of subtle about your inspiration.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.