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Jenny Slate Is Glad She Didn’t Think of Marcel the Shell During ‘SNL’ Stint: ‘He Would Have Belonged to NBC’

Slate says a character like Marcel could've extended her ill-fated run on the sketch show, but then she never could've made a movie about him.

Marcel the Shell

“Marcel the Shell with Shoes on”


Jenny Slate is on top of the world right now thanks to “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On,” the Oscar-nominated hit stop-motion film that she stars in and co-wrote alongside Dean Fleischer Camp and Nick Paley. But while the comedian is enjoying the film’s success, she hasn’t forgotten the failures that led her to write it. In a new interview with The Independent, Slate opened up about the painful experience of being let go from “Saturday Night Live” after one season in 2009 and the solace that she found in prioritizing her own creative projects.

“I felt grief leaving ‘SNL,'” she said. “But it also made me double down on my own specific voice as a stand-up comedian because that was all I had left.”

Doubling down on her own voice led her to create Marcel the Shell. The adorable stop-motion character quickly went viral through a trilogy of short films and an accompanying series of children’s books, paving the way for the hit A24 film. Slate acknowledges that coming up with a character like Marcel during her “SNL” stint might have led to her being retained, she is happy that things played out the way they did.

“I think most people would agree that trying to change something that should be accepted is only going to make you suffer,” she said. “Luckily, I didn’t think of Marcel when I was on ‘SNL’ because I don’t think we would have ever made this movie if I had done that. And then he wouldn’t have belonged to me. He would have belonged to NBC.”

Slate continues to work on a variety of non-mollusk projects, but she appreciates that Marcel largely exists outside of the stresses of the real world. She explained that the gentle, escapist nature of the character offers her a much-needed mental break from working on more topical projects.

“While as a person and a human being, it’s really important to figure out where you stand and what you want to fight for, it’s also a wonderful thing as an artist to just completely step out,” she says. “The beauty of Marcel is that something in me is able to let go so that I can work things out.”

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