Matt Villines Dead: ‘Saturday Night Live’ Director Dies at 39

Matt Villines
Matt Villines (left) and Oz Rodriguez. Courtesy Mike O'Brien/Instagram

Saturday Night Live director Matt Villines died after a battle with stage IV cancer over the weekend, according to reports. He was 39.

Villines was best known for his work as part of the directing duo Matt and Oz with SNL director Osmany Rodriguez. The pair were responsible for several of the hit NBC variety show’s most memorable pretaped digital shorts, including “The Jay Z Story,” “Sad Mouse,” “(Do It in My) Twin Bed” and “A Thanksgiving Miracle.”

Saturday Night Live co–head writer Bryan Tucker confirmed the news in a Facebook post on Monday, July 11.

“I wanted to let all my Facebook friends know about the great Matt Villines, who passed away yesterday at age 39 after a long battle with cancer — not necessarily to let you know that he’s tragically gone, but tell you what he left behind,” he wrote. “Matt, along with Osmany Rodriguez, directed some of SNL’s best short films over the past few years.”

Tucker continued, “Matt was not only an excellent director. He was a warm, kind guy who got an enormous amount done without ever raising his voice. The last time I saw him, he was back at SNL after getting treatment, a bit frail, but ready to dive in. He didn’t want to talk about his condition. He just wanted to enjoy creating great comedy by working with the people who made him laugh. He’s gone, but people will remember what he left behind for a long time.”

Los Angeles Clippers basketball player Blake Griffin, right, shares a laugh with co-directors Matt Villines, left, and Oz Rodriguez between takes of a scene on the first day of Griffin's week-long internship at comedy video website Funny Or Die, Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011, in Los Angeles. A fan of Funny Or Die and comedy in general, Griffin will spend the week on tasks ranging from running office errands to helping out on productions.
Los Angeles Clippers basketball player Blake Griffin, right, shares a laugh with co-directors Matt Villines, left, and Oz Rodriguez between takes of a scene on the first day of Griffin's week-long internship at comedy video website Funny Or Die, Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011, in Los Angeles. A fan of Funny Or Die and comedy in general, Griffin will spend the week on tasks ranging from running office errands to helping out on productions. AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

Villines and Rodriguez, who joined the SNL team in 2012, also directed several Funny or Die projects, including “Charlie Sheen’s Winning Recipe” and “The Wire: The Musical.”

Saturday Night Live released a statement on Twitter on Monday morning, writing, “We are deeply saddened by the loss of Matt Villines. His talent, grace and unerring comedic intelligence will be irreplaceable. Everything he touched, he made better; everyone he worked with, he made happier. We will miss you, Matt.”

SNL cast member Mike O’Brien also shared a touching tribute to the late director via Instagram on Sunday, July 10.

“He was one of my favorite people,” the comedian wrote. “He taught me a ton about filmmaking and even more about being kind even when you’re stressed or frustrated or sick.”

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