The Ambulance star, 41, belted out Celine Dion’s “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” number during the Saturday, April 9, episode after noting that he thought his variety series return would be difficult the second time around.
“I never thought SNL would come calling again,” Gyllenhaal began his monologue. “I mean, it’s been 15 years and I wasn’t sure I’d remember how to host, but being here tonight it feels like everything is suddenly coming back.”
During the Brokeback Mountain star’s musical performance, he was joined by cast members Chloe Fineman, Ego Nwodim and Cecily Strong on background vocals. The women’s burgundy dresses paid homage to his January 2007 hosting debut. (Maya Rudolph, Amy Poehler and Kristen Wiig, for their parts, wore similar dresses when they sang backup for Gyllenhaal.)
“I am so excited to be back at SNL. The last time I hosted was the year 2007. You know how long ago that was? That was like 400 Marvel movies ago,” the California native joked about his NBC return. “To give you an idea of what it was like in 2007, in the show I hosted, there was a [President] George W. Bush sketch, there were jokes about the first iPhone, and this is a photo of me from my monologue …There I am in full drag, singing a song from Dreamgirls, to promote a movie where I played a gay cowboy. That was actually probably the least problematic thing in that episode, but looking back, I feel like I was a totally different person.”
He continued: “You know, it’s funny. I got this reputation for being this serious, intense method actor, but honestly, I wasn’t even that good at method acting. …The truth is, I was only doing that method stuff because I thought that’s what you had to do to be a serious actor — and I kind of forgot how to have fun.”
Gyllenhaal — who was joined by musical guest Camila Cabello during Saturday’s episode — explained that he was ready to embrace the joy of acting again during the show.
“It’s pretend and it’s fun, and it should be filled with joy. Well, I’m finally embracing that joy again, and that’s why I’m back standing on this stage,” the Spider-Man: Far From Home actor concluded his monologue.
Social media viewers were quickly blown away by his musical chops — and courage — to sing a number from the 54-year-old Canada native’s repertoire.
“You know, I didn’t think Jake Gyllenhaal could redeem himself to me personally, but him singing Celine Dion on #snl may have just convinced me,” one fan tweeted on Saturday. “If you’re willing to try to hit *those notes* on live tv fully knowing you can’t, you’ve got balls of steel.”
Another quipped: “Umm. Idk if I can handle the magical perfection that is Jake Gyllenhaal singing Celine Dion’s most beautiful song. Swoon.”
While SNL viewers may have been stunned by Gyllenhaal’s musical talents, Saturday’s show has not been the first time he’s sung in public. He previously played George Seurat in the 2017 Broadway revival of Sunday in the Park With George opposite Annaleigh Ashford.
“We had only 10 weeks on Broadway and it felt so unfinished,” he told ET Canada about working on the Tony Award-nominated production in December 2019 ahead of its U.K. revival. “To come to London and sort of finish what we had yet to finish and to do it all together again here is, I don’t think we ever believed we would do it, so it feels like a dream.”
Saturday Night Live airs on NBC Saturdays at 11:30 p.m. ET.
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