For Jimmy Fallon fans, it’s tough to imagine a late-night television show without him, yet neither he nor NBC considered him for the role.
Fallon said on the most recent episode of the Strike Force Five podcast that he wasn’t initially chosen to host Late Night on NBC. Fallon, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Meyers, and John Oliver collaborated on the podcast.
After leaving Saturday Night Live in 2004, Fallon stated that he intended to pursue a career as a film actor, similar to Bill Murray or Eddie Murphy.
However, producer Lorne Michaels approached him at the time about taking over as host of Late Night since Conan O’Brien was contemplating a move to The Tonight Show in six years.
“He [Michaels] goes, ‘Would you ever want to do a talk show?’” Fallon reflected back. “I go, ‘I don’t think so. … In six years, ask me, and if I’m around I’ll think about it.”
After many years, Michaels lined up Fallon. He said he first discussed it with his wife, about the offer, noting, “‘You have to take this job. You’re one of three human beings to ever do this.’”
“So, I call Lorne, and I go, ‘I’m in. I’d love to do it,’” Fallon said. “He goes, ‘Great. NBC doesn’t really want you. But we have to talk to them.’ I’m not even on their list, by the way.”
Fallon indicated that at first NBC was reluctant to offer him hosting position, but, then Michaels actually “went to bat” on him saying, “Either you do this with Jimmy, or I’m not involved,’ or something like that.” The host added that Michaels, “Changed my life.”