‘Saturday Night Live’ Actor Chris Kattan Says On-Set Accident Led To Broken Neck, Painkiller Addiction

Actor Chris Kattan at a movie premiere.
Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

Chris Kattan was a rising star in the early 1990s. As a fixture on Saturday Night Live, he seemed destined to follow in the footsteps of so many before who used the show as a launchpad for Hollywood fame.

But a freak on-set accident would change all of that, drastically altering his career trajectory. sending him spiraling into drug and painkiller addiction.

In the past, Kattan has spoken about the accident that left him with a broken neck, but he opened up in greater detail in a new interview with Variety. Kattan explained how he fell awkwardly during a 2001 sketch, leading him to break his neck and nearly leaving him paralyzed. In a new memoir, Baby Don’t Hurt Me: Stories and Scars from Saturday Night Live, Kattan explained how the accident limited feeling and movement in his hands and led to a series of surgeries.

As he recovered, Kattan became addicted to painkillers, and his life fell apart. Kattan never reached the potential it appeared he had after starring in both the Saturday Night Live spinoff movie A Night at the Roxbury, and another 2001 project, Corky Romano. He went through a divorce and lost his father during this time, and said he felt it was time to tell his story.

“I tried to tell the truth,” Kattan told Variety. “It feels good to just finally say everything about it. I don’t think it really hurts anybody. It’s just something I needed to say.”

There is some question about the incident itself, the New York Daily News noted. While Kattan claimed that he suffered the injury after falling backward into a rocking chair during a Golden Girls-themes skit, others who worked on the show said that they had no recollection of the accident.

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Though it has taken more than a decade, Chris Kattan appears to be making something of a comeback, including a brief appearance on Dancing With The Stars this year. Though Kattan was the first celebrity to be eliminated, he said in an appearance on Good Morning America that he was happy to do it — even if he knew he wasn’t the greatest dancer in the world.

“I wanted to do it,” Kattan said, via ABC News. “But I still wasn’t quite the best dancer you’ve ever seen. But there’s so many great dancers. Witney’s unbelievable. And you can’t compete with Simone who is a gold medalist.”

“I’m happy that I’m content and having a good time right now. I had a blast. It was such an amazing experience,” Kattan added.