Unexpectedly, Edward Norton hosted last night's episode of "Saturday Night Live," a welcome guest. Norton showed off his self-deprecating side as well as his gift for impressions, including Ian McKellen and two Woodys-- Allen and Harrelson.
Much like Bruce Willis's random turn hosting SNL's last episode, Norton showed up with no movies to plug or self-promotion to work into the skits. The actor acknowledged the seeming randomness of this gig with a passable monologue. He says that he was first asked to host in 2000, but he needed 13 years to prepare for the gig to really get into the mind of his future characters. "A lot of my fans, they come up to me, they say, 'I love your work, why don't you do more movies?' I say, 'I'm preparing for Saturday Night Live, give me a break.'"
But shameless self-promotion did turn up, as Alec Baldwin and Miley Cyrus blatantly plugged their next projects and gave hosting "tips" to Norton.
The best skit of the evening: a trailer for a tale of hand-made horror, Wes Anderson's "The Midnight Coterie of Sinister Intruders." Norton, who starred in Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom" and will appear in the director's "The Grand Budapest Hotel," due next year, pulled off an hilarious Owen Wilson impression. The sketch featured spot-on production details, style, timing, and mock-reviews including: "The New York Times calls it "You had me at 'Wes Anderson.'"
In other highlights, SNL's heavyweight of the moment Kate McKinnon played Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in the cold open, explaining the problems of Healthcare.gov. Jay Pharaoh took on a recently freed man in "12 Days Not a Slave," in which Cyrus makes a fitting appearance. And in a demonstration that sometimes a great character can compensate for a lackluster concept, Norton explains his favorite Halloween candies. Musical guest Janelle Monae was as stylish and energetic as ever.
These sketches and more below.