During his seven-year run at Saturday Night Live, Chris Kattan established himself as one of the most purely physical performers on the show’s bench, whether embodying the raw sensuality of Mango, the shit-flinging monkey-man-ness of Mr. Peepers, or whatever you want to call what he was doing as one of the Night At The Roxbury guys. There was apparently a much darker side to his aggressive moves, though, as he revealed in his new memoir Baby Don’t Hurt Me—which we swear to fucking god is not a joke, even though, if you asked us to name a fake Chris Kattan biography, that’s exactly what we’d come up with—writing that he believes he broke his neck during a bit gone wrong while filming on the NBC show.
This is per Variety, which talked to Kattan about both the injury and its aftermath this week. Kattan says the incident in question happened while filming a sketch on May 21, 2001—ironically, one riffing on the idea of teens hurting themselves by imitating Jackass—when his head struck the stage harder than intended. Although he felt fine at first, increasing amounts of pain and stiffness over the ensuing days and months caused him to receive five different surgeries to repair the damage, with two of them paid for by NBC. (For what it’s worth, both the network and the show state that Kattan never told them what he believed to be the full extent of his injuries. By the time he thought to file for worker’s compensation, lawyers told him it was too late.)
Kattan says the injury basically destroyed his life, shutting down his career, ending a marriage, and leading to addictions to painkillers. And while he ‘s doing better these days—carving out a niche for himself as a voice actor—he still wrestles with its impact: As a physical comedian,” he writes, “I had always been worried about waking up with a whole different body one day. That fear became my reality. After those forty-five seconds on the SNL stage in May of 2001, my body would never, ever be the same.”