Ashlee Simpson’s ‘SNL’ Lip-Sync Blunder Was So Bad It Affected Host Kate Winslet the Following Week

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There are bad Saturday Night Live performances, and then there’s Ashlee Simpson’s infamous 2004 lip-synching fiasco. In fact, Simpson’s performance was so disastrous that it affected the show well into the following week, when Kate Winslet was scheduled to host. As Winslet tells it, Studio 8H was such “a hotbed of anxiety” following Ashlee Simpson’s SNL blunder that she didn’t even receive her opening monologue until the day before the show. Yikes.

During a virtual appearance as part of the Hamptons International Film Festival’s “A Conversation With…” series, Winslet was asked about her experience hosting Saturday Night Live in 2004. “I loved doing SNL,” she said. “God, the adrenaline. I’d love to go back on SNL.”

The Titanic star explained that she first started acting in those kinds of “high pressure” environments, but nothing could have prepared her for her first SNL hosting gig. “I was on the week after Ashlee Simpson. I was the next show after,” she said. Winslet explained that tensions were running high after Simpson’s lip-sync incident — in which the pop star failed to sing along to “Pieces of Me” — and the writers were going to great lengths to make the show perfect. “It was like, ‘Okay. Oh my god. So, this show’s gotta be really real,’” she recalled.

“There’s this thing of the opening monologue,” continued Winslet. “They kept saying to me, ‘Kate we’re so sorry, we just don’t have it yet. We’re not ready, just give us a moment.’”

A moment turned into days, and by Friday’s dress rehearsal, Winslet still didn’t have a monologue. “I’m, like, guys please make something up. Let me make something up,” she said. “They’re like, ‘Can you tap dance?’ And I went, ‘I can actually, yeah.’ They’re like, ‘Perfect, you’re going to tap dance and you’re going to sing.’”

“So then in three hours I learned this tap routine and this song,” said the actress. “And then we dress rehearsal, and immediately after that, we recorded the show live.”

Winslet’s tap dancing monologue isn’t anything to write home about, but after the previous week’s dumpster fire of a performance, it was probably more than welcome. As the saying goes, “No news about your SNL appearance is good news.”

Watch Kate Winslet discuss her 2004 SNL hosting gig above.

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