Robert Downey, Jr. and other SNL cast members nominated for Oscars

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For the past 50 years, Saturday Night Live has been introducing the world to one star after another. For a select few, their work outside of SNL has been recognized by the Academy Awards.

The 2024 Oscars was an historic night in SNL's story. Robert Downey Jr. won Best Supporting Actor for his role in Oppenheimer to become the first Saturday Night Live cast member to win an Academy Award.

Downey's run on SNL isn't exactly celebrated like some of the others on this list. But he's still part of the SNL story. Along with RDJ, here are the other Saturday Night Live cast alumni who have been nominated for an Academy Award.

George Coe

George Coe was a member of the original Saturday Night Live cast that debuted in 1975. However, he only received a cast credit in the first episode. Coe still managed to appear in a handful of episodes during the first season.

But Coe was among the more established members of the "Not Ready for Primetime" crew. Coe earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Live Action Short for the 1968 film The Dove. Coe directed, produced, and co-starred in the short parodying filmmaker Ingmar Bergman.

Dan Aykroyd

Dan Aykroyd was another member of the original SNL cast that picked up an Oscar nomination. Aykroyd spent four seasons on Saturday Night Live before focusing on his film career.

Aykroyd picked up a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his role in Driving Miss Daisy. His performance as Boolie Werthan in the 1989 film earned critical praise, even if it didn't get him the Oscar. Denzel Washington received the honor for Glory.

Bill Murray

Bill Murray made a splash when he joined Saturday Night Live in 1977. After four years at SNL, he became one of the brightest stars in the show's short history.

Like Aykroyd, Murray put his energy into a film career that blended dramatic roles and comedy. His starring role in 2003's Lost in Translation earned him a Best Actor nomination. Ultimately, Murray lost to Mystic River star Sean Penn.

Randy Quaid

Like George Coe, Randy Quaid arrived at Saturday Night Live with an Academy Award nomiation already on his resume. Quaid only spent one year at SNL, joining the cast for the 1985-1986 season.

Quaid's Oscar nomination came for Best Supporting Actor in The Last Detail. The Jack Nicholson-led film picked up a few nominations that year. However, Quaid lost his category to John Houseman for The Paper Chase.

Eddie Murphy

There is perhaps no bigger star from Saturday Night Live than Eddie Murphy. It's hard to overstate just how much he influenced comedy or how popular he was at his peak.

So it's not all that surprising to see his name on the list of Oscar-nominated Saturday Night Live alumni. Murphy picked up a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his role as James "Thunder" Early in 2003's Dreamgirls. Alan Arkin ended up with the award for Little Miss Sunshine.

Michael McKean

Comedy fans can be forgiven if they forget Michael McKean was an SNL cast member. That's not because he gave a forgettable performance during his two-year stint. But it's because he's had such incredible success in Christopher Guest's mocumentaries, Better Call Saul, and more.

McKean's collaboration with Guest resulted in an Oscar nomination in 2003. Their film A Mighty Wind earned a Best Original Song nomination for "A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow" written by McKean. "Into the West" from Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King won that night.

Robert Downey Jr.

Robert Downey, Jr. spent one year at Saturday Night Live during one of the show's lowest points. RDJ would be among the first to admit that it was never a good fit.

Clearly, his SNL experience didn't prevent Downey's career from reaching unprecedented heights. He'll always be known as Iron Man, but the actor's work outside of Marvel has resulted in three Academy Award nominations.

The first came for Best Actor in Chaplin. Al Pacino took home the 1992 award for Scent of a Woman. Downey then earned a Best Supporting Actor nomination for Tropic Thunder, losing in 2008 to Heath Ledger's The Dark Knight performance. And in 2024, he finally heard his name called for Best Supporting Actor for Oppenheimer.

Joan Cusack

Joan Cusack was another performer who only stayed at Saturday Night Live for one season. She performed on the sketch show during the 1985-1986 season.

Cusack went on to have an impressive film career that made her forgettable year at SNL even more a thing of the past. The actress has beeen nominated for two Academy Awards.

The first was for Best Supporting Actress in 1988's Working Girl. She lost the trophy to Geena Davis and her work in The Accidental Tourist. Cusack picked up her second nomination in the same category for 1997's In & Out. This time, it was L.A. Confidential star Kim Basinger who took home the Oscar.

Kristen Wiig

Kristen Wiig and her characters helped the mid-2000s Saturday Night Live cast become one of the strongest in the show's history. It was inevitable that Wiig would go on to have a successful film career.

It certainly didn't take long for Wiig to reach the top of the film world. She recieved a Best Original Screenplay nomination for her 2011 film Bridesmaids. Unfortunately, it was Woody Allen who had his name called for his movie Midnight in Paris.