While appearing on Elle’s Women in Hollywood Awards Monday night, Tina Fey took the time to pay tribute to Saturday Night Live star Jan Hooks, who passed away on Oct. 9 at age 57.
Fey said that she thought Hooks was an amazing actress and comedian and didn’t get the recognition she deserved.
It was Fey’s decision to cast Hooks to play Jane Krakowski’s mother on 30 Rock, and Fey said that she knew from the beginning that she was perfect for the role.
“We needed to cast Jane Krakowski’s estranged Florida dirtbag mother, and I thought, My God, do you think we could get Jan Hooks?” Fey said to Vanity Fair. “And the answer was like, ‘Yeah, you can get her.’ She was living in Woodstock. And the phone was not ringing.”
“It made me sad when she passed, and it made me mad at the time how available she was,” Fey added. “Jan should have had a bigger career. Jan deserved a big movie career. Certainly as big as Rob Schneider’s f*cking career. She was a bigger star on SNL.”
— E! Online (@eonline) October 21, 2014
Fey also said that Hooks was a little nervous to start acting again, but she caught on quickly and fit right in with everyone else on set.
“She was actually a little shy about jumping back into the game,” Fey recalled about Hooks’ return to television. “And she came down and she was so funny. We did a scene where Jenna and her mother are reunited [and they] sing their duet that they used to sing in pageants when Jenna was a child. And it was a mother and a daughter singing to each other, ‘Do that to me one more time . . . ‘”
“And it was so funny and the crew was so mesmerized,” she added. “It was all at once the most ridiculous and heartbreaking and beautiful [and] weird mother-daughter relationship. And I’m so proud of it.”
Nevertheless, Hooks was an important part of SNL and a role model for Tina Fey. She will be missed dearly by everyone who knew her as a friend, comedian or actress.