Bill Hader reveals the panic attack advice he got from Jeff Bridges

The advice has stuck with Hader all these years later
Bill Hader and Jeff Bridges
Photo credit Bill Hader (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)/Jeff Bridges (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

No matter how seasoned of an actor you are, feelings of stage fright and anxiety never really go away.

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Bill Hader was a fixture on Saturday Night Live during his impressive eight-year run as a cast member from 2005-2013. He joined the Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend podcast to discuss how the live component of the show was a major source of anxiety.

“If I mess this up at all, the whole studio is going to fall down on me,” Hader recalled feeling. "It’s this fear of, I have to land this thing perfectly.”

There was an episode where Hader was set to play Julian Assange in a skit, which was giving him feelings of anxiety. Jeff Bridges was the host of the show that night and ended up imparting wisdom that’s stuck with Hader to this very day.

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“I had a full panic attack,” Hader recalled. “Afterwards I was feeling terrible.”

He then told Bridges about his panic attack, which is when Bridges gave his advice. “I used to work with Robert Ryan, the great actor Robert Ryan,” Hader recalled Bridges telling him at the time. “He said before every take he would start sweating and I said ‘really after all these years you still get nervous?’ And he said, ‘oh I’d be really afraid if I wasn’t afraid.’”

“And he goes, ‘you gotta use that, that’s your buddy man,’” Hader said while mimicking The Dude’s voice from The Big Lebowski. “‘A little anxiety, you gotta bring that out there man.’”

Audacy's I’m Listening initiative aims to encourage those who are dealing with mental health issues to understand they are not alone. If you or anyone you know is struggling with depression or anxiety, know that someone is always there. Additionally, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-273-8255.

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