5 Things We Learned About the “Fat Guy in a Little Coat”: ‘I Am Chris Farley’ Biopic

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE: THE BEST OF CHRIS FARLEY -- Pictured: Chris Farley as Himself
NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal/Getty Images

The CW is bringing us the latest installment of the I AM FILMS Series, this time it is the 2015 I Am Chris Farley directed by Brent Hodge and Derik Murray. We see a funny, heartwarming tale of  Chris from his early days in Madison, WI to the height of his career on Saturday Night Live and films like Tommy Boy up to his untimely tragic death. It includes candid stories from his SNL friends and alumni Adam Sandler, David Spade, and Mike Myers, as well as other close friends and family, plus the late Bob Saget. It also features rare footage and old photos of the beloved comedian.

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, top row from left: Adam Sandler, David Spade, Ellen Cleghorne, Kevin Nealon, Phil Hartman; middle: Chris Rock, Julie Sweeney, Dana Carvey, Rob Schneider; front: Chris Farley, Al Frankin (writer), Melanie Hutsell, (Season 18), 1975-.

Al Levine/NBC/courtesy Everett Collection.

Farley started off his days in Catholic schools in Madison, WI. He was the class clown and a sports jock who was known in the locker room to always be pulling his pants down. Once a dare landed him in trouble with the nuns and he was kicked out of school for a semester. After graduating high school, he attended college at Marquette University in Milwaukee and it led him to the start of his heavy wild partying days while on the rugby team. He was a very serious athlete but still known as the funny guy. He started out in the Foleys club and it was then he knew this was what he wanted for his life.

After graduation started taking classes at the Ark Improv Theater in Madison. This led him to uproot his comfort zone of being at home and move to Chicago to join Second City where he met Mike Meyers and was trained under the legendary teacher Del Close – who also taught Bill Murray and Dan Akroyd. When Meyers left Second City to join the Saturday Night Live cast, he was asked if there was anyone else from there worth bringing in and he immediately shot Farley’s name into the ring. Now, as they say, the rest is history! Here are 5 tidbits we picked up on the biopic:


He was embarrassed to do the Chippendale’s skit with Patrick Swayze due to his weight but realized it was a perfect use for his physicality.


“The Chris Farley Show” skit was most like what he was really like in real life.


The “Motivational Speaker” skit came from his days at Second City he did with Bob Odenkirk, which was influenced by his father. The name Matt Foley? It came from a friend’s name who is really a priest and not living in a van down by the river.


Tommy Boy was loosely based on his real-life relationship with his salesman father. While it got horrible reviews at first, it is now considered one of the best comedies.


Chris Farley & Date during "Excess Baggage" Los Angeles Premiere at Mann's Village Theatre in Westwood, California, United States.


Clearly, he had many issues with drugs, alcohol, and self-esteem most of his life. Later on likely stemming from the pressure of his rapidly growing career. He went through rehab 17 times before he finally died of an overdose on December 17, 1997 at the age of 33.


I Am Chris Farley premieres Saturday January 6 at 8pm ET on The CW


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March 2021

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