Tragic Details About The Friendship Between Chris Farley And Jim Belushi

2022 marks 25 years since one of the brightest stars of "Saturday Night Live" passed away. Chris Farley was a cast member on the late-night sketch comedy show from 1990 to 1995 (per Cinema Blend). In that short span of time, he played characters who became household names, such as Matt Foley the motivational speaker, who famously lived in a van down by the river. Even when appearing in sketches with the likes of Patrick Swayze and Paul McCartney, Farley stood out. He blended over-the-top line delivery with physical comedy that few other cast members have rivaled.

Unfortunately, Farley's talent was not the only thing about him that was over-the-top. According to CBS 42, he suffered from drug and alcohol addiction throughout his time on "Saturday Night Live." Fellow cast member David Spade recalled finding heroin in Farley's office despite his multiple attempts to stay sober. At just 33 years old, he died of a drug overdose, two years after leaving "SNL."

Drugs were common in the early years of Saturday Night Live

Cast members of "Saturday Night Live" are no stranger to drugs and hard partying, as is show business in general. There is still a star-studded after-party following pretty much every live broadcast. In the show's early years, cocaine use among those involved with the show was common. Many of those sketches referenced drug use as well. Future writer and cast member Tina Fey even admitted that she would have been scared to work on the show during that time (per Huff Post).

The cast member from this era who is most synonymous with drug use is John Belushi. His outlandish characters and musical talent brought him fame both on and off the show. Aside from "SNL," he starred in "The Blues Brothers" and "National Lampoon's Animal House." Belushi was a polarizing figure. His talent made for positive attention, but as shown in the 2020 documentary "Belushi," his sexist attitudes, drug use, and fights with the show's creator Lorne Michaels were hard to overlook.

Chris Farley idolized John Belushi

According to USA Today, John Belushi's cocaine addiction in the mid-1970s grew to become an addiction to multiple drugs, such as pain killers after a knee injury. He sobered up in 1980, but relapsed in 1981. He was often so incapacitated during the filming of "Neighbors" that he would stay in his trailer or need help to even stand up.

Chris Farley grew up idolizing Belushi. His admiration for him came through in his sketches filled with a similar loud energy and at times absurd characters. Apart from drug addiction and similar performance styles, Farley and Belushi both grew up in the Midwest and got their starts in comedy with Second City. However, Belushi's castmate Chevy Chase did not believe that Farley had the same impact on pop culture that Belushi had (per the New York Times). Farley's castmates seem to disagree. Fox News reported that on David Spade and Dana Carvey's "Fly on the Wall" podcast, Spade said that he once told Farley that he was better than Belushi.

Jim Belushi was a friend of Chris Farley's

John Belushi's brother Jim Belushi was also a cast member on "Saturday Night Live," but not until 1983 to 1985. He dealt with his own alcohol addiction and butted heads with the show's staff, just like his brother. Jim grew to recognize that he was "out of control" and changed his attitude in order to get rehired after an executive producer fired him (per Indie Wire).

Another thing about which Jim came to a harsh realization was Chris Farley's parallels to his brother. Jim knew that Farley wanted to be like his brother. However, Jim had seen his brother's frustrating battle with drug abuse, and knew that Farley was addicted to drugs as well. On the "Fly on the Wall" podcast, Jim told hosts Dana Carvey and David Spade that Farley talked to him about John often. "You got to stop chasing him, Chris. He's gone," Jim recalled telling him. "You can't follow his track. The guy did drugs. He's dead. You can't follow him with the drugs to find out who he was," Jim continued (per People).

Jim Belushi understood the nature of addiction

Later on the "Fly on the Wall" podcast, Jim Belushi said that as he warned Chris Farley about the reckless life of his brother John Belushi, Farley acknowledged that he could not chase him. Even still, Farley said, "I love [John] so much. He was so good." Jim tried to lead by example and told Farley that he had done drugs as well, but quit before it was too late. David Spade chimed in on the podcast, explaining that Farley would even wear clothes previously worn by John Belushi that "Saturday Night Live" had kept in its wardrobe department. Despite repeatedly telling Farley to stop using drugs, Jim understood that Farley's love for John coincided with the nature of addiction. "You know, addiction is an obsessive behavior and it just extended into obsessing about John," Jim said. 

Farley's fellow cast member Adam Sandler urged him to stop the drugs and alcohol use, too. In a song that he penned as tribute to Farley, Sandler reveals that he told Farley that he would end up dying young like John Belushi. To that, Farley replied that he was all right with that (per Radar Online).

Chris Farley's friends remember his talent and sensitivity

John Belushi indeed died young. Another eerie similarity between him and Chris Farley is that they both died at 33 years old. Belushi died at the Chateau Marmont hotel in 1982 with both cocaine and heroin in his system. Cathy Smith, background singer and drug dealer to the likes of Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards, admitted to injecting Belushi with the drugs and eventually served 15 months in prison for Belushi's death (per Deadline).

Despite the fear that Farley's friends felt for him as he descended into the grips of addiction, they remember his talent and sensitive side. Adam Sandler recalled that Farley was an emotional person who loved his family (per Radar Online). He performed his tribute song to Farley when hosting "Saturday Night Live" in 2019. In the song, he states that Farley was the funniest person he ever knew. On the "Fly on the Wall" podcast, Jim Belushi said, "I love Chris. I felt a special connection to him."