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Ryan Gosling and Kate McKinnon’s ‘Close Encounter’ Sketch Sends ‘SNL’ Cold Open Into Hysterics


Ryan Gosling returned to “SNL” this week in a cold open with “Barbie” co-star Kate McKinnon, reviving one of their most famous sketches, “Close Encounter,” in which they recount being abducted by aliens and their vastly different experiences aboard the spaceship.

The original sketch debuted eight years ago and featured Gosling and McKinnon, alongside Cecily Strong (it currently has 60 million views on YouTube). The actor also recreated this sketch on his second time hosting six years ago. In every attempt to act through “Close Encounter” Gosling has heroically attempted to get through McKinnon’s genius bit without breaking, every time he has failed. Endearingly, Gosling broke again at least once during this one.

Bowen Yang and Mike Day played NSA investigators in tonight’s cold open. Day tells Gosling, McKinnon, and Sarah Sherman, “Now you’re all here because you’ve experienced a verified alien abduction.”

As the camera pans to McKinnon, Gosling, and Sherman, the crowd inside Studio 8H screams with delight as the familiar scene is set. McKinnon is wearing her character Colleen’s trademark jeans, a disheveled brown wig, and a dangling cigarette.

“It was wild,” says Sherman. “One second, we’re three friends on a camping trip and the next, we’re citizens of the stars.” Gosling says, “And sir, before we begin, can I say something? I’m just realizing that I was wearing the same outfit last time I was here,” he says, touching his trademark navy and tan vest. On the verge of breaking, Gosling adds, “I just want you to know I do have other clothes.”

Yang, dressed in a suit, asks, “Now, how were you all brought on board the craft?” Sherman describes being hit with a warm, soft light. “And then we materialized onto the spaceship in front of these two glowing beams,” she recalls, looking at Gosling.

Gosling, as Todd says, “Our clothes were gone, but we were wearing these comfy robes made of transparent light,” he recalls, unable to contain a smile.

Sitting wide-legged and smoking a cigarette, McKinnon’s character, Colleen, tells a different story. “And you, Ms. Rafferty?” prompts Day. “Little different for me. I was by the lake, taking a whore bath…and out of nowhere, I get sucked up by a giant vacuum cleaner.” McKinnon mimics a vacuum suction with full body force and adds, “And I land on the ship, still pantsless, mind you…” She describes how she sees her “old buddies, the gray aliens with the big dumb eyes.”

Fumbling her lines briefly, McKinnon recovers saying, “And it hits me, I’ve been on this spaceship more times than I’ve been to the dentist,” she says, inhaling a puff from her cigarette.

The investigators ask what happened once aboard the ship. Sherman describes the aliens teaching her a “universal language” of love. Gosling adds, “Their language is like a soothing, beautiful sound,” and then proceeds to make the alien sounds. McKinnon says, “Now this gets my goat, because these two are getting AMSR love tingles. Meanwhile, the greys and I are doing our usual dance.”

McKinnon describes the aliens prodding her body, and imitating the aliens, she breaks character. “Anyway, that’s when Todd here showed up!” she says. Gosling recounts leaving the beams of light. “I got lost, sir, on the way to the bathroom.”

When asked how the aliens reacted when he walked into the room, Gosling, on the verge of breaking, says, “Like middle schoolers meeting Taylor Swift. They just lobbed me.” Gosling, totally breaking, goes on to describe the anatomy of the aliens. “You know, they’re smooth down there. Like a broken doorbell.”

Gosling, laughing, says, “When they saw I was packing a troll nose [in my see-through robe], they went for it.” McKinnon echoes this, emphasizing “troll nose.” Day interrupts, “I’ve never heard the term ‘troll nose’ before.” And Gosling says, “You must be hanging out at a different bowling alley than we do.”

Yang asks the group, “That we stop saying troll nose.” Gosling’s Todd asks, “During this or forever?”

Huddled together, Gosling, McKinnon, Sherman, Yang, and Day crowd in front of the camera shouting those famous seven words, “Live from New York, it’s Saturday night!”

With Gosling as host, Chris Stapleton stars as this episode’s musical guest.