Kenan Thompson's advice to new 'SNL' cast members: 'It might get a little prankish'

Kenan Thompson is about to start Season 45 of "Saturday Night Live" as the show's longest-running cast member, having joined back in 2003.

The 41-year-old comedian-actor, regarded as a pillar of the comedy ensemble, has seen a number of castmates come and go. That includes Shane Gillis, a new hire who was let go in mere days after a video surfaced of him using racial slurs directed at Asians. He was never featured in an episode.

On Monday -- before news broke of Gillis' departure -- Fox News spoke with Thompson about how he's "excited" to work with the other two new comedy additions: Bowen Yang and Chloe Fineman.

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"I've known Bowen already for a year. He was a writer last year, so he set. And he's great. You could tell that he's ready for it. So I'm excited to see what he brings to the show," he said.

Kenan Thompson as Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas

Kenan Thompson as Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (Rosalind O'Connor/NBC)

As for any kind of hazing period for the newbies, Thompson assured that "everybody is pretty tame and mellow but I mean amongst the writers it might get a little prankish. But for the cast, everybody works so much. There's so much on the line, so not [too much] horseplay."

He's known for tackling such characters as his "friend" Steve Harvey, Charles Barkley, Ray Lewis, and sportscaster James Brown.

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Thompson said: "I enjoyed doing Ray Lewis. He's a very passionate individual. And I got a picture of him watching me do his impression. And that was really cool."

But he does catch a bit of flak from Harvey.

"I mean, me and Steve ... go back and forth a lot," he joked. "He likes to act like he's upset about it but he's really not. I've known him for so long he knows it's all love. He definitely has to host."

Thompson, who is working on a comedic campaign with Tide about which day is best for #LaundryNight after the NFL first argued it can't be Sunday because of football, opened up about how he balances family and work life.

He said his wife, Christina Evangeline, is "very understanding and supportive but it's always tough" to be away from them for long periods of time. "I make my time when I'm in town valuable," he said. "I get up and take Georgia [4 years old] and then my little one [Gianna Michelle, 3 months], I go back and have breakfast with her. The scheduling of all the family stuff is tough."

Thompson began his acting career in the early 1990s and has been juggling multiple projects since. He's currently working on NBC's "Bring the Funny," executive producing a revival of "All That," and putting in lots of time on his new sitcom, "The Kenan Show," in which he shares the screen with veteran actor Andy Garcia.

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"He's super down to earth," he said of working with the Oscar nominee. "It's hard not to quote his greatest movies. I just wanted to talk to him about 'The Godfather' or 'The Untouchables' or 'Hoodlum.' He showed me all these old movies -- amazing performances from black and white films -- just the craft of acting, for real."

Thompson during a sketch on "SNL."

Thompson during a sketch on "SNL." (Will Heath/NBC)

"I've always been the same kind of performer. I guess I've gotten more mature but as far as my comedic approach to things, it's all been pretty similar," he added. "I'm not necessary 100 percent a comedian. I'm an actor-comedian. I never had the chance to go to improv school."

"In the beginning, I wasn't able to do standup because I was a working actor. 'SNL' was my college of comedy," Thompson explained. "[I had to prove] to adults I was one of them."

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And don't worry about more episodes of "All That." He teased them and said the odds are very good -- "I think they're coming back for a second half of the season. I'm not sure when they're making announcements actually but my fingers are feeling very good about being crossed."