Everyone is obsessed with WandaVision, including, apparently, Jimmy Fallon. He’s so obsessed that he even imagined himself inside the TV show about a grieving Marvel superhero who imagines herself inside other TV shows. Kids, feel free to use this sentence in English class when your teacher asks you to explain what “meta” means.
In a new sketch called “FallonVision,” debuting right here on Vulture ahead of its broadcast on Fallon’s late-night show tonight, the host hops through time and several iterations of The Tonight Show. Elizabeth Olsen, the star of WandaVision and a guest on The Tonight Show this evening, is present throughout the whole journey in the role of the actress-guest who always behaves decade-appropriately. “Water?” she quips in the 1950s, before taking a sip and adding, “Well, that’s an odd way to pronounce ‘rum punch.’” In the ’70s, she smokes a cigarette (not necessarily of the nicotine variety) on live TV.
Just like on the Disney+ series, it eventually becomes clear that Fallon is beaming himself through classic television as a way to escape his grief about what’s happening in real life in 2021. There’s also a twist at the end that suggests another WandaVision character may be the one responsible for all this. [Wink.]
Director Chris Tartaro, who has filmed and edited many prerecorded sketches for Fallon during his tenures on both Late Night and The Tonight Show, jumped on the phone less than an hour after capturing the sketch’s last shot to explain how it all came together. Watch the sketch first, because spoilers are below.
After the idea was conceived and fine-tuned by Fallon and his writers’ room, the first step was to confirm that Olsen, already booked as a Wednesday guest, was game to participate in the homage. She was, though she had to improvise a bit when wigs and other props couldn’t be shipped to her quickly enough. (Olsen is currently in London shooting Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.) “She took her Sunday to do this with her team, and they didn’t have costumes, and they just used what they had,” Tartaro says. (Feel free to closely examine every item Olsen wears in the sketch for possible clues about the Doctor Strange movie.)
The sets of all the previous incarnations of The Tonight Show, including backgrounds from the ’50s, ’70s, ’90s and ’00s, were built in smaller incarnations that enabled Fallon to film all of his retro segments in one night of production. As for which hosts he was channeling, the 1950s was specifically Steve Allen, but Tartaro says the others were a mix.
“In the ’70s, I think he was sort of a combo of Tom Snyder, Dick Cavett, and Johnny Carson,” Tartaro says, while Fallon’s ’90s talk show channeled pieces of David Letterman, Jay Leno, and Conan O’Brien. (Followed by, of course, an homage to Fallon’s own former hosting gig on NBC’s Late Night in the early 2010s.)
As for the fabulous button on the end of the sketch — the reveal of Kathryn Hahn — that portion was shot yesterday. And yes, she sang “It Was Kathryn Hahn All Along” herself, because of course she did.
“She was very game and spot-on right away, which … I can’t say enough nice things about her,” Tartaro says. He can’t, and neither can the internet.