Austin Butler Remembers His Late Mom During Touching 'SNL' Debut: 'I've Been Thinking About Her a Lot'

"Some of my favorite memories from growing up are watching SNL with her," Austin Butler — who marked his first time as host on Saturday Night Live over the weekend — said of his mother

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Austin Butler. Photo: Emma McIntyre/WireImage

Live from Studio 8H — it's Austin Butler!

The actor, 31, hosted Saturday Night Live for the first time over the weekend, where he was joined by Lizzo, who served as the evening's musical guest.

During his opening monologue, Butler paid tribute to his late mother, who died from cancer in 2014, when the Elvis star was 23. "Some of my favorite memories from growing up are watching SNL with her. And we'd watch every week," Butler said. "And even though I had this crippling shyness, when I was with her, I'd just do anything to make my mom laugh."

"I do ridiculous faces and voices, I did this ridiculous Gollum impression. Being silly with her is what broke me out of my shell and the core of what started me in acting," he continued. "My mom is no longer with us, but I've been thinking about her a lot this week, just imagining how proud she'd be of her son, who used to not be able to order food for myself at a restaurant, is now standing on this stage."

Added Butler: "And tonight, just know that anytime you see me doing a silly voice or making a funny face, that's for you, mom."

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Elsewhere during the show, Butler took part in various sketches, including one where he played A Wonderful Life-esque character, and another where he portrayed a man during a white elephant gift exchange.

One other moment from the show saw Cecily Strong reprise her Cathy Anne character on Weekend Update. SNL announced ahead of Saturday's episode that it would mark Strong's final appearance.

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Lizzo, 34, performed twice during the evening, singing "Break Up Twice" during the beginning half of the show, before later taking the stage once more to croon Stevie Wonder's "Someday at Christmas" towards the end.

The Grammy Award winner replaced the Yeah Yeah Yeahs as musical guest earlier this month after the band revealed they had to drop out from the gig because guitarist Nick Zinner has been battling pneumonia.

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Season 48 of SNL comes about as the comedy sketch series navigates a major cast shakeup. Longtime series regulars Kate McKinnon, Pete Davidson, Aidy Bryant and Kyle Mooney exited after the season 47 finale.

PEOPLE then confirmed on Sept. 1 that the series was also losing Melissa Villaseñor and Alex Moffat, as well as featured player Aristotle Athari. Then, Chris Redd announced his departure from SNL after five seasons.

On Sept. 15, NBC revealed the four new featured players joining SNL in season 48: Marcello Hernandez, Molly Kearney, Michael Longfellow and Devon Walker.

SNL creator Lorne Michaels recently called season 48 a "transition year," telling reporters backstage at the 2022 Emmy Awards, "There are new people, and things are changing, and a different generation comes into the show."

SNL will return in 2023.

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