At 33 years old, Chris Farley has this physical status:
Throughout Farley's career, despite his size, he was frequently known for his physical performance/comedy and athleticism (similar to Curly Howard and Roscoe Arbuckle). This began and was used to great effect during his time on Saturday Night Live, and continued through many of his films.
Along with Chris Rock, Farley was one of the new Saturday Night Live cast members announced in early 1990. On SNL, Farley frequently collaborated with fellow cast members Chris Rock, Adam Sandler, Tim Meadows, Rob Schneider and David Spade, among others. This group came to be known as the "Bad Boys of SNL."
Popular characters performed by Farley included Matt Foley, an over-the-top motivational speaker who frequently reminded other characters that he was "living in a van down by the river!" The character was created by Bob Odenkirk when he and Farley were performers at Second City. The character's name came from a longtime friend of Farley's who became a Catholic priest and currently serves as head pastor at St. James Catholic Church in Arlington Heights, Illinois. In early renditions of the character, Farley used other names, depending on whom he knew in the audience, until the real-life Foley went to the show and had his name used, at which point Farley felt the name best suited the character and refused to change it. Some of the mannerisms of the character were a combination of the positions Farley noticed his rugby teammates took on the pitch coupled with his high school football coach's habit of squatting down when giving pep talks and the voice his father used when he was angry.
Other famous Farley characters included Todd O'Connor of Bill Swerski's Superfans, a group of stereotypical Chicagoans who repeatedly shouted "da Bears!"; a would-be Chippendales dancer, in a famous sketch that paired him with guest host Patrick Swayze; one of the "Gap Girls", who worked together at a local mall; a stereotypical lunch lady, to the theme of "Lunchlady Land"' performed by Adam Sandler; Bennett Brauer, a Weekend Update commentator who often divulged his personal and hygienic problems via air quotes; and himself on The Chris Farley Show, a talk show in which Farley "interviewed" the guest with poorly conceived questions or trailed off about subjects not germane to the guest.
Some of these characters were brought to SNL from his days at Second City. Farley also performed impersonations of Tom Arnold (who gave Farley's eulogy at his private funeral), Andrew Giuliani, Jerry Garcia, Meat Loaf, Norman Schwarzkopf, Dom DeLuise, Roger Ebert, Carnie Wilson, Newt Gingrich, Mindy Cohn, Mama Cass, Hank Williams Jr., and Rush Limbaugh.
Off-screen, Farley was well known for his pranks in the offices of Saturday Night Live. Sandler and Farley would make late-night prank phone calls from the SNL offices in Rockefeller Center, with Sandler speaking in an old woman's voice and Farley farting into the phone and mooning cars from a limousine, and even once defecating out a 17th floor window. He was also known to frequently get naked and do various stunts for laughs, including imitating Jame "Buffalo Bill" Gumb from the then-current film The Silence of the Lambs. Rock once claimed that he probably saw Farley's genitals more than Farley's girlfriend did. Sandler told Conan O'Brien on The Tonight Show that NBC fired him and Farley from the show in 1995.
During his time on SNL, Farley appeared in the comedy films Wayne's World, Coneheads, Airheads, and had an uncredited role in Billy Madison. He also appeared in the music video for the Red Hot Chili Peppers single "Soul to Squeeze", which was featured on the soundtrack to Coneheads.
After Farley and most of his fellow cast members were released from their contracts at Saturday Night Live following the 1994–95 season, Farley began focusing on his film career. In his first two major films, Tommy Boy and Black Sheep, he starred with SNL colleague and close friend David Spade. These were a success at the domestic box office, earning around $32 million each and gaining a large cult following on home video.
The two films established Farley as a relatively bankable star, and he was given the title role of Beverly Hills Ninja, which finished in first place at the box office on its opening weekend.
Farley was particularly dissatisfied with Black Sheep, an attempt by the studio to recapture the chemistry in Tommy Boy, and which was only 60 pages into the script when the project was green-lit. As a result, he relapsed on the night of the premiere, which required further rehab before he could begin work on Beverly Hills Ninja. After his death on December 18, 1997, his final completed films, Almost Heroes and Dirty Work, were released in May and June 1998, respectively.
Farley was originally cast as the voice of the title character in the film Shrek, recording 85% (or 95%, according to some sources) of the character's dialogue, but died just before recording was finished. The filmmakers felt continuing the film with Farley's voice would be in bad taste, so Shrek's dialogue was re-recorded by former SNL castmate Mike Myers. A story reel featuring a sample of Farley as Shrek was released in 2015. The original version of Shrek was more like Farley himself, according to his brother.
Farley was slated for another voice role in Dinosaur as a young male Brachiosaurus named Sorbus who, despite his gigantic stature, was frightened of heights. After his death, the character was rewritten as Baylene, an elderly female Brachiosaurus played by British actress Joan Plowright.
At the time of his death, Farley had been in talks to costar with Vince Vaughn in The Gelfin, and to star in a biographical film about comedian Fatty Arbuckle to be written by David Mamet. Jim Carrey's role in the 1996 film The Cable Guy was originally intended for Farley, but scheduling conflicts forced him to decline. Farley was also offered the role of Ishmael (eventually played by Randy Quaid) in Kingpin, though he was forced by Paramount to turn it down to honor his commitment to star in Black Sheep.
Farley was slated to appear in a third Ghostbusters film, which was at the time intended to be about a new trio of Ghostbusters taking on overpopulation in Hell. Dav Pilkey, author of the children's book series Captain Underpants, had wanted Farley to play the title role in a potential television series based on the books.
Farley had been in talks for the lead in an adaptation of the novel A Confederacy of Dunces. Farley even expressed interest in portraying Atuk in an adaptation of the novel The Incomparable Atuk. Both of these shelved projects, along with the Arbuckle biopic, have been alleged to be cursed, as Farley, John Belushi, and John Candy were each attached to both roles, and all three died before any of the films entered production.