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Andy Samberg “terrified” about leaving “Saturday Night Live”

ON HIS OWN: Andy Samberg had come consider “Saturday Night Live” comfort zone. | VALERIE MACON~AFP/GettyImages

ON HIS OWN: Andy Samberg had come to consider “Saturday Night Live” a comfort zone. | VALERIE MACON~AFP/GettyImages

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Updated: July 16, 2012 6:32AM

When actor-comedian Andy Samberg was asked for one word to describe his recent decision to exit “Saturday Night Live” after a highly successful seven-year run, he didn’t offer “excited,” “hopeful” or even “nervous.”

Leaning forward in his chair at the Peninsula Hotel here, he merely said, “terrified.”

A quizzical look from the reporter sitting across from him prompted this response: “It is terrifying to leave some­thing you’ve known so well for so long, a place where you were always in your comfort zone — where the mere structure of the show gave you a sense of confidence.

“Don’t get me wrong. It was the right time to leave, and I’m completely comfortable that I made the right decision. However, I still have this little sense of terror lurking inside my gut. It’s that typical thing actors all have. Even the most successful actors often wonder, ‘Will I have work again?’ ”

Added Samberg with a big smile, “Maybe a better way of putting that would be, ‘Will I ever work again — doing something I really love and want to do!’ ”

His first project since his swan song on the “SNL” season finale last month is “That’s My Boy” (opening Friday), an R-rated comedy from Adam Sandler’s production company.

Samberg, 33, plays Todd, the estranged son of Donny Berger (Sandler). The 12-year real-life age difference between the two is worked into the film’s plot: the middle-school aged Donny gets his teacher pregnant.

“The concept of parenting is overwhelming to me now,” said the unmarried Samberg. “No wonder Donny Berger couldn’t handle it as a teenager.”

The teacher is sent to prison for 30 years, with the baby’s custody awarded to Donny’s father until the child turns 18.

At that milestone, the teenager moves away, changes his name and has absolutely nothing to do with his father — whom he considers a terrible joke who ruined his life.

They reconnect on the verge of Todd’s wedding, and much of the movie revolves around the now-wealthy hedge fund manager Todd trying to conceal the true nature of his relationship with Donny.

Without question, the language, sexuality and over-all subject matter of “That’s My Boy” justify the “R” rating, but that’s what attracted Samberg to the project.

“It’s really very much like a lot of Adam’s earlier stuff — both on ‘SNL’ and in movies,” Samberg said. “I loved the way he’s created this incredibly over-the-top character with Donny Berger.”

Another hook: all the pop-culture references, from the ’80s music to the cameos by that era’s celebs, including rapper Vanilla Ice (who actually has a fairly substantial secondary role) and “Diff’rent Strokes” star Todd Bridges.

“I thought it was hilarious, especially when Adam would get everyone — especially Granny [actress Peggy Stewart] — going ‘WHAAASUP!!!’ said Samberg, laughing.

As for that huge tattoo of the New Kids on the Block on his character’s back, Samberg quipped, “I still have it. That’s another reason I’m terrified about getting a job. I’m now limited to taking roles where I can’t take off my shirt — or turn around!”

Of course, the tattoo was temporary, but Samberg admitted, “It was a real pain to have to have that applied for the days we needed it. Those are three hours of my life I won’t ever get back.”

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