Why Alec Baldwin Originally Didn't Want To Play Donald Trump On SNL

alec baldwin trump

Satire and spoof often work best when applied to the world of politics, and the currently-climaxing POTUS race has offered up seemingly infinite inspiration for comedy in 2016. One sniffling TV benchmark has been the debates between Alec Baldwin's Donald Trump and Kate McKinnon's Hillary Clinton on Saturday Night Live. Much as we (possibly) could have had many other candidates running for President, we could have had other actors donning the faux blond locks as Trump, since Baldwin wasn't initially gangbusters about taking the gig. Here's his explanation for the hesitance.

When he asked me, I said no. I said, 'Well I don't want to do that. I don't think I can do that.' I mean, he had Taran Killam and he had Darrell Hammond; he had a couple of people who were in his compound there who could do it, I thought, better than me. I thought, 'I don't want to do it. I don't think I can.' But you get lucky. I also think that people were ready to take in that version of him, which is so aggressive, the writing. Which I find is a key to playing him.

It's quite an honor to get asked to take on such a prestigious role on Saturday Night Live, a show that Alec Baldwin has become quite familiar with over the years, having hosted the sketch series 16 times. (It wasn't Lorne Michaels' idea, though.) But he's never been a regular cast member, so taking on a semi-regular role like that must have seemed like a left-field request, what with all the talent that the show has going for it on a weekly basis. Bad time to drop Taran Killam's name into the mix, though.

But sanity prevailed, and Alec Baldwin took the gig, even namedropping his brother at one point, despite said brother's lack of excitement for the impression. Sure, it would have been solid had Darrell Hammond or any number of Saturday Night Live veterans returned to show off faux debate skills, but after seeing the mouth-waggling wonder that is Baldwin's Donald Trump, no substitution will be accepted from now on. (Sorry, Johnny Depp.)

Alec Baldwin appeared on an episode of the radio program The Brian Lehrer Show, where he joked about how Donald Trump himself was the one providing much of the material the writers were using, calling him the "writer of his own comedy routine." It's almost a comedy routine in and of itself in the interview after Baldwin expresses that exact sentiment in two different ways, only to have Brian Lehrer then ask if the writers intentionally used Trump's words in the sketches. Good times.

The election season is coming to a close tonight, regardless of what happens, and while that means the end of Baldwin's Donald Trump impression through debate sketches, only time will tell if there will be more of him away from podiums and microphones. This weekend's episode will be hosted by the stellar Dave Chappelle, and the promise of a sketch with Chappelle and Trump together (with David S. Pumpkins) is too good to not hold out hopes for. You know when to find Saturday Night Live, and the "where" is NBC.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.