When Alec Baldwin started playing Donald Trump on SNL, he came aboard and took the role over for longtime performer Darrell Hammond. It was a decision that has worked for the show, helping it to crack its long Emmy drought in the variety category and bringing it attention that it hasn’t seen in years. It even made it a national discussion once the president addressed it via his Twitter account.
For Hammond, he’s come to grips with the decision and not having to play Trump ever again thanks to the current environment. But when it came down, he was less than thrilled. According to an insightful and emotional profile in The Washington Post, Hammond actually broke down when he learned Alec Baldwin would be taking over:
“I needed another force, on an acting level, to have the power that Trump was embodying then,” Michaels says. “The Darrell Trump . . . it wasn’t the Trump that had gotten darker. It was the Trump from ‘The Apprentice.’ ”
Hammond did not take the news well. It was all his girlfriend could do to get him back to his apartment.
“I just started crying,” he says. “In front of everyone. I couldn’t believe it. I was in shock, and I stayed in shock for a long time. Everything wiped out. The brand, me, what I do. Corporate appearances canceled. It was a hell of a shock, and all of it was apparent to me in one breath. That ends me.”
Hammond famously faced his demons while working at SNL starting in 1995 until 2009, self-medicating and cutting himself before heading out to kill on stage during the show. He details some of his personal issues in his 2011 book, God, If You’re Not Up There, I’m F*cked, adding that layer of tension to the word that Hammond would not be bringing his Trump to The White House.
Looking back this makes sense because Hammond’s Trump, while great, was definitely not the version you’ve seen in The White House. Still, as the Post details, the decision still haunted him for weeks after:
“I couldn’t get on an elevator, couldn’t walk through a lobby, couldn’t turn on a television, couldn’t walk down Broadway, couldn’t go to my favorite diner, couldn’t go anywhere,” Hammond says. “People would literally pull up in their cars on the way to Lincoln Tunnel to say: ‘What the hell happened? What in the world? Are you okay?’ Like, ‘Why would you give that job up?’ ”
Luckily the situation for Hammond has worked out and he doesn’t seem to harbor any ill will towards Baldwin, and vice versa. The actor told The Post that Hammond can have the job back anytime he wants it, but the end makes it seem like he’s fine leaving Trump in the past and not taking on the current version of the billionaire.
What’s interesting is how each man views the man they’ve played to near perfection on SNL. Baldwin has no love for Trump at all and plays him with disdain, but Hammond seems to have a sort of appreciation that treats the president with a sort of reverence according to WaPo:
Hammond, whose last presidential vote was cast for Bill Clinton in 1992, believes Trump is highly intelligent and a kind of “genius empath.” He has studied him in person, has texted with Ivanka, and was impressed by his work ethic when he hosted SNL for the first time in 2004.
“Read Sun Tzu, y’all,” Hammond says, referencing the famed “Art of War” general. “I knew that guy could see things. How else do you go through 17 seasoned political opponents? How do you find that one phrase, say it, and they are off their game.”
Hammond shared as much during his appearance in Michael Moore’s Broadway show, The Terms of My Surrender, getting the type of reaction you’d expect. It’s an interesting profile, though, and worth the read if you have the time.
(Via The Washington Post)