Alec Baldwin yesterday defended Saturday Night Live‘s inclusion of jokey references to President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis, saying the show likely would not have gone near the subject if “there was ever the suggestion that Trump was truly, gravely ill.”
In an Instagram video posted yesterday, Baldwin, who plays Trump on the NBC sketch show, said, “If there was ever the suggestion that Trump was truly, gravely ill, if people said, ‘Oh, Trump is really in trouble,’ I bet you everything I have that we wouldn’t even get near that in terms of the content of the show. They would have done something else; I’ve seen that happen before.”
On Saturday’s show, Baldwin played Trump to Jim Carrey’s Joe Biden in a cold open recreation of last week’s debate, at one point dismissing the “China virus” as a hoax, then adding, “And that statement will not come back to haunt me later this week.”
Later in the sketch, Carrey, as Biden, imagined what would happen “if science and karma could somehow team up to send us all a message about how dangerous this virus can be,” adding, “I’m not saying I want it to happen, but just imagine if it did.”
Baldwin said yesterday that in deciding to go ahead with the Trump jokes, SNL only had “the words of the White House and the people who work there to go on, and all of them have been saying that he is not in any danger.
“If their word had been that he is in serious trouble,” Baldwin continued, “I can assure you we wouldn’t have done it.”
Baldwin also acknowledged that the online criticism of the sketch was beyond the usual “people being sick of me doing this, which I get.”
“If you don’t like me doing it, I get that,” said Baldwin, who has made no secret of his tiring of the role. Responding to critics who would prefer to see a regular cast member take on the role, Baldwin said, “I’m all for that.”
Baldwin also acknowledged that his broadly comic portrayal isn’t the “finely etched” impersonation some other actors might turn in, but that SNL‘s cold open might not work with a finer-tuned depiction.
“I also think that no matter who plays Trump, how well they play it, no matter what the context, it doesn’t matter,” Baldwin said. “People are just sick of Trump, they don’t care who portrays him.”
Here’s Baldwin’s Instagram video, followed by the SNL cold open:
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