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Saturday Night Live viewers who tune in for the Oct. 1 season premiere are going to see a very familiar face in a very important role.
Alec Baldwin will debut his Donald Trump impression on the episode — a part he will play for the entire season, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter.
The reality star turned Republican presidential nominee was played last season by Darrell Hammond, a onetime castmember (and SNL Trump) who returned to the show in 2014 as its announcer. Hammond will remain with the series as its announcer and continue to appear on the show periodically. Before Hammond, Trump was played by castmember Taran Killam, whose contract was not picked up for season 42.
Trump himself hosted the show in November 2015, amid much controversy and calls for SNL to “#DumpTrump” over the candidate’s perceived racial bias.
Executive producer Lorne Michaels made the decision to cast the 58-year-old Baldwin in the part of Trump over the summer. A close personal friend of Michaels’ who also starred on the Michaels-produced NBC sitcom 30 Rock, Baldwin officially signed on earlier this week and taped a promo that debuted on social media on Wednesday.
The arrangement is similar to the casting last season of Larry David to play Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders over multiple episodes — an idea that paid off in huge comic dividends with winning sketches like “Bern Your Enthusiasm,” a send-up of David’s long-running HBO hit.
Baldwin has deep ties to SNL, having guest-hosted a record-setting 16 times since his debut in 1990. (Steve Martin is right on his tail at 15.) In that time, he has performed more than a dozen celebrity impressions, including Al Pacino, Bono, Harvey Fierstein, Tony Bennett and Marlon Brando. He’s even taken on a Republican presidential hopeful before, playing Texas Gov. Rick Perry in a 2011 cold-open sketch mocking the GOP debates.
But this will be his first time playing Trump — a candidate about whom he’s had ambivalent feelings in the recent past. Baldwin told Howard Stern in June 2015 that he “would love to see Trump be the Republican nominee … [He’s a] huge campaign finance reform person.” But in a May 2016 interview with Ellen DeGeneres, Baldwin said, “We don’t really want a president who looks like he’s been dipped in movie popcorn butter.” And in June of this year, he told The Telegraph that Trump is “the first candidate made of hate.”
The Oct. 1 premiere will feature Margot Robbie as host and musical guest The Weeknd. The following week, on Oct. 8, Hamilton creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda will assume hosting duties, with Twenty One Pilots appearing as musical guest.
Exactly one month later, U.S. citizens will cast their votes in the general election — and Baldwin will learn whether he is playing a president or an also-ran.
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