We were so close to a world in which Alec Baldwin did not play Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live. The actor explained to Vanity Fair—both in a cover story he penned and an accompanying video—that, not only was he iffy on taking the gig, he was supposed to do a movie that would have conflicted with tapings. But it was a combination of the filmmakers’ fuck-up and the persuasion of Tina Fey and Lorne Michaels that finally convinced him.
“I was supposed to do a film, and then the people who were doing the film were supposed to escrow money to guarantee that I would get paid, and they didn’t put the money in escrow,” he told the magazine during a photoshoot. “And that’s when I hung up and I said I’m not going to go do the movie, and I’m going to go do the thing with Lorne. And I think to myself what if I hadn’t done that?” So that’s the practical reason why he nearly passed. He also, apparently, was wrestling with whether or not he actually wanted to impersonate the man who would eventually become president. “Because anytime you do any kind of mimicry, it’s of somebody that you appreciate. I didn’t hate Trump,” he wrote in his essay. “I just didn’t want to play him. But Tina and Lorne pushed me, so I finally said yes.”
Baldwin has indicated that he’s not going to mispronounce “China” forever, so Michaels might have a contingency plan in his back pocket. Or perhaps Baldwin can be strong-armed into making Trump his life’s work.