Nowadays Alec Baldwin impersonations are part of Saturday Night Live’s ammunition against the ridiculous reign of Donald Trump. But before Baldwin took on the character in 2016, the show’s creator, Lorne Michaels, insisted on only lobbing softballs at the soon-to-be-president, according to an interview with former SNL cast member and Trump impressionist Taran Killam.
In an interview with Matt Gourley on his podcast I Was There Too, Killam opens up about his decision to leave SNL in 2016 and the controversial hosting of Donald Trump in 2015. As Vulture points out, the Night School actor says Michaels pressured the cast and writers to go easy on the candidate in their skits, later surprising them with Trump’s invitation to host.
“Lorne was being so specific about what we could and couldn’t say about him, and he was dictating a lot of the settings,” Killam said. “At that point—the first CNN interview [Trump] was doing—and that was sort of looking like what we thought we were going to do, and Lorne’s like, ‘It’ll be too old news by then, and you know, you don’t want to vilify him. You know, he’s like any New York taxi driver. I know him, I’ve seen him around at parties for years and years, and he just says whatever it is he’s thinking, and that’s his thing. But you know, you have to find a way in that makes him likable.’”
Aside from questionable political choices, Killam says SNL went downhill after Seth Meyers left in 2014. “When Seth Meyers left the show, the dynamic changed quite a bit,” Killam said, noting that an increase in pre-taped sketches and Seth’s absence made the show feel like “less of a happy place to be.”
Check out the interview with Killam here.