Former “Saturday Night Live” cast member Darrell Hammond was the show’s go-to impressionist for years. And his specialty was doing spot-on performances of presidents.
So when Donald Trump was going up against Hillary Clinton for president last year with the outcome coinciding with season 42 of “SNL,” everyone thought Hammond would be the guy to play Trump.
But that didn’t happen. In a shocking twist, “SNL” head Lorne Michaels brought in Alec Baldwin to play candidate Trump.
Hammond was suddenly forgotten as Baldwin’s explosive impersonation of Trump wowed us every Saturday night and led to him winning an Emmy for outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series earlier this month.
But it turns out Hammond didn’t take it well that he lost the gig.
Hammond has finally broke his silence on how his Trump was passed over going into one of the most insane elections in modern times. In a revealing profile in The Washington Post, we are given the sad behind-the-scenes story.
The comic had been a fixture on “SNL” since 1995, doing memorable impressions of not just Trump but Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and Sean Connery. He was also the show’s announcer after its legendary voice Don Pardo died in 2014. So it came as a shock to Hammond to learn last September that he wasn’t going to play Trump in season 42. And despite his history with the show, Michaels didn’t even give him the news. Michaels had producer Steve Higgins do it.
Hammond did not take it well.
“I just started crying,” Hammond told the paper. “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 tried to distance himself from one of his most iconic impressions. He stopped doing it in his stand up appearances. He and his girlfriend watched “Game of Thrones” on election night. His doctors prescribed him a beta blocker to calm his nerves and the drug Antabuse to keep him from drinking, according to The Washington Post story.
“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 favourite diner, couldn’t go anywhere,” Hammond said. “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 ok?’ Like, ‘Why would you give that job up?'”
Michaels has said the reason for the change was because he “needed another force, on an acting level, to have the power that Trump was embodying then.”
“The Darrell Trump … it wasn’t the Trump that had gotten darker. It was the Trump from ‘The Apprentice,'” Michaels said.
Hammond now spends little time in New York City. When The Washington Post caught up with him he was doing a 45-minute set for $US50,000 at a party held by Clinton fundraisers. He’s come back to NYC recently to appear in Michael Moore’s Broadway show, “The Terms of my Surrender.” Yes, he does a little Trump while on stage.
Hammond said he does not resent Baldwin at all. Baldwin, who addresses his Trump impersonation less and less while doing press these days, did send an email to The Washington Post about the Hammond situation:
“I love and admire Darrell and I’m sorry that he is unhappy about how it all transpired,” Baldwin wrote. “PS . . . He can have the thing back whenever he likes, as far as I’m concerned.”
Here’s Hammond as Trump in a 2004 skit that also features the real Donald Trump:
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