Alec Baldwin has turned his unexpected run as President Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live” into one of the most visible roles of his career.
But even as Baldwin received acclaim for the parody that won him an Emmy in 2017, the actor has made no secret of how much he loathes the role. In a recent USA Today interview, Baldwin, citing viewer criticism and a desire to spend more time with his family, says he “can’t imagine” returning as Trump for the show’s upcoming 45th season.
You might think the star is officially hanging up his super-long tie — except this isn’t the first or even fifth time Baldwin, who first spoofed candidate Trump a month ahead of the 2016 election, has signaled as much.
December 2016: After the real-life Trump singles him out in a scathing review (“the Baldwin impersonation just can’t get any worse”), the actor tweets back: “Release your tax returns and I’ll stop.”
March 2017: Few, if any, presidents have been as vocal as Trump about the way they are portrayed on “Saturday Night Live.” With just a handful of Trump takes under his belt, Baldwin tells Extra’s Mario Lopez that “the maliciousness of this White House has people worried,” and that he’s not going to do the impersonation “much longer.”
“I don’t know how much more people can take it,” he adds.
September 2017: In a profile of Darrell Hammond, who impersonated Trump on “Saturday Night Live” for more than a decade, Washington Post reporter Geoff Edgers reveals that Hammond was gutted to learn, ahead of the 2016 presidential election, that Baldwin would be taking over the role.
“I love and admire Darrell and I’m sorry that he is unhappy about how it all transpired,” Baldwin told Edgers in an email. “PS ... He can have the thing back whenever he likes, as far as I’m concerned.”
September 2017: Baldwin appears on “Ellen,” where he confirms he will return as Trump for “SNL’s” Season 43 premiere. “I’m going to do a couple of them,” he tells the host. But he hints at a possible end date. “We’re going to do it until ...” he says, before declining to finish the thought: “OK, never mind.” Ellen DeGeneres then throws to a clip of Baldwin’s young daughter, Carmen, attempting her own impersonation of the president in the style of her dad.
October 2017: Baldwin interviews Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., for his WNYC podcast, “Here’s The Thing.” The host praises Larry David’s impersonation of Sanders on “SNL,” but laments “all the crazy shtick that they’ve had me do, which is not a lot of fun, I must say, having to channel Trump.”
While Baldwin doesn’t directly say he wants to stop impersonating the president, he wonders what Sanders thinks of his Trump take. “Do you think we’re kind of making him a little too cuddly and a little too funny and we’re taking people’s minds off something really more serious?” the actor asks.
Though Baldwin brings up such reservations in other interviews, he still seems to be embracing the role two months later when he tells Howard Stern he is mulling taking his Trump impersonation to Broadway.
March 2018: Baldwin appears officially over playing Trump. “Every time I do it now, it’s like agony,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter.
The soundbite spurs another Twitter skirmish between Trump and Baldwin. “It was also agony for those who were forced to watch,” Trump tweets, suggesting the show bring back the “much funnier” Hammond.
Seems like an easy out for Baldwin. But the actor tweets back that he’s planning to stick around a little while longer.
September 2018: Ahead of “SNL’s” 44th season, Baldwin confirms he’ll again play Trump on the show. But he doesn’t sound excited: “I think I’m going to do some of it, but not a whole lot,” he says on James Andrew Miller’s “Origins” podcast.
October 2018: In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Baldwin calls his Trump impersonation “cartoonish” and makes it clear he still hates doing it.
“All I wanted my Trump to be is mean-spirited and miserable, like Mr. Potter from ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,” Baldwin tells the magazine. “But then I’ll say ‘Oh, I don’t want to do it anymore,’ and people will go ‘don’t you dare give that up, we need you. Like I’ve gotten people through something in our nation’s history.”
To that end, Baldwin tells THR he still plans to make a few more appearances as Trump. And he famously declares that “ever since I played Trump, black people love me.”
November 2018: In an interview with the Toronto Star, Baldwin hints that he may cut down on his “SNL” appearances. “I’m not sure if it will be very much. If you have Trump on for the sake of having it, it’s not so good,” he tells the paper. “They are perfectly capable of doing other things.”
February 2019: After Trump hits back at one of Baldwin’s “SNL” appearances, Baldwin tweets: “I wonder if a sitting President exhorting his followers that my role in a TV comedy qualifies me as an enemy of the people constitutes a threat to my safety and that of my family?”
Though he didn’t his address his future on the show, it’s worth noting that Baldwin only made two additional appearances as Trump since then — perhaps signaling that the role has indeed lost its appeal.
Which brings us back to his recent USA Today interview.
Baldwin told the paper he had “a lot of fun” in the early months of the gig, which helped break ratings records in the show’s 42nd season.
“That was new, it was fresh and the ratings were good, but I feel like I’m done with that now. I’m so done with that,” he said.
A rep for Baldwin declined to comment on whether he will appear as Trump when “SNL” returns this fall. Perhaps Trump’s tax returns will be public by then.