When Saturday Night Live returns for its 45th season in the fall it will be short at least one recurring performer. Alec Baldwin has declared he’s not coming back to play Trump next year. Well he hasn’t exactly burned the bridge, more like just singed it saying he “can’t see” coming back on to play the character again. And he has a surprising suggestion for who he thinks should take over the role: Anthony Atamanuik.
It’s no surprise that Atamanuik would be a phenomenal, and really the only sensible choice to play the President on SNL’s stage. He’s played the role on Comedy Central’s: The President Show, popped up on The Chris Gethard Show as Trump, as well as on @midnight, Tracy Ullman’s HBO show, Sarah Silverman’s Hulu series, The Daily Show and an extensive cross country tour playing the prez.
The surprise is that Baldwin would suggest him given that just two years ago Baldwin started a wicked fight, saying nasty things about the comedian and Trump impersonator. The scruff ensued after Baldwin was lobbying to play the President at the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2017, and he went on Jimmy Kimmel Live and disparaged Atamanuik as “a guy on the internet”. The internet split into camps, and James Adomian, who toured with Atamanuik in 2015 and 2016 (playing Bernie Sanders in a series of Presidential debates), got into it hard with Baldwin and a slew of supporters for Atamanuik. Many accused SNL of “borrowing” from Atamanuik’s impression when crafting Baldwin’s version of Trump. (Coincidentally around this time, our social media accounts got blocked by Alec Baldwin’s accounts).
It’s a great choice of course. Baldwin isn’t an impressionist- never was. He was acting when he portrayed Trump for the last three seasons. And while there’s a lot of people out there portraying the President professionally, none are better than Atamanuik. But SNL generally doesn’t go outside its cast configuration for a Presidential impression, and in all likelihood would look within to fill the role. We’d love to see Atamanuik get broader recognition for his brilliant portrayal, whether that’s on Saturday Night Live or elsewhere.