Alec Baldwin responded to the backlash he faced for playing President Donald Trump in this weekend's Saturday Night Live season premiere. Baldwin only played Trump in the cold open sketch, when he faced off with Jim Carrey's Joe Biden. The script was tweaked a bit to include references to Trump's real-life coronavirus diagnosis on Thursday night. Some felt the jokes were inappropriate, but Baldwin defended his performance.
"If there was ever the suggestion that Trump was truly, gravely ill, and people said, 'Trump is really in trouble,' then I would bet you everything I have that we wouldn't even get near that, in terms of the content of the show," Baldwin said in the 14-minute Instagram video. "They would have done something else. I've seen that happen before." Baldwin further noted that the only information the public is getting on Trump's health is from the White House and medical staff at Walter Reed Medical Center, who have claimed Trump is not in danger and has been getting better.
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"We only have their word to go by," Baldwin said. "And if their word was that he was in serious trouble, then we probably wouldn't have done it." The majority of the sketch retained the debate format and made fun of the chaotic Tuesday event. Although there were reports that the writers were "scrambling" after Trump announced he tested positive, there were ultimately very few references to the situation in the opening and the rest of the episode.
"We thought the debate was something topical, and we didn't have anything with him in a hospital bed, but we had the debate," the former 30 Rock star said. "You'd have to have a very good reason to avoid that, topicality-wise, and nobody thought that they were mocking somebody's illness by doing that."
Baldwin has been an outspoken Trump critic for years and has played the president on SNL since before the 2016 presidential election. He might not like Trump, but he does not wish the worst for him. "There are a lot of people out there who have the deepest amount of animosity I could possibly calculate in my adult life toward Trump, but there's a line they won't cross. They wouldn't say, 'I wish something happened to him,' or that he died, or whatever. And people who do that, that's not the way it should be," Baldwin said, before telling his followers to remember to vote in November.
There are four more SNL episodes set to air this month, with each starting at 11:30 p.m. ET on NBC Saturdays. The Oct. 10 episode will feature comedian Bull Burr hosting and Morgan Wallen performing. Issa Rae is hosting the Oct. 17 episode, with Justin Bieber as a performer.