ALEC Baldwin may very well have made it impossible for viewers to picture anyone else on Saturday Night Live in the shoes of President Donald Trump, but before Baldwin ever donned the blonde wig, SNL vet Darrell Hammond was spouting the loud, ostentatious rants Trump was known for.
Hammond fully expected to continue playing the now-president into the election season - but found himself totally blindsided when he was unceremoniously ousted prior to the start of Season 42.
In a new feature with the Washington Post, Hammond revealed that he was crushed when he learned that he would no longer be playing Trump on SNL - and didn't even hear the news from the show's creator and producer, Lorne Michaels.
Hammond, fresh off something of a comeback after returning to the show in 2015 to play the presidential candidate, moved back to New York in anticipation of taking on the role for the upcoming season. He even spent the summer taking notes on Trump, a move that was evidently for nothing, as producer Steve Higgins soon informed Hammond that they would be taking Trump's character in a meaner, more crass direction with the help of Baldwin. Hammond was devastated.
"I just started crying. 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 cancelled. It was a hell of a shock, and all of it was apparent to me in one breath. That ends me," he said.
According to Hammond, his entire life was turned upside down by the firing. To help calm his anxiety and prevent him from slipping back into his habits of substance abuse, he was prescribed multiple medications. Hammond and his girlfriend tried to stay to New York, but to him, the humiliation of losing the gig was too much.
"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. 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 okay?' Like, 'Why would you give that job up?'"
While Hammond did wonder if he reacted too sensitively, he admitted that it was a particularly painful blow to have never heard from Michaels - someone he considered to be incredibly important in his life. Michaels, for his part, does not believe explaining the choice to Hammond would have helped soften the blow.
"I 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 … The original, the normal interpretation when someone doesn't get the part they wanted is obviously disappointment, and then a feeling that I no longer believe in them. And that is not the case with Darrell. I both love and respect Darrell and have supported him for, you know, we are going on into our third decade. But my point with it is I had to make a tough choice."
Things have gotten a little easier over the last year for Hammond, despite the fact that it took months for him to sort through all the anger and shame he'd felt. Now, he says he's relieved he's done playing the president. "I got to play him. It went really well when I did. Times change, right?"
This story originally appeared on Decider and is republished here with permission.
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