There’s a Good Reason Darrell Hammond Shouldn’t Play Trump Again

March 2, 2018, 2:58 PM UTC

Donald Trump says he wants Darrell Hammond to portray him once more on Saturday Night Live—which in and of itself probably ensures that will never happen—but there are other, deeper reasons Hammond might be better off avoiding the role.

Trump, in an early morning Tweet Friday, once again lambasted “Alex” Baldwin’s impression of him on SNL, this time adding “Bring back Darrell Hammond, much funnier and a far greater talent!” There’s no questioning Hammond’s talent in impersonations, but a 2017 profile of the entertainer by The Washington Post underscores just how detrimental losing the Trump role was to him and why playing the now-president could be dangerous.

Saturday Night Live
Darrell Hammond, Donald Trump, Jimmy Fallon as Jeff Zucker during the monologue on April 3, 2004.Photograph by Mary Ellen Matthews — NBC via Getty Images
Photograph by Mary Ellen Matthews — NBC via Getty Images

Hammond, whose backstage behavior included cutting himself before going in front of the cameras and a 2009 drug binge that saw him living in a crack house during his final season as a cast member, did not take the loss of the role to Alec Baldwin well. Doctors prescribed a beta blocker to calm his nerves and Antabuse, a drug that would keep him from drinking.

“I was in shock, and I stayed in shock for a long time,” Hammond told the Post. “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.”

Lorne Michaels, creator and producer of SNL, said the change was made to reflect who Trump became on the campaign, versus The Apprentice-era Trump Hammond perfected. The decision paid off in the ratings. Last season’s premiere brought the show 11.8 million viewers, the most it has had in over 20 years.

Even Hammond (who is still with SNL, now as the show’s announcer), acknowledges the logic behind Michaels’ decision, though he still seems upset over losing the role.

“You’re not running the March of Dimes,” he told the Post. “You’re kind of running a business empire. When things happen it’s hard for it not be personal, but sometimes it isn’t.”