Hello, Mr. (and Ms.) President! Celebrities have tackled the tough task of portraying presidents — real and fictional — on film and television over the years.
Alec Baldwin began portraying Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live during the 2016 presidential election. The character quickly became a fan favorite, but the actor admitted in October 2019 that he told producers he wanted to retire his Trump persona.
“I said to them — and it was not with any malice or any lack of affection for them — I said, ‘I don’t want to do that anymore. I don’t want to do the Trump thing again. I’m gonna stop,’” he said during his appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
Baldwin added that show creator Lorne Michaels convinced him to stay on board despite his reservations.
“He called me the Friday before the show — the day before the show — and he’s like, ‘I don’t think you understand,’” he recalled. “And I go, ‘What don’t I understand? I’ve been thinking about it all summer. Every day, it’s all I think about.’”
The Beetlejuice star said that Michaels asked for Baldwin to trust that his Trump character was an important part of Saturday Night Live.
“Lorne starts with one very powerful premise, which is, ‘I hired you, didn’t I? So, my judgment is flawless, right? I gave you your biggest job, didn’t I?’ And you’re like, ‘Yeah, you got a point. You hired me, so I really shouldn’t doubt you,’” Baldwin said. “So, he said to me, ‘You should come do it. Your audience demands it,’ or something like that. So, I came, and I did it, and I’m going to do it a few times.”
In May 2019, Baldwin told The Hollywood Reporter that it was difficult for him to maintain SNL’s busy filming schedule while still trying to make time for his wife, Hilaria Baldwin, and their children.
“The Trump thing is going to end very soon. I can’t do it any longer. I’m right there,” he said at the time. “During the past year, I worked a little bit, things here and there, but nothing major. And I could afford on those Saturdays to do the show here and there. This season, I probably will have done eight of them. Now I’m going to go back to work a lot in the fall, and therefore the weekends will be much more precious to me with my wife and kids.”
Will Ferrell also took on the role of a living president — George W. Bush — on Saturday Night Live in 2000. The comedian became known for using the word “strategery” during a skit, but Bush wasn’t offended by Ferrell’s joke. The former president even quipped that he was the one who came up with the made-up word instead of the SNL writers.
“I said, ‘Wait a minute, I said strategery!’” Bush said during Jimmy Kimmel Live! in March 2017. “I said, ‘I damn sure said strategery!’”
Scroll down to see the stars who’ve portrayed presidents in film and television.