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When Alec Baldwin plays the president, Trump ‘is the head writer’

Alec Baldwin first played then-candidate Donald Trump in October 2016 and assumed the parody would last until the election, but the actor continues to be a recurring guest on Saturday Night Live and an outspoken critic of the president. Baldwin sits down with Jeffrey Brown to discuss his book, “You Can’t Spell America Without Me,” a memoir in which he takes on Trump’s voice in a different way.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    NBC’s popular “Saturday Night Live” has a long track record of skewering presidents.

    Actor Alec Baldwin tells our Jeffrey Brown what it is like to keep the tradition alive and translating what you see on screen to the page.

  • Actress:

    Sir, Mayor Cruz of San Juan is on the line.

  • Alec Baldwin:

    I was expecting this phone call. I’m sure she wants to tell me what a great job I’m doing.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    For Alec Baldwin, it’s been a role that keeps on giving.

  • Alec Baldwin:

    Ma’am, I don’t know if you know this, but you’re in an island in the water.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • Alec Baldwin:

    The ocean water, big ocean, with fishies and bubbles and turtles that bite.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • Alec Baldwin:

    We want to help you, but we have to take care of America first.

  • Actress:

    Wait. You do know we’re a U.S. territory, don’t you?

    (LAUGHTER)

  • Alec Baldwin:

    I mean, I do, but not many people know that, no.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    On “Saturday Night Live” this season, Baldwin, an outspoken critic of Donald Trump in real life, has continued his late-night parody of the president.

  • Alec Baldwin:

    What about the anthem?

  • Actor:

    Oh, it’s starting now.

  • Alec Baldwin:

    What are the players doing? Are they acting like little SOBs?

  • Actor:

    No. They seem to be respectful. Wait. One of them is kneeling.

  • Alec Baldwin:

    Get out of there, Mike. Bail. Haul ass, Mike.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    Now Baldwin and writer Kurt Andersen have assumed the voice of Donald Trump in a new way, in the book “You Can’t Spell America Without Me.”

  • Alec Baldwin:

    This is a memoir in which we have Trump obviously in a parody format trying to be somewhat reflective and somewhat introspective.

    Trump is incapable of introspection, in my mind, but what would Trump attempting to be introspective look like?

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    In New York recently, I asked the actor about playing Trump.

  • Alec Baldwin:

    The number one thing is, you try to find, regardless of any externalized thing, because I’m not an impressionist, but when I’m called upon to do some that kind of stuff, you try to find, what is the essence of that person?

    And for Trump, he is just miserable all the time, regardless of the weather, or the stock market is up or down, no matter what the conditions are in his life. He won the election, and he’s still miserable.

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    The book is subtitled “A So-Called Parody.”

    So, what is parody and satire for in this case?

  • Alec Baldwin:

    To parody Trump is almost impossible, because every week, another barge of material comes floating in about how incapable he is of finding, you know, the kind of self-actualized Trump, not that we are ever going to get there, but one can try.

    Trump — the tragedy of Trump is that he only needed to make some minor adjustments in his methodology and his behavior, and he would have reaped tremendous benefit.

  • Jeffrey Brown: 

    You’re not shy about your own politics. You’re sort on of the opposite of him on almost every issue. So should we see this as kind of a political act?

  • Alec Baldwin:

    That’s a fair point, if we were doing a lot of writing.

    Trump is the head writer of “SNL” himself. Nearly 90…

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    In what sense?

  • Alec Baldwin:

    Well, nearly 90 percent of what we say and do are verbatim transcriptions of what Trump has said. We don’t really have to go very far to find the material. Trump himself is just spewing it out on a daily basis or a weekly basis.

    So it’s not about politics meaning I’m misstating or misquoting things that he said and did. That’s one of the jokes we told is that Trump would say how he hates the media, and he hates NBC and he hates “SNL,” because I say things, and they repeat it right back to the public, he would say. They repeat all the things I say.

    Of course he’s tormented by the fact that we repeat all the things that he says.

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    But let me push you a little further, because there’s a lot of people who voted for Donald Trump, right?

  • Alec Baldwin:

    Right.

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    And I can imagine them watching and thinking, this is the New York liberal elite sort of congratulating itself, being smarter than Trump and his supporters, and seeing — and being turned off that way.

  • Alec Baldwin:

    Right.

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    What do you say to Trump voters?

  • Alec Baldwin:

    I think the Trump voters have far more important things to put their focus on.

    And their inability to put their focus on that is their problem to deal with, and that is that Trump has betrayed nearly every promise he has made to them. The tax bill is just the most recent example of how Trump just continues to betray the middle class in this country and his supporters.

    Listen, these people were sold one thing. They were kind of sold that Trump was this can-do, crack executive that he portrayed on a reality show for many years. But what they were really sold on was to really hate Hillary Clinton. The vote for Trump was to express your hatred, your deep…

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    That’s what you think it came down to?

  • Alec Baldwin:

    Oh, without a doubt.

    The Republican Party and the election was all about turning a conservative Republican, and even a conservative or even moderate independent voter to loath and despise and blame everything on Hillary Clinton.

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    Well, I have seen you out doing some politicking yourself on behalf of Democratic candidates. Will you continue that, and might you take it further yourself to run?

  • Alec Baldwin:

    No. I mean, to run would be to give up what I’m doing now. And I have got a little — I have got little kids. My wife and I have a family, where everything is — we’re very happy with the way those things are right now.

    But I think that politicking for other people, I do that on an as-needed basis. What I would really like to see is what is going to the Republican Party, because we need two parties.

    I’m old enough now, when I have watched enough elections keenly, to know that, and participated in this process in my own way enough to know that we need to be suspicious of the Democratic Party as well.

    Any party that achieves some absolute power, where they seem kind of immunized against public opinion and so forth, which can happen from time to time for both parties, when that happens, that’s not good for the country. We need a stiff opposition to keep the Democrats in line as well.

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    All right, Alec Baldwin, thank you very much.

  • Alec Baldwin:

    Thank you. Thank you. Yes.

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