Becoming Donald Trump: How Alec Baldwin Perfected His SNL Impression

Alec Baldwin explains how he taps into his inner Donald Trump for his SNL sketches.
Actor and activist Alec Baldwin speaks at a news conference at United Nations headquarters in New York on September 21, 2015. Alec Baldwin explains how he taps into his inner Donald Trump for his SNL sketches. Mike Segar/REUTERS

Alec Baldwin’s days of impersonating President Donald Trump on “Saturday Night live” may be numbered, but until the actor officially hangs up his Tump-esque wig, he will continue to tap into his presidential persona—by repeating, “gyna, gyna, gyna,” before hitting the SNL stage each week.

The 58-year-old disclosed in Vanity Fair how he landed the role as Trump on the sketch comedy show, which he initially didn’t even want to play.

“I’d never imitated him or had anything to do with him. When [show producer] Lorne [Michaels] called me and asked, 'Do you want to do this?' I said, 'No, I don’t want to be Trump on TV!' Because anytime you do any kind of mimicry, it’s of somebody that you appreciate. I didn’t hate Trump. I just didn’t want to play him,” Baldwin wrote.

After encouragement from Michaels and 30 Rock co-star Tina Fey, Baldwin finally agreed to play the role. It didn't take much preparation.

“When the ["Saturday Night Live"] stage manager took me to my mark for the first dress rehearsal, I had no idea what I was going to do. I mean, literally, the moment I walked out, I just said to myself, 'Eyebrow up,' and I tried to stick my face and my mouth out. For the actual show, when I was in the makeup room, I put my wig on, and it was like a scene from a mental hospital. I'm getting the wig on me, and I'm sitting there the whole time going ‘Gyna, Gyna, Gyna.’ I didn't think about it—I just did it. Now I should probably tell people I worked on it for months,” he wrote.

Baldwin said he shaped his portrayal by reflecting  on Trump as a person.

“People ask me, "What is your whole gag?' And I tell them, 'You can suggest the voice or the way a person looks, but to be successful you have to think of who that person is.' To me, Trump is someone who is always searching for a stronger, better word, but he never finds it,” he said. “Whenever I play him, I make a long pause to find that word, and then I just repeat the word I started with: 'These people are great people. They're fantastic people, and I just want to say that working with them was . . . a fantastic experience.'”

During an early March appearance on “Extra,” Baldwin said that he wasn’t sure exactly how much longer he would continue playing Trump on SNL.

“The maliciousness of this White House has people worried. That’s why I’m not going to do it much longer—the impersonation. I don’t know how much more people can take it,” he said.